Guns N' Roses: The Greatest Rock Band Of All Time

They're reforming for Coachella 2016. Here's 6 reasons why that should make you soil yourself with excitement.
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They're reforming for Coachella 2016. Here's 6 reasons why that should make you soil yourself with excitement.
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The music

Guns N’ Roses have penned some of the best songs ever written. Sweet Child O’ Mine, November Rain, Welcome to The Jungle and Paradise City constantly top polls from both consumers and critics alike, but they were so much more than this. There’s a duality to the music that not many other bands are able to achieve. Songs like Estranged are able to move you almost to tears from the bittersweet lyrics to the smooth, caressing lead guitar, whilst others like My Michelle are so gritty, and dirty that you can almost smell the alleyway it was written in. Axl Rose’s voice has a harshness to it that shows that even at the age of 25 when Appetite for Destruction was released, he’d seen his fair share of tragedy and torment. Slash’s guitar style owes so much to the blues that every lick is practically dripping with emotion, and you only need to listen to Rocket Queen or Locomotive to see how the Duff McKagan/Steven Adler/Matt Sorum rhythm section gelled so well.

They were dangerous

Guns N’ Roses are dangerous. Actually, to be entirely accurate, Guns N’ Roses were dangerous. Sure, nowadays the most danger you’ll have at a G N’ R gig is accidentally pissing yourself after waiting two hours for Axl to come on because “they could start at any moment” and you don’t want to miss Welcome to The Jungle, but back in the day they were practically outlaws. Drug overdoses, riots, arrest warrants – these guys did practically everything you’re mother told you would kill you and just about made it out the other side. Duff McKagan’s pancreas finally exploded after drinking himself into oblivion for a decade, Steven Adler had a stroke and briefly went into a coma after a cocaine overdose, Izzy Stradlin just sort-of kept going missing, Slash is probably the singular person most synonymous with Jack Daniels in show business, and Axl was liable to fly off the handle at any given moment. Hell, their debut album was pulled from music stores because the affectionately titled “Robot Rape Scene” front cover was deemed too disturbing for consumers.

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The rants

Axl Rose has probably stopped more songs than you’ve turned off the radio halfway through the latest, s**tty Taylor Swift goes dubstep abomination. He’s renowned for it. I know it’s all meant to be about the music, but I’ve listened to all the albums countless times (okay, maybe only a few times for Chinese Democracy) and a genuine Axl Rose rant is tailored to each gig. In my youth, I downloaded terabytes of old bootlegs and you can guarantee that I wasn’t listening to them to see if Matt Sorum did a different drum fill in the second verse of November Rain that night – I was listening to hear Axl Rose obviously badmouth the security, other bands, threaten the audience, threaten to dissolve his band, and of course occasionally jump into the audience wearing a policeman’s hat, a fluffy, pink scarf, and no trousers because some guy dared to take a picture of him. Rock N’ Roll has always been about rebellion and nothing is more rebellious than beating the f**k out of some guy in the front row.

The lyrics on 'Appetite for Destruction'

Now, I got into Guns N’ Roses around my twelfth birthday. Up until that point my record collection consisted mostly of my parent’s Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly albums, the original cast recordings of Phantom of the Opera, Whistle Down the Wind, and Oliver, and a single copy of Will Smith’s ‘Willennium’. Surprisingly, none of these seemed to really be catered the tastes of a soon-to-be-teen who with each day was becoming more rebellious, curious, and far too aware of his own developing sexuality. Appetite for Destruction is the album for twelve year olds. From the drug and alcohol references in Mr. Brownstone and Nightrain, to the rebellious, f**k the police attitude on Out Ta Get Me, and of course the explicit sexuality on Anything Goes and Rocket Queen. The latter even included a screaming (female) orgasm halfway through the song (something I tried desperately to replicate over the following years) – Nickelback they fucking weren’t.

They Looked Cool

At a time when every other band in Los Angeles seemed to be wearing so much makeup and stuffing so much into their crotches that they looked like some teased-haired, well-endowed, hermaphrodite, Guns N’ Roses looked like five Chuck Norris’ by comparison. Take Slash for example, the evolution of his image over the past 25 years amounts to all of about three new t-shirts, a slightly larger beer belly and a few more tattoos. Slash is the archetypal image of rock n’ roll cool. Leather trousers, a mish-mash of tattoos over his arms and chest, shirtless, face completely covered in long, curly black hair, cigarette constantly dangling from his lips, and a top hat. A top hat for Christ’s sake! Nowadays when people think of top hats they will first think of Slash, then Abraham Lincoln! Sure, Axl may have gone a bit overboard when for the entirety of the Use Your Illusion tour he decided to wear only skin tight, leave-nothing-to-the-imagination, briefs, but when you place him next to Slash, even the horniest, most coked-out groupies aren’t going to be checking out Mr. Rose’s junk.

Other People Hate Them

Now I don’t consider myself a mean person. I’m fairly amiable to people I don’t know and would do anything for my friends but there’s nothing I like more than a good argument. That’s the great thing about Gn’R: whilst there are plenty of people who adore the band, there’s just as many that hate them. Well, that’s not entirely fair. They hate Axl Rose, but when an argument’s in the works, I’m willing to overlook the finer details. Trust me, even if you’re a Megan Fox lookalike, lying naked except for a pair of stockings on my bed, if you say something negative about Guns N’ Roses then it is on! Go on, how about the old “It should just be called ’Axl’s Roses’ now” line? I’ll be ready to fling a dozen inaccurate responses about how Axl’s still cool, Chinese Democracy kicks arse and the new line-up is just as good as the old one! And besides, who the f**k are you?