If you wanted to describe Guns N’ Roses to someone, “Welcome To The Jungle”, their first single, epitomizes everything we love about the band. From the opening Slash riff counting down until the drum/bass explosion, you know you’re in for trouble. Axl’s vocals were never better, his serpent-like dance moves, and his true to life lyrics of leaving the Midwest small town life for the rough Hollywood streets. “You know where you are, you’re in the jungle (baby), you’re going die!” Fun fact, the band first debuted this song in Clint Eastwood’s movie, The Dead Pool, where they played a rough L.A. strip rock band (big surprise!)
1989 “USED TO LOVE HER” – G N’ R LIES
How do you follow up a CD that went #1, certified platinum 18 times over? Of course, you release an unplugged EP with a naked woman on the cover. “Patience” took them to the top of the charts but the song was not typical of the CD. Raw live early tracks like Aerosmith’s Mama Kin, filled side 1. Side 2 included the racially charged “One In A Million” and the equally controversial “I Used To Love Her (but I had to kill her)”. Axl’s tongue in cheek lyrics were inspired by Izzy Stradlin’s disdain for a song on the radio where a “whiny guy was complaining about his girl doing him wrong”.
1991 “DON’T CRY” USE YOUR ILLUSION 1
The band had so much new material that they couldn’t contain their follow-up to Appetite on one disc. Setting music history, they released two CD’s simultaneously in 1991 and they took over the #1 and #2 spots on the album charts. Disc 1 also features “November Rain” named the #1 video of all-time on many countdown shows. “Don’t Cry” was my favorite song at the time. Izzy and Axl wrote the song together and it was inspired by Izzy’s ex-girlfriend who Axl had a serious crush on at the time. The breakup lyrics set the perfect mood for an epic video which included Shannon Hoon (of Blind Melon) on backup vocals. The song is so big, they had a version with alternate lyrics on Use Your Illusion 2.
1991 “CIVIL WAR” – USE YOUR ILLUSION 2
Disc two was even stronger. The lead single “You Could Be Mine” from the Terminator 2 soundtrack, the 10 minute epic “Estranged”, their cover of Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die”, and “Get In The Ring” their profanity-laced attack at their critics were all on Disc 2. Track 1: Civil War, was my most-played song. An introduction using the quote lines from my favorite Paul Newman movie, Cool Hand Luke, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate, some men you just can’t reach, so you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it… well he gets it, I don’t like it anymore than you do”. Great anti-war song and the only song to include drummer Steven Adler on the two discs. He was replaced by Matt Sorum due to Steven’s drug battles.
1993 “AIN’T IT FUN” – THE SPAGHETTI INCIDENT?
Guns N’ Roses were the biggest rock band in the world but their rebellious attitudes that drove their lyrics were a two-edged sword that drove the band apart. Axl and Slash were feuding, drugs were out of control, and rather than release another major production, they put out a CD of punk covers called The Spaghetti Incident? A cover of the Platters, “Since I Don’t Have You” and Nazareth’s “Hair Of The Dog” were most prominent. “Ain’t No Fun” a Dead Boys cover, was a return to their Appetite sound, raw, ferocious, and dangerous. Michael Monroe from Hanoi Rocks contributes to the vocals here. Fun Fact: Axl covered a song written by a young songwriter named Charles Manson (yes, that Charles Manson!) as a hidden track at the end of the CD.
1995 “SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL” replacement for CHINESE DEMOCRACY
Chinese Democracy is the most expensive CD of all-time, estimated at 13 million dollars! It took Axl over 14 years to record it. During this time, Dr. Pepper said it would buy every American a free can of soda if Axl would release it by the end of 2008. The CD is a mess, indulgent, Axl’s voice has weakened, and not one single hit it big. The new Guns N Roses didn’t include Slash who was working with Velvet Revolver and his solo work. Since it’s not my favorite GNR CD, I wanted to include their cover of the Rolling Stones “Sympathy For The Devil” from the Brad Pitt/Tom Cruise movie, Interview With A Vampire. It was recorded during this “dead” period with the original band lineup and maintains the GNR attitude I love so much!