Ap­petite For De­struc­tion (Locked N’ Loaded Edi­tion) Gef­fen/Ume

Classic Rock - - Kenney Jones - Philip Wild­ing

Ex­haus­tive (and oc­ca­sion­ally ex­haust­ing) clas­sic al­bum reis­sue.

It must have been a slow day at the of­fice when some­one in Uni­ver­sal Records’ mar­ket­ing depart­ment de­cided that what this most lav­ish of al­bum reis­sues needed in or­der to help cel­e­brate one of the most vit­ri­olic and con­tro­ver­sial de­buts of mod­ern times was a ban­dana and some fake tat­toos. Not any old fake tat­toos, ei­ther, but copies of the band’s ac­tual tat­toos. You can just imag­ine the depart­ment head push­ing his seat back, throw­ing his boots up on the ta­ble and wait­ing for the first high five.

That’s not the half of it – hell, it’s not even an eighth of it. We could sit here all af­ter­noon comb­ing through the ephemera and tat crammed into this lat­est box set in or­der to hard-sell it to a new wave of fans clam­ber­ing aboard the Guns N’ Roses gravy train as it thun­ders around the world in the ever elon­gated shape of their Not In This Life­time tour. Truth be told, they could have sent this out into the world in a plas­tic bag and it would have done just fine.

It’s hard to overem­pha­sise the im­pact Guns N’ Roses had in those early years, and that was just the re­ver­ber­a­tions we felt in the UK. Ev­ery week (pre-in­ter­net) in our mag­a­zine of­fice, word fil­tered down the wires that Slash had died, Axl had beaten a fan half to death, Izzy hadn’t been seen for days, Duff had quit and formed a punk band with some friends from Seat­tle. You could take which­ever spin on the story you liked – they usu­ally had some ground­ing in the truth.

Later, of course, it did get much worse: hours late to shows, drugs, near-death ex­pe­ri­ences, shows that be­came ri­ots and then, pos­si­bly the worst of the worst, Slash’s de­par­ture and a shell of a band mas­querad­ing un­der the Guns N’

Roses name for more than a decade.

This col­lec­tion cap­tures the elu­sive mo­ment when a band gets to grow cre­atively and blos­som into some­thing ir­re­sistible and mag­i­cal out of sight of the pub­lic eye and be­fore an ado­ra­tion that al­most in­evitably helps snuff out the cre­ative flame that these em­bers can only start to hint at. There’s lit­tle or no point por­ing over the bones of one of rock’n’roll’s most defin­ing de­but records – suf­fice to say it now comes with au­dio con­fig­u­ra­tions far be­yond my record player’s pay grade. The songs still snap and growl though, all strut and switch­blade and the tem­plate for a hun­dred aw­ful West Hol­ly­wood bands that would fol­low af­ter. Ap­petite For De­struc­tion might have given us Ratt, but you can hardly blame Guns N’ Roses for that.

The EP ma­te­rial in­cluded here has been re­hashed and reis­sued about a dozen times al­ready so you might want to gloss over that. But it’s hard not to lis­ten to these some­times scratchy demos and stu­dio ses­sions and not be moved by

the sound of build­ing blocks be­ing pulled and pushed into place in or­der to help build an al­most lit­eral em­pire.

The ten­ta­tive, slightly off-key back­ing vo­cals on an acous­tic Novem­ber Rain make you feel like you’re stand­ing in the cor­ner of a re­hearsal room, eaves­drop­ping as his­tory is be­ing made, Axl drop­ping his tam­bourine to the floor as the song trips to an end. The fleshed-out pi­ano ver­sion is touched by great­ness too, and makes you won­der why they couldn’t quite make it work in time for Ap­petite’s re­lease.

The splashy, acous­tic thrum of the Move To The City demo (which didn’t make the cut for the GN’R Lies EP) is the sound of a band at ease with it­self, punc­tu­ated by laugh­ter and riff­ing around with the song’s struc­ture, though it’s not clear whether Slash’s shouts of “Whiskey!” mean he’d like some or if his or­der has just turned up.

There’s a rare Shadow Of Your Love, two passes at the Stones’ Jumpin’ Jack Flash and two songs that never made it past the demo stage: the brief jam of The Plague and the thrashy New Work Tune. Es­pe­cially good is the ’86 demo of Back Off Bitch, which makes you cu­ri­ous as to why these tracks never made the fi­nal cut on their de­but al­bum.

In a per­fect world, there’d be more work-in-progress sketches (see Me­tal­lica flesh­ing out the bones of nearly ever song on their Master Of Pup­pets reis­sue), but it’s hard to ar­gue with this glo­ri­ously de­tailed re­veal of a band leav­ing the un­der­ground and tak­ing flight, one bloody con­tro­versy at a time.

‘Makes you feel like you’re eaves­drop­ping as his­tory is made.’

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