Lav­ish re­tread of Sun­set Strip out­laws’ master­piece.

Q (UK) - - Contents -

Ap­petite For De­struc­tion gets the block­bust­ing reis­sue treatment.


It’s hard to know if Guns N’Roses were ever fans of Os­car Wilde, but few bands em­body the great play­wright’s bon mot that “noth­ing suc­ceeds like ex­cess” like they do. In their orig­i­nal ’ 80s in­car­na­tion, they were un­re­pen­tant bad boys whose phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal habits and death­wish glam­our rubbed jar­ringly up against cold-eyed am­bi­tion. Thirty years on and well into an un­ex­pected third act, they’re rak­ing it in on a lu­cra­tive semire­union tour whose abil­ity to hoover up money would do your av­er­age Russian oli­garch proud. Still, this be­ing Guns N’Roses, there re­mains a sense that things could fly off the rails at any mo­ment, which is why this block­bust­ing reis­sue of their 30 mil­lion-sell­ing de­but al­bum has the whiff of mak­ing hay while the sun shines about it. Its top-ofthe-range “Locked N’ Loaded” in­car­na­tion – a four-CD/seven-LP/ seven- 7- inch­ers/hard­back book edi­tion housed in a leather-bound wooden box – will leave you with lit­tle change from £ 1000. Even a fresh-off-the-pro­duc­tion-line mid-range edi­tion – just the four CDs and one Blu-Ray, thank you very much – will set you back north­wards of £ 150. None of that should de­tract from the fact that Ap­petite For De­struc­tion it­self stands as one of the great­est rock records ever made. The band that spat it out it may have emerged from the dozily he­do­nis­tic Sun­set Strip scene, but there was noth­ing dumb about them. Their fac­tory mode was “feral”: Wel­come To The Jun­gle was a junkie’s-eye-view tour of LA, sup­posed anti-smack broad­side Mr Brown­stone was more cel­e­bra­tion than con­dem­na­tion, and even the an­themic Par­adise City had a ni­hilis­tic eu­pho­ria about it. There was no won­der that Guns N’Roses and N.W.A had a mu­tual ap­pre­ci­a­tion thing go­ing on at the time – they were flip sides of the same grubby coin. The extra ma­te­rial that ac­com­pa­nies the re­mas­tered al­bum does a de­cent job of flesh­ing out the pic­ture with­out dis­man­tling the myth. One disc col­lects to­gether tracks from

Ap­petite For De­struc­tion it­self stands as one of the great­est rock records ever made.

var­i­ous EPs and B-sides, in­clud­ing most of 1988’ s acous­tic GN’R Lies – a re­lease that helped usher in the MTV Un­plugged era. But the big sell­ing point is the pre­vi­ously un­re­leased ma­te­rial spread across the re­main­ing discs: a mix of demo tracks, al­ter­nate takes, halffin­ished snippets of pre­vi­ously un­heard songs and cover ver­sions (Aero­smith’s Mama Kin, Elvis Pres­ley’s Heart­break Ho­tel and, per­haps in­evitably, The Rolling Stones’ Jumpin’ Jack Flash). In truth, there’s lit­tle here to pull in any­one who isn’t a hard­core fan, though two early in­car­na­tions of Rose’s mono­ma­ni­a­cal pi­ano blowout Novem­ber Rain, a track that would take five years for him to sat­is­fac­to­rily fin­ish, prove that his dictatorial ten­den­cies were in place from the start: Kim Jong-un in a span­dex jock­strap. What’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing is what isn’t here. The muchde­bated acous­tic EP track One In A Mil­lion – a song pep­pered with racist and ho­mo­pho­bic ep­i­thets – is no­tice­able by its ab­sence. It seems that Rose has fi­nally re­alised the flim­si­ness of his de­fence of it as a pic­ture of bright-lights-big-city ver­ité, even if he’s con­tent to let the nasty misog­yny of Back Off Bitch and Used To Love Her (“But I had to kill her…”) stand. Whether that puts you off Guns N’Roses is up to you, just as the hefty price tag for the up­mar­ket ver­sions of this reis­sue is a ques­tion for your ac­coun­tant – al­though a stripped-back two-disc ver­sion is also avail­able. Moral and fi­nan­cial con­sid­er­a­tions aside, this stands as a mon­u­ment to success and ex­cess. Os­car Wilde would be proud. ★★★★ DAVE EVERLEY Listen To: Wel­come To The Jun­gle | Shadow Of Your Love

Guns N’Roses (Axl Rose, aka “Kim Jong-un in a span­dex jock­strap”, cen­tre) in 1987.

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