Sacred Cows is an occasional series in which NME writers re-examine so-called “classic albums” and ask if they were worth the praise. This week, John Doran takes on Guns N’ Roses’ 1987 debut.
While recently searching my CD shelves for a good heavy album of thunderous, Satanic, bowel-prolapsing noise, I chanced upon a rogue copy of the abysmal ‘Appetite For Destruction’ album by grunting, thick tongued, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals Guns N’ Roses.
Lest it accidentally get played during some moment of dementia I took out a lump hammer and smashed it to pieces. I then carefully took each shard and inserted them into the anuses of sixteen different squirrels before catapulting them in all the different directions offered by the standard compass rose, lest anyone be tempted to piece back together my copy of this abysmal long-player.
There have always been many reasons to despise this stinking clag nut hanging off the arse fur of the otherwise majestic, free range beast that is heavy metal. Not the least was the fuck-witted (original) cover art showing a prostrate, raped woman with her pants round her ankles.
This was a throw back to the European and American heavy rock of the 1970s and the mass fanbase of beer-chugging morons it used to attract. All the good work that had been done trying to slough off these idiots was undone overnight and G N’R welcomed back those who couldn’t tell the difference between rebellion and retardation.
The truth is that Guns N’Roses were – and still are – standard bearers for the myopically conservative and backwards looking. All over the world in 1987 genre revolutions were happening thanks to Napalm Death in Birmingham, Carcass in Liverpool, and Mayhem in Oslo and simultaneously across America relatively progressive bands such as Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax were doing some of their best work.
But in the defiantly disengaged LA however, centred round Sunset Strip, the retrogressive force of hair metal held sway with G N’R at the epicentre of a whirlwind of runny dog shit, managing to out-wanker even such prodigiously poodle-haired thunder cunts as Poison, Motley Crue and WASP.
G n’R went on to prove their reactionary, right wing status the following year with the loathesome ‘One In A Million’ with its red-neck-in-a-big-city tirade against “faggots” and “niggers” – something clearly approved of by Ian Stuart Donaldson of race hate band Skrewdriver, when he recorded a cover version.
But their political and social conservatism was evident all across their debut as well. (The bogus claim that they were just reflecting their time and place are easily dismissed by listening to the whipcrack smart debut of the far superior Jane’s Addiction – a hair metal/glam rock band from LA – in 1987.)
The dead-eyed misogynist sponger’s anthem ‘It’s So Easy’ might have been better if it had offered a thrilling and vicarious glimpse into the violent and existential lives of outlaw rockers but really all it gives us was cheap, cartoon – bend over bitch – hatred of women and a litany of “I’m bored!”s and “Fuck off!”s stolen from their elders and betters, the Sex Pistols and The Stooges.
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While ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ is clearly a stone cold, era-defining classic – the rest of the album is packed full of trite and boring (yet still offensive) lyrics, irritatingly sterile and clichéd guitar work and unbearably histrionic vocals. ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ is not so much that generation’s ‘Stairway To Heaven’ as its ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. But don’t take my word for it. Guns n’Roses themselves found it risible, referring to it as “a joke”, “circus music” and “filler”.
‘Paradise City’ is as turgid as bison shit in a cement mixer and that the original lyrics were: “Take me down to the Paradise City where the girls are fat and they’ve got big titties” tells you all you need to know. Elsewhere ‘Mr Brownstone’ proves that nothing grates quite like the whining of indulged smackheads.
But while one can always separate the art from the artist if one tries, one can never ignore MOR shitness. As well as for genres, 1987 was a great year for extreme and heavy guitar albums in their own right.
The Butthole Surfers released their magnum atrocity opus ‘Locust Abortion Technician’, Spacemen 3 summed up the new mood of dark psychedelia sweeping the UK with ‘The Perfect Prescription’, the Pixies’ glorious career began with ‘Come On Pilgrim’, while Dinosaur Jr’s ‘You’re Living All Over Me’ and the Melvins’ ‘Gluey Porch Treatment’ were simply monstrously heavy.
Compared to any of these ‘Appetite…’ was like listening to a sexist wasp farting in an empty margarine tub.
The fault lies primarily with Axl Rose (which famously is an anagram for ‘I am a colossal bellend’) who is perhaps one of the weirdest mega stars ever to headline arenas. He is like some horrific matter transference DNA accident involving Patsy Palmer, post-surgery Mickey Rourke and Stevie Wonder – and then put in a kilt. You genuinely have to wonder how he has seemingly been given a free pass for misogyny, homophobia and racism by music fans in almost every walk of life.
But you really don’t need to be told that he is a grasping, entitled, self-absorbed whinger as his pinched nasal whine reveals this the second he opens his rancid gob. It is a travesty that this awful cartoon rock band ever got to record a second album let alone the fact that they’re still going; we can only hope it’s another 15-years before their next album.