Y’know. I was chatting the other week about how I got hooked on music. Particularly the music I like. I was 13 when I experienced that whole musical awakening. I had a few tapes prior to that and I was damned proud of that little collection. In fact, I only recently let the remainder of that collection go. As you’d expect, I liked a bunch o’ stuff that’s gradually fallen off the radar. Some of it when I was 13, some when I was 15… some recently. Some stuff has stuck with me. There’s also a bunch o’ stuff that I’ll always have a soft spot for even if I no longer listen regularly, sporadically, or at all.
The first band that I ever loved, though, was Guns N’ Roses. Call it rebellion. Call it rejection of the novelty acts, actors-come-pop-stars, and the synthetic pop oddities that were all over the radio in the late 80s and early 90s. Call it the pre-awakening. Here I was as a 12 year-old embracing something… dangerous. Something that sounded completely unlike anything my young ears had heard before. Go me, right?
This was the MTV age of course, but not having the luxury of Sky television meant that the closest I’d ever really gotten to real music was my father’s record collection. Don’t get me wrong, there were a fair few proper songs out there, but it was buried under the countless bouncing synthetic rhythms and Brit nominees. Anyhoo, I remember seeing Terminator 2 and the video for You Could Be Mine all over the Chart Show on ITV. Like I say, this was something completely new to me. It was like the real music my father had, but it was a tad louder and there was a ton of attitude in there that a youngster could get behind! So, I put Use Your Illusion on my Birthday list and hoped for the best. Looking back on it I understand why my parents took notice of the ‘Parental Advisory’ sticker and got me something else.
But I finally got them both… and Appetite for Destruction. I instantly acknowledged the difference between those albums and Appetite for Destruction became a firm favourite (I had to buy a replacement for that after a few years). I recognised Paradise City and Sweet Child O’ Mine, of course, which helped establish GN’R as my favourites at that particular time and the painting that graced the inner also led me to look further at the art of Robert Williams (whose In the Pavilion of the Red Clown, Art’s Triumph Over Substance and Hot Rod Race are some of the most impressionable, powerful and lasting art I’ve looked at). Later I bought “The Spaghetti Incident?”, the Sympathy for the Devil single and even though I was discovering alternative rock I waited patiently for the next release.
Of course, that never arrived. Certainly not before I moved past GN’R. As the band was torn apart and Axl gradually trampled over it’s legacy I lost interest. However, I still picked up Chinese Democracy back in 2008. Perhaps hoping for something truly special or perhaps to catch a glimpse of an old love. See how they are and remember the good times when you spot that sparkle. As it happened, it only served as a reminder of why I fell out of love. I can’t say I thought it was terrible. I just don’t like it. I admire the fact that he believed in something enough to completely follow it through, but it just sounds turgid. I actually listened to Chinese Democracy for only the third time (the first since 2008) recently and my opinion hasn’t changed.
Prior to that the last time I listened to a GN’R album was October 2012. I remember this as I had a chat about “The Spaghetti Incident?” (the album played) and how it’s probably the only album of theirs that I still enjoy. I believe that over the course of my falling out of love with the band I’ve often referred to that as their masterpiece. That’ll likely be met with raised eyebrows, but I reckon I’d stick by that statement. I’ve never outgrown it the way I did the others. Most likely cause it’s a bunch of covers. Or just because it’s the sound of the band I loved, regardless of their turmoil, before they were torn apart.
On Sunday there we dropped in on my favourite haunt and spotted Appetite for Destruction for £8. Robert Williams’ painting adorning the cover rather than being hidden away inside. It was just about closing time and with a few visible scratches I was weighing up whether it was £8 well spent. Like I say, it’s an album that I absolutely loved, but one that I hadn’t listened to in a number of years from a band that I no longer considered a favourite, or even considered when choosing something to listen to. Having become a regular, the owner said he’d put it by. Give it a spin himself and let me know how it sounded.
As it happens, it sounds incredible. While “The Spaghetti Incident?” will remain the Guns N’ Roses album I enjoy most, Appetite for Destruction really is an incredible album. Not only is it a remarkable debut (by any standards), but is pretty much the only really credible album they released. The sound of a band sharing their experiences and excesses.
So yeah, while I don’t expect to fall back in love with Guns N’ Roses, it’s £8 well spent.
…and I guess it’s like looking through an old photo album and remembering the good times