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Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction (Super Deluxe Edition) Review

Released by: Geffen Records; This Compilation 2018 UMG Recordings, inc.

Original Release Date: 20 July 1987

Release Date: Out Now!!

Genre: Hard Rock

Links: https://www.gunsnroses.com

 

Line Up:

Axl Rose: vocals, piano, keyboards
Slash – lead guitar
Duff McKagan: bass, backing vocals
Izzy Stradlin: rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Steven Adler: drums, backing vocals

 

Tracklist:

CD 1 – APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION: REMASTERED
Welcome To The Jungle
It's So Easy
Nightrain
Out Ta Get Me
Mr. Brownstone
Paradise City

My Michelle
Think About You
Sweet Child O' Mine
You’re Crazy
Anything Goes
Rocket Queen
Produced by Mike Clink
Mixed by Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero

CD2 – B-SIDES N’ EPS: REMASTERED
Reckless Life
Nice Boys
Move To The City (Live)
Mama Kin
Shadow Of Your Love (Live)
You’re Crazy (Acoustic Version)
Patience
Used To Love Her
You’re Crazy
It’s So Easy (Live)
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (Live)
Whole Lotta Rosie (Live)

CD 3 – 1986 SOUND CITY SESSION
All Previously Unreleased
Welcome To The Jungle (1986 Sound City Session)
Nightrain (1986 Sound City Session)
Out Ta Get Me (1986 Sound City Session)
Paradise City (1986 Sound City Session)
My Michelle (1986 Sound City Session)
Think About You (1986 Sound City Session)
You’re Crazy (1986 Sound City Session)
Anything Goes (1986 Sound City Session)
Rocket Queen (1986 Sound City Session)
Shadow Of Your Love (1986 Sound City Session)
Heartbreak Hotel (1986 Sound City Session)
Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986 Sound City Session)

CD 4 – 1986 SOUND CITY SESSION N’ MORE
All Previously Unreleased
Shadow Of Your Love
Move To The City (1986 Sound City Session)
Ain’t Goin’ Down No More (Instrumental Version – 1986 Sound City Session)
The Plague (1986 Sound City Session)

Nice Boys (1986 Sound City Session)
Back Off Bitch (1986 Sound City Session)
Reckless Life (1986 Sound City Session)
Mama Kin (1986 Sound City Session)
New Work Tune (1986 Sound City Session)
November Rain (Piano Version – 1986 Sound City Session))
Move To The City (Acoustic Version – 1986 Sound City Session)
You’re Crazy (Acoustic Version – 1986 Sound City Session)
November Rain (Acoustic Version – 1986 Sound City Session)
Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Acoustic Version – 1986 Sound City Session)
Move To The City (1988 Acoustic Version)

 

CD 1 – APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION: REMASTERED

Every time I hear the opening riff of “Welcome to the Jungle”, I am instantly transported back to the first time I heard it at the age of 13. Sat beneath my wall-sized GN’R cross black-light poster, I hurriedly unwrapped the CD and inserted it into my stereo with all the giddy enthusiasm of a kid in a candy store. That juddering riff accompanied by Axl’s guttural scream, with its raw, untamed power announced the birth of a rock juggernaut. Although the band would start to self-destruct in a few short years, right then, in that moment, it was pure and unlike anything I had ever heard.

To this day the album holds up exceptionally well, remaining as fresh as the day it was pressed. When the opportunity came along to review it after it was recently remastered, I jumped at the chance. Appetite for Destruction encapsulates the crash and burn, sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll Sunset Strip lifestyle of the time, with many songs inspired by the infamous “Hell House” that the band lived in during their early days. “Welcome to the Jungle” was the perfect vehicle for introducing us to the gritty underbelly of LA, with Adler’s pounding drums pushing the song along like a freight train, Duff’s punky bass lines, Izzy’s crunching rhythm, and Slash’s piercing riffs building into a raucous crescendo with Alx’s screeching vocals right up to the very last second.

Many of the songs took on an autobiographical tone, with songs like “Nightrain” about their favourite cheap liquor, and “Mr. Brownstone” about the band’s relationship with heroine. Other tracks like “My Michelle” and “Sweet Child of Mine” diverged from that slightly. The sinister tone of “My Michelle” sets the perfect narrative for the story that unfolds in the song about Michelle Young, who was later quoted saying she was grateful that the band didn’t sugar coat any of it. However it was “Sweet Child of Mine” that is really the odd-one out here. While the song became one of their most successful tracks, Axl was really the only member of the band who really wanted to do it, with Slash admitting he always considered it the worst song they ever did. Still, it’s a catchy song, and it was perfect for the radio. It managed to capture Axl’s sensitive side and exuded an optimism that cuts against the angst of the rest of the album. The final track of the album, or should I say climax, given the very real sex act that was recorded to compliment the track, is “Rocket Queen”. So named for Barbi Von Grief who had a band about the same time as GN’R were on the rise, which she wanted to call Rocket Queen. A friend of the band, little more is known about her, but there is a dedication to her in the original album release.

 

CD2 – B-SIDES N’ EPS: REMASTERED

Many of these tracks are featured on the Live ?!*@ Like a Sucide EP, the Guns N’ Roses EP, and later GN’R Lies. Listening to the live tracks takes me back to the bootleg tapes I bought in my youth. This was my first real introduction to GN’R before many on the East Coast of the States had really heard of them. Of course these tracks have been remastered and are a far cry from the awful quality of the cassettes I used to buy from my local record store. Listening to them like this, you can almost feel like you’re there when it all really started.

“Reckless Life” is a rough and ready take on life on the Strip, and harkens back to the days of Hollywood Rose, when it was just Axl and Izzy. The Rose Tattoo cover of “Nice Boys” was a crowd favourite and a nod to Duff’s punk rock influence on the band. “Move to the City” has a bit of a story attached to it, allegedly written about Axl’s ex-girlfriend Gina Siler, who moved with Axl from Lafayette to LA back in 1982. When it comes to “Mama Kin”, there is no secret that GN’R revere Aerosmith. It was also one of the few things that every member could always agree on. Sadly the live version of “Shadow of Your Love” is really bit of smoke and mirrors, as it was originally featured on the Guns N’ Roses EP with a fake crowd overdubbed onto the track. This CD also features “Patience”, “Used to Lover Her”, and “You’re Crazy” from Lies, as well as live recordings of “It’s So Easy”, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”, and “Whole Lotta Rosie”, recorded at the Marquee Club in London in 1987. While “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” was a nod to what would come later on the Use Your Illusions album, who would have thought that Axl would one day perform “Whole Lotta Rosie” with AC/DC after replacing Brian Johnson on their tour?!

CD 3 – 1986 SOUND CITY SESSION / CD 4 – 1986 SOUND CITY SESSION N’ MORE

After listening through all three-and-a-half hours of this collection end to end, I have to say it’s the Sound City Session tapes that really make or break this compilation. Having read Mick Wall’s excellent GN’R biography, “Last of the Giants: The True Story of Guns N’ Roses”, I had a fairly good idea of what tracks to expect would end up on follow up albums, but I was unprepared for the state that some of them were in. It’s no mystery why they didn’t make the cut for Appetite. It’s clear, listening to songs like “The Plague”, “Back Off Bitch”, and “November Rain”, that whey were simply were not polished enough to be considered. Their take on “Mama Kin” made for a great cover, but it did not fit in with the gritty themes and bombastic nature of the album. “Welcome to the Jungle” was a bit of a surprise, in its more sedate version, but the DNA was all laid down for what it would become. And finally, we come to “Shadow of Your Love”. Aside from the faked live version that was offered on CD 2, we get two more versions of this track: the session cut on CD 3 and the final master on CD 4. This is a song that was a serious contender for making it onto Appetite. It is a ripping, angry, anti-love song which predates the founding of Guns N’ Roses. While the differences between the versions are subtle, the deep bass and harder rhythm of the final cut raises it above the out-take and over-dubbed EP recordings. While the song could have easily fit into the overall composition of Appetite for Destruction, it represents more of a breakthrough in the band’s evolution, that first glimpse of what was yet to come. I can completely understand why it didn’t get used. It’s a great track, but it falls just short of the mastery of the final album.

Listening to the Sound City Sessions was a bit hard at times, with tracks like “Hearbreak Hotel” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (albeit the acoustic version wasn’t actually half bad) being a bit rough on the ears, but it was an intriguing insight into the development and construction of Appetite for Destruction. Combined with the subline quality of the remastered classic, the EPs, and bonus tracks, I can absolutely say that this entire compilation really is a must-have for any fan.

 

Written by: Erik De’Scathebury

Rating: 9/10

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