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Classic Albums: Guns N Roses - Appetite For Destruction

So, Appetite For Destruction is TWENTY-FIVE years old. We thought we'd pay tribute to one of rock's greatest ever albums.

When Guns n’ Roses broke onto the scene with their debut they were a little-known band from LA with a big reputation, receiving rave reviews and gaining many friends along the way. Very few expected their reputation to convert into sales, though, and as a result they were not a band with the weight of expectation upon them - and that suited them fine.

Combining heavy metal, punk, and blues-rock, Appetite was considered too hardcore for a mainstream market. Their liberal expletives through the albums twelve tracks meant the band’s record company Geffen wasn’t expecting much MTV or radio play. However, as we now know, this album went on to make a massive impact, not just in record sales but also single-handely changing the face of rock music at that time.

It is easy to forget that back in the late eighties, nothing sounded quite like Axl Rose. That explosive intro to ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ may as well have been an air-raid siren announcing the end of rock as you knew it. This was fresh, raw and it felt dangerous in comparison to the "safe” and (relatively) respectable sounds of acts like Whitesnake and Def Leppard. With hair metal in danger of disappearing up its own lycra clad arse via a series of stupendously stupid looking bands and enormously forgettable records, the rock world was in dire need a wake-up call and Guns N Roses happened to pick up the phone.

The autobiographical nature of the lyrics immediately set them aside from the majority of those innuendo laden hairspray jokers that plagued the sunset strip in the latter part of the decade. With tracks like ‘Mr Brownstone’ commenting on Slash and Izzy Stradlin’s frank heroin abuse and the pornographic content in ‘Rocket Queen’ (which uses samples of a girl having sex with Axl in the studio), Guns N Roses kicked down the doors of perceived acceptability and set fire to the rulebook. They put unflinchingly honest lyrics into pseudo pop-melodies and catchy hooks, and they surrounded them with some of the most air-guitar friendly riffs ever written. This was "Stadium Rock" for a whole new generation who had never experienced stadium rock.

But, believe it or not, had it not been for a little luck and some extraordinarily fortunate timing you may never have heard the album. Nearly six months after release the album had stalled at 200,000 sales - a really decent number by today's standards, but nowhere near where the band needed it to be to get noticed. The band's A&R man, Tom Zutaut explains

"MTV was afraid that if they played GN'R, local cable systems would throw them off. So Appetite was up to about 200,000 and it was standing still. I got called up into the president of Geffen's office and he said, "This record is over." So I went up to David Geffen's office and I said, "Could you get MTV to play the video for 'Welcome to the Jungle'?" A couple of hours later, he said, "They're going to play it at five in the morning on Sunday as a personal favor to me." Even in the wee hours of Sunday morning, MTV got so many requests that it blew their switchboard."

The record quickly gained traction after that. A mere 50 weeks after release it reached number 1 on the Billboard Charts and stayed in and around the upper echelons of charts around the world for nearly two years. It's gone on to sell somewhere in the region of 28 million copies and become one of the most iconic and important albums of all time.

Groundbreaking, speaker-shaking, epoch making, unforgettable. It's not just a great rock record, it's a great record, full stop. It's an album that demands a place in your record collection and if you don't own it then your life is incomplete.

1. Welcome To The Jungle All songs by Guns N' Roses except where stated 4:34
2. It's So Easy Guns N Roses & West Arkeen 3:23
3. Nightrain
4. Out Ta Get Me
5. Mr Brownstone
6. Paradise City
7. My Michelle 3:40
8. Think About You
9. Sweet Child O Mine
10. You're Crazy
11. Anything Goes Guns N Roses & Chris Weber
12. Rocket Queen


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