An album represents a moment in time where the songs pulse and move with whatever we are doing in our lives. I remember driving my brown 2 door Ford Escort home one day from work at Gosford Police Station and ‘Paradise City’ was blasting from my 80’s car stereo with flashing equalizer, I was banging on the steering wheel singing right along with Axl. I was 18 years old and life reflected this album, which was conflicted.
‘Appetite for Destruction’ came along at just the right time. My girlfriend had kicked me to the curb and I wasn’t a happy camper, ah the joys of teenage existence. You could say I had negative energy and this music was the perfect release. Up until then I’d been on the hair metal train, which I was right into, Poison, Whitesnake and Bon Jovi.
This was different though. Hair metal was light and fun, innocent even. This was gritty and hard and could shank you in the back when you weren’t looking. It was tough; there was no make up, just tattoos and sleaze. How could you not love that first riff to kick off the album on ‘Welcome to the Jungle’. It was the perfect beginning. Axl set the tone screeching “If you want it you’re gonna bleed but it’s the price you pay…”, a virtual warning to the listener.
The great thing about this album; no song sounds the same; Axl changes his voice, the riffs and song structures shift. Of course there is the huge hit ‘Sweet Child o Mine’, my least favorite song. Go to ‘Its so Easy’, Axl starts with “I see your sister in a Sunday dress….”, you can imagine the rest. All the themes are covered women, heroin, and debauchery.
The riff to ‘Paradise City’ has to be up there with the best riffs of all time, so distinctive so heavy. On ‘Nightrain’, an ode to liquor “Wake up late honey, put on your clothes, and take your credit card to the liquor store”. The band lived these lyrics, lived the tales that are told through the music. It’s all put together with a band that had only been together 2 years but guitarists Izzy Stradlin and Slash drove them.
You could say it wasn’t bad for a debut album. It went on to sell over 30 million worldwide and essentially changed the landscape of music; it was the beginning of the end of hair metal and filled the void before Kurt and his merry Seattle men came along.
GN’R Lies and Use Your Illusion 1 and 2 would follow in the years to come but nothing matched the massive appeal and success of this behemoth. Listen to it 30 years on and it still stands up as a great album.
hallymustang rating : 4.5/5