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What 'Appetite for Destruction' Means to Me

Twenty-five years ago, Appetite For Destruction was released. Of course I have to write something about that. Something like ”It’s the best album ever made.” But where do I start? I have no clue. Why is it the world’s greatest album, according to me? No idea either.

But then I realized: Appetite is the reason why I listen to rock at all! I know that for some people, the release of Appetite For Destruction marks the beginning of the end for Glam. But apparently that’s not the whole truth. Without Guns N’ Roses there wouldn’t be any Mötley Crüe, Skid Row or Van Halen in my life. No Aerosmith, no Kiss, no nothing. So to answer my own question – Appetite For Destruction is the best album ever made simply because it opened the door to every other great album ever made. At least for me, and I will always be grateful.

And then there is of course the inevitable fact that the album is truly amazing. I could go on and on about that too. How Slash tells the story of how the songs ”Almost wrote themselves.” How producer Mike Clink, the brilliant mind, let Guns N’ Roses be Guns N’ Roses in the studio and nobody else. How the record went on the be one of the most successful and best-selling debut albums of all time. But you probably know that already. And you also know the result. Flawless, if you ask me.

So instead of going on and on about just how great I think the record is, I’ll try to sum it up real quick: If I could listen to only one album for the rest of my life, it would probably be Appetite. And if I could choose only one concert that I would get to see, it would be Guns N’ Roses live at The Ritz in New York, February 1988, performing almost the entire album.

It kills me to know that I will never be able to see the original lineup. The Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame spectacle proved that pretty clear. But maybe that’s the reason why this anniversary really calls for a celebration? When today the drama never seems to end (banning t-shirts, come on!) it’s nice to remember what Guns N’ Roses once were and sounded like. And even though I wasn’t born until two years after its release, that debut album changed my life. And 25 years later, I still can’t get enough of it.


Reader Comments (11)

I remember having the cassette shortly after the release, and having to hide it from my parents, LOL "sorry Mom and Dad". I remember reading the lyrics and the rest of the the booklet from cover to cover. I remember studying the pictures and images, including the ever so controversial "robot rape" scene, and a band that appeared to be the definition of cool. To me, this was the album that totally changed the game and made me a "metal-head" for life. I often think I was born about 10-15 years too late, since the vast majority of music I love was composed from 1982-1992, but I am proud to say that I was an impressionable youth of just 10 years old cranking this timeless album over and over on my tiny boom-box and my walk-man.
July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKenny Ozz
I was 18 and had just hit Long Beach California. I was a backwoods dirt neck who had never been out of Arkansas. Sure I was a metal head or thought I was until I discovered KNAC. Which was running a local music show on Sunday afternoon. Which is where I heard G N R for the first time.

To say that album had a tremendous impact on me is an understatement. Anyone living in So Cal in the 80's can attest it was a madhouse. I lived the Appetite for Destruction album and survived.

I managed to see the guys three times. Opening for Aerosmith at Mountain View Amphitheater. Opening for the Stones in L.A on the night Axl gave his famous rant. And later on the Use your Illusions tour in Omaha with Blind Melon.

I was a rabid fan. Was is the statement that sums it up still love the music and the attitude but hate the drama that they have become.

But there was nothing like it at the time I remember being at Cinderella and Dokken and back in the day it took some time for the acts to change out so there was an intermission so to speak and the PA was always playing music when the first notes of Sweet Child O Mine or Welcome to the Jungle would come through the speakers the entire crowd would erupt in screams. Still gives me chills...
July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShawn
In the previous post, I talked about hiding my single cassete from my parents and singing the B-sides at my high school job to pass the time. But Appetite is the epitamy of an album... there is just no other way to explain it. Sure we all like other albums, bands, cuts, etc... but for an ALBUM ~ front to back. There is quite no other like Appetite.

Maybe its the name ? Appetite for Destruction ? Dishoveled youths like myself ? You gravitate towards shit like that. And the name Guns n Roses ? Hello... Chicks and shooting shit ? Sign me up. I'm a midwestern boy so you coasters have an advantage on seeing this type of stuff coming at us before us. But I tell you... Appetite took the Midwest or at least where I was by storm. It was cranked to 11 in every firebird, mustang, camaro, chevette, yugo, etc.. cruising around.

And it just wasn't because MTV finally came to our hodunk town when I was just hitting middle/high school and Welcome to the Jungle hit the airwaves. It was dancing with your hands on a chicks ass for the first time because she was your Sweet Child O Mine. And Paradise City ? Talk about a sing along anthem, that just cumulates in basically a milder form of moshing. I had no idea where Paradise City was, but if they would of sold a ticket I would of bought one.

It brought everyone together. Every house party, every cornfield bonfire, every cruising the strip at some point of the night GNR came on and everyone knew it. The ones that were into Tone Loc, to the ones that were into the Cure, to the ones that were Motley or bust, or Madonna, or MC Hammer, or whatever the f*ck you were into, when Guns came on, you sang along and you sang loud.

The best is the other cuts on the album. Is there a bad one in the bunch ? Its so Easy, Nightrain, Out To Get Me, Mr Brownstone, My Michelle, Think About You, You're Crazy, Anything Goes, & Rocket Queen. BTW - F*king love the Rocket Queen. You just don't get albums like this. Back in Black album, maybe ? Led Zeppelin IV ? Pyromania ? Just talking about a front to back album.

GNR changed my musical tastes for the better, it got me out of the mold of listening to what radio or tv wanted you to listen to. It made me go back and listen to older albums, side Bs, etc...

Appetite is just awesome... there is no other way to put it.
July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGNR
Sometimes I feel like I may be the oldest person that comes to "Bring back glam"..but it's moments like today that I'm glad I was 22 years old when "AFD" was released. 1986-1989 was Glam's prime years IMO..Poison's 1st record, Faster's 1st record..Crue" girl, girl girls and Dr Feelgood, Bon Jovi SWW and New Jersey..Skid Row's 1st one...and of course..GNR's AFD..and so many other great records...I got to live the life...I saw many of these bands live and in their prime..I was in the audience at the Ritz show in 1988 and it was a moment I will never forget. What makes AFD so amazing was that it took the glam sound and made it edgier then ever before..the lyrics was gritty..and that attitude the band had came through on that record that no other band did before (IMO). I do also think the success of AFD and GNR changed the glam scene....bands started turning away from the aqua net a little bit.and turning their attention to deeper song lyrics (to some degree)....and it brought folks from other music styles together (as another reader commented before on )...a great record, a great band..a great time for music...-
July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGene
Nope. Got ya by a year or 2 I believe! LOL.
July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGary
I remember going to SAOund Warehouse looking for something to buy and a guy I knew working there said "You go to get this, greatest thing I've heard in a long time." This was back in the day when you took recommendations seriously because there was no other way to hear new stuff. Bought it and loved it. GNR said it perfectly, it is an album. Listened to all the way through and let it repeat.
Saw them open for Alice and Axl reprimanded someone for dancing with Mr Brownstone. I've heard the same from others so I am starting to wonder if it was real or were they playing with their reputation. Or both.
Was also supposed to see them on a package called Metal Mayhem (I think). It had Ace Frehley, Y&T, Loudness, Gary Moore, Faster Pussycat and TNT. Guns were supposed to be one of the openers but they got the Aertosmith gig at the last minute. They were still advertising GNR up to a week out.
July 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterscott whitt
Hey, it's not many albums that I would glue into my Walkman or car stereo for a month, never listening to anything else during that entire time frame.

But as I said in comments before about Allyson's earlier Guns'n'Roses post, after a month, I never listened to it all the way through again and haven't to this day. But for that month, I was obviously obsessed with 'Appetite' beyond my usual appreciation for a breakthrough album. So, basically, I fried it and put it away.

I saw G'n'R in September, following the album's release, playing in front of a packed audience of two hundred at The Bayou in D.C. Slash informed us toward the end the show, "Normally, I don't talk, but I wanted everyone to know THIS will be the last club date we'll ever play cuz we're joining Mötley Crüe on tour in two weeks!"

Personally, my favorite album is Led Zeppelin II. It's all about that lead break and it's intro in the song "Heartbreaker" that will never be topped by anyone, try as they may.

Also get this... Just like I said in comments on Al's previous post, I know "Appetite for Destruction" is a "better" record, both lyrically and musically, than most albums from the same era. I just happen to LIKE those albums better -- Crüe's "Too Fast For Love", Ratt's "Out of the Cellar", Cinderella's "Long Cold Winter", Wildside's "Under The Influence", Junkyard, Shotgun Messiah's "Second Coming", Roxx Gang's "Things You've Never Done Before" and my favorite of all from that era -- Pretty Boy Floyd's "Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz".

In fact, I don't just "like" those albums, I "LOVE" them.

That said, don't get me wrong. I actually do really "LIKE" 'Appetite for Destruction'.
July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Oh, yeah, AND Poison's "Look What The Cat Dragged In"! LOVE it!!!
July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
I echo everyone's well worded opinions on this AMAZING album and simply want to say from the bottom of my blackened heart, thank you Izzy, Slash, Duff, Steven, & Axl for putting the poetry of my youth to music.
July 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterreptileblvd
I was 18 when this record came out. I first heard it on my college radio station in Upstate New York, (Remember, commercial radio didn't really grab onto it until early '88). I was not immediately blown away by what I heard. i thought the guitar riffs were great, but the singer's voice is annoying. then, when they did hit it big, I pretty much ignored them because they hit it big. It wasn't until several years later, maybe '92 or so, that the guitar player in my band was listening to AFD. I told him I didn't much care for G&R and I remember him saying, "Just listen to this album. really listen to it. it's one of the greatest rock albums of all time." Well, I bought a used copy of the CD for like $3, and I did listen intently to it. Whatever I didn't understand about it five years earlier started to make sense. I don't think of it as a hair metal album at all. it had none of the cliches of mid 80s hair metal. to me, it was a modern version of a gritty rock record, similar to something like Sticky fingers by The Stones. although I generally can't stand Axl these days, and the band became a joke version of themselves, I do regard AFD as one of the greatest rock albums of all time. Not that anyone cares, but my pick for the greatest debut album ever goes to the first album from Boston. I remember back in '76 when that record came out, it just sounded so new, and so fresh, and the soaring vocals of Brad Delp shot it into the stratosphere.
July 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBob
I first learned of GNR through Mtv- back when that station played videos. WTTJ was included in the afternoon version of Headbanger's Ball- though I'm not sure what the metal show was called then. My first reaction was that I didn't like the song and I didn't like the band. GNR looked like a mish-mosh of strung out musicians, or rather, a mish mosh of addicts who happened to play music and there was no clear cut way to interpret them. They were definitely off of my radar.

They kinda resembled some other popular bands of the day in that they had long hair, dressed in leather and were playing metal music, but they definitely weren't Poison. In fact, they weren't even Warrant. (smile). And ,try as they may, they would never be, on their best day, Van Halen.

The member who I disliked most was the lead singer. I didn't understand "his" teased hair, his tattoos, his screeching voice, or his choice for band members. I thought the lead singer belonged more in a mental hospital than on a rock stage. More so, I thought that his lead guitarist needed to be in rehab, his rhythm guitarist needed to be in the Black crows, his bass player needed to be in management and his drummer needed to be in cool band...perhaps like Poison. (smile). I didn't like the song then, and, today, it's still one of my least favorite on that record.

However, almost immediately, there was buzz about them in school and one thing was clear; whether your metal loyalties aligned with Judas Priest and Iron Maiden or Bon Jovi and Cinderella, most people were talking about this band at lunch tables and study halls. This is when I first heard them referred to as "The next Aerosmith" but this was too much of a bite than I could (or would) chew. Sheer Blasphemy! So I backed the corner who opined that they would never last- and I'm still not sure if this initial assessment is accurate as history now shows.

As WTTJ faded away, I thought Good Riddance! Instead, Pour some more sugar on me! (smile) But their next single, Sweet Child, not only made me stand up and notice, it made me shout it out loud from the pulpit from the first time I heard it...and, I even started to make similar comparisons to the Almighty Aerosmith. I started to defend this band and then something "strange" on Mtv happened...WTTJ re-entered heavy rotation based on the huge success of Sweet Child. It was then that I started to take a more unbiased look at their first single and of the band. They also started to pop up in articles in Circus, Hit Parader and Metal Edge, of which I had subscriptions (well maybe not ME, that was too "heavy" and wasn't "parent approved", so I had to swipe some at the local grocery store. (If you wanna get the picture a bit more, rent the movie, "Detroit Rock City", ah, the parallel lines).

One of the reasons I found GNR intriguing was that although people assumed that the members of Bon Jovi and Poison used drugs ("occasionally", and nothing harder than "pot" [snicker]), those bands "presented well"- at least to middle-America and the Tipper Gore tea party circles of the day. And therefore, those bands could also be included in Seventeen and Tiger Beat. Whereas, GNR didn't hide who they were...In fact, they couldn't. GNR could not "present well" if they tried. It was one thing to listen to WASP's "F*ck like a Beast" and hide the record with it's graphic image in your closet, but at least, I always thought that WASP and that particular song were a gimmick almost designed from conception to be banned and to piss off every stay-at-home mom across America (Later it would be 2 Live Crew). Side note: I am still not sure what my mom objected to most when she pillaged my bedroom while I was at school: some of my music choices, my Newport Light cigarettes or the Hustler Magazine, which I actually stole out of my older brother's bedroom. Sure, Bon Jovi was "Livin in Sin", but GNR is smokin the friggin, fuckin "Brownstone". If Tipper Gore had a problem with masturbation on Prince's album. wait'll she get her claws on this. And Rocket Queen? Rumors were already circulating that the groans were actually an orgasmic groupie. Forget WASP's Harder Faster, this was the real deal. Forget Poison's Open up and say Ah "satanic album cover" ban...this was new and (dis)approved.

Yes, GNR set the bar so lower. I couldn't wait for more and what a gem to wait for...their next single, Paradise City. This song channeled one of my favorite artists and albums of all time: Meat Loaf! Paradise City, to me, was a mix between Bat out of Hell and Paradise by the Dashboard Light. GNR delivered pure rock-n-roll genius. This was our Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run", and run headfirst into Paradise City, I did. I wanted I "needed" more.

A kid in my class had just bought the cassette and I asked him to borrow it so I could dub it and he agreed (with many conditions and collateral). [on a side note for those who know me: it is kinda ironic who I borrowed this tape from. He was an adopted child. He was very funny and smart, but a bit of an outcast and a loner. His favorite band was Van Halen and he loved DLR almost as much as me and he was one of the few who, like me, jumped onto DLKR solo Juggernaut. We used to discuss all things VH/DLR during school. Sadly, a few weeks before graduation, he was struck and killed by a school bus in our HS parking lot.]

I dubbed AFD and as I mentioned in a previous post, my tape wasn't as long as AFD, so Rocket Queen was cut out...but WHO fuckin' CARES! I now have Night train, OTGM, Brownstone, (my favorite) Think About You, Anything Goes and (let's not forget) My Michelle which was reportedly based on a true story. Those lyrics alone put the "Filthy 15" to shame. And, I read somewhere, though don't know if it's true, that Axl's line in that song, "Well, Well, Well..." comes from the 1980's cookie-cutter sitcom, "Growing Pains" as the Main Character, Psychologist Dr. Jason Seaver would often start his pontifications to his children using this "well, well, well" intro.

Us, Mtv-viewing, suburban-living, X-generational living, pampered teenagers of the 1980's needed a good solid kick in the ass and what an ass-kicking we were given. We were a little too young for the 1970's Aerosmith and were playing catch up with Van Halen, but now we had a band who wasn't concerned about "defining" our culture, but they were intent on "re-defining" it and, moreover, they were more than willing to re-write the rules- a quest that, unfortunately, Axl still takes way too seriously to date.

In 1987, soon after I first heard of GNR, I got to see them opening up for Aerosmith @ the Philadelphia Spectrum (no longer there). I went with a buddy of mine who was a huge Aerosmith fan and did NOT appreciate the comparisons between Tyler/Perry and Axl/Slash. He even had friendly arguments with people in the parking lot who said that they were coming to see GNR more than Aerosmith. This was, of course, while we were playing hacky sack in our jean jackets, George Thorogood concert Tee's, drinking our Bartles and James and copping a nickel bag. Yeah, we were cool! We "defined" it. (smile)

GNR won over many fans that night including my buddy who reluctantly concurred, "yeah, they were pretty good." [side note again; this is the same buddy who I forced him to see Poison when they opened up for RATT a year or two earlier.] He didn't want to see "a bunch of transvestites", but afterward said too, "yeah, they were pretty good."...ah, the story of my life (one of, anyway.)

In college, I bought the AFD CD and heard it in it's entirety. For whatever reason, RQ as well as WTTJ remain two of my least favorite songs on the album, although, I like both of them.

In 1991, Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit came out and many say that this single-handedly killed the 1980's glam metal scene, while others say it was GNR's Appetite for Destruction. First, as history has shown, that scene is alive and thriving, but more importantly, I don't think GNR killed the scene, but rather, gave it a nice kick in the ass and usually, when you get a kick in the ass it's in the right direction.
July 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfletch

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