So you guys are going to have to keep waiting for my thoughts on Meatloaf, Bob Seger and The Boss. More important stuff keeps coming up. Like the Guns N' Roses reunion, which is probably the most important thing ever.
Or not. It’s widely known that Guns N' Roses are my favorite band ever. When I woke up the other morning, I had about 16 texts telling me that the last truly great rock & roll band were getting back together.
Except, it’s not actually a reunion. Duff and Slash will (allegedly) be rejoining Axl, Dizzy and whoever is standing in for Steven/Matt and Izzy/Gilby. A reunion, in my mind, has to include all five of the original Appetite-era boys. Even if it can’t get that, it helps to include the two hired guns that even my grandmother has heard of, not whoever Axl has conned into putting up with his shit this week.
Guns N' Roses were the last truly great rock & roll band. Who else has come along since that has even come close?
Nirvana? Please. I’m endlessly grateful to Nirvana for making me aware that punk rock exists. As a cultural phenomenon, they have value. As a band, they were lackluster.
Oasis? Don’t get me wrong. I love those boys. They made NME worth reading for nearly a decade. But while they’re very, very good, I don’t think I’d call them “great.”
The White Stripes? Shut the hell up, you normie twat.
Few albums are 100 percent solid from start to finish, but Appetite for Destruction is one of those records. There’s not a dull moment on the entire record, from the echo-ed out intro to “Welcome to the Jungle” (one of the few overplayed songs that never gets old) to the soulful strains of Axl fucking some broad in the studio on “Rocket Queen.”
I can only think of a couple more records with the kind of batting average Appetite has. Even those records that are 100 percent solid from start to finish (Boston’s self-titled debut and …And Out Come the Wolves come to mind) still aren’t as good, pound for pound, as that first effort from Axl and the boys.
This isn’t a Guns N' Roses reunion. It’s just the latest chapter in Axl Rose’s solo career.
People will be trash-talking the Use Your Illusion twins for the rest of time, but I think they age like a fine wine. Some of the band’s best work appears on Use Your Illusion I. I’m talking about “Dust ‘N Bones,” “Bad Obsession” and “Garden of Eden.” Use Your Illusion II is no slouch, either with “Shotgun Blues,” “Get In the Ring” and “You Could Be Mine.”
The band failed on the Illusions only where their reach exceeded their grasp. “My World” made no sense in 1991, but sounds like a bizarre Nine Inch Nails outtake today. “November Rain” is a misguided attempt at Queen worship. Both versions of “Don’t Cry” are fine, but did we really need both? And the less said about flying dolphins the better.
“The Spaghetti Incident?” followed, the first effort with Gilby Clarke. It’s good, but not great. The first time I ever heard songs by Fear, The Misfits, The Stooges, The Dead Boys and The New York Dolls was on there, but it’s hard to deny that something significant was missing by this point.
That something was the dope, booze and floozy-fueled magic that propelled the first record. There’s something about the low life, even the bits of it the boys took with them to the top, that was necessary. Something that only the original members of Guns N Roses have to offer the world. It’s not even really about the songs. It’s about the guys playing them, and the chemistry they have with each other.
So Axl can hire people to play the notes. And he can re-hire some of the original Gunners (two of the most important, in fact) to spice things up and get the ball rolling in a more exciting direction. But this isn’t a Guns N' Roses reunion. It’s just the latest chapter in Axl Rose’s solo career. It might be the best thing they’ve done in the last 25 years, and that’s not nothing. But it’s also not enough to get me all that fired up.