Revolutions: Guns N' Roses' "Appetite for Destruction"

REVOLUTIONS EXPLORES SOME OF THE RECORDS THAT HAVE ALTERED AND INFLUENCED THE MUSIC WORLD.

The Rock Hall and Klipsch Audio take fans deep inside these albums to showcase their significance and impact. In this episode, even thirty years after its release, Guns N' Roses' "Appetite for Destruction" mixes punk rock swagger and tender sentiment unlike other rock groups. 

Amid all the hair metal cock-rock posing and partying that dominated the LA scene in the 80s, one group stood out - way out - projecting a much grittier reality of life on the streets and a volatility that had gone missing in hard rock: Guns N’ Roses. 

These weren’t “party all night nothing but a good time” songs – “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Mr. Brownstone,” “My Michelle,” “Rocket Queen” – these stories and songs were nasty, dirty, mean, and honest. 

The group had, in fact, an Appetite for Destruction – a mission to resurrect rock from the contrived BS that was popular at the time. 

The group’s debut vinyl didn’t even have the usual sides A and B; it was split between “G” and “R”: the former for songs about drugs and violence, the latter for tracks dialed into the raunchier sides of sex and love.  

Released in July 1987, the original cover was based on a painting called “Appetite for Destruction” by Robert Williams. Before it even hit the record player, the album pissed people off. After several music retailers refused to stock the album, it was moved to the inner cover and replaced with the now iconic cross-and-skull artwork.

But for all its raucous drama, part of the album’s brilliance is that all that bravado lived alongside Rose’s fears – such as on “Paradise City”; and more tender sentiments – like mega hit “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” 

Matching that mix of emotions was metallic blues-based riffing with a punk rock swagger that stood in stark contrast to the hyper-polished productions of their LA peers. Slash’s guitar style and tone became one of the most imitated, and his singular image – top hat, cigarette, Les Paul – became the antihero model of rock and rollers worldwide. 

The album hit Number One in the US in August 1988, and went on to spend over two years on the Billboard charts. It reminded generations of rock’s potential to incite and inspire, and in doing so, helped chart a new course that still loudly reverberates today.

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