There are three forces that comprise the entity of Guns N’ Roses, Slash, Duff and Axel Rose, though an honorable mention should go to Izzy. Never was there anything worth talking about regarding Guns N’ Roses when even one of the mentioned three was missing, yet soon enough, I shall be. Despite being one of the most famous American rock bands of all time and often considered the very best rock band to come out of the eighties, Guns N’ Roses have a very limited body of work.
|"Appetite for Destruction" is by far |
Guns N' Roses' most popular album
In 1988 Guns N’ Roses released their second album “G N R Lies” which paled in comparison to “Appetite for Destruction” both in sales and overall critical review. Still “Patience” is a great song.
|"Use Your Illusion 2"|
Oh sure, in 1993 Guns N’ Roses released “The Spaghetti Incident?” a cover album best known for their rendition of The Rolling Stones “Sympathy For The Devil” which appeared on the soundtrack for the movie “Interview with a Vampire,” but “The Spaghetti Incident” is a cover album, and the absence of original material makes it not really a Guns N’ Roses album, per say. Also in 2008 there was “Chinese Democracy” and therein lies a problem.
Most everyone knows that Slash and Duff left Guns N’ Roses after “The Spaghetti Incident,” or more accurately Guns N’ Roses broke up, and as soon as this happened nothing any of them did afterward felt like Guns N’ Roses, not even “Guns N’ Roses.” Axel Rose came up with the band name and as such he felt entitled to use it after the band broke up, but Axel was a fool to think anyone would fail to see past the misplaced label. After fifteen years of inactivity in the music industry “Chinese Democracy” was released, which is not a Guns N’ Roses album, it is an Axel Rose album. The truly sad thing is this is effectively, creatively, what Axel wanted.
There is a linear trend when looking at the history of Guns N’ Roses. They started out a really heavy rock band with nearly every song on “Appetite for Destruction” being a hard rock song with serious drums and bass guitar. “G N R Lies” was a softer album, and the “Use Your Illusion” albums had piano solos and ballads throughout and all of a sudden things did not feel right. Guns N’ Roses broke up was because Axel had assumed too much creative control, also he’s an asshole and nobody in the band could put up with him anymore, but it should not be ignored that Axel’s not so hard approach to rock and roll is what really changed Guns N’ Roses and ultimately cost him Slash and Duff, as well as Izzy. Just looking at the sales of the Guns N’ Roses discography and it is clear that fans agreed with the sentiments of Slash, Duff and Izzy, “Appetite for Destruction” has out sold the rest of the discography by a large margin. Axel, being a dick, assumed control of the band and took a primary creative control of the “Use Your Illusion” albums and this was probably one of the first of many major offensives made towards his band mates, and when you put yourselves in the shoes of Guns N’ Roses, the real band members thereof, it would be offensive to give up part of your hard rock intensity so your egotistical front man can express his sensitive side, and consequently it is no wonder Guns N’ Roses broke up, again the real one.
So basically Axel Rose is a dick, and not a heavy rock and roller, and it took him fifteen years of preparation to embarrass himself with “Chinese Democracy.”
And embarrass himself he did:
There is little denying that Axel is in fact, or at least at one point was, a creative musical genius, and we have to look no further than “Use Your Illusion” parts one and two as proof of this. I love “Appetite For Destruction” everyone does, it is rock and roll through and through, however there is something to be said about the softer touch and the greater variety of style on the “Use Your Illusion” albums,” and while rocking out may be the greatest thing ever (ever!), experimenting with new ideas and self expression is basically art summed up, and by this standard “Use Your Illusion” is a very artistic set of albums by comparison. Furthermore, I think it is safe to say the artistic turn by Guns N’ Roses in the earlier nineties is primarily the result of Axel’s influence. Even though “Appetite for Destruction” is the most popular Guns N’ Roses album I do feel “Use Your Illusion” double album showcases creative growth and musical technical development, also the “Use Your Illusion” albums contain some of the best Guns N’ Roses songs, most notably “November Rain.”
“November Rain” is not a hard rock and roll song in the narrowest, most closed minded, sense of judgemental genre classification. What kind of bad asses have piano solos? And other such stupidities may disqualify “November Rain” as a candidate for Guns N’ Roses best song in the minds of some, but I nominate “November Rain” not only as Guns N’ Roses best song, but also Axel Rose’s magnum opus. The nine minute rock ballad does everything an epic sort of song needs to do to feel grand and deep. There is a soothing introduction, clever little locks of poetry throughout, and an appropriate narrative that intensifies in both theme and volume as time goes on. Around the seven minute mark the drums pick up and a new and faster rhythm begins and almost a completely different song comes forward, a hard song, a rock song. Like a well deserved climax after a mellow moment of relaxation, or like dessert after dinner if you really want a metaphor, “November Rain” suddenly becomes the sort of song that befits Guns N’ Roses in that it is now has moments of both hard and soft, it is both ballad and rock song. It is a great song, and so perfectly captures both moods but it also shows the two sides of Guns N’ Roses. I said earlier there are three (arguably four) forces behind Guns N’ Roses but creatively there is really only two, the united voice of the rock band and Axel the misunderstood poet, and we get to see a little bit of both in “November Rain.” Axel gets a chance to sing poetry and express that rock ballad side of himself and then we get a fast paced rocking conclusion. There never was, and never again, a Guns N’ Roses song that so perfectly captured the spirit of the band, in its whole, than “November Rain” and never did Axel create such a beautiful song ever again. Despite his faults, and they appear to be many, Axel showed he had the talent to be a great song writer, and at one point he had the kind of band with the high caliber of talent that is very rare to back him up and the result was Guns N’ Roses and his finest moment is “November Rain.”
We will forever lament that we never got more than four true Guns N’ Roses albums, and it will always sting that much more knowing that the factors preventing us from getting more Guns N’ Roses were petty things like ego and a lack of creative cooperation. But at least, at the very least, we got “November Rain” before everything fell apart. We may forever look upon Axel Rose as something of a screw up and an asshole who ruined Guns N’ Roses but when our frustrations subside with calmer minds we know, we all know, that without Axel there could have been no true Guns N’ Roses and somewhere inside that man’s mind are beautiful things like “November Rain.”
- King of Braves
The Music Video: