Sunday, February 5, 2012

Guns N' Rose - G N' R Lies

Happy forty-eighth birthday today (February 5th) to bassist Duff McKagan and fiftieth birthday tomorrow (February 6th) to singer Axl Rose.

Following their smash hit debut album Appetite for Destruction (click here for my review of that one), Guns N’ Roses followed it up a year later in 1988 with G N’ R Lies. This one too went multi-Platinum in sales and scored well on the charts; it reached number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 200, number 7 in Sweden, number 13 in Canada, number 15 in Switzerland and number 22 in the UK.

Side one is labeled Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide and featured four tracks from an EP by the same name. That EP was first released in 1986 on the UZI Suicide label. Since it only had a US release of 10,000 copies, the band decided to repackage it as part of their second album.

The raucous, rapid-fire “Reckless Life” starts things off. Steven Adler’s drums keep the intensity going while Slash shreds everything in sight.

They segue very easily into the next track. “Nice Boys” is a cover of a tune by Rose Tattoo, an Australian rock band from the 70’s and early 80’s; the song originally appeared on 1978‘s Rose Tattoo album. As the lyrics say “nice boys don’t play rock and roll”; the guys from GNR certainly could never be mistaken for nice boys.

“Move to the City” has a bit of a blues riff to it, grounded in a heavy metal rock sound.

The final track on the side is a cover of Aerosmith’s “Mama Kin” which first appeared on their 1973 self-titled debut album. The hard rockers from Los Angeles have gone on record that saying the classic Boston band was an inspiration to them. Guns N’ Roses do a pretty good job with their version of the song.

Side two is a quartet of new tracks by the band, all recorded with acoustic guitars.

The only single released from the album was the track “Patience”. The song went to number 4 on the US Billboard Top 40 chart, number 5 on the US Mainstream Rock chart, number 2 in Ireland, number 4 in New Zealand and the Netherlands, and number 10 in the UK. From Rose’s opening whistling, the listener is in for a thoughtful look at failing relationships. I can actually hear the maturity in his vocals on the verses.

“Used to Love Her” is a solo composition by guitarist Izzy Stradlin. Some might suspect that the song is about a bad relationship but it is in fact about Rose’s dog that, as the lyrics imply, he had to put down.

“You’re Crazy” appeared on the band’s debut album; here we get a nice acoustic version of the song. The tempo is slowed down quite a bit here, making it easier to follow the lyrics too.

“One in a Million”, a song Rose wrote describing his first arrival in Los Angeles, stirred up controversy with its lyrics that were viewed by some as homophobic and racist. While I think Rose was being rather blunt with his choice of words, some of which being derogatory slurs, it was ultimately his choice on how he wanted to express himself.

G N’ R Lies is an interesting beast that shows a number of contrasting views of the band. The first side is loud, rowdy and raw. The second side is more mellow and exposed. Side one is very much a band out to prove themselves. Side two is a band trying to show another facet of their sound. All together, we get an intriguing portrait of Guns N’ Roses.

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