There is one band in the world that has always come close to beating Def Leppard to the top spot in my all time favorites. A band that I consider to be the greatest hard rock band of all time. I first discovered Guns N Roses in 1992, just a couple of months after Def Leppard when an older brother of one of my friends leant me the Use Your Illusion 1I& II albums in boarding school. Knowing that I was a Leppard and Meatloaf fan, I think he wanted someone else to share the mighty Guns with since everyone else had never heard of any rock bands. I remember trying Use Your Illusion I first because I preferred the cover and was instantly blown away by the sher force of the Axl’s voice and the guitars. I’d never heard anything like this and all of a sudden Leppard didn’t hold the holier than though pedestal I’d placed them on. Shortly after I managed to get copies of the alums from a traveller outside Mullingar at a wee market at some roadside restaurant like the covert and Guns were firmly brought into my life.
Aside from Adrenalize, I don’t think I’ve ever listened to an album so much in my life. Use Your Illusion I oozes sleazy Rock N Roll and as I got older, I understood more and more of the ands lyrics an hidden connotations. It was like an album that grew more and more mature with age and that’s the prime reason it never got left on the shelf when new bands came into my life. Despite being as big of a fan as I was, I’d never even heard about Appetite for Destruction or Lies and wouldn’t discover them for another eight or nine years. Even when Appetite did come along, it’s never managed to replace Illusion 1 as my favorites; even now I can listen to that album and enjoy it as much as I ever did.
Before getting into the songs (and honestly, I don’t write these to try and review the greatest songs in my life. If you don’t know them there isn’t much point in you reading these), I should say that to appreciate the Guns, you really need to look at their career rather than just their music. Think of them like The Sex Pistols and you will understand Rock N Roll like the Pistols make you understand the true meaning of punk. Rock n Roll is meant to be an attitude more than the music. It’s that attitude that defines real rock n roll rebellion. It’s not anarchy, it’s lazy. It’s about doing what ever you like and not letting anyone tell you otherwise. Yeah it sounds cliché but that’s what it’s all about and if there is one man in rock who lives up to every single word of that, it’s W. Axl Rose.
Axl has never and will never do what record companies, fans, and mates, family or the press expect, pressure or beg him to do. Yes I’m sure there are all these underground guys who do the same but I’m sorry, Axl is the one with the millions under his belt and he still does what he likes and makes it work at his level. He didn’t give up after the Illusion and release one watered down alum after another for the following twenty years. He also didn’t go out of his way to keep the classic line-up happy and he continued Guns N Roses in his own way with the whole world laughing at him. Even the rock press and diehard fans failed to see the brilliance behind his methods and still today the fans that claimed to stand behind him still bitch log and beg for tours, special edition albums and music videos all the while their forgetting that none of these things will make the bands latest album Chinese Democracy any better. Axl is a musician who’s quite happy to let the music speak for its’ self. If anyone else did it and said that’s what they were doing, the world would cherish them and praise their musical integrity but unfortunately for Axl, they lampoon him.
Well I hope you will read this and look on Axl more favorably. He is not a front man interested in keeping old fans happy by travelling the world selling a decaying shell of a once great line-up, who’s former members have gone on to destroy their legacy’s and tarnished their images as the rocks leading hell raisers (except Izzy). He’s doing what he wants, how he wants to do it and any fan of rock n roll out there who criticizes, laughs or attacks him for this hasn’t got fucking clue what rock n roll is all about. You’d be better of buying your Motorhead t-shirts in Top Shop and singing along with Summer of 69 when it’s one and leave it at that because Rock has enough posers already.
Anyways, Use Your Illusion I eh, great album. What else can I say?