Appetite for Destruction

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Appetite for Destruction
Studio album by Guns N' Roses
Released July 21, 1987
Recorded

March–April 1987 at Rumbo Studios, Canoga Park, CA; Take One Studio, Burbank, CA; The Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA and Can Am Studio, Tarzana, CA

Final overdubs and album mixing at Mediasound Studios, NYC
Original mastering at Sterling Sound, NYC
Genre Heavy metal, glam metal
Length 53:51
Label Geffen
Producer Mike Clink
Guns N' Roses chronology
Appetite for Destruction
(1987)
G N' R Lies
(1988)
Singles from Appetite for Destruction
  1. "It's So Easy"
    Released: June 15, 1987 (1987-06-15)
  2. "Welcome to the Jungle"
    Released: October 3, 1987 (1987-10-03)
  3. "Sweet Child o' Mine"
    Released: August 17, 1988 (1988-08-17)
  4. "Paradise City"
    Released: November 30, 1988 (1988-11-30)
  5. "Nightrain"
    Released: July 29, 1989 (1989-07-29)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau B-[2]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[3]

Appetite for Destruction is the debut studio album by American hard rock band Guns N' Roses, released on July 21, 1987 on Geffen Records. It was well received by critics and topped the American Billboard 200 chart. As of September 2008, the album has been certified 18 times Platinum by the RIAA, making it the best-selling record released on Geffen.[4] The album is featured in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[5]

Background and recording[edit]

Axl Rose stated that many of the songs featured on the album had been written while the band had been performing on the Los Angeles club circuit, and a number of songs that would be featured on later Guns N' Roses albums were considered for Appetite for Destruction, such as "Back Off Bitch", "You Could Be Mine", "November Rain" and "Don't Cry". It is said that the reason for not putting "November Rain" on it was because they had already agreed to put "Sweet Child 'O Mine" on it and thus already had a ballad on the album (however, both Use Your Illusion albums would contain more than one ballad).[6][7]

The band started searching for someone to produce their debut, mostly recommendations made by Geffen executives Alan Niven and Tom Zutaut. Demos were recorded under both Manny Charlton and Spencer Proffer, with some work made with the latter being issued in the EP Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide.[8] One of the interviewed prospects was Kiss's Paul Stanley, rejected after insisting on changes to Steven Adler's drum setup and the songs. The band considered Robert John "Mutt" Lange, but he proved too expensive to hire. Eventually Mike Clink, who had produced several Triumph records, was chosen,[9] for being the first to record the band exactly the way they wanted.[8]

After some weeks of rehearsal, the band entered Daryl Dragon's Rumbo Recorders in January 1987. Two weeks were spent recording basic tracks, with Clink splicing together the best takes with his razor blade. Clink worked eighteen-hour days for the next month, with Slash overdubbing in the afternoon and evening, and Rose performing vocals. Slash struggled to find a guitar sound before coming up with a Gibson Les Paul copy plugged into a Marshall amplifier. He spent hours with Clink paring down and structuring his solos. The total budget for the album was about $370,000.[7] According to drummer Steven Adler, the percussion was done in just six days, but Rose's vocals took much longer as he insisted on doing them one line at a time, in a perfectionism that drove the rest of the band away from the studio as he worked.[10]

Many of the songs on Appetite For Destruction began as solo tracks that individual band members wrote separate from the band, only to be completed later. These songs include "It's So Easy" (Duff McKagan) and "Think About You" (Izzy Stradlin). "Rocket Queen" was an unfinished Slash/McKagan/Adler song that was written from their earlier band Road Crew, whereas "Anything Goes", written by Hollywood Rose and included in their compilation album The Roots of Guns N' Roses, was later re-written for Appetite.

Most of the songs on the album reflect the band's personal experiences and daily life, such as "Welcome to the Jungle", some of the lyrics of which Rose wrote after he encountered a man near the highways of Los Angeles in 1980 shortly after arriving there from Indiana,[11] and "Mr. Brownstone", which is about the band's problems with heroin. Lyrics to some of the songs focus on the band members' younger years, like "Out ta Get Me", which focuses on lead singer Axl Rose's constant trouble with the law as a youth in Indiana.[12] The band also based song lyrics on some of their female friends, reflected in the songs "Sweet Child o' Mine", "My Michelle", "You're Crazy", and "Rocket Queen".

Song information[edit]

"Welcome to the Jungle"[edit]

It was released as the band's second single on October 3, 1987 and reached number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number sixty-seven on the UK Singles Chart.[citation needed] In the United Kingdom, "Welcome to the Jungle" was backed with a live cover of AC/DC's "Whole Lotta Rosie",[13] while in the United States the B-side was "Mr. Brownstone" from Appetite for Destruction.[14] In 2009 it was named the greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.[15]

"It's So Easy"[edit]

This song was the band's first single released June 15, 1987, just over a month before Appetite was released. It reached 87 on the UK charts. It is backed by "Mr. Brownstone." It was also the first music video for Guns N' Roses, recorded live. However it was never released in the United States and was not accepted by MTV. It was a staple in each of their concerts, and opened up each set after the release of Appetite for Destruction. It was also often played early in the set for the Illusions and Chinese tours. It features a cowbell percussion and prominently uses the word "fuck."

"Nightrain"[edit]

This song refers to a brand of cheap wine that some Guns N' Roses members had allegedly abused at a time.[16]

"Out ta Get Me"[edit]

Its lyrics focus on lead singer Axl Rose's constant trouble with the law as a youth in Indiana.[citation needed] Slash describes it as being written even more quickly than "Welcome to the Jungle", which was written in just three hours.[12]

"Paradise City"[edit]

Slash states in his autobiography that the song was written in the back of a rental van as they were on their way back from playing a gig in San Francisco with the band Rock N Riders.[citation needed] He states that the band was in the back of the van, drinking and playing acoustic guitars when he came up with the intro.[citation needed] Duff McKagan and Izzy Stradlin started playing along. Slash started humming a melody when Axl Rose sang, "Take me down to the Paradise City", where Slash then chimed in with "Where the girls are fat and have big titties."[citation needed] Axl didn't like these lyrics, as he wanted the song to be radio-friendly. The rest of the band agreed and the line was changed to "Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty."[citation needed]

"My Michelle"[edit]

The song is about a friend of the band, a girl named Michelle Young who is thanked in the 'Appetite For Destruction' cover sleeve. According to Axl, he and Young were in a car together when "Your Song" by Elton John came on the radio and Young 'happened' to mention that she had always wanted someone to write a song about her.[citation needed] The song is brutally honest, which Slash thought she would hate, but she liked the song.[citation needed]

"Sweet Child O' Mine"[edit]

Ninth track on the album and third single. Released on August 18, 1988, the song topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming the band's first and only number-one single in the U.S. It reached number six on the UK Singles Chart.

The lyrics of the song are written about Axl's girlfriend (at the time) Erin Everly.[citation needed] The famous guitar lick at the beginning of the song was simply one of Slash's warm-up routines, as he stated in his autobiography.[citation needed] Slash thought of the intro as a joke and nothing special, although the other members of the band did.[citation needed] As Slash began playing the lick, Izzy began strumming simple chords to it.[citation needed] Meanwhile, upstairs Axl heard it and wrote lyrics to it.[citation needed] Shortly after that night, Rose brought the lyrics to the rest of the band and it was turned into a full song.[citation needed]

"You're Crazy"[edit]

Originally written as an acoustic song, "You're Crazy" was revamped for Appetite for Destruction[17] (this version is one of the fastest songs in the band's catalog). The slower, acoustic version was later recorded for G N' R Lies; this version has also been performed live with electric guitars (as heard on their live album).

A working title for the song was "Fucking Crazy".[17]

"Anything Goes"[edit]

This was one of the earliest-written songs by the band, having been written in 1981 and performed in an earlier incarnation with Hollywood Rose. It was originally named "My Way, Your Way".[18]

"Rocket Queen"[edit]

The song Rocket Queen was, according to Axl Rose in an interview with Hit Parader 1988, written about a girl called Barbi Von Grief who said she was going to have a band called Rocket Queen and travel to outer space playing shows on other planets and eventually rule the universe.[citation needed] It is the closing song on Appetite For Destruction.

Album cover[edit]

The original cover art for the album

The album's original cover art, based on Robert Williams' painting "Appetite for Destruction", depicted a robotic rapist about to be punished by a metal avenger. After several music retailers refused to stock the album, the label compromised and put the controversial cover art inside, replacing it with an image depicting a cross and skulls of the five band members (designed by Billy White Jr., originally as a tattoo), each skull representing one member of the band: Izzy Stradlin, top skull; Steven Adler, left skull; Axl Rose, center skull; Duff McKagan, right skull; and Slash, bottom skull. The photographs used for the back of the album and liner notes were taken by Robert John, Marc Canter, Jack Lue, Leonard McCardie, and Greg Freeman. The original cover was supposed to be on the 2008 re-pressing of the vinyl, though the record label replaced it with the "Skulls" art at the last minute.[19] The re-pressing of the vinyl, though, is the first Guns N' Roses release to have the Parental Advisory label printed on the artwork; previously, like on the CD, this was a sticker on the cellophane wrap and later (on the CD and cassette releases) on the case itself.

In albums which were issued on double sided media (vinyl records and audio cassettes) the two sides were not conventionally labeled "A" and "B", but "G" and "R". Tracks 1–6 which compose side "G" all deal with drugs and hard life in the big city ("Guns" side). The remaining tracks, which compose side "R", all deal with love, sex and relationships ("Roses" side).

In an interview with That Metal Show in 2011, Axl stated his original idea for the cover art was to be the photo of the Space Shuttle Challenger exploding, which was on the cover of Time Magazine in 1986, but Geffen refused it saying it was "in bad taste"[20]

Legacy and achievements[edit]

Appetite for Destruction debuted at position 182 on the Billboard 200 on August 29, 1987.[21] The album reached number one on the chart on September 24, 1988, 50 weeks after its first appearance.[22] It spent four weeks at the top of the chart,[23] and a total of 147 weeks on the Billboard 200.[21]

  • In 1989, Rolling Stone ranked Appetite for Destruction as the 27th best album of the 1980s.[24]
  • The same magazine later ranked it at sixty-two on their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[25]
  • In 2001, Q magazine named Appetite for Destruction as one of the 50 Heaviest Albums of All Time.[26]
  • In 2004, Q magazine also named Appetite for Destruction as one of the greatest Classic rock Albums Ever.[27]
  • In 2003, VH1 named Appetite for Destruction the 42nd Greatest Album of All Time.[28]
  • In 2002, Pitchfork Media ranked Appetite for Destruction 59th on their Top 100 Albums of the 1980s.[29]
  • It was ranked 18 in Spin magazine's "100 Greatest Albums, 1985–2005".[30]
  • In 2006, Kerrang! ranked the album #1 on the list of best rock albums.[31]
  • The album was ranked 32 on Rock Hall of Fame's 'definitive 200' album list, developed by the NARM, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers.[32]
  • In 2006, Q magazine placed the album at #10 in its list of "40 Best Albums of the '80s".[33]
  • In 2006, the album was placed No. 2 on Guitar World magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time.[34]
  • In 2011, Australian radio station Triple M listed Appetite For Destruction #1 in their list of the 250 most life changing albums.
  • In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at #37 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s".[35]
  • In 2012, Clash added the album to its Classic Albums Hall of Fame .[36]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Welcome to the Jungle"   Axl Rose, Slash 4:34
2. "It's So Easy"   Duff McKagan, West Arkeen 3:23
3. "Nightrain"   Rose, McKagan, Izzy Stradlin, Slash 4:29
4. "Out ta Get Me"   Rose, Stradlin, Slash 4:25
5. "Mr. Brownstone"   Stradlin, Slash 3:49
6. "Paradise City"   Rose, McKagan, Stradlin, Slash 6:46
7. "My Michelle"   Rose, Stradlin 3:40
8. "Think About You"   Stradlin 3:52
9. "Sweet Child o' Mine"   Rose, Slash, Stradlin 5:55
10. "You're Crazy"   Rose, Slash, Stradlin 3:17
11. "Anything Goes"   Rose, Stradlin, Chris Weber 3:26
12. "Rocket Queen"   Rose, Slash, Stradlin 6:13
Total length:
53:52

Personnel[edit]