Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Required Reading: Axl & Kurt

1991 might be remembered as the year of Nevermind, but no band was bigger at the time than GN-effin-R, and no rock star had more power than Axl Rose, a man that made wearing a bandana and spandex biker shorts in public credible by sheer force of personality.

Guns N’ Roses’ 1987 debut, Appetite For Destruction, ranked among the best-selling rock albums of all time, and it was the soundtrack for countless coming-of-age moments for teenagers in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Kids everywhere were getting laid, drunk, and beat up for the first time to the sounds of “Welcome To The Jungle” and “Paradise City.”

By 1991, Axl was so powerful that he was able to essentially coerce his record company, Geffen, into releasing two maniacally ambitious double-albums on the same day — Sept. 17, 1991 — rather than a year or two apart, which is what the label wanted to do because it happened to make a lot more sense. The dual release of the Use Your Illusion albums was an act of hubris so brazen in its arrogance and yet strangely admirable in its artistic stubbornness that nobody had been fucking crazy enough to try anything like it before, or attempt to copy it in the nearly two decades since. (Yes, there was Bruce Springsteen’s little-loved Human Touch/Lucky Town experiment the following year, and Nelly’s Sweat/Suit dual-release in 2004, but at least those weren’t double albums.)

We can debate about the greatness and importance of Nevermind — I’d rather we didn’t, but go ahead if you want — but there’s no arguing against the Use Your Illusion saga being a unique and historical event in rock history; in terms of excess, it planted a flag at the end of the world.

You can read the entire (fantastically well-written) piece here.


Anonymous said...

Glad you brought this to your blog, Mack -

I was - and still am, in a way - a fan of both Axl and Kurt.
Just recently I've realized that in America there was a huge separation from the grunge movement and my all-time favorite band.

As a 14 year old growing up in the early 90's, I'd read RIP Magazine and watch MTV/Headbanger's Ball, and nothing that I saw or read ever told me that people who liked Guns n' Roses or Metallica or Megadeth weren't the same kind of people to listen to Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots or Smashing Pumpkins.

So yes, I vaguely recall reading about Axl-Kurt bullshit in MTV. But I recall much more the Nirvana cap on the "Don't Cry" vid or the extremely positive way Axl talks about Kurt and Nirvana in a mythical 3 part interview he gave to Del James in RIP.

As in the last years I've been craving for good music and only find it randomly, I started buying books about the grunge movement.

And much to my surprise, the "anti-glamor snobbery", the "anti-star", the whole "I don't give a shit about this or the money it gives me" pose attributed to Kurt are nothing more than fake.

It comes across in different books, different authors and different sources that in Nirvana's last tour Kurt wasn't even in speaking terms with both Krist and Dave. Due to what? Royalties and writing credits. Ring a bell, anyone?

So a lot of people looked at Kurt as the "money doesn't matter" type of artist, deprived of any motivations other than artistic ones. As you might understand from what I said above: a load of crap.

Also, I laughed my ass off when I read that both early-Nirvana and hype-Nirvana kept coming late on stage, like +1 hour. Ring a bell #2,anyone?

So now it's 2010 and people - like the guy that wrote this article - are still idolyzing the guy who behaved in a way in the public eye, but then acted the opposite way when out of it.

But to me, much worst, articles like this seem to insist in a theory that the grunge movement have nothing to do with guns n' roses. To me, that was lucky enough to see the AFD and UYI's effect, that's nothing but crap. I think it was Jerry Cantrell who said that back in the days he couldn't state publicly how big of a fan he was of...Elton John. Last year, in "Black gives way to blue", he asked Elton to play piano on a track. Ring a bell #3, anyone?

So, here's the european citizen saying: I really don't know how one can separate Guns n' Roses and key-grunge bands. In fact, all of them cast punk (remember Nazareth as one of Axl's all time favourites) as their influences.

Bottom line: don't believe "anything" that you read. It may be well written, but it's all insulting in a lot of ways.

Sorry for the ENORMOUS comment :)


Anonymous said...

Funny, I seem to remember that The Beatles "The Beatles" out selling all their single albums, as well as anything G n' R ever did.