Sunday, September 18, 2011
The Celebration Continues ...
Really, the biggest problem with the Use Your Illusion albums was that they weren’t Appetite For Destruction. Appetite was the sort of debut album that leaves a blazing hole in the universe, and it’s easy to see why GN’R went for grand sweep in the follow-up; it’s not like they could’ve exceeded that album’s wild-eyed abandon. (It’s fun to imagine what could’ve happened if GN’R had tried to go harder and dirtier, like Nirvana did with In Utero. Maybe they’d still be around today, or maybe Axl would be dead; I have no idea.) The Use Your Illusion albums are huge and silly and ultimately meaningless where Appetite was a snot-rocket straight to your soul. The only Use Your Illusion songs with clear points are the ones where they get pissed. I can tell you all the whos and whys of “Get In The Ring,” for instance, but to this day I only have the fuzziest notions of what “Civil War” is even about, and I suspect that Axl feels the same. Another, smaller issue is the absence of Appetite-era drummer Steven Adler, an absolute walking disaster of a human being who nevertheless had the inventive glee to turn songs like “Rocket Queen” into funked-up disco-metal throwdowns. His replacement was Matt Sorum, imported from the Cult, whose wallop was sturdy but who never seemed to be having that much fun.
And yet the Illusion albums still succeeded way more often than they failed. They aimed for grand majesty, and they achieved it. And who even tries for that anymore? Radiohead, maybe? Lady Gaga? Have the ensuing 20 years produced a single musician who could ride on the back of a dolphin and make it seem cool? And in a way, Guns N’ Roses willing themselves out of the hair-band ghetto through sheer talent and spiteful determination and transforming themselves into Pink Floyd heirs… it’s as powerful a story, in its own way, as Nirvana upending the cool-kid lunch table (Sterogum).
posted 9:57 AM