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Published on August 7th, 2018 | by voxx


Guns ‘N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction 30th Anniversary Edition

A lavish retread of the Sunset Strip outlaws’ masterpiece…

It’s hard to know if Guns N’Roses were ever fans of Oscar Wilde, but few bands embody the great playwright’s bon mot that “nothing succeeds like excess” like they do. In their original ‘80s incarnation, they were unrepentant bad boys whose pharmaceutical habits and death-wish glamour rubbed jarringly up against cold-eyed ambition. Thirty years on and well into an unexpected third act, they’re raking it in on a lucrative semi-reunion tour whose ability to hoover up money would do your average Russian oligarch proud.

Still, this being Guns N’Roses, there remains a sense that things could fly off the rails at any moment, which is why this blockbusting reissue of their 30 million-selling debut album has the whiff of making hay while the sun shines about it. It’s top-of-the-range “Locked N’Loaded” incarnation – a four-CD/seven-LP/seven-7-inchers/hardback book edition housed in a leather-bound wooden box – will leave you with little change from £1000. Even a fresh-off-the-production-line mid-range edition – just the four CDs and one Blu-Ray, thank you very much – will set you back northwards of £150.

None of that should detract from the fact that Appetite For Destruction itself stands as one of the greatest rock records ever made. The band that spat it out it may have emerged from the dozily hedonistic Sunset Strip scene, but there was nothing dumb about them. Their factory mode was “feral”: ‘Welcome To The Jungle’ was a junkie’s-eye-view tour of LA, supposed anti-smack broadside ‘Mr Brownstone’ was more celebration than condemnation and even the anthemic ‘Paradise City’ had a nihilistic euphoria about it. There was no wonder that Guns N’Roses and N.W.A had a mutual appreciation thing going on at the time – they were flip sides of the same grubby coin.

The extra material that accompanies the remastered album does a decent job of fleshing out the picture without dismantling the myth. One disc collects together tracks from various EPs and B-sides, including most of 1988’s acoustic GN’R Lies – a release that helped usher in the MTV Unplugged era. But the big selling point is the previously unreleased material spread across the remaining discs: a mix of demo tracks, alternate takes, half-finished snippets of previously unheard songs and cover versions (Aerosmith’s ‘Mama Kin’, Elvis Presley’s ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and perhaps inevitably, The Rolling Stones’ ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’).

In truth, there’s little here to pull in anyone who isn’t a hardcore fan, though two early incarnations of Rose’s monomaniacal piano blowout ‘November Rain’, a track that would take five years for him to satisfactorily finish, prove that his dictatorial tendencies were in place from the start: Kim Jong-un in a spandex jockstrap.

What’s really interesting is what isn’t here. The much-debated acoustic EP track ‘One In A Million’ – a song peppered with racist and homophobic epithets – is noticeable by its absence. It seems that Rose has finally realised the flimsiness of his defence of it as a picture of bright-lights-big-city verité, even if he’s content to let the nasty misogyny of ‘Back Off Bitch’ and ‘Used To Love Her’ (“But I had to kill her…”) stand.

Whether that puts you off Guns N’Roses is up to you, just as the hefty price tag for the upmarket versions of this reissue is a question for your accountant – although a stripped-back two-disc version is also available. Moral and financial considerations aside, this stands as a monument to success and excess. Oscar Wilde would be proud.

- By Jake White

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