Appetite for Destruction - 25 Years Later
25 years ago one of the world’s most influential albums was released. July 1987 marked the release of a particular 12-track album on Geffen Records.
It was the debut release for a band that would go on to be a household name, for reasons both good and bad.
The album was produced by Mike Clink and features the much-played (but highly over-rated) single "Sweet Child O’ Mine" as performed by five guys: Axl Rose (vocals, piano), Duff McKagan (bass), Izzy Stradlin (guitar), Slash (guitar) and Steven Adler (drums).
If you haven’t guessed it already the album is Appetite for Destruction and the band is Guns N' Roses.
A little known fact is that KISS lead singer Paul Stanley was one of the first in line to produce the album, but he had different ideas compared to what GNR wanted.
It wasn’t until August of 1988 that the album reached its full potential and hit number 1 in the charts, going on to sell 1.8 million copies within 18 months of its release.
The album’s original artwork was borrowed from a Robert Williams painting titled Appetite for Destruction. After it was deemed too confronting, a second cover was issued featuring the now iconic skulls-and-cross logo. The first cover artwork was still used on the inner sleeve.
The back of the album features a photo by Marc Canter, who was a long-time friend of the band. His photo book, Reckless Road. Guns N' Roses and the making of Appetite for Destruction, is an excellent visual accompaniment to the album.
"Welcome to the Jungle" is the opening song on the album. It went on to become Guns N' Roses’ calling card. The subtle "oh my god" eight seconds in is a little addition that is rarely heard. This is a song about the band's move from Axl and Izzy’s hometown of Indiana to the wilds of Hollywood.
"It’s So Easy" features more of a punk influence. Co-written by West Arkeen, who went on to contribute lyrically to later GNR albums. "Jungle" opened the album with Axl’s trademark high register voice, but "Easy" provides contrast with a lower vocal.
"Night Train" is about a cheap wine and has a great use of cowbell. "Out Ta Get Me" is "Guns N' Roses' big anarchy statement", as Slash said in 1986 at the Troubadour, where the song was performed for the first time.
"Mr Brownstone" is a song to warn people away from heroin. Cymbals are used to great effect here. "Paradise City" is the anthem song that everyone knows. According to Axl "the verses are about being in the jungle, whereas chorus is being somewhere like Mid-West"*.
"My Michelle" is a song Axl wrote about a girl he knew, and surprisingly it was well received by her. She was glad that "...someone didn’t just paint a pretty picture. It was a real song to her and not something hokey."*
"Think About You" picks up the pace, and then comes "Sweet Child O’ Mine", the sole ballad from the album, featuring Slash’s famous guitar riff.
"You’re Crazy" originally had a more explicit title. "Anything Goes" was originally a Hollywood Rose song titled "My Way, Your Way". "Rocket Queen" is well known for its ‘environmental sounds’. You’ll know what I mean if you hear them.
Appetite for Destruction displays the raw and energetic qualities of the band that were established the moment they first played together. Appetite was also important for the time period because it strayed from the overproduced and synthetic '80s sound.
A lot of people say that Guns N' Roses were like no other band they had heard before. This is true on one level, but if you listen closely there are obvious influences, like Nazareth.
In fact it’s been suggested that Axl’s iconic voice was first heard by his bandmates when he was singing Nazareth’s "Hair of the Dog" in the shower. They suggested he keep the sound.
This album is now a part of history. Appetite for Destruction remains dominant in every generation. Its songs are on jukeboxes around the world.
It will continue to sell as time goes on because it has stood the test of time and it is still the perfect album today.
5 out of 5.
* All quotes are from Marc Canter’s Reckless Road.
Like this review? Want to write one like it? Check out our Get Published on Youth Central pages to find out how!
For more album reviews, check out our Reviews Archive.