Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Guns'N'Roses ~ G N' R Lies

(Click on heading to visit official website)
Style: hard rock
Label: Geffen
Year: 1988
Home: Los Angeles, California

Members: Axl Rose ~ vocals/percussion
Slash ~ guitar/b. vocals
Izzy Stradlin ~ guitar/percussion/b. vocals
Duff McKagan ~ guitar/bass/b. vocals
Steven Adler ~ drums/b. vocals

Additional: West Arkeen, Rick Richards, Howard Teman ~ percussion

This is an odd little album. Any other band having reached GNR's stature probably would not have put this out ... or at least not for many years & albums into their career, or at least not in this form. Basically, it's two albums & instead of releasing an EP or two, which is what another band would probably do, they just gave the world everything - the good, the bad & the ugly ... or the uncomfortable. The first half is early live tracks ("Reckless Life", "Nice Boys," "Move To The City", "Mama Kin") & the second half is new acoustic songs. It could be two sides to the same coin, but the contrast is far too awkward. First, the live tracks ... previously released on their out of print debut EP Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide & actually studio tracks with an overdubbed audience ... belays very very little of the majestic world conquering masterpieces GNR would later produce, let alone any clue that this pub band would be anything other than a crunchy L.A. glam band with a whiny Ratt-esque singer. It's almost impossible to hear the GNR we know in these early tracks. I guess looks can be deceiving. Yes, there's some lyrical similarities with Welcome To The Jungle & there's a few guitar moments in "Move To The City" that sound familiar, but its high energy but fairly vacuous music on the whole that needs a whole bunch of polishing. The boys have the pieces, they know how to craft melody lines that are memorable, but need some help to make it shine beyond what every other band sounds like. Even their take on Aerosmith's "Mama Kin" isn't anything worth much attention. It's obviously borrowing from Aerosmith's drunken days when they could barely perform. Then there's the second part of the album, or the second potential EP, of new songs done acoustically ("Patience", "Used To Love Her", "You're Crazy" & "One In A Million"). A strange follow-up to GNR's breakthrough Welcome To The Jungle, but as that album went so high it almost makes since to come back to earth, put something modest together & just chill until a real masterpiece could be created. You can't top the previous album so why try? Putting out the early live tracks almost says like they don't care, either ... here's some new music now leave us alone. But, while "Patience" lacks the heart stopping rock feel GNR was known for ... I mean, a country blues guitar solo for starters ... might it really be one of their greatest love songs? Some have criticized "Patience" as too emotionally forced & raw, but in hindsight a far different picture comes out. GNR were always emotionally raw ... Axl Rose might hide from society but not lyrically ... but the headbanging of their early days clouded over just how raw they really were. In the future this raw emotional side would come out more often then not - "November Rain" or "Don't Cry" anyone? - while the desire to experiment with acoustic guitars would be seen not just as an attempt to do the obligatory acoustic power ballad, but just a general theme of the GNR compositional approach that would go in every direction ... & many years. As for the other three songs, while they might be acoustic these are no power ballads. These are as far from cliche acoustic ballads that every other band was putting out as one could get. While they are as biting as anything else they made & the lyrics are more upfront than ever. I'll confess that my mom liked GNR ... I'm sure many hip moms did. But, with this album they finally heard the lyrics & Axl holds nothing back & got into lots of trouble for it ... the same trouble Eminem would get for saying the same things. As for the criticism ... it's just lyrics folks, get over your issues & what you see, versus what is really there. There's bands out there with far more real venom than Axl. It's like when someone condemns a band for being Satanic as they write Satanic sounding songs but don't actually do anything Satanic & decry Satanism ... while the bands that actually do the Satanic stuff can't get any media attention to save their careers. Some say these lyrics aren't a character but actually Eminem ... I mean, Axl Rose ... but as a writer myself & someone whose followed GNR since the beginning with love & often calling them one of my favorite bands ... there's no such thing as a writer who doesn't put forth some sort of character, & as the world would see there's nothing but a character when it comes to Axl Rose. & as someone whose been in the gay community I don't care about what he sings, so why should you? So, don't words stop you from enjoying the music. Now, if this was Charles Manson I might speak a bit differently about the truthfulness of it all ... As for other songs, I know you've had girlfriends you wanted to kill too but just don't say it outloud. This is an album fans will, of course, pick up. & it's an album others will want ... the cover alone grabs your interest. But, its an interesting album & its more a collector's item in some ways than something that will get regular listens. It might be better if it wasn't for the live tracks, but was just an acoustic EP ... that's what most of us remember from it, I believe, as it is. For some, it takes some time to be anything more than "Patience" with a bunch of others songs & it really should not be seen like that as its so much greater than just that one single. With Axl Rose's modern state of paranoid perfectionism, would he allow this album to be released today with its two contrasting faces? Which side is the true GNR? Is there a true GNR ... was there ever? Does it matter when they've made such great music?

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