By Adam Waldman
I still remember the first time that I heard Guns N’ Roses in 1987 while working at a record store. It blew me away, and made me an instant fan. Often times, debut albums end up being favorites, but most don’t rise to the level of Appetite For Destruction. With only a handful of studio albums and EPs, it may seem like an easy choice to pick Appetite as my favorite GNR album. In some ways, it is.
Beyond being my favorite Guns N’ Roses album, Appetite For Destruction is among my favorite albums of all-time. There is always a special connection to the album that introduces you to a particular artist, but that’s not what makes Appetite my favorite GNR album.
Had the band taken the best songs of Use Your Illusion I and II and made it into one album, this would have been a more difficult decision.
Though this feature is about discussing your favorite album by a particular artist, I thought that it would be worthwhile to share my personal “best of” Use Your Illusion for comparison’s sake.
Appetite For Destruction:
“Welcome To The Jungle”
“It’s So Easy”
“Out Ta Get Me”
“Think About You”
“Sweet Child O’ Mine”
Use Your Illusion (Best Of):
“Dust N’ Bones”
“Live And Let Die”
“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”
“Pretty Tied Up”
“You Could Be Mine”
Taking all 12 tracks from Appetite For Destruction, and my 12 personal “best of” tracks from Use Your Illusion, would make things more competitive, but it wouldn’t change the results. Here’s why…
Appetite For Destruction is as strong as any rock album ever released. This goes beyond taste or opinion. The proof is in the radio play. Now, I realize that airplay has a lot to do with spending money, but what makes Appetite so special is the fact that I’ve literally heard every song on the radio at one time or another. Promo dollars only go so far. For every song to receive at least some airplay is monumental.
Though Appetite For Destruction is not a concept album, there is an underlying rock and roll swagger that connects the songs and makes this one of the more disruptive releases in rock history. At a time when hair bands were all the rage, GNR came along with a take-no-prisoners attitude backed by incredibly raw, energetic songs. Appetite is the kind of album that you can play on shuffle and never be disappointed.
Even if GNR took my exact suggestions for a best of Use Your Illusion, it still would fall short of being my favorite album by the band. Around half of these songs were played on radio (which is impressive given that three of them are lengthy epics). This group of 12 songs feels like a collection of songs that more than an album that should be played in its entirety.
Another notch for Appetite is that all of the songs were original. Though their interpretations are outstanding, the fact of the matter is that I included two cover songs on my best of Use Your Illusion album.
Appetite For Destruction perfectly captures the essence of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll in a way that few (if any) other albums ever have. It set the tone for what might have been the greatest band in the history of rock (if they stayed together). Though their recent reunion has elevated them to that status to some degree, their time apart and limited catalog takes them out of the “greatest of all-time” conversation for me. Others who are filling stadiums and/or shelling out $999 for the upcoming box set (Locked N’ Loaded) may beg to differ with my assessment of the band’s place in rock and roll history.
I’m sure that there are some outliers, but my guess is that most GNR fans will agree that Appetite For Destruction is the band’s best album.
What are your thoughts?
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