Trying To Get To You

Friday, February 15, 2008

Bootleg Friday: Guns N' Roses, 1988

Why are people still interested in Guns N' Roses?

It's been over twenty years after their debut album (Appetite For Destruction) and over sixteen years since their last relevant studio albums (Use Your Illusion I & II). Yet Guns N' Roses (in name only) can still fill arenas in the U.S. and abroad and there's still a sizable group of people waiting for the elusive Chinese Democracy, even though its release has been delayed possibly more than any album in history.

Perhaps it's because for a lot of people, Guns N' Roses were the last real rock band; dangerous, sexual, rebellious and thunderous, a combination of the Stones, the New York Dolls, punk and Aerosmith that served as a bridge between classic rock and the alternative revolution that would follow almost five years later. No band has filled the vacuum left by GN'R; indie bands have almost none of the power and the corporate rock bands have little of the heart, swagger or personality. I have think the reason people miss Guns N' Roses, and why they're still looking for their reappearance, is because they miss hard rock itself as a vital form, one that can command the attention of not just a niche audience, but the world. Perhaps the idea of hard rock as "danger" was an illusion all along, but it sure didn't seem to be back then.

As for me, I was a big fan of Appetite, but I could feel the end nearing for GN'R when I saw them at Madison Square Garden in December of 1991. Two and half hours late in going on, the band felt bloated; they had needlessly taken on a horn section, Izzy Stradlin was gone and I think Axl went through about three or four costume changes. The show was pretty good, but ultimately disappointing. What was most memorable about the show was the intermission; the P.A. blared the hits of the day and when "Smells Like Teen Spirit" came on, the arena erupted. It was before Nirvana-mania had hit full bloom, but I could feel it coming, and in that, the end of GN'R's relevance, except as a foil to the Alternative explosion.

But today's Bootleg Friday is before all of that. It's from a February, 1988 show at the Ritz in New York City, before the band exploded, and while they were still lean, mean and hungry. What future relevance holds for Axl Rose and his band I do not know. But I sure wouldn't bet on them.

Download: "Mr. Brownstone" 2/2/88, New York, NY
Download: "Sweet Child Of Mine" 2/2/88, New York, NY
Download: "Welcome To The Jungle" 2/2/88, New York, NY
Download: "Night Train" 2/2/88, New York, NY
Download: "Paradise City" 2/2/88, New York, NY
Download: "Rocket Queen" 2/2/88, New York, NY


Michael Verity said...

Another great post, Ben, which has inspired me to wax nostalgic and philosophic on Fusion 45. I may have to stop reading your site first; I'm compelled to write and have little time left for anything else. Thanks, too, for the link.

Saul Good said...

Click Here: I Agree

Saul Good said...

Oh, and thanks. Lovin' the live trax.