Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Sacred Cows revisited...


Recently a certain weekly music magazine has started running a section on its website that is supposed to dispel the so called myths around ‘classic’ albums and groups. This week the target is Guns N Roses and their 1987 debut album ‘Appetite for Destruction’. I don’t ever remember anyone proclaiming this album the greatest collection of songs of all time or testament to the world domination of the group but apparently that is all irrelevant to our online classic debugger who is pulling no punches with his shots at the group and this album. If I were writing the original piece I’d probably start with the sound of the album as after all music is something you hear rather than watch or read. Ok well he passed on that and moved straight onto their ‘fan base of beer chugging morons’ ok…though I’m sure the musicianship will be called to order…nope straight onto Axl Rose’s appearance, please tell me at least the songs are going to get a mention before the end? Hurrah! 5 out of the 12 on the track listing get a mention before you think he’d missed over half the songs available. He does manage to give ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ the just deserved praise of being a ‘stone cold, era-defining classic’ while dismissing the other 4 mentioned as MOR, turgid, trite and boring and not as interesting or heavy as records by Spacemen 3, The Butthole Surfers, The Pixies first mini-LP, Dinosaur Jr and The Melvins from the same time period (all of which I’m sure he bought the day they come out to prove his individuality and as an act of kicking against the system and wave of the 28 million people that have bought ‘Appetite for Destruction’ which is still currently the biggest selling debut album of all time in the USA no less).

Dirty Harry once said "Opinions are like assholes. Everybody's got one and everyone thinks everyone else's stinks." Nobody has to like everything, that would just be weird. You need the ying and yang I suppose, but also hindsight is a wonderful thing to use and if you need to try and rubbish an album that was made 24 years ago I think judging it on the songs and musicianship should be the only factors brought to the table. All the wining about the ‘offensive songs, violence, reactionary, misogynist lyrics’ I mean cry me a river for god’s sake it’s a heavy metal band from LA. I’m sorry Morrissey didn’t write for Guns N Roses, but nobody claimed them to be political metal Bob Dylan’s. Nobody claimed they would right the wrongs of the world; it was just loud rock and roll music. The fact that they came along the same road as bands such as Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin separated them from the glam 80s poodle rock music of the time.

I also loved the line about pulling the album from the shelf to destroy it. If you read between the lines there, the act of destruction is actually irrelevant. It’s funny because even though the writer is showing his contempt for the album, and the band throughout, he is letting the readers know he’s still cool enough to own it in the first place. It’s as if he feels that had he started the first paragraph with “I’ve never bought this album because it’s a load of metal rubbish” nobody would take his opinion seriously. Either that or he carefully goes through the yearly music magazine compendiums and buys the 1-50 must have classic albums and adds them to his collection like each one was an individual selection.

You want a sacred cow. Choose The La’s…a whole myth and legend over a single song, you all know the one I mean. The rest of the album is at best ok. But every fart Lee Mavers makes or the next time the group ‘re-unite’ and everyone wets themselves at the comeback of the century, only to realise once again that the indie emperor still has no clothes on.

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