Thursday, October 11, 2012

SNR Playlist #2 - Appetite For Destruction

Anthony Kosobucki
OK kids, I got a lot of sentimental crap out of the way last week. Here is where it gets more musical and less touchy feely, I hope. 

This weeks selection is Appetite For Destruction. You all know it, whether you love or hate it, I don’t really care. There is really no other guitar player for me, to top Slash. The rest of the musicians are marginal at best, but they put out an enormous project back in ’87. It topped charts, and to date has sold roughly 18 million albums in the states, and close to 30 million through the entire world. (As a side note, John Cougar Mellencamp was going by just John Cougar in ’87) 

Anyways, music had a pretty good spread that year, Joshua Tree came out, Prince’s Sign O the Times came out, but so did Cher’s self titled album, and Michael Bolton probably put some garbage out too.

Anyways, the 80’s had a much less static economy, and people would be more willing to lay it all on the line for music. So you have a group of kids about my age (24) who had played in bands for awhile, but nothing ever really stuck. Then, finally, they just kind of struck gold. Yeah they worked and played their asses off to get noticed, but I know I’ll get too consumed going through that whole story. 

So you’ve got some guys, who want to play some rock n roll. They can write some good songs, and some good music. Axl’s voice is questionable at best, but it almost gives the music a nastier, grittier side than someone like Whitney Houston would. It was a good collaboration all around. Then you throw in some sex, drugs and booze and really make it authentic *SNR does not condone illegal activity* and you have an immortal album. Clearly that stuff doesn’t always work, but it seemed to be a good starting point back then.

Tech Stuff:
Back when AfD came out, stuff was analog. No plugins, auto tune, or beat detective. Real, live music. They recorded it at some fantastic places, which unfortunately don’t have websites for me to link to, so everyone can drool at them. They were all around Los Angeles; Can-Am, Rumbo, and Take One. Then shipped to New York City for edits and mixing, then it went toSterling Sound for mastering. I feel like that’s an important name for everyone to be familiar with.

Anyways, tape. Tape and a razor blade.  Knock it off emo kids, razors used to be for work, not to make sure everyone knows you’re depressed. Long days, long nights. the album took about 4 months of work. I can’t vouch to say it was full time every day, but, if you’ve ever been in a real studio, it’s like being in a casino. You never know what time it is, and you don’t really care. Especially if you’re not the one footing the bill. 

They spent the time, and made some magic. I’m sure Mike Clink had his work cut out for him when he was in the studio. 

As much as I would like to wander off on some etherial gear rant, the truth is that I don’t know a whole ton of the tech end of this album. Other than good engineering, and mix and master. But, that all kind of comes back to what we’re trying to do, doesn’t it? We all want our stuff to come out great, and if you’ve got good stuff coming in, you’re going to have good stuff coming out.

Music Side/Album Voodoo:
-So, a lot of people know that Slash didn’t actually play a real Gibson Les Paul on this record. What I didn’t know a lot about was the guy who built it. His name was Kris Derrig, a pretty hippie looking guy, who played, built guitars and was a hair stylist. Not too bad for a hippie. He made some great guitars, and unfortunately died of cancer at the age of 32.

-When vinyl albums were pressed they had an A, and a B side. What was different with Appetite, was that there was a G and an R side. The G(uns) side was the side with songs about problems with police, rock and roll, drugs and drinking. The R(oses) side was all the “softer” stuff about girls and sex. I feel like a lot of the songs could really go either way. 

-Nightrain was written about cheap wine. Somthing like $2.00 for a jug, which when they were broke, they drank a lot of.  It’s also my favorite song on the album. I really dig the dual lead/rhythm approach to song writing. Especially in a ballsy song like that. And I don’t care what anyone says, the use of cowbell in this song is way better than Don’t Fear the Reaper. And I love Christopher Walken. When you listen to the song, especially the solo section, you can hear the diva side of Slash come out. I don’t know if he had any part in the mixing of it, but, Izzy’s solo is panned hard left, but as soon as Slash comes in, he’s almost dead center. For almost everything else on the album, it’s pretty much the same. Izzy left, Slash right. Until he starts soloing.

Next, I think Paradise City gets looked at in a few different ways, and here is my version of it. They were hair metal/glam rock, or whatever you want to call it. They loved girls and drugs, and drinking. This was a killer era for metal, and I think the last couple minutes of the song is essentially Slash saying, "Oh yeah? Think I can't play fast enough for you?" and then shredding the end of the song out. No he's not Dave Mustaine or Kirk Hammet, but at least you can distinguish all the notes that he's playing. And it still sounds like a coherent thought, instead of just seeing how many notes you can fit into a phrase. I also think it's pretty impressive that at almost seven minutes long, the song doesn't really get boring, Hell, after 3 minutes of a song on the top 40, I usually just turn the damn thing off. I actually disconnected the antenna in my car for almost 3 years. It was great.

I dig the fact that there's really only one slow song on the album. Sweet Child O Mine. It's not all that slow either, just their one obligatory ballad per album. I find it funny that the one oddball song on the album is what made them the most money. I'm almost positive that if you asked someone the first thing that comes to mind when you say "Guns N Roses" it will be Sweet Child O Mine.

This album is clearly more mainstream than the last album I wrote about. Thats not necessarily a bad thing. There is usually a reason that music becomes pop music. Then there's an added staying factor, which this album has. I know this type of music isn't everyones cup of tea, and it certainly isn't a record I would use to tune a room. But, if you're ever looking for something to give you some inspiration for recording and playing rock music, I think this could be a pretty good thing to have around.



1 comment:

  1. What a great pick. This record came out just as I was getting into metal. People would still debate whether a glam band makes the classification, but at the time the GNR tape was right next to the Metallica and the Iron Maiden in all our cases.

    The production was head and shoulders above other stuff that was going on and that's why it's still a relevant piece today. What's interesting though is that despite being recognized as one of the greatest front men in front of one of the greatest rock bands of all time, to a lot of peoples' thinking they really only made one great album. If you ask anyone what their favorite GNR tune is they'll probably mention something from A4D.

    In an era of faster, louder, crunchier and with more hairspray, they made a record that totally catered to that feel but in their song writing they left space. All the greatest bands do. "Welcome to the Jungle" had the slow build to get you excited, "Nigh Train" had the one-two punch at the break that just pushed you over the edge, "Rocket Queen" was somehow two songs smashed into one great one. They made some space for you to fall into. They realized that without valleys, mountains aren't that impressive. The build ups, break downs and other methods they used to create dynamics are what gives these songs their staying power.

    Also, despite taking their time, they somehow managed to make a carefully crafted set of songs that still feel like they're just inches from being out of control. About the same time, Metallica released And Justice For All and within weeks every fourteen year old kid could play most of the licks. But it was kind of sterile. On the other hand, we all knew the GNR licks too but didn't have a prayer of sounding anything like them. There was still a feel and a pocket in the playing that you only get from a group of people playing and jamming as a band.

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