Album Review: Guns N’ Roses – “Appetite for Destruction”

Guns N’ Roses released their first major label album, Appetite for Destruction, on July 21, 1987. I first heard of the band when I was hearing “Welcome to the Jungle” on my local Top 40 station in the spring of 1988; however, this particular song ended up becoming a pop hit several months later, after “Sweet Child O’ Mine” was successful on that format. Admittedly, I really didn’t have any interest in the band until “Sweet Child O’ Mine” became a big pop hit; this is probably due to the fact that I was 13 at the time, and my music listening was strongly focused on current pop music. I became more interested in “Welcome to the Jungle” in the fall of 1988. Appetite for Destruction is the best-selling debut album of all time, and it has also ranked very high on various “best of” album lists over the years.

Appetite for Destruction opens with “Welcome to the Jungle.” Sonically, this is the perfect song to start an album with, especially with how the introduction builds in intensity. The song is basically about life on the streets of Hollywood. “Welcome to the Jungle” really embodies the hard, driving sound that Guns N’ Roses has become known for, and has become one of the band’s signature songs. It’s also one of the songs that I really like on the album.

The next song on Appetite for Destruction is “It’s So Easy,” which was released as the first single from the album. The band has said that lyrically, this song is about a time the band went through when they didn’t have money, but had people they could live off of. The next song is “Nightrain,” which was also released as a single from the album. This is basically a drinking song; the lyrics were inspired by the band sharing a bottle of Night Train.

This is followed by “Out Ta Get Me,” which continues the harder sound of the album. Vocally, Axl relies a lot more of his “screaming vocal” sound. Lyrically, the song is about Axl’s trouble with the law when he was younger. “Mr. Brownstone” is a song about addiction to heroin; “brownstone” is a slang term for the drug. Musically, this song incorporates a “Bo Diddley beat.”

“ParadiseCity” was released as a single from Appetite for Destruction. It’s not really known what the “paradise city” being referred to in the song is, and the band has never clarified it in any interviews over the years. Musically, the song starts out kind of slow and laid back, and builds in intensity until it explodes and the guitar riff is going at a blistering speed. This is one of the songs I really enjoy on Appetite for Destruction.

The next song on the album is “My Michelle,” which the band wrote about a girl they knew named Michelle Young. From what’s been stated, the song is very honest about Michelle and her life. “Think About You” has a similar theme to “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” but it has a much faster tempo.

“Sweet Child O’ Mine” was the third single released from Appetite for Destruction. The lyrics were written about Erin Everly, the girl Axl Rose was dating at the time the song was written. This was the only ballad on Appetite for Destruction, it was the biggest song from the album, and it’s also one my favorite Guns N’ Roses songs.

“You’re Crazy” picks the tempo of the album back up. Lyrically, it’s about a relationship gone bad. “Anything Goes” was one of the earliest songs written for the album, and it continues the sound that a listener would expect to hear on the album. Appetite for Destruction closes with “Rocket Queen.” Axl Rose claims he wrote the song about a girl who was going to have a band called Rocket Queen.

After listening to Appetite for Destruction, you can hear why the album has been so highly regarded over the years. The songs on the album are well-written; sonically, the songs flow together smoothly. If you enjoy rock music, Appetite for Destruction is an album that is a “must listen.”

I wrote this review after listening to a copy of Appetite for Destruction that my husband and I purchased.

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