Category Archives: Guns ‘N Roses

Rocks In The Attic #161: Guns N’ Roses – ‘Use Your Illusion I’ (1991)

Yes, these albums are bloated and self-indulgent – but what an achievement. Well, if you like that sort of thing, that is.

The Use Your Illusion albums are generally considered to be two single albums – released on the same day in 1991 – and probably worthy of joining together and treating as a double album. But when you look at their running times, they’re double albums in their own right. The vinyl version of both albums come spread across two discs, explained by their lengthy running times – one hour and sixteen minutes for the first one, with the second one only a minute shorter. So if you stuck them together, they’d be a quadruple album (or looking at the size of the run-out grooves on some of the sides, they’d probably make them fit across three discs). I don’t know if anybody in their right minds would cope with that sort of running time.

Prior to the release of these albums, fans of Guns N’ Roses thought the sun shone out of their rock star arses. These albums prove otherwise. There’s a hell of a lot of filler on here, albeit alongside some killer singles and worthy album tracks. Yes, an accomplishment, but like most ‘double-albums’ it’s easy to see here how a single disc would have sufficed. Shit, a single disc of the best tracks here would probably rival Appetite For Destruction.

Mentioning Appetite also brings to mind one other notable downer about the Use Your Illusion albums – the sound. Production-wise, Appetite was gritty and sounded dirty as hell, but being the biggest rock band on the planet brings a curse – better equipment, better recording studios, bigger egos and an inability to self-judge in the same way that was possible when recording a debut album.

The music all sounds way too clean in comparison to Appetite – and the addition of keyboards and several other additional instruments takes the band further away from anything remotely cutting-edge or punk, and towards middle-of-the-road commercial acceptance.

Hit: November Rain

Hidden Gem: Dead Horse

Rocks In The Attic #130: Guns N’ Roses – ‘G N’ R Lies’ (1988)

Rocks In The Attic #130: Guns N’ Roses - ‘G N’ R Lies’ (1988)I’ve never been overly enamoured with this album. It’s yet another shocking record company cash-in, something to keep the tills ringing between the success of Appetite For Destruction and their follow-up studio albums. Half of the album is made up of previously released material – four songs from the pre-Appetite EP release Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide – together with four ‘new’ acoustic songs (one is an alternate version of a song from Appetite).

I’ve never been a huge fan of this band. Appetite is a good record, but it’s vastly overrated, and mostly subscribed to by girls who claim to be rock chicks but don’t actually listen to any other rock albums. The Use Your Illusion records have their moments but I have trouble seeing behind their pomposity.

Lies is an odd release, capturing the band live a year before their debut album was released, and then again in the year following the spectacular success of Appetite. The band pays homage to Aerosmith twice on the Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide tracks – namechecking Permanent Vacation in the first song Reckless Life, and then following this with a great cover of Mama Kin.

If you were a fan of Appetite when this was released, it would probably disappoint you, but then again wouldn’t everything else in Guns N’ Roses’ subsequent career?

Hit: Patience

Hidden Gem: Mama Kin (Live)

Rocks In The Attic #50: Aerosmith – ‘Rocks’ (1976)

Rocks In The Attic #50: Aerosmith - ‘Rocks’ (1976)Seeing as this is the 50th entry in this particular blog, I thought I’d cover an album I really, really love – and one that lends its name to (half of) the blog’s title. Looking back, I regret not doing something similar for the silver posting at #25, which was taken by Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down. Oh dear – perhaps subconsciously I like Lionel Richie solo albums more than I give myself credit for.

Rocks is Aerosmith’s fourth studio album and the creative peak of their classic 70s period. This is the album that was heard by a young Slash and turned him onto rock music, essentially giving birth to Guns ‘N Roses. Of this album, and its predecessor Toys In The Attic, I probably prefer the earlier album as it has a little more light on it. That’s not to say Rocks is a dark album – it’s just darker than Toys… and is very no-nonsense.

Credit also has to be given to the producer, Jack Douglas – now practically a sixth member of the band. The production specifically on the opening track Back In The Saddle is fantastic, building up to a release with sound effects perfectly complimenting the lyrics to conjure up a dusty saloon in the old west.

It’s all the rage these days for bands to play their classic albums in their entirety. I guess this maybe started with Pink Floyd playing Dark Side Of The Moon in its entirety on their Pulse tour. I read somewhere that back in 2009, Aerosmith played Rocks from start to finish as the centrepiece of their live show – after giving Toys… the same treatment went down well with the fans. Now normally I’d love to see the band play either of these albums in full, but I’m not really sure I want the 21st century version of Aerosmith spoiling my love of these two great albums.

I used to love Blondie, but seeing them live at Glastonbury in 1999 really turned me off them, and it took me a very long time to start appreciating them again. I have an almost religious love for the Toys… and Rocks albums and I wouldn’t want that to be destroyed. Sometimes nostalgia should be left in its box.

Hit: Last Child

Hidden Gem: Combination

Rocks In The Attic #41: Aerosmith – ‘Done With Mirrors’ (1985)

Rocks In The Attic #41: Aerosmith - ‘Done With Mirrors’ (1985)This was supposedly Aerosmith’s comeback album – their first with Joe Perry and Brad Whitford back in the band, and their first on Geffen records – the glitzy record label that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere in the 1980s. Unfortunately for everybody involved, they would have to wait another two years to release their real comeback album – Permanent Vacation – an album that rightfully put them back at the top of the tree.

This isn’t a bad album, it’s just poorly produced (by Doobie Brothers and Van Halen producer Ted Templeman). It feels very flat – and while the sound is very clear, there’s nothing special to grab your attention. This would have been the first studio album that Aerosmith would have released on compact disc, and possibly they were so taken with the new technology that they forgot to actually make a decent album.

The other thing this album has to work against is the fact that some bright spark at the record label decided to get creative with the name of the album. On its release, all text on the sleeve including the name of the album – and even the name of the band – was printed in reverse, and could be read normally by holding up to a mirror. Now I like this, it’s something different, but I’m very aware that a large proportion of rock fans tend to be cerebrally challenged – so this surely would have been commercial suicide. It’s okay when you’re the biggest band in the world and you put out a record without your name on it (eg. Led Zeppelin IV), but if you’re on the comeback trail it might make a bit more sense to actually make it loud and clear who you are.

David Geffen really must have started rubbing his hands with glee during the 1980s. Not only did he have Aerosmith on his new record label by 1985 – but he’d very soon have Guns ‘N Roses joining them, and after that Nirvana. There used to be a time when I could quite happily pigeon-hole an Aerosmith album as good or questionable depending on which label the record was on. Records on their original label Columbia were mostly good, while the stuff on Geffen was always questionable. This no longer works however, as they went back to Columbia in 1997 and have released mainly rubbish ever since.

Hit: Let The Music Do The Talking

Hidden Gem: Shela