The last two and a half years have been an absolute gift for fans of Guns N’ Roses. The epic Not in This Lifetime tour saw Duff McKagan and Slash reunited with Axl Rose for shows that have consistently reminded us what made GNR one of the most potent live bands in the history of rock. Axl has sounded phenomenal on tour, and both Duff and Slash have reclaimed their rightful spots in the band with playing that makes it seem as though neither one had ever left Guns in the first place.
The worst thing you want to see at a show is a band on stage that doesn’t like playing together. With so much bad blood over the years, the Guns N’ Roses reunion could have been painful for everyone, including us fans. But instead, with three hour shows and consistent gigs around the world, its become clear that this version of GNR (including longtime keyboardist Dizzy Reed, who joined in 1990 and was inducted with the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; drummer Frank Ferrer, guitarist Richard Fortus and keyboardist Melissa Reese) enjoy playing together.
While Guns onstage have been kicking butt and taking names, they’ve also found time to celebrate the album that brought the band to the party. Appetite for Destruction, GNR’s debut release, hit store shelves in 1987, but didn’t make the top of the album charts until 1988, when ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ hit number one on the singles charts, and made Guns a household name. This past month saw the release of a massive thirtieth anniversary box set devoted to the album, including 49 previously unreleased tracks, a remastered version of the original album, and a Blu-ray disc featuring surround sound and videos from the era.
For GNR fans, this is a must have. First of all, the packaging is gorgeous. The cds and Blu-ray is housed a beautiful hardcover book full of photos from the era. There are also posters and portraits included – it’s immediately obvious that a lot of love and care has been put into the tactile experience here.
And there’s the music.
While Appetite sounds better than ever, the real selling point are the various demos from Los Angeles’ Sound City that the band recorded in 1986. These are incredibly interesting, as you have the chance to explore how classics like ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, ‘It’s So Easy’ and ‘Paradise City’ evolved from demo stage to the finished versions we know so well. There’s a definite rawness contained in the demos, as the band find their way in the studio. Amazingly though, the songs themselves were already powerful and rocking – they simply needed the fine turning that was ultimately delivered in the finished album.
Among the unreleased highlights is the song ‘Shadow of Your Love’, which the band has released as a single and has been getting played on SiriusXM Liquid Metal and Ozzy’s Boneyard. Imagine what the tune would have done if it had been part of the original Appetite For Destruction back in 1987? Guns added the song to their live shows recently and it fits in like the classic it could have been.
For hard rock and metal fans, let alone Guns N’ Roses devotees, the Appetite for Destruction thirtieth anniversary box set is a must have. It redefined hard rock for the 1980s, and like the band itself today, is no less potent three decades later.