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30 years of Appetite For Destruction

Posted by Damian Holland on

The good stuff should be remembered with shiny eyeballs and a shrine made from DVD cases, remote controls and well-loved lounge cushions. We ask our good mate and devoted G'N'R fan, Damo, to get nostalgic with us and celebrate 30 years since Appetite For Destruction.

If Guns N Roses had only made Appetite For Destruction it would have been enough.

It's a true album that you can listen to from beginning to end. 

It's an all time classic alongside the best of the past 50 years and it's a more complete stand alone collection of songs than anything other more prolific bands have released (I'm looking at you Keith and Mick). 

It was the sound of a group of guys who didn't have a pot to piss in and mostly despised each other but united by their love of music they created something so primal and unique it is still loved by millions of people today.

I first heard of Guns N Roses as a 11/12 year old in the late 80's through the music videos for Welcome To The Jungle and Sweet Child O' Mine. At that point I had just moved on from listening to the likes of Johnny Farnham and Phil Collins and had taken an interest in the loud guitars and outrageouness of Poison. That interest in guitar driven rock quickly led to an interest in the bunch of crazy looking freaks I'd seen on the previously mentioned video clips, although I was still a little unsure.

They looked dirtier, angrier and more dangerous than any other rock band I had seen before and the sound was so in your face I didn't know how to take it.


They were also quickly becoming one of the coolest bands amongst the kids a bit older than me so I forked out for an Appetite for Destruction cassette to find out what the fuss was really about. 

I can vividly remember my parents talking about the noise that came out of my bedroom the day I brought it home, most specifically the F bombs in It's So Easy and when Axl screams “SO YOU CAN SUCK ME!!” at the end of Outta Get Me. Luckily my parents just tut tutted, put concerned looks on their faces and asked me to turn it down (now I make my own kids listen to it regularly as an essential part of their education).

I don't wanna to over blow this too much but the opening of Welcome To the Jungle, which is the opening of the album, is as good as it gets. It's genius. It announces itself like a war siren then proceeds to blow your head off. Firstly with the band then with maniac vocals of Axl Rose. I never could understand, and still don't, how he got that sound out of his voice. What a machine. And then he links the verses with some good old sex noises. The band breaks down before Slash steps in to steal a bit of attention from Axl... the thing that made them hate each other and also what made them so great. And just when it seemed they couldn't take this masterpiece anywhere else Axl screams “YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE? YOU IN THE JUNGLE BABY, YOU'RE GONNA DIE!!”.

Where could they take it from there? Somehow they maintain the rage and energy through the next 11 tracks with just a few softer moments that really make it a complete record – epitomised by Paradise City that opens with a really nice singalong before sliding into a dirty, funky tale of living on the streets and fighting for survival.

I can't remember what I made of some of the lyrics and sexual noises on the album but it must have had an impact on my 12 year old mind – for example the great opening verse of Rocket Queen - “You're Daddy works in porno now that Mummy's not around. She used to love her heroin but know she's underground”.... geez Mum, how could you let me listen to that?

Damo's son Louis at GNR in Adelaide, 2017.

I fell in love all over again with this album in my twenties when I could probably relate to the vibe a lot more. The greatest moment I've had is driving through L.A. with my mate Daniel Matto listening to this at ear bleeding volume and really feeling like I “got it”.

I think the greatest thing about this record was that they clearly weren't trying to write radio hits or become pop stars, they just managed to create awesome music. They were seeking attention and wanted to make records but they were uncompromising in the way they went about it. They stood apart from the pack then and they still do now.