Rocket Queen – Guns N’Roses

Seven days into a week about Slash. No tracks by Guns N’ Roses. What a contrarian I must be… Nope. I’m not like that. Let’s go out where he came in. Right at the mother lode of it all. The most perfect sounding heavy rock record of all heavy rock records (other opinions are available on this topic, but this one is mine). There’s only one song from Appetite For Destruction on all of SteveForTheDeaf. We are exactly one month from going dark and we’re representing the most perfect album of the genre that drives most of this stuff with just Think About You?

Not ruddy likely. This album hit like a truck that had been chasing a boy and an android down a storm levee while they were trying to outrun it on a motorbike. Trouble was… It was 1987 and we didn’t have such a neat and tidy universal analogy just yet.

We had to settle for starring slack jawed into the space between the speakers and our faces as the siren like intro to Welcome To The Jungle rose with malevolent intent over a whispered “Oh My God”. It was then a snakeskin boot stomped down on an effects pedal and that riff snaked into our lives.

Side one of Appetite For Destruction is a thrilling eye widening journey through the seedy underbelly of late 1980’s Los Angeles. It’s kind of Aerosmithy in places but meaner. Kind of AC/DC in it’s snarly tone and dirty sense of humour but it’s slinkier. There’s some Led Zeppelin in there but only in the speed of the riffs, none of the majesty or pomp is present. A fair bit of Hanoi Rocks for sure, more than a dose of The Stooges and a whole lot Sticky Fingers to Goats Head Rolling Stones. Of course we didn’t know any of that at the time. Before GNR, there was only the top 40 on the radio. That or oldies. There was only day-glo happy clappy pop or there was big haired ballads by old women with massive earrings. Oh and there was Rod Stewart. Parents music.

OK there was also TV Soap stars singing hits from the musicals and weak thin crappy electronica with bad dancers at the front. I knew that was worthless crap even then. And. Then. Then this happened. It. All. Changed. Instantly.

It’s So Easy sounded like it might beat you up and take your lunch money. Nightrain had that cowbell to head bang to. Out Ta Get Me had a legitimate swear front and center and Mr Brownstone probably had thousands of clean cut kids figuring out it was about the darkest scariest drug of them all right about the time they were on their 100th listen. Those scandalized headlines about dangerous music corrupting our youth. This time they might have been right.

Millions of cassettes were worn thin to the point of collapse. Spewing their guts up in Walkman’s and car stereos the western world over. Vinyl copies were reduced to tiny thin rings of black plastic so heavily had Paradise City been played again and from open sting intro to manic spiraling solo crescendo again and again. I knew kids who couldn’t make it to side two. It was all too over whelming.

Side two starts with perhaps the most perfect Guns N’ Roses song of them all. My Michelle. The first piece of music criticism that ever Stuck with me happened when talking about My Michelle in the school art block. Benny described it as sinister. “It’s all fun on Paradise City but then it turns really sinister. Not just in the words. It sounds sleazy. Bad things happen in that song, but they sound great” he said. I knew what he meant. I did not realise boys listening to sweary heavy metal records could learn stuff like how to express themselves by talking about things, but here we were. This record changing our worlds.

It starts to lighten up a little with Think About You. You know I dig it. I posted all about it way back in the first months of SFTD. All those hundreds of thousands of words ago. Then we get to one of the ultimate anthems of the 1980’s with Sweet Child O’ Mine

… there was another school of thought at ‘erm school. You were either Bon Jovi or GNR. You could like both but there was a dividing line. Just like Mia Wallace declares in Pulp Fiction. Elvis Or Beatles. In the late 80’s it was Sweet Child vs. Livin’ On A Prayer. Jon Bon Jovi’s is a big ole rumble in the jungle. The girls might all swoon at JBJ but you want them to think you’re a rock and roll animal. If you’re more Bon than Guns you’ll be all Europe and Final Countdown and Poison. If you’re more Guns you may be open to Metallica, Maiden, bandanas and knives for teeth. More leather than denim, you might get with the girl from the bank who wears the snakeskin skirts to the pub. I knew where I stood. Oh won’t you please take me home?

After that the album risks its reputation, twice. You’re Crazy is a belter here but by the time GNR Lies was about it had been undermined. It’s claws clipped in an attempt to fake some roots that didn’t need faking. Anything Goes may have trappings of the magic of the musicals in its title (Temple Of Doom fans know what I’m sayin’) but it’s a lean taught heavy metal dick wave the likes of which Quiet Riot or Ratt would have sacrificed drummers to have in their arsenal.

And then you get to the finale. The massive track that closes out the whole album. In the early days (before they had any hits) it closed out their shows as well. Rocket Queen is a Grand Stand Grand Slam Grand Pooh-Bah of a track. That’s how you finish off a rock record. They may have gone more epic since… No they definitely have gone more epic since. But the guts of all that big widescreen Civil War, Estranged, Locomotive, Coma stuff is right here. In Rocket Queen.

Slash owns this song because he makes so much room for all his band mates to shine. Izzy sounds great on Rocket Queen, Steven and Duff too. Axl’s finest performance of all time is right here. It’s positively evil and yet, you want to be there. The object of the lyric begins offensive at best, hateful at worst. But it ends with kindness, optimism, hope and love. All with those searing notes from a goldtop Les Paul.

I know you know the song. But listen to it today like you never heard it before. It’s a masterpiece.

16 thoughts on “Rocket Queen – Guns N’Roses

      1. Gutted to hear that. I’m hoping it’s just a hiatus and, when the time is right, and you’ll come back. I, for one, will miss escaping into the words that resonate.

        And despite wearing denim. I was always more leather than denim. 🤘🎩🤘

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I liked the post but doesn’t seem appropriate. Say it ain’t so! I’ve just discovered your blog in the last year or so and really enjoy it – you have a real talent at writing interesting informative and funny content. Will really miss it. Will you be keeping your site up to allow browsing through old content? Yes can’t wait to see what you have in store for October

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Soon this place will be like an old abandoned amusement park left to fall to wreck and ruin. If you’re here after October 31st 2021 you can throw rocks through the windows and graffiti on the sides of stuff if you like. But some say the crazy old man who built this place for his love of music can still be seen at sunset. Riding the teacups and singing to B. Dolan.

        Like

  1. That whole record is just like a bomb going off. Perfect storm. James gave me a gorgeous reissue* on heavy vinyl and it’s simply glorious.

    * “Limited edition – foil slipcase with Robert Williams original jacket art – 2LP – 180g audiophile reissue – gatefold.” And: “Remastered for the first time from original stereo analog tapes from 192 kHz 24-bit high resolution transfers. Digital download card included for CD quality digital edition of album (download expired December 31, 2020). EXTRA BONUS: GN’R Logo Hologroove Hologram.”

    Fuck yeah. James is THE BEST.

    Liked by 1 person

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