Every generation has its ultimate rock bands. The 1960’s had The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Who; the 1970’s had Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, and Black Sabbath; and the 1980’s had Van Halen, Motley Crue, and Guns N’ Roses. The 1990’s had Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and the 2000’s (the aughts?) had…Limp Bizkit and Creed. Oh man, so THAT’S why I was so fucked up as a young adult!
As a kid, GNR was the first rock band that I really got into. Yeah, the occasional cussing was a plus (The 2 Live Crew’s “As Nasty As They Wanna Be” was another childhood classic!), but the songs were undeniably great. The riffs, the grooves, Axl’s magnetic voice. Here’s my top ten favorites from them:
1. “It’s So Easy”, Appetite For Destruction
Here’s my all time favorite from the boys. The ringing bassline that opens the song is like an alarm that lets you know this band isn’t to be fucked with. That hook: “It’s so easy, easy, when everybody tries to please me, baby” is sheer rock and roll decadence at its finest. And when Axl yells “FUCK OFF” during the bridge, it opened my innocent ears to another level beyond what I had heard in my short life thus far. It still is a brilliant song, and always gets me fired up to this day.
2. “Reckless Life”, G’N’R Lies
“I lead a reckless life, and I don’t need your advice”. Enough said. Another anthem that is still one of my favorites.
3. “Mr. Brownstone”, Appetite For Destruction
When I first heard this song, I remember thinking about how weird it was to be singing about dancing with a guy. Of course, I didn’t know what it was REALLY ABOUT (that wouldn’t come for a few years later, haha), but the groove in this song always had me hooked. As much as people rip on Steven Adler, his drumming is what made Appetite For Destruction in my opinion. It wasn’t always technically perfect, but it had soul and swing, and Mr. Brownstone is a shining example of how good he could be.
4. “Shotgun Blues”, Use Your Illusion I
Axl was obviously an incredible singer and performer, but he also had some great moments in songwriting. This is one that he wrote, and is one of my favorites. That riff is just badass, and the lyrics, such as “They say I walk the line, fuck, they move it every time”, are just brilliant. From what I understand, this is one of the few GNR songs that has never been played live by them, which is a shame, because it really is a fantastic song.
5. “One In A Million”, G’N’R Lies
And here’s another one written by Axl. Sure it has its questionable lyrical moments, but deep down it is one of their best ballads. Stripped down to just vocals and acoustic guitar, it is simple and catchy, and holds up better than some of the overwrought ballads that they would come up with on the Use Your Illusion albums.
6. “You Could Be Mine”, Use Your Illusion II
I actually remember having the cassette (remember those?) single for this song. And what a great song it is. That intro alone: the tribal drums, the guitar riff that sounds like a howling banshee. And the song has such a great groove to it.
7. “Nighttrain”, Appetite For Destruction
Now here’s a perfect driving song. “Ready to crash and burn…I never learn…I’m on the nighttrain”…well, just don’t take those lyrics literally. Apparently, it was written about the Night Train cheap wine that seemed to be popular back in the day. Personally, Boone’s Farm was my favorite when I was a teenager, as most nights you could catch me chillin on old Strawberry Hill.
8. “Locomotive”, Use Your Illusion II
Matt Sorum joined the band during the recording of the UYI albums, and this is his finest moment in my opinion. That groove is tighter than tight, while Slash and Duff contribute some funky ass riffing to complete this song. It’s a little overlong, as is quite a few of the UYI songs, but is still one of the best from them.
9. “Yesterday”, Use Your Illusion I
Here’s the second greatest song ever written with the title “Yesterday” (if you can’t figure out the greatest, then get the hell off my blog immediately!). It captures the band at their catchiest, and sums up how they were feeling at the time: “Yesterdays got nothin for me”. Of course, the future had nothing for them either, until Chinese Democracy came out a couple decades later (The Spaghetti Incident was a throwaway album solely released to satisfy their record contract).
10. “Paradise City”, Appetite For Destruction
And here’s the song that captures them in all of their glory. It has the powerful blues-based riffing that they were known for, with the catchy hooks and rhythms that defined them. TAKE ME HOME!