Posts Tagged ‘Sex Pistols’

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Welcome To The Jungle

05/07/2010

Guns N’ Roses – Appetite For Destruction

circa 1988.

Back in ’88 me and my mates were into what I suppose we thought to be smart, cerebral music – The Smiths, R.E.M., Echo & The Bunnymen etc. We weren’t total squares – Brian had Bat Out Of Hell and recently picked up Electric by The Cult, which I loved. A lot of the lads at school were into AC/DC, Iron Maiden, and pomp rockers Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and their ilk. By our standards though, anything with even a vague sniff of long hair, denim, or god forbid leather was considered dumb, excessive, moronic. We were of course totally right.

Until now cable TV (or Piped Television as we called it) in Ireland meant you got 6 channels – RTE1, RTE2, BBC1, BB2, UTV and Channel 4. At some point we started getting more, one of which was Super Channel. I think this came through Italy because late at night they always showed soft porn clips consisting of a naked chick provocatively dressing – go figure. Another, SKY Channel, had a weekly metal show called Monsters of Rock. Although I wasn’t into the music, its presenter, Mick ‘Ello Rockers” Wall, was a laugh. On one such episode he interviewed another in a long line of preening new comers, Guns N’ Roses. I didn’t pay them any mind.

"You're gonna dieeeee"

Brian and I were good friends with Dave and Eddie in school. These guys were mad into metal. One evening Ev and I were over at Brian’s – he’d borrowed an album called Appetite For Destruction by Guns N’ Roses from Dave. I thought I knew them from somewhere. The cover depicted a fucked up, horror metal monster rape scene, the inner sleeve debauched backstage antics and the lyrics – how we laughed. We dismissed the album out of hand.

Brian was not put off. He fucking loved it. Every time I’d go over he’d have it on the stereo, and I have to admit it started to grow on me. I’d been hasty in my criticism – this did have something more to it than the usual macho stupidity I’d come to expect from the LA bands of the time, and it rocked. The music was more akin to the Sex Pistols than their poseur contemporaries. Nightrain, Outta Get Me, It’s So Easy, Mr. Brownstone – the lyrics and music were tough and uncompromising. These songs had a real sense of menace about them. The opening guitar siren wail of Welcome To The Jungle gave me a chill. Looking back now, I imagine that’s what it must have been like for previous generations hearing the searing intros to Anarchy In The UK or I Wanna Be Your Dog for the first time.

Then Sweet Child O’ Mine was released and they became the biggest band in the world. Their videos were on heavy rotation and everyone was a fan, except Ev – he stuck to his guns while the rest of us stuck to er, the Gunners. Within a few short years they’d blown it. In 1991 they released two double albums Use Your Illusion 1 & 2. What were they thinking? Although a lot of the material came from their pre-Appetite days, the whole production was a bloated, incoherent mess. Dig and you’ll find some great songs amongst the dross – Estranged, Civil War, a great version of Wings’ Live And Let Die. Even Don’t Cry had something.

Undaunted, I went with half of Ireland’s youth to see them play Slane Castle, a natural amphitheater an hour’s drive North of Dublin. Faith No More were the main support – they’d already started by the time we arrived on site and I don’t recall much of their set. Me and the mott (slang for girlfriend) recognized one of the security, Vinnie, the head bouncer from a club in Lucan. He got us into the front area where we scurried right up to the barrier, just a few feet from the stage. It was two long hours before the Gunners finally came on, and the crowd went ballistic.

Duff McKagan was right in front of me for the whole show – he was fucked up. As my Mother would say, “His eyes looked like two piss holes in the snow.” Axl, wearing very tight white shorts for the ladies, was running around like a maniac, and Slash was shredding like a true axe hero. At one point he climbed down right in front of me to take a solo. I seriously thought of jumping the barrier to run over and give him a big hug. I must have come to my senses because before I knew it the show was over and exhausted, we began the long walk back to the buses.

The Gunners had succumbed to the pressures of fame and fortune and in doing so became everything that I despised, but Appetite had made a lasting impression. I was no longer closeted in my musical tastes and learned to love metal in all its bombastic, glorious stupidity.

P.

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Artist: Guns N’ Roses

Album: Appetite For Destruction

Label: Geffen

Released: 1987

Recommended Tracks: Welcome To The Jungle, Nightrain, Mr. Brownstone (it’s about drugs) and Rocket Queen.
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Spiral Scratch

05/01/2010

I’ve been set a challenge through work to create a successful blog. Not sure quite what that means but I guess I need to get loads of hits, visits, comments etc.

I’ve never followed or read extensively any blogs, I’m not into connecting with people or much else on the internet apart from a bit of news, online banking and some other stuff that I probably shouldn’t mention here. Oh, and eBay, I buy a lot of stuff on eBay. I guess what I’m driving at is that I don’t know what I’m doing here, so I’m just going to make it up as I go along.

I remember advice I got in a writing class years ago about writing what you know. So what do I know? Well in my humble opinion, quite a bit. I love history, politics, travel, photography, art, books – all the usual stuff people add at the end of their resumés. In truth though, there is only one topic on which I could claim to be an authority enough to write about, and that’s music. Ever since I was young, very very young, I’ve been fascinated by the art, the artifice and the theater of pop and rock.

I grew up in Lucan, one of the many satellite towns around Dublin. It was a fairly picturesque place, more of a village than a town to be honest. Life was pretty idyllic, bike riding, climbing trees, playing football past dark until the auld-one (mother) came looking for me. Seemingly endless summers, you get the idea. It’s a sad reflection really but amidst all this my favorite pastime was watching TV.

TV was great as a kid, Saturday morning cartoons and Swap Shop (look it up). I’d watch all the American imports like the A-Team, Starsky & Hutch and Knight Rider. BUT, the highlight of the week was when the whole Brennan clan – Mam, Dad, brother, sister and I would gather in front of the TV to watch the top 40 chart show Top of the Pops.

This BBC show was vital viewing, it was a kind of portal into a technicolor, parallel world of the rich and famous. It featured singers and groups of the day lip syncing to their latest hit in front of an adoring studio audience. When an artist couldn’t make it to the studio, dancers would fill in and later video took over. Amongst the saccharine pop hits the occasional gem would come along, David Bowie, The Smiths and the Sex Pistols all appeared over the years. The Clash stayed away because the show was too commercial. Wankers!

“Beelzebub has the devil put aside for me, for me, for meeeeeee!”

Top of the Pops features prominently in one of my earliest memories. By Christmas 1975, Queen had been at the number one slot for a record nine weeks with Bohemian Rhapsody. Week after week the video, featuring the group’s disembodied heads, terrified me. As the line goes – “very, very frightening me”. No fucking kidding, I was 3 years old but the seed was sown. Far from turning me off music, it became a passion, a lifelong obsession.

I took the name for the blog from Spiral Scratch, the debut single by Manchester’s Buzzcocks. Their title refers to the groove a record player needle follows on an lp. This blog is for anyone that’s mad into music, anyone that ever mimed guitar solos on their brother’s tennis racket or banged their head on a door jumping around the living room to A Town Called Malice by The Jam.

Anyway, I’m going to pick records from my collection and write a short piece (shorter than this anyway) explaining how it transformed my life and maybe how it could transform yours.

Tune In, Turn On, Rock Out.

P.

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