While the 1980s Los Angeles rock scene will forever be associated with pretty-boy glam metal, it also spawned Guns N' Roses, one of the most in-your-face, streetwise, and controversial bands of the era. Axl Rose, Slash, & company's roots lay in The Stones, Aerosmith, and The New York Dolls, with a gentle touch of pop-metal edge. The act ruled critics' minds, the pop charts, and MTV in 1988 with the still revered APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION, which included the oft-covered #1 hit "Sweet Child O' Mine." The double-album USE YOUR ILLUSION continued their reign. The original band was slowly replaced, and by the late '90s only Rose remained to annually promise CHINESE DEMOCRACY, which he delivered in 2008, and while it received some critical raves, the album failed to live up to the almost impossible sales expectations.
A glimpse of the future, and not because of its huge influence and umpteen million sales. The poor-little-rich-boy protest "Out ta Get Me" intimates that Axl Rose's egotism and martyr complex were soon to grow bigger than his head; still, Appetite's night-train wreck of punk and metal sounds and sensibilities make it more than just an emblem of its time. Whether GN'R are dancing with Mr. Brownstone, penning a callow kiss-off letter to some chick named Michelle, or passing out on somebody else's sofa, this was and remains a savage journey to the heart of the American--or at least the Hollywood--dream. --Rickey Wright
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