If I had to choose a year where I peaked out as an indie rock snob hipster douchebag, it was probably 1987. So if you were to tell me at any point that year that I would soon (or ever) be head-over-heels for a LA-based metal band, I would have laughed and laughed.
Right? While I still loved Led Zeppelin & Deep Purple & Black Sabbath and even saw Aerosmith in concert that year, I basically considered most of the contemporary metal of 1987 either a bunch of gussied-up pop crap or amelodic thrash. And don’t even get me started on grunge.
Guns N’ Roses changed that.
It took time, but my love of GN’R helped me realize that no genre of music is dead as long as it’s fresh and alive to the people who are playing it. So Appetite For Destruction somehow became the first new metal album I truly loved since Women And Children First, seven long years (and dozen musical lifetimes) previously.
It was probably the video for this song which did it. And it was probably the moment during the bridge, the slow “when you’re high, you never wanna come down” part that drew me into them.
I remember watching that at somebody’s apartment and thinking, “Well, this is unusual, and crazy-ass melodic to boot.” The videos loom large in the rise (and fall) of Guns N’ Roses, and figure prominently in my new favorite Guns N’ Roses theory: that Slash is a Time Lord.
By the way, I have a shitton of Guns N’ Roses theories, so many that I hope I remember them all during all of the posts, but for now, let’s just talk about the first thirty seconds of “Welcome To The Jungle,” which is now as iconic as hard rock gets.
First thing you hear is echoed guitar doubling and tripling back upon itself, and over that, a desperate guttural scream that lasts longer than you would expect, and then you hear a riff that clearly came from a lost Aerosmith album, simultaneously strutting and jaunty.
That’s now you open an album, kids.
The rest of “Welcome To The Jungle” backs up that opening promise: the backing “oohhs” during the chorus, the riffy guitar solo after the first verse, “sha-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-knees!” the gorgeous bridge, and of course:
You know where you are?
You’re in the jungle, baby!!
You’re gonna dieeeeeeee!
A long time ago, my buddy Jim and I had a theory that there really wasn’t a whole helluva lot of difference between Aerosmith’s Rocks and Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols, because both records were bathed in so much distortion and songs that had great endings.
Or something like that. It was a long time ago, in the early ’80s, after both bands had originally flamed out.
But one this is certain: Slash used his TARDIS to travel back to 1977 and come up with a bunch of great riffs with Joe Perry during one amazing high-grade coke-filled night, and while Aerosmith put out the subsequent album — also called Draw The Line — in some timelines, we ended up with our much weaker version version of Draw The Line.
Meanwhile, Axl Rose just borrowed Johnny Rotten’s sneer.
Combine them both, and you get Appetite For Destruction, which should have been wayyyy too late, but actually turned out to be just in time.
Official Video for “Welcome To The Jungle”
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