My GnR Odyssey

November 18, 2008 | Comments (0) | by The Hundley

Guns 'N Roses. Talk about a great band name, one that originally spawned from a collaboration between Tracii Guns and Axl Rose. Tracii quit soon after and the remaining members needed to add a lead guitar player in his absence. They settled on a frizzy haired mulatto rocker that went by Slash, and the rest was history. Talk shit all you want about 80's rock. Guns 'N Roses was one of the greatest rock bands ever. Just look at how fast they went from rags to riches. Look at how many epic songs they cranked out. Look at the number of fans that showed up to watch them during their marathon tours. Yes indeed, GnR was one of the best rock bands. Yeah, I said was.

I'm a child of the 80's. Sure, I was born in the late 70's, but my first memories come from the 80's - "The Decade of Decadence". Huey Lewis and the boys were playing great party rock, doing tons of blow, and selling their Sports album like hotcakes. I rocked out with mom in the grocery getter, singing along to Genesis, Lionel Ritchie, and Hall and Oates.

That was all fine and great, and I loved every minute of it, but it wasn't until 6th or 7th grade that a buddy's older sister played "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Paradise City" for us. Man was I hooked. We wore that copy of a tape out, singing along to all the songs and jumping around like they did in the videos. It didn't matter that I loved singing along to "Mr Brownstone", not even realizing it was about doing heroin. It was raw and it was rock and roll.

Next came Junior High when both of the Use Your Illusion albums dropped? Shit, son. That was livin'. L-I-V-I-N. We were just as geeked as everyone else for the arrival. And damn if they didn't give us TWO albums worth of stuff to enjoy. Sure it was a bit of a change in direction, now there were pianos and synthesizers and orchestra arrangements, but this was W. Axl Rose flexing his artistic wings. Suddenly we were introduced to the "epic" GnR. "Civil War" and "November Rain". Izzy even sang a few! I would try my best to mimic his nasally tone in the school hallways by singing double talkin' jive get the money motherfucker 'cause I ain't got no more patience! They came out with a bunch of crazy videos where Izzy wasn't featured (he quit the band). Axl did a bunch of crazy shit like swim with dolphins, hide in a cave like Gollum from LOTR, or wear floral spandex shorts to a psychiatrist's office while his hands shook like something from The Exorcist. Slash took it upon himself to be all gacked out, bailed out of weddings early, and bailed from cars going off a cliff - so he could do a heavenly solo on the cliff's edge before throwing his guitar into the chasm. The videos were all "Huh?", but the music was good, and Stephanie Seymour was in them, so we overlooked the small details like that.

The tour that followed was a disaster. They had to fire their drummer because he couldn't handle his booze and drugs. (Seriously, how bad is it of you got kicked out of GnR for excessive drug use?) They frequently showed up late - like over two hours late. Axl sometimes would not go on and shows had to be canceled. Riots broke out at GnR shows in St. Louis and Montreal. Axl was turning into the biggest neurotic egomaniac ever, Slash was constantly blackout drunk, dropping f-bombs on live TV, trashing hotels, going in and out of rehabs for wrestling with the big H. Disarray.

At this point I was just thinking "What now?" The band was on indefinite hiatus. GnR had the world by the tail and now it was slipping away. In a lame attempt to throw us a bone, the record company had the boys release The Spaghetti Incident, a weak and watered down album of covers and overproduced punk rock, famous only for Axl including a song that was written by Charles Manson. Stories started to leak out about the band's dysfunction. The Use Your Illusion albums took forever to record because the band could not get along. Slash was now more interested in Slash's Snakepit. Duff McKagan almost died when his pancreas nearly exploded from years of excessive drinking. Axl was turning into a recluse and would only communicate with his band mates through a second party. In the meantime, the Seattle grunge sound came along and left GnR obsolete. For all intents and purposes, GnR died in the mid 90's, with Axl being the only remaining original member.

The remaining years have been filled with bullshit about Chinese Democracy, an album which has been in the works since 1995. Where was Slash? Where was Duff? Who is the assclown with the bucket on his head? (Oh, his name is Buckethead. Clever!) Bumblefoot? Who in the hell is he? Was he in the Blind Melon video? Holy shit, Axl got fat, got hair plugs, and started wearing his "hair" in cornrows. As patently absurd as the whole thing is, this band of Axl And His Misfits was/is still called Guns 'N Roses. Yep, Axl made sure that he had legal rights to the name. Gee, I can't figure why he's so hard to work with. GnR Lite managed to do a few live shows between sinking millions of dollars and teasing billions of cocks in making Chinese Democracy a reality. And wouldn't you know it, Axl had a problem with showing up again, and more riots ensued.

Even as a huge GnR fan, I'm not ashamed to say that I have no interest in this album. Zero. Zilch. It was only a few days ago that I even listened to any of the "music" that has leaked onto the internet in the last 15 years or so. As foolish and stubborn as this sounds, I'd probably buy it if it wasn't emblazoned with the name Guns 'N Roses. It's insulting. Axl's needs to just move on. He has damn near zero credibility right now, and if he's going to try and do this his way, he needs to move past GnR. Call the band something else. As lame as it sounds, I'd rather have as many original members back together, just being a glorified tribute band. I can't think that I'm alone in feeling this way. It's far better seeing the original thing sticking around, living off their past than seeing some guy with a cardboard receptacle on his head that was meant for holding chicken, trying to reproduce Slash's sound, or even worse, trying to infuse his virtuoso/shredder style of guitar in place of Slash's driving, melodic sound.

Axl needs to face the music and realize that the age-old adage is true - you can't polish a turd. Move on or swallow your pride and get the guys back, if they'd still come back. And please go away with this Chinese Democracy crap. This pretentious, preposterous crap thrown together only begs the question - "On what day did God create Chinese Democracy, and couldn't he have rested that day as well?"

I will never buy this album. If for some reason everyone claims to me how awesome it is, I might, might get it - by downloading it illegally of course. Fuck you, Axl. And fuck you, Guns 'N Roses Lite.