Guns N' Roses

Guns N' Roses, nicknamed the "most dangerous band in the world," is one of the most famous hard rock bands to come out of the 1980's. A lot of people like their music because of its hard sound and in-your-face attitude, at times bordering on the obnoxious. Lead singer Axl Rose's high-pitched and screechy vocals are instantly recognizable and hard to forget, while Slash's guitar solos are impressive. Their fame comes in part from the controversies they started and and feuds within the band, which led to many lineup changes throughout the years. Rose's onstage antics are frequently the butt of insults and jokes (perfect example here). But if you can look past all that, they've put out some really great music.

The first song I remember hearing was "Welcome to the Jungle." I picked up the "Greatest Hits" album, then "Live Era," and filled in the gaps from there.

Axl Rose (vocals, piano) has been in every variation of the band. Slash (lead guitar) has been in most. Other members include Dizzy Reed (piano), Steve Adler (drums), Duff McKagan (bass), Izzy Stradlin (guitar), and Matt Sorum (drums).

Nate's Epic Guns N' Roses Playlist

  1. Sweet Child O' Mine (Appetite for Destruction 1987)
  2. Estranged (Use Your Illusion II 1991)
  3. Rocket Queen (Appetite for Destruction 1987)
  4. Pretty Tied Up (Use Your Illusion II 1991)
  5. Move to the City (G N' R Lies 1989)
  6. Paradise City (Appetite for Destruction 1987)
  7. Mr. Brownstone (Appetite for Destruction 1987)
  8. My Michelle (Appetite for Destruction 1987)
  9. Welcome to the Jungle (Appetite for Destruction 1987)
  10. Yesterdays (Use Your Illusion II 1991)
  11. November Rain (Use Your Illusion I 1991)
  12. Civil War (Use Your Illusion II 1991)
  13. Sympathy for the Devil (Sympathy for the Devil 1994)
  14. Live and Let Die (Use Your Illusion I 1991)

Appetite for Destruction (1987)

appetite

Guns N' Roses pretty much placed themselves in rock n' roll history with this amazing first album. Every song on here is killer but together they're an unstoppable force. These songs are awesome even after the thousandth time hearing them on the radio. Every song on this album is excellent, but my favorite songs include "Welcome to the Jungle, "Mr. Brownstone," "Paradise City," "My Michelle," "Sweet Child O' Mine," and "Rocket Queen."

Welcome to the Jungle: The album opens with perhaps their greatest song, welcoming you to the jungle that is GNR. You get a taste of Axl's screechy vocals and Slash's powerful guitar riffs. The song gets a little emotional before cutting to the guitar solo. The best part is right after, with a drum interlude having a very "jungle" sound. The song keeps going to the very end. There's an excellent live version on "Live Era."

It's So Easy: Axl has two vocal styles, high pitched and screechy, and dark and creepy. Here we get a taste of the second style. This is a simpler hard rock song with an easy beat.

Nightrain: This is probably my least favorite song on the album but it's still great. The bass part really comes out throughout the song and there's an awesome guitar solo in the middle.

Out Ta Get Me: The verses are relatively subdued, as far as GNR songs go. Good guitar solos, as usual.

Mr. Brownstone: The drums are my favorite part of the song. The intro is sooooo good, laying the beat perfectly for the guitar. The rest of the song has parts that fit the sound perfectly. The song is about heroin and about how it makes it hard to do anything with your day. Excellent live version on "Live Era," complete with Axl telling the crowd to quit crushing everyone up front.

Paradise City: There's different parts to the song but each is wonderful; this was one of my favorites to play in marching band. Such an iconic intro with a great guitar part. Two-thirds of the way into the song, everything stops then goes into overdrive. It sounds even better live on "Live Era."

My Michelle: I love the way the intro sets the stage for the song, building suspense until the sound just explodes. The bass part emphasis is what makes this song great. The double time part during the chorus feels a little funny and takes away from the slow pounding verse rhythms. The live version on "Live Era" is even more intense.

Think About You: Interestingly, my favorite part is the acoustic guitar during the choruses, mainly because it sticks out so much.

Sweet Child O' Mine: This is probably the greatest GNR song, and hands down the best song to play in marching band. The famous guitar part is just a guitar exercise but Axl thought it sounded perfect so he wrote a song around it. Go figure. I think the song is good partially because of the heavy accents on beats 1 and the "and" of 2, which can be heard in a lot of pop songs (there's something appealing about that beat). The best part is when the song drops down after the guitar solo (which is unbelievably awesome), with Axl whispering "where do we go" (I dunno, Axl), then slowly building up layer by layer until the song finishes with a glorious, epic ending. The live version on "Live Era" would be perfect except there last couple minutes are just drawn out strumming, ruining an excellent song.

You're Crazy: This song is pretty hyper and energetic. The guitar actually maintains the pace, even when the drums go to halftime during the chorus.

Anything Goes: I love the sound during the verses. It's very unique, as opposed to the chorus which sounds similar to most other GNR songs. The guitar solo has a really interesting sound at times.

Rocket Queen: The best song on the album that doesn't get much radio play. It has the best intro, with the intense bass beat and cruising drums. I love this song because it actually maintains the sound from the intro instead of switching it up for something completely different. The guitar solo is kind of interesting, but what's more interesting are the sounds in the background. Supposedly Axl had sex with the drummer's girlfriend in the studio and they put the sounds into the song. Crazy stuff. The song eventually shifts gears, becoming more melodic and vocal/guitar-oriented. The live version is crazy good on "Live Era."



G N' R Lies (1988)

lies

Half the album is (pretend) live and the other half is acoustic songs. There's some interesting stuff on here for sure. My favorite song is "Move to the City."

Move to the City: This version is alright, and it's the best song on the album. The reason it's so good is that the live version on "Live Era" is one of the best songs on that album. The song has a great swing/blues feel and GNR utilizes trumpets and saxes to provide backups, as well as a kickass solo section. And that's why this song is great.

Mama Kin: A cover of Aerosmith's "Mama Kin." I like the Aerosmith version, personally. It's already a hard rock song, GNR doesn't add much.

Patience: The first song on the acoustic side introduces the "GNR whistle" which will appear on future albums (see "Civil War"). This song is pretty good and even I can appreciate the acoustic guitar. I like the live version on "Live Era" a lot better because it builds the song up to something bigger.

You're Crazy: Another song that gets amped up on "Live Era," but I'll admit that it sounds pretty groovy on it's own (especially the triangle part). It has a rockin' acoustic guitar solo.

One in a Million: Quite the song. It raised a lot of controversy because Axl uses derogatory terms for certain racial and gender minorities, and not in an endearing manner. It's a very close-minded song sung from the perspective of a sheltered guy who thinks he's been wronged by all these minorities for some reason. However...if you ignore the lyrics, it has a great guitar/bass riff. But I definitely get if you never want to listen to this song ever.


Use Your Illusion I (1991)

illu

Part one in a double separate album. GNR is less about the in-your-face rock and offers up a couple deeper songs. My favorite songs are "Live and Let Die" and "November Rain."

Dust N' Bones: I think the guitar riff is the best part of this song. The live version on "Live Era" has an edgier sound.

Live and Let Die: A lot of people don't like this cover. It's definitely an interesting twist on a Wings song. I think it's a great screechy Axl song and the guitar does a good job replacing the brass section.

Don't Cry: I like the way the bass and drums provide a joint syncopated rhythm at the end of the phrase during the verses. The guitar solo is pretty intense and sounds even better (duh) on "Live Era."

November Rain: This song is very orchestral, complete with a string section part and Axl playing piano. It has a melancholy tone and pretty emotional guitar solo. Of course, the best part is after the song "ends." The piano picks back up, the drums start marching, and everything just gets crazy. The craziness goes to 11 on "Live Era"'s version, especially with a couple killer drum fills under the piano freestyling.


Use Your Illusion II (1991)

sion

Part two in this double separate album. I think the songs on this are slightly better, but it could just be luck of the draw. My favorite songs are "Civil War," "Yesterdays," and "Estranged."

Civil War: Opening with a sound clip from "Cool Hand Luke," the song sets a strong precedent. It's a relatively straight forward rock song with some political messages. Axl goes on a weird conspiracy rant at one point, if you're into that. I like how the song ends, with the line "what's so civil about war anyway?"

14 Years: I just really like the chorus of this song.

Yesterdays: This song has the perfect combination of instruments, with a great piano part and excellent drum fills. My favorite fill is the last one before the song fades out (right before 2:40). The guitar solo is great too, and Axl's random screechs fit in well. The live version on "Live Era" brings out all the best parts, especially the drum fill.

Knockin' on Heavens Door: A cover of Bob Dylan's classic. I don't like Bob Dylan but I really like this song. Axl hits about 3-4 different vocal ranges at different parts of the song. There's a weird part with a fake phone call, not sure what's up with that. The live version on "Live Era" features a crowd sing-a-long, then without warning, a scream of "GIMME SOME REGGAE!" turns the song into something out of Bob Marley's nightmares. You can see/hear a loop of it (complete with Axl's ridiculously hilarious dancing) here.

Get in the Ring: This song sends a challenge to all of GNR's critics through the years, to "get in the ring" and take them on face to face. This song is fast-paced and great for getting your blood pumping. The calling out of specific people is pretty funny, just one big "F--- you."

Pretty Tied Up: This song really sucks. You can't understand what Axl is saying and the guitar sounds weird. There's even a part where it sounds like he says "cool ranch dressing." BUT...the live version is freakin' awesome. The track on "Live Era" is full of intensity, getting in your face to make its point and fixing all the mistakes from the studio version. Highly recommended.

Estranged: This is a weird song but sooooo great. It just keeps going, there's not really a chorus or resolution. Just one verse after another. I love the alternation of vocals with guitar responses. There's a bunch of great drum fills and a nice piano interlude before one of the most memorable Slash guitar solos towards the end. The music video is really weird, not much idea what's going on. The live version on "Live Era" is even more powerful with some great piano parts.

You Could Be Mine: I like the pounding drum part at the beginning, which sounds even better on "Live Era."


"The Spaghetti Incident?" (1993)

spaghetti

GNR's last real album for many years doesn't really live up to much expectations, especially compared to the greatness of previous albums. My favorite song is "Ain't It Fun."

Since I Don't Have You: GNR's attempt at a slow dance prom song, I guess? It's a cover of a Skyliners song. It's an interesting juxtaposition of the old-timey sound with Axl's vocal characteristics.

Down on the Farm: Kind of a weird song, especially lyrically. But no screechiness.

Ain't it Fun: It's a cover of a Dead Boys song. This song has a depressing vibe but I like the offbeat drum usage. The guitar solo is pretty subdued but there's some nice riffs scattered throughout the song.


Sympathy for the Devil (1994)

sympathy

A cover of the Rolling Stones song, it was featured on the "Greatest Hits" album. I don't think it improves on the original version but I still like the GNR twist. The guitar solo goes on for a while so it's pretty enjoyable (I think).


Chinese Democracy (2008)

chinese

Released after years of suspense, it doesn't feature many of the original members besides Axl. I haven't listened to it much.