Updated: Jun 1
The following review was published in Used Records & Tapes #1 [RoosterCow Press]
In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Guns and Roses was the biggest band in the world. And they weren't whiney little twits like Billy Corgan either. They were nasty, dirty, drunken, drugged out, impolite rock stars. They could also be clownish buffoons and in Axl's case, a gigantic, megalomaniac a-hole. In 1988, however, they were still getting a pass. When GN'R Lies came out in 1988, it sold 10 million copies. That's pretty good for a bad record. Perhaps bad is a bit strong, but it certainly was no Appetite for Destruction. And it shouldn't be treated as a legitimate full-length release either, seeing how it was a cobbled-together placeholder to placate fans and make some dough while GNR toured the world placating fans and making dough.
Guns n Roses GNR Lies Album Review
GNR Lies Side G
The G Side (presumably the Guns side) of GNR Lies features the four tracks that comprised the 1986 EP, Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide. The sad truth about Live Like a Suicide (we’ll dispense with the ?!*@ from here on out because it’s silly and makes no sense) is that it was NOT recorded live like a suicide. It is, in fact, a studio recording with crowd noise dubbed in. This hardly mattered to fans in 1988 and is awesome now as a testament to how ridiculous GNR could be. “Reckless Life” and “Nice Boys” are similar hard-driving odes to the degenerate lifestyle espoused by these hard-edged glam rockers. “Move to the City” features a horn section and hits on a theme young Axl would return to countless times: a hick from the sticks moves to the Big City a.k.a. The Jungle. “This is a song about your f*cking mother” announces Axl at the start of the Steven Tyler-penned tune, “Mama Kin”, which closes out Side G. The fictitious crowd especially enjoys this number. They must be Aerosmith fans—hell, for all we know this crowd noise was taken from an Aerosmith concert! Wouldn’t that be ironical?
GNR Lies Side R
Then there’s the R side (for Roses). This shows that the band can lay it down acoustically (hard rockers with a tender side) as is evidenced on the drippy “Patience”—Axl at his cartoonish best. Things turn ugly (or hilarious depending on your perspective on murder) with “Used to Love Her”—not the first murder ballad ever written but certainly guaranteed to cause controversy. The third track is a pointless, acoustic version of “You’re Crazy” from the Appetite record and then the coup de grace: “One in a Million.” Axl lets his red neck shine brightly on a return to the hick-in-the-city theme. In this piece, Axl calls out “immigrants and f****ts” for not making sense to him, what with the different languages and all. “It’s all Greek to me,” Axl observes with a bit of ironic wit not seen in a GNR song since “Turn around bitch I got a use for you” on “It’s So Easy” in ‘87. Axl also advises “police and n****rs” to get away from him as he will not be needing any gold chains at this point in time. For complete lyrics to this tune, maybe you could ask John Rocker. I’m sure he has them burned into his frontal lobe if not tattooed on his ass.
Rolling Stone gave GNR Lies four out of five stars in their 1989 review, citing the release as proof of GNR’s sustainability and calling ‘One In a Million’ a “beautiful ballad” with Axl’s homophobic and anti-immigrant spiel “tempered with something that sounds oddly like compassion.” Yes, Axl Rose may be a complete tool, but Rolling Stone built the toolbox.—Chris Auman
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