Greatest Hits Reviews:
|The problem is the title Greatest Hits. Cliched,
flabby, redundant and obvious. A compilation album which rests on one
assumption that the greatest hits of GNR are the songs that most deserved
to be compiled and reappraised. And really they are not.
Well some of them are. The mangled visciousness of Paradise City wrapped in gloriously melody is still five minutes of ubversive brilliance. You Could be Mine is all spit n snarl the sound of a band teetering on the edge of total insanity. Elsewhere not much. November Rain has some nice guitar parts. Sweet Child O' Mine is just rubbish. But really thats not the poinnt. The point is that the songs that are missing the songs that the title ensures are missing. Coma is the best tune the band ever wrote and it is not here. It's So Easy the dirtiest song the band ever wrote isnt here. Neither is 14 Years, Shotgun Blues or Rocket Queen. Neither are so many songs that told you what Guns N Roses really were.
Because what they were and what they wont be again was the most exciting, sexual, radiculous, unpleasant, unpreditable, misunderstood, repellent, misconceived and undeniable band of their type. And you wont really know it from this.
Best track : Paradise City, You Could Be Mine
KKK - Kerrang! magazine
Guns N' Roses : Greatest Hits
As a consequence, I received a phonecall from the singer, Axl Rose. He said the band were on the way to the airport in a cab and he wondered if I'd be in the office so they could swing right by and FUCKING SORT ME OUT!! Needless to say, I had a pressing engagement elsewhere but I had to admire their balls.
And so it was that, four years later, I found myself crammed into a room the size of a garden shed backstage somewhere in the US of A with all five members of Guns N' Roses, listening to AC/DC's 'Back In Black' just as loud as the human ear will allow.
This was the Gunners' pre-show ritual - to ingest the brutal majesty of the greatest rock album of modern times, then go out and top it. The band were in such disarray at this point that the ritual and the show were the only times the five individuals ever met together. They were rock's greatest soap opera and there were so many reasons to adore them that it's hard to know where to start.
There was Axl who was so insane he travelled with his own shrink and was forever getting arrested for inciting audience riots. He had a voice like gravel, a snake-hipped dance that became the signature image for the fledgling MTV and he wore bandanas and cycling shorts!
There was Slash,in the top hat, his face forever hidden behind a curly curtain of hair. Slash kept snakes for pets, was a junkie and had to carry notes around in his pockets so that, if you found him OD'd, you'd know who to call. He played guitar like Picasso - straight lines, no fucking about.
Then there was Izzy, the intelligent one. Was a junkie. Quit. Travelled to shows in a camper van with his dog and his bicycle like some gypsy prince. And Duff, the peroxide bassist. A total babe magnet, just pure fucked up the whole time. But not as fucked up as Steven, the drummer, who was so fucked up they sacked him. Amazingly, this chaotic rabble had become the biggest band in the world. Then, of course, Kurt Cobain came along and changed the landscape and Axl sacked the band and we're still waiting for that 'Chinese Democracy' album he promised us 11 years ago.
Anyway, now we've got 'Greatest Hits' and, distanced by a decade from all the hoo-ha, it still sounds fucking great. You'll know 'Sweet Child O' Mine' with its serpentine Slash intro and glorious chorus. You should also get into 'Paradise City' and 'Welcome To The Jungle' if you wanna know where The Darkness got the idea of screwing pop choruses into HM verses. And if lighters aloft rock is your bag, say hello to the mighty 'November Rain'.
This shit still sounds hot today. It's packed with pomp, spunk and circumstance, makes blokes want to fight and girls want to dance. What the fuck else is there?
Well you can hardly blame the record company can you? And if they don't get there finger out you can expect to see a b-sides and rarities compilation and another best of featuring "Estranged".
New generations of children are now at high schools and acquiring their own personal music taste, when they have had a fill of skateboards and Limp Bizkit they will look to history for new inspiration and probably discover the Beatles and the Stones, Dylan and Hendrix.
If they should stumble across Guns 'N' Roses, they too should be blown away by "Sweet Child O Mine" and "November Rain". Old fans must continue that painful wait but the new ones are in for a real treat.
9/10 - Mac UK
Still, they,ve made a right mess of the tracklisting. Only three Appetite songs - who'd pick their dim Sympathy For The Devil cover over Nightrain? Plus, the gatefold packaging is shoddy.
However, if Axl hears You Could Be Mine or Paradise City and remembers what he was good at, then it's done its job.
Planet Sound, Text, Channel 4, UK
Success ruins talent like nothing else. Just look at Axl Rose, bloated with ego and fast living, isolated from his bandmates, and interminably (five years and counting) working on his Chinese Democracy album, thus named because it was never going to happen. Meanwhile, there's the rest of the once-proud gunners, known as Velvet Revolver (a mockery of their former good name). Anything either camp release will never live up to expectation. It's often easy to forget why anyone bothers with these addled clowns. This Greatest Hits is something of a reminder. Harvesting all their biggest hits and some later period flim-flam, it dangles their anthems (Sweet child Of Mine, Paradise City) before the listener then charts GNR'S decline into a covers band. There are no new songs, no unreleased tracks or rarities to sweeten the pill of their spectacular fall from excellence. Anyone who cares about their record collection should buy Appetite for Destruction instead.
by Ms Kitty Empire.
The Sunday Observer, UK
If time is the true test, then Guns N' Roses' Greatest Hits confirms that they really were one of the greatest rock & roll bands in the world. While, in retrospect, fellow graduates of the class of 1987 are about as cool as poodle perms and spandex, the LA bad boys still rock like gods. Listening to the sun-drenched chords of "Paradise City" and the ensuing stadium-sized swagger is enough to make wearing leather trousers and bandanas seem like a good idea. Of course, it helped that for them sex, drugs and rock & roll was a way of life, not a fashion statement. As Axl Rose wails "I wanna watch you bleed" on "Welcome to the Jungle", like a chain-smoking lunatic possessed, it's hard not to believe he meant it. Yet equally, it was his surprisingly poetic nature that made genuinely touching love songs of "Patience" and "Sweet Child of Mine".
Though none of their subsequent albums matched the drug-crazed genius
of Appetite for Destruction, they did, as the Greatest Hits reminds,
have their moments. From the bloated Use Your Illusion I & II came
ultimate rock ballads "Don't Cry" and "November Rain",
along with the primal rage that was "You Could Be Mine". And
while the covers of the The Spaghetti Incident were largely forgettable,
the fact that their final single was a seedy sneer through the Rolling
Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" seems spectacularly fitting.
Guns N Roses Greatest Hits is long overdue but with such
a frustrating delay comes even greater anticipation.
Making a deliberate statement as to the journey ahead, the album begins with the hard rock anthem, Welcome To The Jungle a track that sparked the beginning of something special way back in 1987.
This fourteen track album rarely falters in its presentation
of a band that captured the world with their brash attitudes, infectious
guitar riffs, haunting ballads and sheer head thumping music. Timeless
songs featured include the number one single, Sweet Child O
Mine the epic November Rain the soundtrack to Terminator
2, You Could Be Mine the song that epitomised the wonderful
feeling of a live gig, Paradise City and the down right
mean cover of Live And Let Die.
Guns N Roses were masters of their craft and this fourteen
track C.V. is the perfect example of it. Guns N Roses Greatest
Hits collection is released March 12th.
Guns N' Roses
Today, pop metal serves as bacchanalia, irony, and imaginary nostalgia. MTV sells the 80s as a kitschy, decadent daydream, dodging their complicity in creating the pop culture divide that made Britny Fox possible. By the time of Guns N' Roses, thanks in large part to the network's conservatism, there was a cultural civil war going on, and those who threw down pop metal's chalice had to dress the part to find each other in the crowd. And I'm not saying our lives were harder-- we didn't walk two miles in the snow to buy Cure records-- but pop culture was stuck in a 1970s frame of mind. Everything had to be so much more obvious to be understood-- including alternative music-- which is why it all looks like a dayglo renaissance faire in retrospect, but prior to the information age, you couldn't chart your own roadmap. You needed big, flashing signs pointing the way.
Think about the signs GN'R fans had to ignore. Forget the bloated, overproduced Aerosmith knockoffs, the bandanas, elfin leggings and abject misogyny: Slash wore a fucking top hat, and humorlessly. That's all you needed to know to figure it out, but millions of sheep the world over couldn't stand up and point the finger at their emperor's ridiculous wardrobe, banging their heads to "Paradise City", the most grandiose self-parody of stadium rock imaginable. After milking its admittedly superb guitar lead for nearly two minutes, a fucking whistle blows to let the herd know it's time to Rock. Not even Peter Pan could save these idiots.
Oh well, whatever. Nevermind.
Unlike the vast majority of their ridiculous fans and even more ridiculous peers, GN'R still matter, despite their hackneyed glam image; they weren't fluff, and though much of their "edge" owed to repellent sexism, self-absorbed drug abuse and unchecked homophobia, their best songs still resonate a decade later. The problem, relative to this collection, is that many of them aren't here.
What Axl Rose and Guns N' Roses stood for, and where they spoke from, is outlined in their album tracks, in the paranoiac "Out Ta Get Me", in "Used to Love Her", and in their most controversial recording, "One in a Million". Because Greatest Hits is limited to officially released singles, none of them appear here. "One in a Million" put GN'R in the parental advisory spotlight, and sparked major national debates on free speech: Millions of teenage fans, drawn to GN'R Lies by its smash single-- the topically harmless and quite beautiful ballad "Patience"-- were exposed to the lyrics, "Police and niggers/ Get out of my way," and, "Immigrants and faggots/ They make no sense to me." The ridiculous red herring offered on the album's cover was laughed at, and after an educational ass-kicking by the press, Rose sheepishly apologized, first claiming it was written as a "comedy," then insisting he was singing "in character." Nobody bought Axl's shallow excuses, and an older, wiser Rose finally conceded the track should be deleted from future pressings. It's still there.
Once GN'R made it, Axl didn't have much to complain about, and found himself in the unenviable position of having to actually write songs. The last gasp of 1970s album rock excess, 1991's Use Your Illusion was an artistic disaster, full of six and seven-minute "epics," mostly identical in construction, and stocked with ham-fisted, explicitly staged guitar heroics. Apart from "Get in the Ring", the most embarrassing admission of one man's insecurity in rock history, the harder tracks never mustered convincing anger, merely confusion, and the set's ballads are almost adorable in their childish imitation of Elton John and Freddie Mercury.
Yet "November Rain" comes closer to "Stairway to Heaven" than anything recorded in almost thirty years of slavish imitation. Perhaps the best and certainly the most popular breakup anthem since the glory days of arena rock, "November Rain" is Axl Rose's legacy, a legitimate, significant artistic accomplishment from, in his own words, "a small town white boy just tryin' to make ends meet."
So yes, there are hits here, and they are certainly Guns N' Roses' most popular and potent. The major issue with this set-- and in all likelihood the reason the band, at Axl's urging, tried to block its release-- is that, of the 14 cuts on Greatest Hits, five are making other people money, and two of those can hardly be called hits. An overproduced, meandering version of the Skyliners' doo-wop classic "Since I Don't Have You" charted on name only, and nothing so blatantly revealed the falsity of its deplorable parent covers record The Spaghetti Incident? like the theatrical, retarded rendition of Rocket from the Tombs'/Dead Boys' "Ain't It Fun", featuring Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe on backing vocals.
Monroe, perhaps the most interesting character associated with hair metal, lived with the Dead Boys' Stiv Bators in the early 80s, and along with Slash, doubtless introduced Axl-- never known for his musical acumen-- to this, if not all of the punk material they butchered. Recorded during the spiraling Use Your Illusion sessions, The Spaghetti Incident? is undeniable evidence that even the band knew they were out of gas. Rose later said, "We wanted to call the record Pension Fund, because we're kind of helping some of these guys pay the rent." While Axl had a point insofar as you can't live on credibility, the opposite is also true: It's not for sale.
That much is clear in Guns N' Roses' idiotic rendition of the Dylan standard, "Knockin' on Heaven's Door", featuring a gospel choir (who would've thought) and a bizarre attempt at philosophy via an answering machine message during its clap-along breakdown. "Live and Let Die", on the other hand, ranks among the very best covers on record, and goes a long way to buttress this insubstantial compilation's appalling last act.
Greatest Hits is strictly chronological, to a fault. Nothing could serve to distort Guns N' Roses' importance so much as their last single, a calamitous run through "Sympathy for the Devil", unquestionably the low point of the GN'R catalog (which is really saying something if you've heard their versions of The Damned's "New Rose" or Misfits' "Attitude"). What makes "Sympathy" (from the Interview with a Vampire soundtrack) all the more embarrassing is the fact that Guns N' Roses' alt-rock doppelganger, Jane's Addiction, made their name on a drugged-out cover of it on their heavily polished "live" debut, released just two months after Appetite for Destruction. (Another fun fact: Use Your Illusion came out the same month as Nevermind).
Guns N' Roses earned a place in rock history as the hair metal band good enough to excuse their indulgent stupidity, and exposed the effeminate commerciality that had neutered rock music, extracting the dying medium's last breath. All of that was accomplished with Appetite for Destruction, the biggest-selling debut of the 1980s, to this day a venerable slab of obnoxious rock and roll. Aiming to promote their interests with this limp catalog sampler, Geffen have shamelessly betrayed the band's legacy and diluted their best material, associating it with some of Guns N' Roses' biggest flops, both in commercial ("Civil War", "Yesterdays") and artistic terms. Ammunition for their myriad enemies, Greatest Hits reminds us that, for the brilliance of their debut album, Guns N' Roses recorded nearly as many covers as originals, and in the wake of their success, faltered mightily.
-Chris Ott, March 24th, 2004
3.9 - pitchforkmedia.com