Guns ‘N Roses’ “Appetite For Destruction” is unquestionably one of the greatest debut albums of all time. I was in fourth grade when that beast came out and I’d blast “It’s So Easy” and NWA’s “Fuck Tha Police” in the park on a boombox (when nobody was around) and think I was Bruce Willis. (Bruce Willis was the baddest person 4th grade Mike Brody could think of.) I didn’t have a clue what “turn around bitch I got a use for you” meant and I really identified more with Weird Al Yankovic’s extended polka parody jams, but screw it. CLASSIC ALBUM.
Guns ‘N Roses’ next official album(s), “Use Your Illusion I & II” is a whole ‘nother story. What in the good god was happening here? This behemoth brings up memories of previous double and triple albums that really should have been one, like the Beatles’ self-titled (better known as the “White Album”) and The Clash’s so-you-thought-we-were-good “Sandinista”. The major difference is you could actually cut those two into a real album. Try doing it with Use Your Illusion. It’s impossible! There’s two many ten minute long epic ballads squished with rockers that should have been three minutes long but ended up being six just so Axl could go “Eye-eee-eye-ee-eye-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” or “YOWZA!” at the end of all of them. WTF, Axl? There’s a 100% zero chance I would like this if it came out today, but the fact is it came out in 1991 and I was wearing a lot of denim. My judgment wasn’t exactly razor sharp.
So screw Frankensteining this bitch into one album. It can’t be done. Instead I’m going to listen to all 30 songs from both parts and rank them from “best” to “affront to humankind”. The links on a song mean there’s a video for it, which I strongly suggest watching.
1) “You Could Be Mine” – I used to blast this (and Soul Asylum’s “Somebody To Shove”) in my room while getting ready for B-team basketball practice in 9th grade. Let me tell you, nothing gets you pumped for not getting playing time, even in practice, like the lines “With your bitch-slap rappin’ and your cocaine tongue…” This is also from that wonderful time when bands would just splice in clips of a movie into the video with no continuity whatsoever so they could be on a soundtrack. Axl’s crotch! Eddie Furlong! Axl’s crotch! Arnold givin’ a thumbs up! Arnold’s computer-eye zoomin’ in on Axl’s crotch!
2) “Don’t Cry” – I loved the video back in the day, but watching it today brings up many, many questions. 1) If you’re going to go walking through a freezing tundra-land, why are you wearing a daisy-duke pirate costume? 2) How did Slash manage to drive a car off a cliff but jump out in time to grab his guitar and take his shirt off? 3) How is he getting home? 4) Why is Axl super stoked to see his hands shaking at the psychiatrists like it’s a fancy card trick? 5) Why does he look like a tiny, naked, muscle-less Incredible Hulk making shadow-birds in the afterlife? 6) How are any of these scenes even remotely connected? 7) Where’s Izzy?
3) “November Rain” – Axl gets married and then she dies without explanation. It takes ten fucking minutes to tell that story.
4) “Coma” – This is far and away the best non-single on the album and is a pure delight on the psychosis scale. Axl’s in a coma and astral projects to some ice-beach (did he bring the pirate suit?!) and at the same time, some weird demon/devil voice is telling the doctors to “zap the son-of-a-bitch again” with the electric paddles. But wait, Axl doesn’t want to come back because his girlfriend’s complaining that all he wants is sex, sex, sex, all the time! Ya know?!
5) “Estranged” – This was my emo jam as a 7th grader. “When you’re talkin to yourself. And nobody’s home. ALONE!” Yeah, that never happened, because I was 13 and living with my parents. This video is important for being coo-coo even by Axl’s standards. There’s not a shrink alive who could make heads or tails of this mess. It starts with an actual text definition of the word “illusion”. Then Axl showers with his clothes on and has the SWAT team called on him for some reason. The SWAT team doesn’t actually do anything to him and then he’s on stage at a concert. Then people in all white take him (also wearing all white, but with the word “DEEP” on his chest) into a limo to go to a jet literally filled with water and dolphins. You know, as you do! Then he goes to a bar where the jet dolphins follow him through billboards (I’M NOT FUCKING MAKING THIS SHIT UP! CLICK THE VIDEO ON THE LINK!), then he jumps off a battleship that he somehow got on and some roadie tries really half-assedly to save him from a nearby but not-too-close dingie. MORE DOLPHINS! When did Axl become a frumpy-dumpy Ren Fest girl? Then MOTHERFUCKING SLASH RISES FROM THE WATER LIKE AN ABE LINCOLN JESUS (which is pretty bad-ass, actually). Cut to the next day when a helicopter saves a not-actually-drowned Axl who’s still in the water (fuck you, roadie!) and then Axl looks wistfully into the bleachers while a solitary white signature Axl shoe sinks to the bottom of the ocean and a text definition for “disillusion” flashes on the screen. And if you don’t believe me about this next part, fucking watch the goddamn video: IT ENDS WITH AXL ON HIS COUCH GRINNING WHILE A MOTHERFUCKING DOLPHIN WEARING EITHER A PLAID TOWEL OR AXL’S SHIRT CLICKS HAPPILY NEXT TO HIM. WHAT IN THE NAME OF HOLY FUCK JUST HAPPENED!!!
6) “Civil War” – Christ, how do we follow that one? It took me roughly twenty years to figure out that the opening audio monologue was a part from “Cool Hand Luke” and not just a typical Looney Tunes soliloquy of Axl’s. “What we got here…is a FAILURE…to COMMUNICATE”. Extra points to Axl for ruining an otherwise poignant song about war and class division by randomly bleeting out “Ain’t that fresh!”
7) “Dead Horse” – Honestly, this was the dark horse (no pun intended) song of the album. Really catchy. The video is pretty straight-forward concert footage but the song is notable for having what 13-year-old Mike Brody thought was the most profound line of all time: “I’m a son-of-a-gun and a gun-of-a-son.” MIND. BLOWN.
8) “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” – I didn’t know who Bob Dylan was when I first heard this song. And when I finally did, I was shocked to find out that the original version was over three minutes shorter, didn’t have background singers or a segment in the middle where a guy calls someone and leaves a message that says “You just better start sniffin’ your own rank subjugation jack, ’cause it’s just you against your tattered libido, the bank and the mortician forever man and it wouldn’t be luck if you got out of life alive.” You taking notes, Zimmerman!? THAT’S poetry!
9) “Get In The Ring” – I don’t know if this even qualifies as a song so much as angry liner notes with guitars and yelling over it. You think music doesn’t influence kids? I had a kid throw a basketball at my head in 7th grade and scream the lyrics of this song at me: “What are you pissed off cuz your dad gets more pussy than you? Fuck you. Suck my fuckin’ dick!” “Yeah, I’m in 7th grade. EVERYBODY gets more pussy than me. Inanimate objects get more pussy than me and they will for years. I know because I’m telling this story from the future.”
10) “Live And Let Die” – Why not cover a Wings song, Axl? Why not.
11) “Don’t Damn Me” – This song literally starts with Mr. Rose making the sound that Wile E Coyote makes when he gets hit on the head with a frying pan. I can’t decide if that loses it points or gains it.
12) “You Ain’t The First” – Nobody taught more hairless pre-pubescent kids how to be misogynistic than Axl Rose. He’s the Michael Jordan of future trashy Indianans.
13) “Shotgun Blues” – “Ooooh, you want a confrontation. I’ll give you every fuckin’ chance. With your verbal masturbation. Me…I just like to dance!” Did Axl just challenge someone to a dance-off? CHA-LLENGE!
14) “Right Next Door To Hell” – This is the cut-off point. This is where the songs go from pretty okay to pretty bland, soon to be followed by “Did a drunk manatee make this?” This particular song is alright, but was a lousy choice to lead-off UYI #1. Like starting a wedding proposal with a fart. Probably for the better, considering how those end up for Axl. (The marriages, not the farts. I don’t know how his farts go but I’m guessing they’re over ten minutes long.)
15) “Yesterdays” – This one has a video too, but they were getting pretty lazy by this point. It was like their 12th single and not a DOLPHIN TO BE FOUND!
16) “Perfect Crime” – A TWO MINUTE SONG!!! Did Axl huff too much paint in his Hakeem Olajuwon K-Mart specials and forget to finish it?
17) “Garden Of Eden” – “Garden Of Eden” is like “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” if Michael Stipe was more like Charles Manson and kept getting forced to make videos. I think the “Blair Witch Project” cost more to make than this one.
18) “Locomotive” – This fucking lizard-turd of a song is 8:42 long.
19) “Bad Apples” – Jesus fucking Christ this is getting hard to stomach. Who in the hell was letting Axl do all of this? I have 11 more to go! I’m actually listening to all these! Not one person was like “Hey Axl, we don’t have to put ALL 30 songs we wrote on. I think ten or twelve is fine.” No, all of Axl’s songs are like soccer mom kids. Everybody gets a trophy! No losers!
20) “So Fine” – This sounds like “Don’t Cry” if it had diarrhea.
21) “Pretty Tied Up” – I’m fairly certain this song is about kidnapping and torture. YAWN.
22) “Back Off Bitch” – I will cough up $100 to anyone that can prove they’ve listened to this song on purpose between the dates 1993 and June 28, 2014.
23) “The Garden” – It’s like “The Garden Of Eden” without a video and less of a point. I will say it is mildly fun to hear Axl groan “BYE-BYE” like a sad ten-year-old to a pony he didn’t get to ride.
24) “Double Talking Jive” – Axl, nobody’s going to believe you’re a gansta if you wear cut-off jean shorts, okay?
25) “Bad Obsession” – “I called my mother, she’s just a cunt now.” That’s a line that Axl Rose wrote on purpose and put into a song.
26) “Breakdown” I’m not even sure if I listened to this song when it was new.
27) “Dust N Bones” Yeah, great idea. Make the second song on the first disc a five-minute IZZY song.
28) “14 Years” Yeah, great idea. Make the second song on the second disc a four-and-a-half-minute IZZY song.
29) “Don’t Cry” (Alt. Lyrics) “You know, I really didn’t understand life until that second, alternate-lyrics version of ‘Don’t Cry’ where he said ‘Eh’ instead of ‘Uh’.” You pompous, ginger-headed, biker-shorts wearing idiot.
30) “My World” – Do you know how bad a song has to be to be the worst song on Use Your Illusion? THE WORST FUCKING SONG EVER WRITTEN! Where to start? The opening line is literally written in the lyrics as “You wan’da step into my world”. It sounds like Weird Al doing a parody of Nine Inch Nails trying to rap, as written by Vanilla Ice. If that’s not bad enough, throw in some super awkward chants “Do it! Do it! Do it!” by Axl that sounds like he’s either killing himself, masturbating or both. I think I’d rather listen to Limp Bizkit fronted by Shaquille O’Neal after he ate a whole Thanksgiving dinner.