GNR’s debut is often hailed as one of the best albums of the 80’s; even one of the greatest albums of all time. Of course, I like their well known songs, but don’t know much else about the legendary album. At one point, I owned the disc (just the disc), but either I lost it or donated it. But I wanted to give it another shot. And while the album’s not bad, there’s nothing about to make it stand out as one of the best of the 80’s. There are some good songs, but most of them sound the same and don’t really stand out from what was standard for 80’s rock.
Of course the album begins with the ever-popular “Welcome to the Jungle.” This is the song GNR will always be known for because it fucking rocks. There’s no other way to describe the song. Everything from the bad ass attitude, the slick, dirty guitar riff provided by Slash, and the whole dangerous tone of the song makes it memorable and amazing. Never has LA sounded so filthy and unsafe. It’s also here where we get to know the classic sound of GNR. It seems that they mix in elements of rock n roll from the late 60’s and the 70’s and combine them with the heavy metal that was so popular during the time. This is probably what got them so much attention when they first came out.
From there on, the songs aren’t bad, but there’s not much about them to make them stand out or sound different from the other tracks here. “It’s So Easy,” “Nightrain,” and “Think About You” all have the same rock n roll, sleazy sound. The guitars are intricate, fast, and loud and Axl is brash as always. Even the subject matter is pretty much the same for most of the album. Most of the songs deal with living life on the fast lane: partying, drinking, recklessness, and sex, lots of sex. Axl makes this last part clear with the song “Anything Goes” as he howls how nothing but sex has been on his mind. Like I said, these songs aren’t bad, but at least for me they were really easy to tune out. Nothing about them really grabbed my attention.
There are a few songs that manage to stand out and I think they have got to be the best on the album. The first is the ode to heroin “Mr. Brownstone.” One of the things that makes this different is how it begins with big, booming drums instead of a slick guitar riff. Also, the drum beat sounds like it comes from the song “I Want Candy,” which is kind of weird. This track also has a playful, looping guitar riff that makes it sound different from the other riffs we’ve heard so far. Even though the song is about heroin, it still has this fun, partying vibe that the others are missing. I guess it could reflect how the drug makes you feel for a short while.
Another great song is “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” This one is different from the others because it’s a bit lighter and softer compared to the other songs, but it still something you can rock out to. I think this song is better than “Thinking of You” because it doesn’t sound cheesy. Rose actually sounds genuine here as he sings about a girl he fancies. Also, the guitar riffs are great because they vary. It’s not just one main riff for the entire song.
Something that sort of bothered me about the album is how guitar heavy it is. It’s almost too much Slash. I know he’s an amazing player and you can hear his talent on every single song here, but the issues is he overshadows everyone else. I don’t know if it’s just the way he plays or if this was done on purpose because Slash is awesome. But it sounds like they turned up his sound to be louder than everyone else playing. Now, I love a good guitar riff, but I also bass riffs and killer drums; with this album you have to listen very hard to hear anything else.
Overall, the album gets 7.5/10. It’s not a bad album by any means, but I don’t understand what all the hype is about. There are some great songs here that the band will always be known for, but for the most part the tracks seem to be what was pretty standard in the rock during the 80s: partying, sex, drugs, and lots of guitars. Also, the songs begin to sound similar after awhile, which makes it easy to tune out most of the record. But there are still good songs to be found and a big part of music history; that alone is enough to make you check it out.