In the late 80s and early 90s, Guns and Roses were the biggest band in the world. And they weren't whinny 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 G 'N' 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 place holder to placate fans and make some dough while GNR toured the world placating fans and making dough.
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 second 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 faggots" 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 niggers" 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 tool box.
Appetite For Destruction (Geffen) 1987
G N R Lies (Geffen) 1988
Use Your Illusion 1 (Geffen) 1991
Use Your Illusion 2 (Geffen) 1991
The Spaghetti Incident? (Geffen) 1993
Chinese Democracy (Geffen) 2008
Read more at the History of Music Blog!