Now here’s one I’ve not played in a long, long time Guns n’ Roses Lies! The Sex, The Drugs, The Violence, The Shocking Truth (or Lies as it will henceforth be known in order to save me from RSI). It’s sunny and hot and the kids aren’t around to hear the swearing so on a whim I reached for this one.
I’ll tell the story properly another day but I resisted the charms of Appetite For Destruction for a good long while before realising it was simply one of the best hard rock LPs ever made, needless to say by the time that Lies was released I was totally in thrall to Guns n’ Roses along with most of the rest of the world – hell by that time, even friends’ kid brothers and sisters were wearing the T-shirts. So like the rest of the world I wanted to see what they would come up with next on their dysfunctional, drug-addled hell-ride before at least one of them died*.
One thing I love about this LP is the cover and the inner sleeve, done up as a parody of all the God awful tabloids of the time, complete with cool headlines (my favourite? Heir to throne caught with trousers down in lurid lust pit), topless chick and brief musings about the songs on the front cover. It gave me lots to read on the bus on the way home, although since I bought it on 21 December 1988, I had to do so pretty furtively to avoid outraging any elderly Christmas shoppers.
One side of the LP is the ultra-rare Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide EP, that I remember changing hands for £100 back in the day – a mate of mine once almost bought two copies of it, had both in his hands at the till and then, on a whim bought a Lita Ford LP instead. Anyway, as the biogs have now revealed it’s even faker than most live LPs out there** recorded in the studio with the crowd noise from one of the Texxas Jams, because it was cheaper than actually recording them live. It all sounds very sweaty and energetic, two originals and two non-obvious covers. It does a job, no more, no less than that. Best of all though is the shot of the band glammed up to the max on the inside cover, Steven Adler looks mostly the same (every girl I ever met at the time fancied him), Slash looks 6 years older than he did two years later, Duff’s cap makes him look a bit like Snork out of the Banana Splits and Axl looks like a washed out lady of the night after a particularly hard shift at work. Only Izzy manages to retain some cool, but of course he would he is just intrinsically cool.
I think the studio side is excellent, okay so it owes a huge debt to the Stones, but I hadn’t heard those 70’s Stones back when I was 16, so I wasn’t burdened with all that. ‘Patience’ is a great ballad, my wife hates it^ and I know I’m a mush-hound but how can you resists a song which beings with ‘Shed a tear ’cause I’m missing you’ sung sincerely? I particularly love the coda at the end too. ‘Used to Love Her’ is another good one, definitely a joke and a tune I have serenaded Mrs 1537 with a number of times – she usually ripostes with a quick burst of L7’s brilliant cover version, ‘Used to Love Him’, she wins hands down. Next up we’re rattling through the acoustic-but-with-bonus-swearing version of ‘You’re Crazy’, which again I love.
All of which leaves us with the elephant in the Lies! room, yup the big flourescent orange one covered in polka dots; ‘One in a Million’. Of course I’d read all about this track before I got it, all the band’s convoluted contradictory justifications of it, Slash telling Kerrang! that he didn’t appreciate the lyrics, Axl lamely telling the same mag that plenty of black people had told him they understood his use of the word ‘nigger’ in the song. I remember a slight feeling of trepidation playing it for the first time and I certainly remember turning down the volume so my parents wouldn’t hear it. All the fuss I can remember was over the use of the word ‘nigger’, but I find other parts of it far more offensive,
Immigrants and faggots
They make no sense to me
They come to our country
And think they’ll do as they please
Like start some mini Iran,
Or spread some fuckin’ disease
They talk so many goddamn ways
It’s all Greek to me
I do find that offensive, in fact if you start totting it up ‘One in a Million’ has a pop at police, ‘niggers’, immigrants, faggots^^, (puzzlingly) radicals and racists. In fact I can actually reveal that a hitherto previously unknown verse has been uncovered and can exclusively be revealed tonight on 1537. In this verse Axl has a go at people with glasses and dog owners,
Speckies and dog-owners
Get outta my space
Get that furniture right offa your face
Lookin’ right at me like you’re wearing a disguise
God I hate you! damn your four eyes!
And you with your fuckin’ horrible mutts
You not clearing up their poop, drives me nuts
They’re a bunch of slobbering beasts,
Bring them to heel
Your pets are even less intelligent than Vince Neil
So there you go folks, a true 1537 exclusive!
Silliness aside, despite the sentiments of this song which are repulsive to little liberal me, this song is the best on Lies! and one of Guns n’ Roses’ best, period. Partly because the music is so strong but also because you can sense that Axl feels this one, it’s his real rage he’s feeding off here and his vocal is brilliant on this track.
A coda of my own here: back in 1988 I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait until the next Guns n’ Roses LP and that if they could bang out Lies! so quickly after Appetite For Destruction then we would be looking at an LP once every two years, easy.
*I remember betting with my mates on who would be the first to go, the consensus was Slash. It felt like a very real probability at the time.
**with a couple minor exceptions I’m not a huge fan of the live LP; sorry, sorry … no, arggh! … just leave the face!
^heart of stone that one, how can you fail to be moved by Axl’s whistling?
^^GNR’s presence at the Freddie Mercury AIDS concert was controversial at the time and rightly so, personally I wouldn’t have let them anywhere near it. Also bear in mind Axl used to big up his love for Elton John and the Pet Shop Boys a lot in interviews … hmm, interesting.