Guns N’ Roses Top 10 Songs

The Audio Mug | November 16, 2015 - 11:37 am
By The Audio Mug | November 16, 2015
Guns N’ Roses’ debut album, Appetite For Destruction, was a pivotal moment in rock history. With Guns N’ Roses — vocalist Axl Rose, guitarists Slash and Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler — rock music rediscovered its edge, rage and sense of danger. Guns N’ Roses rank alongside a handful of hard-rock bands with punk-rock attitudes — including The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and AC/DC — that shook and shocked the world. Guns N’ Roses formed in Los Angeles in 1985 and Appetite for Destruction, which was released on Geffen Records two years later, would ultimately enjoy a 147-week run on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 1991, Guns N’ Roses released two volumes of Use Your Illusion on the same day. It was a remarkable outpouring of music, totaling 30 tracks on two CDs. Use Your Illusion I and II each sold 7 million copies and reached Number Two and Number One, respectively. By 1997 only Axl Rose remained from the original Guns N’ Roses. However, a rather stable lineup has existed under his leadership since the late Nineties and released Chinese Democracy in 2008. Recently rumors spreading widely on the original lineup will reunite soon for tour in 2016. Here are, for now, ten of Guns N’ Roses best songs.

10. “Paradise City” (from Appetite For Destruction, 1987)
Although the late 80s may be considered a golden era of hard rock in terms of commercial airplay, "Paradise City” was still an unlikely radio hit. The song presented a tale of urban grit (Just an urchin livin’ under the street / I’m a hard case that’s tough to beat / I’m your charity case, so buy me somethin’ to eat) and the superficial veneer of fame and fortune (Take me down to the paradise city / Where the grass is green / And the girls are pretty). The opening vocal parts showcased not only Rose’s vocal ability but also his ear for beautiful interlocking pop harmonies. Clocking in at nearly seven minutes, the song’s composition and the band's adroit playing gave it a vitality that kept it from seeming overblown, from its chugging verse groove to the anthemic chorus to the double-time coda that closed the track at a frenetic pace. “Paradise City” was the third single from the band's 1987 debut to chart in the Top 10.

9. “Patience” (from G N’ R Lies, 1988)
An all-acoustic ballad, “Patience" showed a more vulnerable Guns N’ Roses. Whereas Rose projected an almost feral howl throughout most of the songs featured on Appetite For Destruction, he showcased a more subdued croon on “Patience,” which appeared on 1988’s G N’ R Lies, whistling and tenderly emoting, while Slash and the band delivered a melodic soundtrack with tasteful solo work. Still, the song’s climactic coda featured Rose delving into his familiar snarl, though as a juxtaposition to his timbre leading up to that moment, it had a profound effect on the mood of the song. Stylistically, “Patience” was a departure from their (ostensible) comfort zone, and provided an early teaser for the more ambitious material that would appear a few years later.

8. “November Rain” (from Use Your Illusion I, 1991)
Everything about “November Rain,” one of the last singles to appear from the Illusion set, was grandiose. With its heavily orchestrated opening featuring an array of strings and piano that gradually gave way to a more rock-oriented wall of guitars and drums, the nine-minute track — and the suitably epic music video that followed — solidified the band as a group of musicians capable of lavish arena-rock level productions both on and off the stage. Still, the song was grounded by Rose’s keen sense of melody and Slash’s soaring guitar solos. In songs like this, Guns N’ Roses seemed to be following in the footsteps of bands like Led Zeppelin and Queen who recorded multi-part rock journeys on later albums.The band performed the song at the 1992 MTV Music Awards and were joined on stage by Elton John, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Rose in 1994.

7. “Double Talkin’ Jive” (from Use Your Illusion I, 1991)
One of the underrated creative forces within the band was guitarist Izzy Stradlin. He takes over lead vocals on this track that he wrote, a nasty short-story portrait of a lowdown hood who’s just looking for his next payday. There are grander rock songs on the Use Your Illusion albums, but there are few that are as instantly memorable as “Double Talkin’ Jive,” from its turbo-charged drums to its blazing solo and Spanish-guitar outro.

6. “It’s So Easy” (from Appetite For Destruction, 1987)
Some of Guns N’ Roses’ best songs were never singles because their lyrical content was way too risque for radio. A perfect example is “It’s So Easy,” a powerful but deeply frightening exploration of a loveless, depraved society obsessed with cheap sex and copious amounts of questionable substances. Let’s be clear: This is an ugly song about people's basest desires, but like earlier groups such as the Sex Pistols, GNR bracingly illustrate that ugliness from the inside out.

5. “Estranged” (from Use Your Illusion II, 1991)
Axl Rose lays it all on the line on the other great sprawling ballad from the Use Your Illusion records. A combination of lost-love song and midlife crisis, “Estranged” is nine minutes of disheartened confusion as Rose whispers and whimpers over a stately piano and Slash’s beautiful guitar solo. The GNR frontman survives an emotional rollercoaster in the song, but just barely.

4. “Out Ta Get Me” (from Appetite for Destruction, 1987)
One of the best paranoid diatribes in hard rock, “Out Ta Get Me” rants and rages against authority. Part of the track’s power is that it’s not entirely clear if Rose’s anger is even justified: Are the cops really after him or is it all in his head? Regardless, the song captures most adolescents’ pent-up frustration with an adult world that tries to impose its will on them.

3. “Yesterdays” (from Use Your Illusion II, 1991)
Arguably the most underrated of GNR’s hits, “Yesterdays” is an intensely melodic kiss-off to the past. The band never put much stock in optimism, but here Slash’s guitar and Rose’s piano surge with hopefulness as Axl tries to turn his frown upside-down. But even in this relatively sunny song, Rose understands that childhood pain cannot ever be completely forgotten, a theme that haunted the Use Your Illusion albums’ desire for transcendence.

2. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” (from Appetite For Destruction, 1987)
t was a song that Slash thought was silly initially. But “Sweet Child O’ Mine” went on to rewrite the rulebook for '80s hard rock, showing a dozen crappy hair-metal bands how you could write an expressive love song without losing your dignity in the process. As they demonstrated throughout Appetite, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” announced that GNR were a new kind of band, one that was tougher and meaner than their competition but also more poetic and soulful as well.

1. “Welcome To The Jungle” (from Appetite For Destruction, 1987)
Before it became the song to psych up audiences at football stadiums, “Welcome To The Jungle” was just a startling assault of guitars and Axl Rose’s full-throttled howls. It’s hard to think of a better examination of Los Angeles sleaze in all its neon-tacky glory than “Welcome To The Jungle” — you can practically hear the city’s denizens chew up and spit out the next crop of wide-eyed newcomers looking for fame and fortune. This was the world where Guns N’ Roses came together in the 1980s, but as this song (and the album that contained it) proved, they were talented enough to capture its grimy, scandalous essence better than any other band around them.

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