25 Years Ago: Guns N’ Roses Release ‘G N’ R Lies’
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Get ready to feel really, really old because it’s hard to believe how much time has elapsed since Guns n’ Roses unleashed their second piece of vinyl product, ‘GN’R Lies’ in 1988. It was released some fifteen months after their eventual record-setting debut album, ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ but a mere 90 days (give or take) after the same LP finally topped the Billboard 200 Albums chart.
Needless to say, much had changed since ‘Appetite’s’ rather inconspicuous introduction into a very crowded hair metal landscape in July 1987. The album’s organic, 57-week climb up the charts initially gave no evidence of the stardom that awaited the Los Angeles quintet once ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ took over radio waves and abruptly pushed consumer demand for new Guns N’ Roses product through the roof.
So, not unlike sharks smelling blood in the water, Geffen Records executives didn’t think twice about having the band to interrupt their busy touring schedule in order to jam a few new songs together in the studio; then paired the largely acoustic results with 1986’s limited edition ‘Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide’ EP to give birth to ‘GN’R Lies.’
And, clearly, their clever ploy worked like a charm, sending droves of glam-metal fans racing into record stores to snap up their own copy of this curious double threat, to the tune of a stunning five million copies sold, according to the Recording Industry Association of America’s most recent accounting.
How could it not? After all, ‘GN’R Lies’ efficiently furthered its buyers’ education about two distinct facets of the soon-to-be-called “most dangerous band in the world,” both of which had only been hinted at by ‘Appetite for Destruction’’s formidable sleaze metal song-craft.
On the one hand, there was ‘Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide’’s electrifying club performance, wedding rarely heard band originals like ‘Reckless Life’ and ‘Move to the City’ with telling formative covers of Aerosmith’s ‘Mama Kin’ and Rose Tattoo’s ‘Nice Boys.’
On the other, there were the astonishingly adept, entertaining and controversial acoustic recordings gracing side two, ranging from the earnest love letter of ‘Patience,’ to the titillating black humor of ‘Used to Love Her,’ to the allegedly tongue-in-cheek political incorrectness of ‘One in a Million’ – not to mention a new, definitive version of the ‘Appetite’ album cut, ‘You’re Crazy.’
All in all, these oftentimes troubling but unquestionably infectious new (and old) songs gave both the buying public and the sharp-toothed music press plenty to talk about that holiday season, thus accelerating Guns N’ Roses vertiginous rise to global stardom over the years that followed.
Ironically, ‘GN’R Live’’s tabloid-style cover art also hinted at the incessant scandals and resulting paranoia that would soon engulf the band, and its singer in particular, sowing the seeds to their eventual dissolution after the twin ‘Use Your Illusion’ behemoths, and protracted creative silence until 2008’s historically delayed ‘Chinese Democracy’ opus.