Guns N’ Roses’ 10 Best Songs: Critic’s Picks – The top songs from the World’s Most Dangerous Band.
In 2008, Guns N’ Roses finally put fans out of their misery and dropped their sixth studio effort, Chinese Democracy. That was only one year short of the seemingly eternal wait since its predecessor “The Spaghetti Incident?” Recently, Sunset Strip’s finest added more music to their slim 21st century catalog with Hard Skool, an EP of outtakes and live tracks which also serves as the first official release since founding members Slash and Duff McKagan reunited with Axl Rose in 2016. To celebrate, we take a look back at the band’s best songs to have cracked the Billboard charts.
The reflective “Yesterdays” undoubtedly brought some much-needed respite from the pomp and grandeur of the Use Your Illusion era. It was the only track on the second volume to clock in under four minutes, for one thing. And its vintage blues-rock sound was the most straight-forward thing across both. Even the video, a simple warehouse performance filmed in black and white, abandoned the sense of the epic. Reaching No. 72 on the Hot 100, this short but bittersweet farewell to the past (“Yesterday’s got nothin’ for me/Old pictures that I’ll always see/Time just fades the pages in my book of memories”) remains one of the band’s most underrated ballads. –
2008’s Chinese Democracy was never going to justify its torturously long conception. But with the title track, “There Was A Time” and, most notably, “Better,” it nevertheless spawned several songs worthy of joining the Guns N’ Roses canon. Rose’s brilliantly brutal delivery here proved he could still out-snarl both his peers and the countless frontmen who followed — including Trent Reznor, whose Nine Inch Nails, in turn, seemingly inspired this brazen mix of industrial rock riffs and squelchy electronics. The aptly named “Better,” which peaked at No. 18 on the Mainstream Rock chart, is the true keeper from the band’s post-imperial phase. –
Guns N’ Roses whetted the appetite for their Use Your Illusion opus with a juggernaut of a rocker given the seal of approval by none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. In fact, the Austrian Oak cordially invited Rose, Slash and co. to his humble abode for dinner with the intention of securing the future No. 28 hit for his eagerly awaited return as The Terminator. It’s not hard to see why Arnie was so enamored. With its revved-up riffs and propulsive drums, “You Could Be Mine” Which did indeed appear in Terminator 2: Judgment Day’s end credits – sounds tailor made for racing through the Los Angeles River on a Harley Davidson Fat Boy.
“Nightrain” was by far the smallest of the four Hot 100 hits (No. 93) taken from blockbuster debut Appetite for Destruction. But as one of two tunes that helped land the band a deal with Geffen Records the celebratory anthem played an integral part in the early GNR story. It also further established the group’s hell-raising mythology, with the title referring to Night Train Express, a low-cost but highly potent brand of fortified wine that the rockers relied upon before making enough money to graduate to more decadent substances. Few songs have distilled the essence of the down and dirty Sunset Strip life more effectively.
Omitted from Appetite for Destruction, “Don’t Cry” then appeared in two slightly different forms on the Use Your Illusion albums, with the 1991 version that reached No. 10 considered to be the definitive. Embracing his power ballad sensibilities for the first (but certainly not the last) time, Rose has never sounded more forlorn on a track inspired, rather awkwardly, by his obsession with co-writer Izzy Stradlin’s one-time beau Monique Lewis. A soulful guest vocal appearance from Blind Melon’s Shannon Hoon and a winding guitar solo from Slash only adds to the sense of melodrama that GNR would perfect just two singles down the line.
Inarguably Guns N’ Roses’ most divisive offering, “November Rain” is the pinnacle of Rose’s songwriting to some and the moment he disappeared up his own derriere to others. The frontman reportedly spent nearly an entire decade honing his nine-minute masterpiece (it was originally twice as long!), an unapologetically overblown blend of dramatic piano chords, swirling strings and grandiose guitar solos designed to be performed on a New Mexico clifftop. Heavily indebted to Elton John’s similarly epic “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding,” the Use Your Illusion I cut remains the band’s second-biggest U.S. hit and, until Taylor Swift’s extended “All Too Well,” was the lengthiest top 10 single ever.
While its jangly intro could quite easily have been lifted from a fey British indie band, the rest of “Paradise City” is pure American rock n’ roll. Cementing their status as the biggest group of 1988, the third straight top 10 hit from Appetite for Destruction was penned while its inebriated members were traveling home from a San Francisco gig in a rental van. And you can sense the camaraderie on a raucous ode to the bright lights of Los Angeles, which despite the (thankful) vetoing of his lyrical offerings (“Where the girls are fat, and they’ve got big titties”) is apparently Slash’s all-time GNR favorite.
Essentially a stopgap collection of faux-live recordings and stripped-back outtakes between their two blockbuster LPs, 1989’s GN’R Lies is an even less essential listen than covers album “The Spaghetti Incident?”. However, it did spawn a bona fide classic in the shape of this No. 4 hit, yet another love song inspired by Stradlin’s seemingly eventful personal life. Wisely avoiding the fist-clenching key changes that turn some hard rock bands into sappy balladeers, “Patience” is instead a surprisingly restrained affair which pairs Rose’s tender melodies (and the odd whistle) with a simple three-pronged acoustic guitar backing.
Guns N’ Roses’ early label as The Most Dangerous Band in the World undoubtedly derived from this No. 7 hit, a magnificently raucous statement of intent which ensured that Appetite for Destruction opened with one almighty bang. Rose has perhaps never sounded more ferocious, more menacing, or more confrontational as he plays the scare-mongering tour guide – the track was apparently inspired by the deranged real-life welcoming (“You’re in the jungle baby/You’re gonna die!”) he received from a random New Yorker. Slash’s aggressive riffs and Steven Adler’s swaggering drums further highlighted how this was a group you definitely didn’t want to mess with.
The Guns N’ Roses song that even your mom likes, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” remarkably saw rock’s enfant terribles knock pop’s golden boy George Michael off the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100. Conceived during an impromptu jam at the group’s Sunset Strip base toward the end of Appetite For Destruction’s recording, the radio-friendly smash sounded like it had always been part of America’s rock songbook, perhaps because Rose specifically looked toward the more romantic elements of Lynyrd Skynyrd for inspiration. But his signature yelps and Slash’s squalling guitar riff, easily his most iconic, kept things quintessentially Guns N’ Roses. A rare example of a band’s commercial peak matching its creative.
Credits: Jon O’Brien /Billboard Magazine
George Thorogood’s new album, The Original George Thorogood, will be released on April 15. A collection of hard-stompin,’ party-down, good songs — all penned by Thorogood himself, brings together the best from the rock and roll heart and fevered brain of George Thorogood and his longtime band, The Destroyers.
The Original George Thorogood will be released on CD, digitally, and in two vinyl LP configurations, including black vinyl and, for the ultimate collector, a limited-edition Translucent Orange LP. “It’s easy to write a song, difficult to write a good song, and even harder to write a great song,” Thorogood says. “It strikes home that I have the ability to write some pretty great songs, and there’s a real sense of achievement to that.”
Thorogood is currently touring with The Destroyers on their acclaimed Good To Be Bad: 45 Years Of Rock Tour.
The Original George Thorogood CD Tracklist
Bad To The Bone – I Drink Alone – Gear Jammer- Born To Be Bad- If You Don’t Start Drinkin’ (I’m Gonna Leave) – Back In The U.S.A. – Rock And Roll Man – You Talk Too Much- Miss Luann – Back To Wentzville – Rock And Roll Christmas – Oklahoma Sweetheart – Woman With The Blues
I Really Like Girls
The Original George Thorogood LP Tracklist
Bad to the Bone – I Drink Alone – Gear Jammer- Born to Be Bad- If You Don’t Start Drinkin’ (I’m Gonna Leave).
Back in the U.S.A. – Rock And Roll Man – You Talk Too Much – Miss Luann – Oklahoma Sweetheart – Rock And Roll Christmas
CREDIT: – By RTTNews Staff
A&E Network has greenlit a four-part documentary James Brown: Say It Loud (working title), exploring the entertainment icon’s legacy as a musical force, cultural catalyst, and dominant Black creative voice. The documentary event delves into the dynamic entertainer’s life and sound that was as innovative as it was influential.
Exploring his legacy through exclusive interviews with friends, family, collaborators and proteges as well as his beloved music catalog, the documentary also includes never-before-seen archival footage.
The documentary will premiere on A&E in 2023 timed to what would have been the so-called Godfather of Soul’s 90th birthday. The series is directed by Deborah Riley Draper and executive produced by, among others, Mick Jagger and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.
“I am thrilled to be producing the four-part documentary series with A&E delving into the fascinating life of James Brown,” said Jagger in the Feb. 25, 2022, announcement. “He was a brilliant performer who inspired me from the beginning and was deeply committed to the Civil Rights movement. I have always admired James and learned so much from him. I look forward to bringing the series to life.”
“The life of James Brown is significant not only to understand his immense musical impact, which inspires us and other artists to this day, but also for the deep and lasting impression he has had on American culture,” said executive producers “Questlove” and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter. “Brown’s life is a crucial and timely story of struggle, redemption, and self-identity and we are honored to have the chance to share it.”
The docu-series’ working title references Brown’s 1968 funk song, “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud,” which held the #1 spot on the R&B singles chart for six weeks and also reached the Top 10 on the Hot 100.
From the announcement: Across four hours, James Brown: Say it Loud traces the intense highs and lows of Brown’s life and career from a seventh-grade drop-out arrested for armed robbery in the Jim Crow era South to an entertainment legend whose words, songs, style and moves inspired musical revolutions and molded a nation’s view of Black pride and Black masculinity.
Consistently facing obstacles and unbelievable odds, the documentary details how Brown persevered through decades of personal demons, racial injustice, and career setbacks to find redemption and become one of the most celebrated and influential artists of the 20th century. James Brown: Say It Loud is a definitive look at a complicated life and a reflection on the immense impact Brown continues to have as a musical and cultural trailblazer.
CREDITS: Best Classic Bands Staff
Bonnie Raitt announces her new album, Just Like That… to release April 22, 2022, via Redwing and shares her new single “Made Up Mind.” Her first new release in more than six years, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bonnie Raitt continues to display the vitality and urgency that has defined her legendary career.
In the summer of 2021 in Sausalito, CA, Raitt recorded the album with James ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson (bassist), Ricky Fataar (drummer), Glenn Patscha (keyboardist, backing vocalist) and Kenny Greenberg (guitarist) and is produced by Raitt along with Ryan Freeland (mixing engineer.)
Her longtime guitarist/songwriting partner George Marinelli also joined in, playing, and singing on “Livin’ for the Ones,” the song they co-wrote for the album. Once again, Bonnie took the producer reins, reuniting with her favorite recording and mixing engineer, Ryan Freeland, for their third collaboration (they each earned GRAMMY Awards for Raitt’s 2012 release, Slipstream).
Listen to “Made Up Mind”
The mix of sounds and approaches on ‘Just Like That… ‘reveals how, 50 years after the release of her debut album, Raitt continues to personify what it means to stay creative, adventurous, and daring over the course of a life’s work. “On this record, I wanted to stretch,” she says. “I always want to find songs that excite me, and what’s different this time is that I’ve tried some styles and topics I haven’t touched on before.”
Raitt will receive the Billboard Icon Award and perform at this year’s Women in Music Awards on Wednesday, March 2 at the YouTube Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. The annual event recognizes music’s rising and A-List artists, creators, producers, and executives for their contributions to the industry and community. The 2022 Women in Music Awards will stream live on Twitter.com/Billboard.
Before the new year, The Recording Academy® announced that Bonnie Raitt will join the honorees receiving Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Special Merit Awards Ceremony and 64th Annual GRAMMY® Nominees Reception event. The Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates performers who have made outstanding contributions of artistic significance to the field of recording. Ten-time Grammy winner Raitt will be joined by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Lionel Hampton, Marilyn Horne, Salt-N-Pepa, Selena, and Talking Heads. Ed Cherney, Benny Golson, and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds were named Trustees Award honorees, and Daniel Weiss is the Technical GRAMMY® Award recipient.
Like the rest of the musicians around the world, sidelined for two years from their livelihood and great joy—touring live—Raitt and her band and crew are thrilled to return to the road in April for an eight-month U.S. tour. The tour’s special guests include NRBQ (from April 12—23), followed by Lucinda Williams and longtime friend Mavis Staples on various dates throughout the run. The full tour schedule, with info on Special Benefit Seat information, is listed at www.bonnieraitt.com
Raitt has never felt more grateful that she can continue making music, contributing to causes, keeping her crew working, and connecting with her audience. “I’m really aware of how lucky I am,” she says, “and I feel like it’s my responsibility to get out there and say something fresh and new—for me and for the fans. But I need to have something to say, or I won’t put out a record.”
CREDITS: – By Martine Ehrenclou / Rock and Blues Muse