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Friday 14 March 2014

When the Wailing Starts...

slash & myles kennedy live in rome
slash & myles kennedy live in rome (Photo credit: luigioss)
My ear-worm for the past few weeks: "You Could be Mine" by Guns 'N Roses. I am being very uncharitable it is just that it took a lot for me to admit that I liked some of Guns 'n Roses stuff. The same could be said about The Cure. Both bands were hugely influential for a lot of the right reasons in rock music, but there was something about their front men that pissed me off. There was also the huge adulation they both received that hit me at the wrong time in my developing music taste. I liked the edgier bands and both seemed to be too close to pop for my taste. Of course, as I grew up into adulthood I had to face up to the hypocrisy and put my hand up to really, really liking a few each band's songs. This particular song is a definite favourite that grew on me.

"You Could be Mine" was heavily wrapped up in the promotion of James Cameron's long awaited sequel to his low budget science fiction thriller classic, "The Terminator". Perhaps being mindful of the amazing genre-changing job he had pulled off with his sequel to Ridley Scott's horror, "Alien", the previous decade, Cameron had few qualms about taking his original bleak cyberpunk suspense film and creating a teen-targeted action adventure sequel. As observers have wryly noted, the 1980s was full of films that were rated for adult viewers and yet marketed to much younger audiences. Prime examples include the clever black satires on consumerism, "Gremlins" and "Robocop".

Guns 'N Roses were at the height of their success at the time of the production of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and the amount of influence they had over this huge budget summer blockbuster is astounding. The world's highest earning "actor" at the time, former six times Mr Olympia, Arnold Schwarzenegger invited the band over for dinner at his house prior to their involvement with the movie. Cameron makes references to the band, including having the lead star pull his gun from a box of roses, in the movie. It all looks rather fawning when one considers that the song had absolutely no relevance to the movie whatsoever and was written prior to the release of the band's debut album, "Appetite for Destruction". It appears to be a song about the end of a relationship with Axl putting himself over as a "cold heart breaker" in typical glam metal arrogance. This was all at the tail end of Motley Crue's excesses and other bloated hedonistic bands that believed in their god-like publicity. Still it works well and there is a hard-edged defiance to the song that stings of the stresses involved in a turbulent drug-addled relationship in showbusiness.

Axl Rose's style of performance and iconography never appealed to me. I didn't like his look or the way he performed. No doubt about it, he had charisma and presence, but His wailing nasally vocals were reminiscent of AC DC and Iron Maiden, and it just was not to my taste. Only Billy Corgan has been passable as a vocalist of that style. I had similar aversion to the low affected growling vocals of many grunge artists. However, the bands instrumental sections were amongst the best in rock history. For me, the best of Guns 'N Roses can be heard in the solo pieces by their lead guitarist, Slash. "You Could be Mine" is noted for him sometimes using a B.C. Mockingbird guitar instead of his usual Gibson Les Paul and this is featured in the music video.

"You Could be Mine" doesn't fail to disappoint with the song's instrumental content and it is probably why I cannot help but like the piece. It opens with a lengthy fast-paced drum solo and has some amazing guitars. The wails of the guitars harmonize well with Axl's whining and it makes for an exciting piece of early '90s rock. 

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