It was quite clear at the time of release that Guns N’ Roses had almost called it a day, or at least seemingly so for the time. The divisions between the band members were obvious by the release of this compilation, and no doubt drink and drugs didn’t help at all in the long run. Axl Rose’s sometimes oddly erratic behaviour and legendary guitarist Slash leaving Guns N’ Roses in 1996 no doubt did damage to the band’s ability to function. Despite all that, they are still loved by many and given their often mixed bag of album releases (some of them good, some of them bad) this compilation seems very appropriate in the long run. For that reason, we should observe the music here, so let’s do so.
We begin with Welcome To The Jungle which begins with the iconic guitar intro by Slash, a wild set of screaming by Axl Rose and a tight groove by the band. Before long, we kick into a marvellous groove. Interesting fact: this song is actually about Los Angeles and the experience of moving to that city. It sounds really dirty, driven and excellent. A little dated lyrically, but musically it is very well done and accomplished. A very cool tune and a very nice introduction to the compilation for those who have never heard Guns N’ Roses before. This is no doubt a classic song with an attitude not dissimilar to that of The Sex Pistols. The climax in the second half is truly awesome, with Axl’s excellent vocal and lyrical line. A really great listen, even if you don’t really dig these guys or Rock music. It ends with a thunderous finish.
Undeniably necessary on this compilation is the most popular song by Guns N’ Roses Sweet Child O’ Mine. It launches into a beautifully melodic and catchy guitar melody, and the rest of the band join in. This is a really joyous and touching song. You can tell these guys were playing from their hearts on this song, as well as Axl Rose singing from the heart. It’s a really lovely and enjoyable piece that is more of a ballad than a Rock song. Slash plays brilliantly, he doesn’t shred nor play super slow melodic stuff, he just delivers. This is the signature track from the group and is a highly emotional listening experience. It is a thrilling listening experience from start to finish. A really awesome Hard Rock sort of song, the soloing on this piece is very spot on by Slash. He plays like his life depends on it, and does a terrific job, putting a lot of the Hair Metal bands of the 1980s to shame. “Where do we go now?” is repeatedly sung towards the end, and this song reaches an awesome climax at the end of the song. A classic tune by Guns N’ Roses.
Shadow Of Your Love is an interesting piece of nicely crafted Guns N’ Roses magic. It launches into a Thrash Metal sort of piece which is fast and furious. Axl Rose sings with real ferocity and although this is not a really major track by the group, it fits nicely on this compilation. A really awesome and quickly delivered tune, this sounds really fantastic. Slash shreds away on the guitar solo, showing how great he is as a guitarist. A really cool piece of music, this is very enjoyable music. It ends with some crazy guitars, drum fills and Axl concluding singing simultaneously.
Patience begins with a counted intro and has acoustic guitars and whistling. It sounds very beautiful, with some wonderful and intricate playing throughout on the acoustic guitar. Eventually, some calm and lovely singing emerges, which is nice. It builds up nicely throughout, and this sounds a lot like acoustic Led Zeppelin or a similar Classic Rock act. It is a really interesting listen and just sounds really cool. Guns N’ Roses deliver very well here, it’s neither underwhelming nor overwhelming. It’s just a lovely listen about being patient with a lover. In any case, this does sound really good. There is a really pretty acoustic slide guitar solo as well, just to make things more interesting. Great and simple music, it changes dramatically in the second half, with multitracked acoustic guitars and a soft, calm set of vocals. A very good song, with chanted vocals and Axl Rose taking a background vocal on this song. It reaches a dramatic conclusion, before ending nicely.
Next up is Paradise City which is one of the main songs from Appetite For Destruction. It begins with some great guitar playing, a familiar drum pattern and Axl Rose singing about a fantasy sort of place where perfection exists, likely never to be found on this planet. After a while, a whistle blows and we enter into Rock territory that is really cool and classy. The whole group here sounds really on the ball, and this is a very great song. The chorus is very singalong, and the guitars are powerful and awesome to listen to. A really great Rock radio staple and just a fun listen. Slash then kicks in his guitar solo, proving that in the Hard Rock genre, few could ever match him. A very great and inspiring listening experience, this is undeniably quite sexist music these days, but at the time, this was quite an openly accepted subject matter. In the second half, the group speeds up in a frenzy of playing and fury to complete this classic tune. It isn’t boring at all, although it is nearly seven minutes long. Slash impresses us, once again, with his wonderful guitar playing, before this piece ends chaotically. Excellent song.
After that is Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door which is one of the most popular Guns N’ Roses songs. It begins with some awesome guitars, Axl Rose’s legendary singing and a very deep and meaningful listen throughout. This is about internal pain and conflicting emotions from within which make perfect sense in the correct mood. Slash does impress with his violining styled guitar solo. This is a very melancholy piece to hear but still retains its wonder and beauty as a song. A really cool and emotional rollercoaster of a listen, this sounds really amazing. In the second half, it becomes more restrained with piano and backing vocals that are audibly delicious. This is a clear standout from the Use Your Illusion I + II albums and just sounds fantastic. Really cool to hear, it just sounds like a classic song from start to finish. It finishes fairly dramatically, once again. Awesome tune.
Civil War begins with some sampled speech stating, “What we have got here is a failure to communicate,” which is quickly followed by some really excellent acoustic guitar playing and some clean electric guitar parts. This is a sad piece about the horrors of war and human atrocities. Before long, Axl Rose and the rest of the band kickstart the mayhem and we hear a very anti-war song. Slash plays excellently, there is no doubt that he is a very competent guitarist to this day. This is quite a good ballad, with piano and other subtle production touches, before launching back into the chaos musically. Axl sings, “I don’t need your Civil War!” and makes a strong statement against political leaders who pursue evil and hatred in the name of power. It’s fair to add here that political leaders do not accurately serve their constituents, it was always bad the power trip before this day, but this song is even more relevant today with leaders of all stripes betraying their supporters. A great song about leaders choosing guns over butter, we live in a fragile world indeed. The music here is still very good, although fairly lengthy for some listeners out there. A very decent song nonetheless. It ends with some loose wah-wah guitar parts and other sounds, such as rain and thunder. “What’s so civil about war, anyway?” is asked at the end here, and many would agree about the horrors that war does to others. Great song, mind you.
You Could Be Mine follows with some tremendous drum rolls, to begin with, and the rest of the band quickly follow. This is a much more punchy number to listen to, it sounds rocking. It quickly launches into a great Rock jam, and Axl Rose quickly gets singing away nicely. It is a really cool listening experience, and this is very explicit lyrically. Guns N’ Roses sure know how to raise some eyebrows well here lyrically. This is another cool song, but it sounds a little more dated in comparison to other Guns N’ Roses gems. A really cool and legendary sounding piece of music regardless, there is another impressive Slash guitar solo for those who need it. Axl gets very intense and angry towards the end of this song, and we have a rather relentless listen from start to finish. This does sound quite egotistical, mind you. It finishes with an awesome Axl Rose vocal, very nice to hear.
Next is Don’t Cry (Original) which is the better of the two versions of the song, and it sounds very sad and melancholy from the start. It is another beautiful piece of music, and it just sounds really gorgeous, in a strange way. It likely took many Guns N’ Roses fans by surprise, and is very much a piece of music aimed at female fans of the group. Still, regardless of such sexist posturing, this is no doubt a really great song. Slash rips into another gloriously good guitar solo and deserves praise for it. A really good listening experience, and a song to play for a partner when there are some bad moments with each other. Really excellent piece of music, and a classic Guns N’ Roses song. It ends with a hilarious looped vocal that is somewhat self-parody. Nonetheless, this is a good song.
Following is November Rain which is the long ballad from Use Your Illusion I. It begins with clanging piano, symphonic strings and a very sad sort of listening experience throughout. It just sounds really cool, despite the melancholy clearly put into this song. It is about love and the feelings that one may have had for a lover, but they have disappeared. This is a very good song, even though it sounds very saddening. Axl Rose lays his emotions bare into his singing on this song. It is a beautiful song, however, rather depressing, which isn’t always a good thing. Nice to listen to when the mood strikes. It’s a very lengthy listen as well, and this could have been edited somewhat from its nearly nine-minute length as a song. Anyway, this does sound really cool musically. This ballad does sound really good. In the second half, this piece changes dramatically with the orchestration, and then Slash puts in a memorable guitar solo that is wonderfully played. A very dated tune, but no denying the brilliance of the song. The repeated vocals could have been junked at this point. A good song, but with some obvious flaws, but okay to hear. It ends with the sound of rain, very fitting.
Live and Let Die is quite unnecessary on this album, being a cheesy cover of a song originally by Paul McCartney and Wings for the James Bond film of the same name. It begins with Axl’s fluttering voice and chugging piano, and sounds very unusual for Guns N’ Roses. Soon enough, the chorus kicks in with heavy guitars and we are underway. The mixture of instrumentation on this song does sound ridiculous and out of place a little. It sounds quite like the original song being butchered, which in retrospect, likely is so. A joke of a cover song, it isn’t very impressive. At least it is only three minutes long, which is relieving, but this is bad. Skip it unless you are a huge Guns N’ Roses fan.
Yesterdays begins with some melancholy guitar parts, some gorgeous melodies and it quickly launches into quite a good song by Guns N’ Roses. Surprisingly so, this is an extraordinary sounding piece of music. Very concise and with some decent melodic hooks, this does sound awesome. Slash plays what sounds like a Fender Stratocaster in the guitar solo, which is very odd for him to do so. This song is about not looking back, and embracing the future, which is a good lyrical concept itself. Great tune to listen to on this album, rather underrated. It ends with piano playing, light hi-hats and whispered vocals. Very good.
Next along is Ain’t It Fun which begins with some gloomy guitars and a depressing sounding intro. This song then drags along. Honestly, this should not be on this compilation, it is a very down sounding tune. Guns N’ Roses were not a Grunge Rock band, they were essentially a Hard Rock group. This is another forgettable addition to this compilation, and Axl’s vocals aren’t the best on this one either. Guns N’ Roses seemingly did not know how to be consistent, despite their popularity. Sadly, this is the truth for even this compilation, it has some numbers here which are awful. The fact that this song is five minutes long as well is disappointing, Definitely worth skipping, which is rather sad for this release. Rather rubbish for a tune of its sort. The outro is awful.
Following is Since I Don’t Have You sounds really awful at the beginning, with an elongated guitar section. It quickly launches into a piano-based ballad with acoustic guitars and harmonies. Axl Rose sings very well on this tune, and fortunately, this song is a better one on the compilation. It is a really good ballad sort of piece that is a good listen. Slash plays a really cool guitar solo and in the second half, Axl Rose really delivers a superb vocal. He nails it quite well here, although his singing voice is not always the best. This piece finishes up with the band stopping playing, and some random electronic sounds ongoing in the background. A bit odd, but nonetheless, good.
Sympathy For The Devil is actually a cover of The Rolling Stones tune. It begins with percussion, bongos and vocal yelps before this song gets going. It is actually quite a good rendition of the original but doesn’t match the original in terms of audio. Still, it is entertaining to listen to, despite not being an original piece by Guns N’ Roses. Perhaps the band placing cover songs on this compilation is a clear indication of the fact that many of their original songs were sub-par? Quite likely so. It is good to hear this one all the same, although it is a bittersweet finish to the album. Slash plays some decent guitar solos, and perhaps is the real star of the show with Guns N’ Roses, not so much Axl Rose. In any case, this is an enjoyable but rather cheesy listen. The repeated harmonies and catchy melodies here are really cool. The second half is really great to listen to, and it sounds like 100% effort was put into this cover song. Axl screams his lungs out, a cool listen. It finishes with a lengthy outro with some insane guitar playing by Slash. Good job here.
This compilation is, as expected, a big mixed bag of hits and misses. The fact that Guns N’ Roses rely on cover songs to fill out this compilation is stupid, and the length of the compilation is absurdly long. There are some golden oldies here that are awesome, but in addition, there are some stinkers of songs too. A very average compilation, best ignored unless you are a Guns N’ Roses fan.
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