The Dead Boys

Belligerent assholes who you'd kick the crap out of if you personally knew them can rock, too

I put these two bands in the same folder 'cause even though a full decade separates the two debut albums I own by each, hearing each back to back proves that some things never change. Loud, anti-social guitar rock lives on, and these were two of the most obnoxious and hated bands of their respective eras. Not exactly PC, both bands reveled in violence and misogyny (not to mention violent misogyny), thereby offending many sensitive souls and every feminist who ever heard'em. Not many people heard the Dead Boys 'cause they were "punk" but they uncannily predicted the sound and stance of "metal" superstars Guns'n'Roses. Rock'n'roll ain't no Sunday school, so get over it and just listen to the actual music.

The Dead Boys: Young, Loud, and Snotty (1977) ***1/2

Make no mistake - the first side is a stone cold punk classic, fully living up to the title's billing and then some. The Dead Boys came together from the ashes and splinters of various Cleveland bands (the semi-legendary Rocket From the Tombs, Pere Ubu), and moved to New York to work the CBGB's/Max's Kansas City circuit. Obviously cornfed on a steady diet of Stooges records, their brand of Raw Power took Iggy Pop's sneering nihilism a couple of steps further towards bordering on parody - lead singer Stiv Bators used to pretend to hang himself on stage while singing "I'd die for you!". Side One's crudities concerning sex, blasting your stereo to full volume so people will pay attention to your pathetic loser self, throwing your girlfriend to the floor, and beating up old men and hippies 'cause you're bored sneer with an exhilariting venomous intensity, and the guitars are completely searing. Unfortunately, after an ace cover of the garage oldie "Hey Little Girl," side two falters under weak material and excessively stupid misogyny ("Caught With the Meat In Your Mouth"). By the end, they're so strapped for material they waste seven minutes on a medley of two songs from side one. The Dead Boys recorded one more album, 1978's We Have Come For Your Children, which contained their most popular song, the self-lacerating "Ain't It Fun," (written by the late Peter Laughner) which was later covered by - you guessed it - Guns & Roses. Stiv Bators died in 1990 after being run over by a bus.

Guns'n'Roses: Appetite For Destruction (1987) *****

The best hard rock record of the '80s that wasn't made by the Replacements, this also vies for the crown of best heavy metal album of all time. It's loud, ignorant, nasty, violent, ugly, sleazy, and raw - just the qualities that make for great rebellious rock'n'roll. In brief time they became the biggest band in the world and upset more people than any rock band since the Sex Pistols. First offense was the sick original cover of a robot raping a nurse; the second, third, fourth, and umpteen offenses were scattered throughout the actual album's lyrics. Axl Rose ain't no role model, he's a singer and a genuinely fucked up human being - look up "asshole" in the dictionary and there's a picture of this skinny dirtbag. He gets off the bus in L.A. fresh from the heartland where rednecks beat him up for being a weirdo, and finds a heartless, dark world of sin, greed, bad drugs, and cheap women. It's all there in the opener, "Welcome To The Jungle," which coils a snake-hip funkbeat around an even more venomous guitar attack courtesy Slash and Izzy Stradlin. The next song's even darker: singing along with nihilistic glee to lines glorifying the abuse of women ("Turn around bitch, I got a use fo' you") leaves an bad aftertaste complicated by the fact that it's possibly the strongest song on the album. Axl drives drunk to the liquor store, all he can think about is getting fucked up on whatever chemical substance he can get his hands on, and makes getting high sound like a nightmare. The only ways out are fantasies: "Paradise City," "where the grass is green and the girls are pretty," and that "Sweet Child O'Mine," one of the prettiest and toughest songs about an imaginary pedestal girl ever, but even that ends with the violent screech of "Where do we go now?". "Think About You" is the album's most overlooked classic, a hyperfast slam of riff and melody; it follows a cautionary thumbnail sketch of a daughter of porn stars. This is truly terrifying music that's more nihilistic, dangerous, anti-social and anti-life than anything any so-called "punks" have ever released.

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Rick Bucasas, pitt3d@uswest.net

I think its cool

Guns'n'Roses: G N' R Lies (1988) **1/2

The first step in a downhill slide towards self-parody, Guns'n'Roses never delivered another album that didn't pale compared to Appetite. Side one consists of the 1986 Live ?!*@ Like A Suicide EP - four tracks, one an Aerosmith cover, that are simply by-the-numbers glam boogie, more than a bit faceless - no one would have guessed by this evidence that Guns'n'Roses would amount to more than just another L.A. hair metal band. It's not even live, and at the time of its release was one of the first examples of "fake indie" - i.e., a major-label release pretending that it's an independent release. The second side is much stronger musically, and much more problematic. Four songs that abandon metal for acoustic folkish balladry show that there's more sides to the band than anyone suspected. The first track, "Patience," is surprising nice and emotionally affecting. However, problems begin with "Used To Love Her (But I Had To Kill Her)" - it's a novelty song, and as such not very offensive unless you're an oversensitive feminist, but should a band like Guns'n'Roses be cracking anti-woman jokes (it's not like they haven't gotten enough trouble already). The acoustic version of "You're Crazy" is expendable - obviously this eight-song mini-album was rushed out to fill time before the next real album. And they save the worst for last: the infamous "One In A Million." Axl Rose really does sound sincere about hating "niggers" and "faggots" and immigrants; there is no irony or "playing a character" here. The cover claims that it's a joke, but it's not - you don't joke about stuff like this, and most jokes aren't spit out so passionately. After this the band churned out two bloated double albums at the same time, then hobbled together an album of punk and metal covers, and haven't been heard from since: everybody in the band that recorded Appetite has either quit or been fired, leaving Axl Rose the only remaining original member, though technically Guns'n'Roses haven't broken up. Chances for the "band" issuing any more worthwhile music are slim, indeed.

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