30 Years Ago: Guns N’ Roses Show Off Both Sides on ‘G N’ R Lies’
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, G N’ R Lies on Nov. 30, 1988. It was released some 15 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.
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 after "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 G N’ 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? G N’ 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’s formidable sleaze-rock songcraft.
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."
Ironically, G N’ R Lies' 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.