Guns N' Roses' Greatest Hits not exactly great
Apr. 02, 2004
Guns N' Roses fucking rock. There, it had to be said. FCC be damned, but it's true. In a time when the radio is dominated by angst-driven rock, GNR remind us of a time when rock stars were, well, rock stars. While many are quick to ridicule their glammed-out hair and cocaine-induced stadium anthems, one can't deny their impact on the world of music over the past 17 years. However, with all the albums, the live compilations and DVDs, GNR fans were still lacking a definitive studio 'best of ...' album.
With the recent release of Greatest Hits, fans are still sadly waiting for such an album. This release was protested by all band members who were unhappy with the song selection among other problems. The band's request to keep the album from being released was knocked down by a court ruling, giving Geffen Records the green light to sell the album however they saw fit. What followed was a disappointing album that comes nowhere close to realizing the potential of such a compilation.
Superficially, the album's packaging is flimsy and contains no liner notes and the CD's art looks like a white out pen was scratched quickly across a blank disc. The appearance of the album gives the impression of a record company that focused solely on the fact that people would buy the album even if it were wrapped in brown wrapping paper.
Looking past the product's design, the album itself is a disappointment for capturing the nature of a truly great rock 'n' roll band. Five of the 14 tracks are covers, including two mediocre, at best, songs from The Spaghetti Incident?, the band's forgettable cover album. The remaining 11 tracks are solid, leading off with "Welcome to the Jungle," followed by "Sweet Child O' Mine." The other two most recognizable tracks, the flawless epic "November Rain" and the anthem to end all anthems "Paradise City," are also on the album. Missing are such greats as "Estranged," quite possibly the band's best song, the drug-induced "Mr. Brownstone" and the sexually deviant "Pretty Tied Up." Surely, there is not enough room to include all the songs the album excluded. But while a case can be made that this is a greatest hits album, not a best of, there is still no reason "Civil War" and "Yesterdays" made the final cut over the previously mentioned tracks.
The album, as a whole, is good but not spectacular. While better GNR discs have been burned by this writer off of his computer (all legally, of course), it is nice to see new Guns N' Roses on the album shelves. But for those looking to purchase a generous slab of music from possibly the greatest rock band of all time, buy Live Era '87-'93, an amazing display of musicians at the height of their potential.