I never liked Guns ‘N Roses, and this might surprise you, but my reasons are weird. On the surface, I found Axl Rose grating and embarrassingly trashy, although the other band members were really good, and their album Appetite For Destruction was my earliest exposure to the art of Rob’t Williams. But I never could abide a poseur, and in my opinion, Axl Rose has built a career impersonating the lead singer of Scottish hard-rock band Nazareth.
I’ll admit, it’s a harsh indictment of Guns ‘N Roses, but there it is. They sound like a weaker copy of Nazareth to me. Plus, no one remembers this, but in the late 1980s, a terrible synergy evolved, folding raunch-rock and loud entertainers like Sam Kinison and Andrew Dice Clay into a miserable stew of screaming and strippers. Kinison and Dice weren’t famous because they were funny, they were part of a wretched “shock” era of yore, the intellectual equivalent of spitting obscenities in a church. On television, there was a ringmaster that made Jerry Springer seem like the Dalai Lama; a chain-smoking sentient anus called Morton Downey, Jr.
Do yourself a favor and kill an afternoon watching Morton Downey Jr. clips on YouTube. That was really a show, and that was really the host. He made appearances at Wrestlemania and in Predator 2. He was obnoxious, ugly, deceptive, and subversive; the polar opposite of what makes it onto a TV screen today. His tobacco jones ensured the removal of a lung and an early death, months before what surely would have been his New Renaissance, the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It’s probably for the best; that face up there in hi-def would induce miscarriages.
I bring all this up as an example of how we Americans tend to get raunch all wrong. We’ve had our bright spots, the Dr. Feelgoods and the Hot For Teachers, but the lifestyle that raunch requires is not encouraged in our country. We worry about damage to property and livers. We breed college students who die in hazing incidents, choking on underwear. We have “health scares”. As in all things, if one wishes for true Raunchiness, one looks to Scotland.
Hear that cowbell? Make all the Christopher Walken jokes you want. That is EXACTLY ENOUGH COWBELL. If any more cowbell was added, someone would get their face kicked in. Can’t you tell how much this song wants to beat you up already?
Also, “Hair of the Dog” is misspelled. The band wrote it as “Heir of the Dog”, as in son of a bitch. Get it?
Axl’s adoration of Nazareth is not a secret. He tried to get them to play his wedding, and they turned him down, but as a consolation allowed Guns ‘N Roses to cover “Hair of the Dog” on The Spaghetti Incident?. I have not heard that cover, not because the damn thing’s release was delayed forever when I worked retail, but because I know what the “spaghetti incident” is.
The delays were due to Axl’s insistence on including a tune penned by murder-cult leader Charles Manson. And that’s not a misprinting at the bottom; it’s “fuck ’em all” written in the code of the Zodiac Killer. Have you ever been unfortunate enough to know a guy who’s obsessed with killers? They are the most boring dudes in the universe. They think that knowing the intimate details about the brutal deaths of human beings makes them interesting. They drop murder trivia into conversation, things only they know, and no one wants to hear about. Ideally, they come to realize that everyone sees them as weak, lost in negative power fantasies, and they cut it out. Or, they become the serial killer everyone suspected they were and start cutting people up.
In any case, the titular “spaghetti incident” was not the innocuous food fight that Wikipedia says. Perhaps that was a later incident, meant as a diversion from less pleasant things.
See, there were these two bandmates, in a very popular hard-rock band of the time, and they were known for their high groupie “slay counts”. On the road during a big tour, these tallies rose ever higher, and the demands of touring and fucking left no time for bathing. The two raunchy bandmates mused that the other musicians complained more about their stench than the groupies, who scarcely seemed to notice. Little realizing that the average groupie would go down on a hobo for a backstage pass, the mates proposed a wager; who could go the longest without washing their gag-inducing genitals, and still slay pussy.
Days passed into weeks, on into months. After undoubtedly spreading UTIs across America, the boys continued to stink proudly. Mercifully, the competition was called a draw, after some poor girl mounted one of the reeking rockers, and promptly barfed that night’s dinner all over his chest. Spaghetti and red sauce.
As someone who loves the artistic medium of LP sleeves, I’ve never gotten the yucky ones. During Metallica’s nadir, they actually released an album spattered with bloody semen, designed by the artist of Piss Christ. I’ve never known a man who’s owned it, probably because nobody likes to associate their head-banging metal with the thought of an urethra ruptured from orgasm.
This is not the right kind of raunch. Raunch isn’t about burst blood vessels and bile. It’s crazy, or more properly spelled, “crazee”, as in Mama Weer All Crazee Now. You know, a more suitable case for treatment.
Heavy Metal was where I first heard Nazareth, and it’s a later, more hardcore-oriented version of them. Then I heard “Hair of the Dog”, and angrily shook my fist at Axl Rose.
He kicked the everloving crap out of me. What the hell was I thinking shaking my fist at that guy?!
[PICTURE REMOVED UNDER LEGAL THREAT]