The late 80s were a time of flux in popular music. 'New Wave' had come and gone and the charts were dominated by the likes of Whitney Houston and Phil Collins. The Heavy Metal standard (or what was left of it) was being carried uneasily by bands like the lumbering and tedious Def Leppard. Nirvana was still a couple of years away from turning the music industry upside down.
Into the void came this ragtag collection of personalities from LA. They knew what they wanted (for the first few years anyway) and knew how to get it. They reached back to seminal metal bands of the past for inspiration and came up with an album that, while not 'groundbreaking' in the sense of 'Nevermind', was one of the few albums of the period able to stand up alongside that alternative monster when it rose from the Seattle muck and beat it back with authority. (In my opinion anyone who doesn't hear "Paradise City" in "Smells Like Teen Spirit" just isn't listening.)
The album contains equal amounts of 70s excess and punk F-you sensibility, seamless production and 'just hit the damned record button' spontaneity. The melodies are there too, woven into layers of attack guitar and bunker-buster rhythm every bit the black-sheep child of Led Zepplin's Physical Graffiti. And then there was the hair which, to be honest, seemed more of a GPS locator thing than some lame attempt to be cool; as a kind of combination tip-of-the-hat to their origins and warning that said "We're from LA, and we're here to kick your ass."
And they did: Appetite For Destruction has gone on to sell nearly 30 million copies worldwide and the few tours that the classic GnR lineup participated in are the thing of legend. Sadly, within a few short years Guns N' Roses would implode but it should never be forgotten that in the late 80s they arrived like a jolt of electricity to animate the corpse of Heavy Metal and give it back its brain and beating heart.
"Welcome to the Jungle" from "Appetite For Destruction"