100 Greatest Songs of the 80’s #59 Guns N’ Roses – Welcome To The Jungle

Released : 1987

In a decade of fundamental change for music, few genres convulsed and splintered as much as heavy metal, the over amplified blues rock partially descended from the grim industrial wonderland of England’s West Midlands. Once stodgy and unfashionable, by 1987 the contrast between it’s now-myriad undergeround scenes and the air-brushed gloss of the mainstream – embodied in acts like Whitesnake, Poison and most especially Mötley Crüe – meant the former were pariahs and the latter unit shifting revelations.

Guns N’ Roses wrote much of Appetite For Destruction in LA in 1985-86, a period during which they opened for the Crüe on a number of occasions. Perhaps it was a case of keep your enemies close, as centered around the raking twin guitar attack of Slash and Izzy Stradlin the quintet rode an edge and swagger which reset metal’s dial, burying the coiffeured prancing  of their hosts and it’s ilk for a decade afterwards.

Welcome To The Jungle remains arguably the best side 1, track 1 of the era, Slash’s train smash riff running downhill and out of control, Axl Rose’s screech sounding like a midnight police siren, the tension being strung out across a thirty-second intro which felt like looking over the edge of an abyss. What followed was so full of licks and sleaze that, despite the very obvious debt to Aerosmith, it helped rock to remember what it used to do best and regain more than a little dignity. With an outsider’s sneer and fired by ambitious hunger, Guns N’ Roses had made the world a thrillingly dangerous place again.


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