Guns N’ Roses: ‘New York, New York’

Released in North America on November 13, 2015 (Gossip)

I’ll always remember the first time I heard of Guns N’ Roses. It was back in 1987 when their video for “Welcome To The Jungle” was playing on Much Music — MTV’s equivalent in Canada — and I instantly bought Appetite For Destruction on vinyl and that album quickly became one of my favorites of all-time. When I first heard Appetite For Destruction, one of my least favorite songs on the album was “Sweet Child O Mine” but that would soon change as Guns N’ Roses became one of the biggest bands in the world on the strength of the popularity of that song worldwide in the summer of 1988. Prior to the release of “Sweet Child O Mine” as a single, I had the chance to catch Guns N’ Roses opening for the mighty Iron Maiden during the latter’s “Seventh Tour Of A Seventh Tour.” Truth is I attended that concert more to see Guns N’ Roses than Iron Maiden and the former did not disappoint putting on what seemed to be a magical performance.

Eleven years later, Guns N’ Roses released their first comprehensive live album Live Era ’87-’93 and truth be told, I have never really liked that live album that much because it was a patchwork of songs from the band’s seven years together from 1987 to 1993. Although there is no question that the songs themselves on Live Era ’87-’93¬†were really good, it never felt like a true “live” album to me. New York, New York is the live album that should have been released by Guns N’ Roses as far as I am concerned. It captures the five original band members on February 2, 1988 at arguably the height of their live performance while they were still young and hungry, and definitely on a very fast upwards trajectory but where they had not reached close to their stratospheric heights in terms of popularity. I particularly like New York, New York because it takes me back to that first year when I got into Guns N’ Roses and brings back the vision and sound of the band that first got me into them in the first place.

While Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II are solid and very popular records, Guns N’ Roses to me have always been the line-up that released Appetite For Destruction so to finally get a live album with that line-up that captures a glimpse of their live magic and chemistry is amazing. I realize that New York, New York has been released in other markets earlier on than North America given that the year 2014 is written beside the little copyright sign on the back on the CD. Nevertheless, I am treating the release of Guns N’ Roses‘ live performance at The Ritz in New York City on February 2, 1988 on CD as a “new” release and since frankly I was not aware that this CD had been released in other markets earlier on.

What can I say about New York, New York? It captures exactly how I picture the band back in ’87 and ’88 before everyone and their cat was loving the band due to “Sweet Child O Mine.” All of the nine songs that were played from Appetite For Destruction are great ones and I even enjoy Guns N’ Roses‘ cover of Bob Dylan‘s classic “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” which is a song that I have always been a bit ambivalent to. Throw in a cover of Aeromsith‘s “Mama Kin” and you have an absolutely killer set. It’s hard to go wrong with the original Guns N’ Roses line-up playing classic tracks like “Mr. Brownstone” or “Paradise City.” It’s also cool to hear Rose‘s interactions with the crowd including when he dedicates the song “Out Ta Get Me” to “the people that hold you back; the people that tell you how to live; the people that tell you how to dress; the people that tell you how to talk; the people that tell you what you can say and what you can’t say…”

Overall, New York, New York is an amazing live album that captures a raw and hungry Guns N’ Roses whose upwards trajectory was at it turns out just beginning. While New York, New York does not appear to be an official Guns N’ Roses¬†sanctioned release, it represents in my eyes the ultimate live album from the iconic band.

Track List:
01. It’s So Easy
02. Mr. Brownstone
03. Out Ta Get Me
04. Sweet Child O Mine
05. My Michelle
06. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
07. Welcome To The Jungle
08. Nightrain
09. Paradise City
10. Mama Kin
11. Rocket Queen

Band Members:
Axl Rose – lead vocals
Slash – guitar
Izzy Stradlin – guitar
Duff McKagan – bass
Steven Adler – drums

Band Websites:
Official Website

Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, December 2015

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