It has been 31 years since heavy metal got a shot in the arm through the jagged riffs, screeching vocals and no F’s to give attitude that was Guns N’ Roses. In 1987, metal, especially so-called “hair” metal and glam metal, was everywhere. It influenced fashion and culture and it could be seen and heard every hour on Music Television. But the glam metal and hard rock had grown a little bit predictable. Guns N’ Roses was the biggest style shake up the genre had seen in a while.
Now, the band’s debut album, “Appetite for Destruction,” and the follow-up EP, “G N’ R Lies,” are going to be re-issued on a 5-disc, 7-LP collection. The new release will also contain some additional singles. Most of the old songs will be there except for one. “One in A Million” will be omitted. The song’s offensive language will never stand up to 21st century scrutiny. The re-release of “Appetite for Destruction” is set for June 29, 2018.
A host of news outlets from ABC News to NME.com reported the omission of “One in A Million” from the new release. However, the overall announcement of the re-issue was welcome news to fans and critics alike.
The original “Appetite for Destruction” is largely viewed as a classic album that changed hard rock forever.
Guns N’ Roses and 1980’s hard rock and metal
By the late 1980s, metal fans, no matter how young, had thought they had seen and heard it all. Americans were learning that rock ‘n’ roll couldn’t be governed or banned, even as various groups tried to do exactly that. Audiences however, needed something else. A sound that hadn’t quite been heard before. Before the development and popularity of grunge, there was Guns N’ Roses.
What critics and fans seem to continue to appreciate about “Appetite for Destruction” is how it sounds “lived in” (allmusic.com). That kind of truth was rare in an age when glam metal and other popular genres were taken to task for surface representations of real-life.
Depending on where a person lived, he or she was introduced to Guns N’ Roses through either “It’s So Easy” or “Welcome to the Jungle.” By the time the third single, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” was released, it seemed almost everyone knew who Guns N’ Roses were.
Guns N’ Roses’ “One in A Million”: beyond censorship
What is at issue is the use of derogatory language used to describe black Americans, homosexuals, and immigrants. At the time, the lyrics provoked a number of debates about censorship, about racism in rock ‘n’ roll, and it made some people look askance at Slash, the band’s lead guitarist and a person of color.
At the time of “G N’ R Lies'” original release, lead singer Axl Rose famously or infamously tried to explain why the lyrics weren’t as bad as they seemed to some people. However, the “black people use the word” argument has always been ineffective. Every controversy eventually calms down, even if it doesn’t disappear, and the one surrounding this song did, too. However, it is nice to see the band is less willing to offend people all over again.
Without “One in A Million” included on the re-release of “Appetite for Destruction,” the album has the potential to reach a wider audience and to be more inclusive. The latter is not necessarily a goal of rock ‘n’ roll, but at some level, if we are to accept that rock stars are humans like the rest of us, we should expect the occasional small gestures that indicate respect for different kinds of people.