Guns N' Roses

Jack Daniel's Tour 1988

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In the late '80s, there was no shortage of bands that went out of their way to emulate Guns N' Roses. But those clones lacked the thing that made GN'R so darn compelling: authenticity. When Axl Rose sang about sex, drugs, and rock & roll, it wasn't just a silly cliché -- you knew that he and Slash really had spent time in the fast lane (and lived to talk about it). Rose wasn't glamorizing self-abuse any more than Merle Haggard glamorized adultery or Ice-T glamorized gang violence; he was just letting you know what Hollywood's rock & roll fast lane was like. Millions of headbangers agree that GN'R was among the most exciting metal/hard rock bands of the late '80s, and the word "exciting" definitely describes Jack Daniel's Tour 1988. Despite its flaws, this bootleg (which surfaced in 1994) captures the vitality of GN'R in its prime. The sound quality, although decent, isn't perfect -- Jack Daniel's Tour 1988 wouldn't have made the grade as an official live album. And collectors won't be happy to know that the Live Storm label provides some incorrect information. Live Storm lists the personnel but doesn't bother to tell you that Fred Coury of Cinderella is on drums, filling in for Steven Adler. Even worse, Live Storm carelessly states that the CD was recorded at New York's Felt Forum on May 9, 1988, when it's obvious that Rose is addressing a Los Angeles audience. Such carelessness is appalling. But whatever the venue, GN'R's performances are first rate, and the band is as inspired on originals from Appetite for Destruction (including "Welcome to the Jungle," "Paradise City," and "Sweet Child o' Mine") as it is on covers of the Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." This disc isn't recommended to casual listeners, but for all its shortcomings, Jack Daniel's Tour 1988 is a bootleg that hardcore GN'R fans will want if they're able to hunt down a copy.

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