The Roots Of Guns N Roses is quite possibly the most accurate title to come of these early demo recordings of the young band Hollywood Rose. Recorded in January of 1984, this is the first offering on the sheer vocal power of the tool-to-be Axl Rose. The idea for the project came from the after party spot following a rock gig, the parking lot between the Rainbow and Roxy Theater in the Hollywood, California scene. Where three guitarist, Izzy Stradlin, Chris Webber, and Tracii Guns were reminiscing on their musical futures in the back of a pick-up truck. Chris Webber mentioned to Tracii that he wanted to start up a band, but Tracii had previous engagements with his band LA Guns. So Izzy and Chris set forth to form one of their own. Izzy called his childhood friend Axl Rose to be apart and they recruited drummer Johnny Kreis to set forth what became Hollywood Rose. The band got together and put together a five track demo to set forth what they dubbed as the upcoming best band in the world.
The California scene bursted out in the early 1980's. Punk was in full force in clubs with Black Flag and the Circle Jerks, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Van Halen were all over the radio airwaves, and MTV just emerged so the rock look good, as well as sound good. Power Rock, which can now be dubbed as Hair Metal took a major chunk of the Cali scene. The genre mixed together punk, metal, glam, and a dose of blues which also took form of a look as well. The five track demo showcases all the above, with the above average energy mixed in. The demo is weighed more on the punk influences along with blues undertones, since it is dominated by mostly a rhythmic guitarist, hardly no leads, with an occasional solo mixed in. Since the bass was over dubbed by either of the two guitarist, it really just blends in with the guitars. The drums helps with the energy, as Kreis pounds away at a punk-like rate. Even though they are executed well, the repetitiveness of the drums on each track is evidence that this isn't a very technical demo, unlike future Guns N Roses material. Axl just blast through each track with nothing more than raw energy. No over dubs, no producers to give any guide, so his voice doesn't have the perfect form.
I find it a treat to find the demo's are represented in it's original form first, before being handled by two separate artist. It's just nice to hear the beginning "take 1" on each track after they hit record. The songs themselves are played at a fast rate. You won't find any ballads what-so-ever, just pure aggression. Anything Goes can be found on Guns 'N Roses highly successful debut Appetite Of Destruction with completely alternate lyrics, but that infectious hook of a chorus still stands and the song is still about sex. Quite enjoyable guitars pitches, and has no chance to have other effects to over produce the track later under the GNR name. Axl's power of his voice is so evident on the clear blues influenced Killing Time, Axl nearly holds his voice all Halford like but due to lack of production, doesn't hold substance. One song that turned me off a lot is Reckless Life, only due to Axl singing way out of his range while hitting the chorus. I can just see how purple his face went hitting the note. Well the song went on being featured on GNR Lies. One song I wish could have been remade for the GNR name is Shadow Of Your Love. The song very much represents what future GNR would reflect. Hard in-your-face guitar crunches ravishes though through pounding drums and screeching vocals. One thing I'd like to get cross, the song writing really doesn't hold a paper bag if it wanted to. Each song gives it's own definition on how much bad asses these guys are. Nothing more than anything else you can find in the Cali scene. But what works is the hooks that are represented, and the determination of the band to be the most kick ass band ever.
Along with the original demo's, there are the same five tracks remixed twice by former Guns N Roses guitarist (Gilby Clarke) and former Cinderella drummer (Fred Coury), yes, I said Cinderella. Both members remixes sounds vaguely similar but very closely their represented instruments are highlighted. Gilby Clarke adds more crunch to the songs while featuring L.A. Guns guitarist Tracii Guns laying overdubs on "Shadow Of Your Love" and "Reckless Life." Tracii is definitely noticed. Fred Coury's remixes really focuses on the pounding of the drums, the presence of the snare drum which is absent on the original demos. Yes there are some differences, but taken as a whole, both respective remixes are very similar within each other.
So what if this is essentially purchasing the same EP three times over, this is a very good take on what the future holds. The production may be shot and is the root of most of my complaints. Although these are the roots of GNR, that doesn't mean this sounds like the traditional GNR you are used to. It's very early punkish. Aside from a few soloing, it's dominated by an early Izzy on not much more than rhythm guitar, as opposed to the always soloing Slash which is the main difference to many fans. It is what you expect Axl to sound like without Slash in the 80's. The lyrical content can very as well be any other bands lyrics and not make a single difference. Who'd known when Axl was intruduced to Slash shortly after a Hollywood Rose gig would lead to a decade of a legacy that is very hard to match. Hollywood Rose's pure energy and sheer vocal power forces a very high octane ride for a short fix. And don't forget the Aquanet upon listening.