Guns 'N Roses: Welcome to the Videos [DVD]

Kevin Jagernauth

Welcome to Your Videos

Welcome to the Videos

Label: Geffen
US Release Date: 2003-10-28
UK Release Date: 2003-12-15
Welcome to the Videos
(Geffen Home Video, 1998) 28 October 2003 15 December 2003

Use Your Illusion I: Live in Tokyo
(Geffen Home Video, 1992)
US release date: 28 October 2003
UK release date: 15 December 2003

Use Your Illusion II: Live in Tokyo
(Geffen Home Video, 1992)
US release date: 28 October 2003
UK release date: 15 December 2003

:. e-mail this article
:. print this article
:. comment on this article

There was much excitement when Guns 'N Roses. were announced as performers on last year's MTV Video Awards. Though it was clear Axl Rose was the only original member, there was much anticipation as music fans were sure any version of G'NR would be a welcome antidote to pre-fab pop that dominates MTV airwaves.

Excitement quickly turned to disappointment when the band hit the stage to close out the awards ceremony. A bloated, Botox-ed, and dreadlocked Axl could hardly deliver the spin-shivering howl at the beginning of "Welcome to the Jungle", and he was clearly out of shape, gasping for breath after running the width of the stage. It was a depressing display and certainly the death knell of Rose's career. The once forthcoming Guns 'N Roses full-length, Chinese Democracy has been plagued by constantly changing release dates and spiraling production costs. More than likely it will become an urban legend, something you talk about in the wee hours of the morning, slightly drunk, as you speculate on what it would've sounded like. Maybe it will receive release in the far future when a Guns 'N Roses box set is put together.

Until that day arrives, Geffen has arbitrarily released three previous Guns 'N Roses videos to DVD. Budget priced, with no extras, Geffen has clearly not put much money into these re-releases, but the fan base for Guns 'N Rose is still there so no doubt these will sell adequately.

Welcome to the Videos

When Guns 'N Roses first burst on the scene, they were a kick in the teeth to the hair metal bands around them. These guys were the real deal. Appetite for Destruction bled with authenticity, written by five young men who had seen the worst Los Angeles, California had to offer and wrote about it with an ear-deafening, fevered passion. "Welcome to the Jungle" was the world's introduction to Guns 'N Roses and what an impression they made. Starting with country boy Axl Rose getting immediately harassed literally moments after stepping off the bus, he pauses in front of an appliance store (with Slash drunk and passed out in front) where he watches the video the audience is about to see. "Welcome to the Jungle" was an immediate classic. "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "Paradise City" videos were quickly banged out, the songs chosen more for their palatability than their quality (amazing songs such as "Rocket Queen" and "Mr. Brownstone" were much better, though probably too abrasive for regular radio play). When Guns 'N Roses released the staggering double album opus Use Your Illusion I & II, their sound became more expansive as their videos became more expensive. The epic album spawned no less than nine videos, with "November Rain" and "Estranged" becoming landmarks and popularizing cinematic production values for music videos.

I'm no fan of guitar solos, but even even I had to admit that "November Rain" was a triumph. Though it boasted three guitar solos, each one is so critical to the song it is hard to imagine it without them. The video itself was an amazing affair. With Axl in the lead role, it told the fictional story of his marriage the subsequent death of his bride. In retrospect, however, this video makes absolutely no sense. It looks great, and Slash looks so damn cool walking out into the desert to play his second guitar solo, but the story is incomprehensible. The bride dies for some mysterious reason, and Axl is mourning her death though the closing chorus exclaims, "You're not the only one!" Is he sad? Indifferent? Who knows, it really doesn't matter, because the video itself is great. "Estranged", one of the most expensive videos made, is equally baffling. Stringing together live footage, and bizarre scenes of Axl diving off oil tankers, walking through the city, and swimming with dolphins, the story is clearly secondary. Like watching a Jodorowsky film, you can't expect too much of a narrative or a point, but you can enjoy the visuals. And on that level, "Estranged" succeeds.

Use Your Illusion I: Live In Tokyo/Use Your Illusion II: Live In Tokyo

These two live concert videos, recorded on the Use Your Illusion tour in Tokyo, Japan suffer from a poor sound mix and truly weird track listings. Use Your Illusion II is the worst of these discs. Boasting eleven tracks, the first half-hour of the disc is a waste of time. The band kicks into an adequate performance of their Terminator 2: Judgment Day soundtrack song "You Could Be Mine". The following 25 minutes feature a tepid drum solo, a guitar solo, and a cover of the theme from the Godfather. The remaining tracks are largely culled from Appetite for Destruction rendering the very name of the DVD moot. The first disc fares a bit better, with less superfluous material and a equal balance of newer and older material but suffers from a muddy sound mix as well as feedback from Axl's microphone during some of the early tracks.

The concert itself is nothing spectacular, and spread out over three hours of viewing, quickly becomes a bore. The stage setup is tame, and there are no elaborate stage props. For fun, you can count the number of times Axl changes his short shorts. No, you didn't read this wrong -- Axl performs in short shorts. And for an added bonus you can try and figure out what exactly Dizzy Reed's role is as keyboardist, as I only found him performing once on each disc, otherwise he just sits back and hits a tambourine.

Diehard Guns 'N Roses fans need only pick up Welcome to the Videos, as it provides a great overview of the band's career. These concert films on the other hand are an embarrassment. Geffen should be ashamed of themselves for doing little more than transferring the video to DVD. A cleaned up sound mix would've made the concert a little more bearable, and some documentary or behind the scenes footage would have been a nice addition. And why not pare down the two sub-par concert discs into one stellar disc? Unfortunately, the haste at which these have hit store shelves smells of a cash grab. Well I guess someone's gotta pay for Chinese Democracy.

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.