Quick Guns N’ Roses Review

I saw Guns N’ Roses a few years ago with my friend Bill Schafer, and last night he and I did it again, with about the same results. Guns N’ Roses is more accurately the Axl Rose Traveling Show, but they put on a nice show and everyone seemed happy they came. Axl himself seemed slimmed down a bit from his peak apparent weight in Rio last year, which was good for his lithe rock god shtick, but regardless of that as he gets older I can’t help notice he’s beginning to look more and more like Paul Williams (pictured above for your convenience), which is a little unsettling. On the other hand Paul Williams did co-write “The Rainbow Connection,” so there may be worse things in the world than that.

Anyway, a fun time with a good friend, which is always an excellent thing. I’ll soon be heading off home. Expect a slow day here while I travel, as blogging and driving don’t mix.

38 Comments on “Quick Guns N’ Roses Review”

  1. Is it weird that I’ve always had a huge crush on Paul Williams? He wrote a lot of songs for Three Dog Night as well, but I fell in love with him as the Faustian character in “Phantom of the Paradise” (which is cheesy as hell now, but back in the 70’s, in context, it made more sense. Yes, I’m old enough to have seen it in the theater. Barely!). He wrote the songs for that, as well.

    I even watched the sequels to “Smokey & the Bandit” for him, but stayed for the drunk old Jackie Gleeson scenery-chewing. Awe inspiring! :D

  2. Paul Williams also wrote the great-aching song “Flying Dreams Lullaby” from the movie “The Secret of NIMH.” He also played a really funny alien names Taq, on Babylon 5.

  3. Paul Williams appeared on an episode of “Yo Gabba Gabba!” a couple of years back, singing “The Rainbow Connection” surrounded by giant pseudo-Krofftian puppet people. He’s old too. I’m old.

    And, geez, Elvis Costello looks like he’s 75.

  4. There are few bands that meet the definition of “unrealized potential” better than Guns ‘n’ Roses. It always seemed to me that *musically* they started coasting almost immediately after the completely deserved, blockbuster success of Appetite for Destruction. And 17 years between albums of new material? Fans in general are a very forgiving species, it is clear.

    Like Shirley, I remember Paul Williams best from The Phantom of the Paradise which I saw at the age of seven or eight, as well as his subsequent appearance as a guest on The Muppet Show. I don’t remember if I saw Phantom in the theater or if it was later on at a drive-in or on TV, but my best friends owned a copy of the soundtrack, and I remember singing along to all the songs with them and their mom, getting a little thrill every time a “Hell” or “damn” came along. I begged for and received my own copy for Christmas, and I still have the somewhat abused vinyl today. Given the great songs, De Palma’s writing and directing, and the still-marginally-relevant music business allegory, it’s probably the deep, 70s kitchy-ness that keeps a Phantom revival or major resurgence of interest from happening.

    For those who haven’t seen it, an oddly image-reversed but complete version is available on YouTube starting with this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaK-dKnJuCc

    Hmmm . . . I may need to borrow my dad’s turntable-to-mp3 recorder. It looks like no one’s selling mp3s of the songs, and the only CDs available are imports, but I have a sudden craving to dance around the room to the “ya ya ya” part in “Goodbye, Eddie Goodbye.”

  5. I sure hope Axl wasn’t wearing that yellow raincoat when he played for you. I would find that hard to watch.

  6. They say that Covina is hit, too.

    Day 3 of wind-caused electrical power emergency. The City of Pasadena is still in a formal State of Emergency. My home is in an unincoporated town of Los Angel;es County, north of Pasadena, and is even harder hit.

    My Facebook Wall message yesterday underestimated the damage. There were closer to 380,000 homes without power in Greater Los Angeles from the “once in a decade” Santa Ana Winds which peaked at 97 miles per hour (Category 2 hurricane). Dozens of homes destroyed, thousands damaged to some extent. Thousands of trees down, some ripping apart power lines. Past the peak of the outage, but my wife and I have had 3 day and 4 day outages before. This could be longer for us, as higher priority homes get helped (i.e. those with people in medical need, those in communities better represented in county and state government.

    In answer to some kind comments and questions:
    * no power for computer, phone, cooking, furnace fan
    * candles would be a BAD idea. These are very dry desert winds, humidity is very low, fire hazard extreme, fire departments overwhelmed

  7. I saw Paul Williams on a plane a few years back. He looked much slimmer and healthier than the picture above (he’s still really short, though).

  8. FYI, Paul was “Little Enos” (as opposed to Big Enos) in the original Smokey and the Bandit movie, where they hired Burt Reynolds to bring them some Coors. Also FYI, the reason hauling Coors to Texas was illegal (in that movie) is that Coors is not pasteurized and therefor cannot be legally trucked in non-refiderated trailers across the state line. They’ve since improved their distribution.

  9. BTW, when I first saw the picture on this post I thought it was John. Then I realized the man in the picture had too much hair…

  10. Yay! More Paul Williams fans! He’s written so many amazing tunes. I first saw Phantom of the Paradise on a double bill with Rocky Horror Picture Show: now, there’s a surreal evening’s entertainment for you. I adored Phantom then and now, and still sing a lot of its songs (when I’m alone, with no one to scare but the cats). “The Hell of It” always makes me want to dance, preferably with the Devil.

    Don’t know nuthin’ about Axl Rose.

  11. I can’t believe that no one, including Mr. John, mentioned that Paul Williams played the character of Virgil, the genius orangutan in Battle for the Planet of the Apes! He also provided the voice for the Penguin in Batman: The Animated Series. He also did the voice for Professor Williams in Dexter’s Laboratory.

    And you KNOW you are old, when you remember you watched him play Allison Troy in the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries on ABC.

  12. Love, exciting and new
    Come aboard, we’re expecting you
    Love, life’s sweetest reward
    Let it flow, it floats back to you

  13. Funny Paul Williams reference. It was also funny back in October when user Thierry Côté on stereogum made the exact same reference with pic. But then, he used a different pic so it’s ok.

  14. Spot on, but oddly frightening. Paul Williams, boy genius in the “The Loved One”. With Jonathan Winters. Black black comedy about the funeral business in LA, made in the ’60s.

  15. Guns N’ Roses without Slash is not really “Guns N’ Roses.” His guitar made the band.

  16. Paul Williams also wrote all the Bugsy Malone songs, don’t forget, and “Ordinary Fool”, a heartbreaker from Karen Carpenter’s last album. Axl could do worse ;)

  17. I had a ticket to see them in Atlanta at the beginning of ’92, after Use Your Illusion came out, but they canceled the show. I’d had the feeling they weren’t going to be around much longer, and they imploded shortly before they got to Atlanta.

  18. Screw Theiry whoever it was – when you retweeted that pic of Axl last night, I showed it to my wife and said “When did Axl become Paul Williams exactly?”

    Take that, Internet!

  19. Oh I’d hate to start speculating on the odds. I’m not good with the maths and I dropped statistics.

    Deductive conclusion 1 – You have been to the web page that you linked.

    Deductive conclusion 2 – You read comments. (and how could you resist scrolling down the comments page after the first one is already visible with the picture of him with ‘WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE – WE EAT TONS OF CAKE’ scrawled across it.

    Deductive conclusion 3 – you can’t miss the full size picture of Paul Williams with the posting of “When did Axl Rose turn into “Rainbow Connection” & “We’ve Only Just Begun” songwriter – and friend of Muppets – Paul Williams?” – Thierry Côté, Stereogum.com Oct 8.

    Granted that did get turned into: “… but regardless of that as he gets older I can’t help notice he’s beginning to look more and more like Paul Williams (pictured above for your convenience), which is a little unsettling. On the other hand Paul Williams did co-write ‘The Rainbow Connection,’…”.

    Now, I’m no big-city lawyer but I’m willing to bet this kind of loose spirit with someone else’s joke might get you yelled at by Joe Rogan. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M42BflUZry8)

    The odds I’d be interested in seeing are the odds on a writer blasting another writer for plagiarism the day before jacking someone else’s material.

    I don’t know if you did or didn’t and honestly the odds are probably fair to middlin’ you didn’t but I still baited Jon Scalzi, where’s my “I baited Jon Scalzi and all I got was this stupid shirt” T-shirts.

    Now, in the grand tradition of the internet where so many completely lack an opinion of actual value but also lack the ability to keep that opinion to themselves (and there is a correlation between the stupidity of the opinion and the inability to not express it), I shall insult and badger a complete stranger in order to get their attention and follow it up with some sort of weird assumed familiarity as if I’d been through something deep and meaninful with them.

    And now sir, I shall tell you how to do your job. In regards to the Old Man’s War universe. Now if you say the story of John Perry and Jane Sagan is finished, while I disagree, I can respect that. If you have nothing more for them then it’s better than throwing some drivel together when it becomes financially advantageous to do so (I’m talking to you George R. R. Martin).

    With the cloning and consciousness transfer technology they are however essentially immortal granted nothing kills them and someone keeps giving them new bodies… I guess that’s not immortal at all, what means potentially immortal? Does Jane even age in her current state at the end of “The Last Colony”?

    Sure, they can farm dirt for awhile on a colony planet but it’s a big universe out there man and they can potentially live for a long, long time. Personally, I’d let them get old-ish again (definitely let Zoe grow up) and then generate some new crisis which pricipitates their repatriation with the CDF or maybe even that big coalition of aliens.

    It just came to me. What you do is introduce some new threat to that region of the galaxy, a new group of aliens. Now these new aliens, they’re complete badasses and everyone is outclassed by the except the Consu, who while near their technological level (in the way that everyone else in the story can sometimes kill Consu) are still no real match or threat to them. And these new guys have come in to set up shop on a permanent level. Now, the Consu are of no real help to the ‘good guys’ because they’re just tickled pink to be able to commit racial suicide by swarming these guys mindlessly so they can go to their weird Consu Nirvana. This puts the good guys in a bit of a pickle and puts a heavy strain on the coalition as they try to react and counter the new threat in what will initially be a losing effort. The jump forward in the timeline with letting a lot of years go by allow for new tricks in the combat clones as well as further development of the Obin and their consciousness. I’d think that as they became more fully aware that racially they’d feel pretty bad, especially about those races they completely obliterated which could even make them reluctant to fight all that hard against this new foe. Then just throw in some battles, space ships and ground combat, mix in some dark scenes like races losing their home planets, kill off some long standing characters, yadda yadda yadda, and you got a new trilogy for Jane and John.
    So, there you go, obviously their story isn’t done yet. Go make it happen. Or send me the t-shirt. Or both.

  20. John, I think Ungod’s onto something here. And I have the perfect crisis. The Rael decide to get their revenge on the Colonial Union by resurrecting Axl Rose, in hopes that humanity will be too busy to cause trouble because they’re waiting for a chronically late Guns N Roses to come on stage. Only it backfires. Zombie Axl starts eating Rael. And only John and Jane can stop him. (Um… You’re a musician. Insert your own sinister music here.)

    (And if you sell the movie rights to Paul Verhoven, there will be consequences.)

  21. Ungod:

    Meh. I got to the page because I typed “Axl Rose 2011” into Google Images and once I came up with the specific image I was looking for (Axl’s chubby period), I linked to the entry. I didn’t in fact read the comments. The “Tons of Cake” picture was actually forwarded to me on Twitter last night while I was at the concert (which I retweeted at the time), which was the impetus for looking for that particular image.

    So, yeah. Coincidence, and this particular case your deductive reasoning doesn’t lead anywhere productive. It’s not terribly surprising that I came to the same conclusion someone else came to first about Axl Rose because, really, the dude does look like Paul Williams. I don’t claim it as an exclusive thought and indeed the fact someone else thought it up first fills me with happiness because it means I have independent third party verification.

    In any event it’s not plagiarism to make the same observation as someone else. It would be plagiarism if I cut and pasted this fellow’s exact words and claimed them for my own.

    As for your story suggestion, here’s why you’ve pretty much assured the story will not now or ever go in that direction. Thanks so very much for that.

    You know, between all but accusing me of plagiarism and trying to tell me how to do my job, which is in fact a thing I don’t appreciate, you’re not exactly making a fantastic impression here, Ungod.

  22. Could it be that Ungod has chosen to make an impression by modeling the failure mode of cleverness? Some people believe that making an impression is the important thing, not the quality of the impression.

  23. While the comparison to Paul Williams is entertaining, as are everyone’s memories of Williams work, HOW WAS THE DAMN CONCERT? Scalzi, you don’t go to a concert without giving us a little play by play, especially a potential train wreck like GnR.

  24. I don’t get paid for my ideas. Actually in my current employment any creative idea that is not only an innovation on the current norm but would also result in increased revenue is squashed visciously and the originator of that idea is typically punished and at the minimum looked upon with scorn.

    I only attempted to illustrate that even an amature idea guy can come up with more stories for John and Jane. I leave the actual idea up to the professionals, in this instance you, especially considering a book I already thought up would give me marginal entertainment. Alternatively, if you’re just not feelin’ it for John and Jane, better to walk away than milk it. Besides which, my ‘idea’ isn’t really much of one anyway considering it’s just a re-hash of a few plot lines I’m aware of remembering, probably a dozen or more I don’t remember remembering, and who knows how many from down the ages.

    The original idea was not to attempt to ingratiate myself with you in some attempt to become drinking buddies, more like poking you to bring up The Oldmaniverse. Mainly, to make sure you know that there is at least one person out there wanting a continuation of the story. Now, having guessed you are already aware, I needed to add additional awareness to your current awareness in the form of how much this particular someone would like another. Not only would I buy the hardback, but, I would come to your house (electronically) and irk you not once but twice in a format where I anticipate being eviserated, if not from lack of my ability to banter and insult, then at minimum due to not having the homefield advantage.

    I read a lot of books. I’ve never harassed an author before, though were Heinlein alive I might have before this.

  25. I saw G’n’R on their stop in Chicago this tour. My three comments immediately following the show were:

    1) That was a phenomenal 3+ hour show,
    2) It would have not been any less phenomenal had it started earlier than 11:00pm on a Wednesday, and
    3) I wouldn’t have guessed beforehand that a mini-Who concert would be part of the set list.

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