Saturday, September 25, 2021

Guns 'n' Roses - Unlicensed Live Vol.1 & 2 (1993) Bootleg

 (U.S 1985 - Present)

Guns N' Roses
(sometimes abbreviated as GN' R or GnR) is an American hard rock band. The band formed in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California in 1985. Led by front man and co-founder Axl Rose, the band has released six studio albums, three EPs, and one live album while going through numerous line-up changes and controversies since its formation.

One of the most 'bootlegged' bands, these two 'Unlicensed' recordings come from two distinctly different periods in the bands musical career.  Vol 2 is a collection of early recordings from 1986/87 while Vol 1 is most likely a portion of one of their concerts from 1992 when they toured the US with Metallica.

To kick off, the following is an extract from a1992 tour review, published by the Classic Rock Magazine in July, 2012. It provides an in depth account of what it was like to tour with two of the biggest named rock acts in the US at the time. The article was entitled 'Get In The Ring - Guns N' Roses Vs Metallica'.

When Guns 'n' Roses and Metallica announced that they would be hitting the road together in the Summer of 1992, on paper it looked like the ultimate rock 'n' roll dream time. But it didn't take long for the apparent bromance between two of the world's biggest bands to fall apart. The three-ring circus was plagued with scorched flesh, riots in the streets and thunderous clash of massive egos, as the thrash metal titans fought to prove themselves superior to their Hollywood rivals, and Axl Rose's supremely self-absorbed arrogance crushed everything in front of it. The tour became a pressure cooker whose lid was sure to blow. The only questions were where and when...

May 12, 1992. Lars Ulrich of Metallica and Slash of Guns 'n' Roses hold a press conference in Los Angeles to announce a joint co-headlining tour between the two bands, set to begin July. 

James Hetfield (guitar-Metallica): Here's the battle - heads down heavy metal versus L.A pomp and pumped-up hair. That's what it is. Bling versus dirt.

Axl Rose: We wanted to do a tour with Metallica since the day we started. We worked real hard to pull this thing together. We paid them a few million dollars more than they deserved because they wouldn't do it unless they got paid a certain amount. Okay. And the only way we could get 'em to do it was if we called it 'co-headlining'. So, fine, we call it 'co-headlining'. But when the shit all went down, the motherfuckers couldn't live with it.

James Hetfield: It was pretty difficult getting the 50/50 thing together, agreeing on a stage, times, where we're playing. there was a lot of shit that had to go back and forth

Lars Ulrich (drummer-Metallica): If it was left to the managers, agents and accountants, this would never have got off the ground. Whenever we had a stumbling block, we'd all sit down and work it out.

James Hetfield: Me and Lars went out with Slash and Axl, had a little dinner and had a little talk, sorting it out. We had two different ideas, it turned out. We wanted to just go out and fucking play loud, but they wanted this Lollapalooza thing.

Lars Urlich: We probably got to a point where we were being too petty about every detail but, to make it work, the shirts and the passes and whatever all had separate Metallica and Guns versions, with each on the left or on the top. If that's the kind of stuff it takes to get the tour off the ground...

July 17. The tour begins at RFK stadium in Washington DC, USA with Faith No More as the opening band.
Life magazine reported: The crew accompanying Guns 'n' Rose is made up of about 80 people, including four bodyguards hired, in part, to keep the drug pushers and sex-crazed fans out of temptation's path. They've formed a family. For some of these people it is the only family they have ever really known.

Los Angeles Daily News: Guns 'n' Roses took more than 90 minutes to set up, which was more than enough time for restless throng of concert goers to make mischief. But not everyone was amused by the debauchery or Guns 'n' Roses' tardiness. Some fans had to leave the stadium early. Those who could stay were treated the usual uneven Guns 'n' Roses set. The momentum was severely diminished by lengthy and pointless solos by guitarist Slash and Gilby Clarke, as well as drummer Matt Sorum. The band never gained its footing and the crowd slowly thinned. Some of the remaining fans were spied sleeping or just sitting, with bored expressions on their faces. Unlike Guns 'n' Roses, Metallica seems fully aware that this tour presents a marvelous opportunity. In a performance that could only be compared to Attila The Hun's tour of Mongolia, Metallica storm-trooped its way to the hearts of the crowd. Their set was simply superb - more than 90 minutes of non-stop musical mayhem.

Slash: Axl apologised to the crowd for technical difficulties that resulted in GN'R starting late. We've put our audiences through a lot of shit, but it's not that we don't care. Each show is a completely different trip for us, depending on our mental state. We try to approach each one as a unique event - almost like it was our last show. It's hard to regulate something like that. It's hard to say that it will start exactly at 9pm.

July 30. After Axl is diagnosed as having damaged his vocal chords, the next three shows have to be rescheduled. 

Bill Gould (Bassist, Faith No More): Every band in the world might think they want to open for Guns 'n' Roses but, lemme tell you, it's been a real ugly personal experience having to deal with all the shit that surrounds this fucking circus.

Mike Patton (Singer, Faith No More): They were playing one night, and Duff walks up to Axl and pats him on the head, like a loving comrade type thing, and Axl Rose immediately brings the show to a halt. This is in front of 80,000 people and Axl screams: "Don't you ever touch my head again, motherfucker". Duff just walked away, wounded. We found out later that it was because he's going bald and he's worried that if you touch his hair it'll fall out. Every little follicle counts.

August 8: The tour resumes at the Olympic Stadium, Montreal, Canada. Metallica are forced to end their set prematurely when James Hetfield suffers third-degree burns to his left hand when he accidentally steps in front of a stage pyrotechnic flame jet. Nevertheless, Guns 'n' Roses make fans wait several hours before they finally take to stage. A few songs into their set, problems with the sound surface, so Axl storms off stage, sparking a huge riot. The next seven shows are rescheduled.

August 27: Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, New Mexico. Axl asks the crowd how many people there are from Las Cruces. After some cheers and raised hands, he then asks how many people would actually admit to being from Las Cruces. The question is answered with many bottles thrown at the stage, raised middle fingers, and screams of: "Fuck you, Axl!"

August 29. The Louisana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisana. 

Life Magazine Review: When the band finally leaves the stage, a big red sign flashes 'GUNS N' ROSES,GUNS N' ROSES,GUNS N' ROSES', like an APPLAUSE sign, suggesting in no uncertain terms that it would be okay for their fans to ask for an encore. Which they do. The band comes out, sings Paradise City and exits, returning one last time for a bow, arm-in-arm, as in a Broadway show. Axl tosses roses into the crowd, the other guys throw guitar picks and drumsticks. And then more explosions - 20 bangs, four fireballs and 100 fireworks - and as the band leaves for the last time the red lights flash: "THANK YOU WE LOVE YOU, THANK YOU WE LOVE YOU"
After, there is the usual backstage party with the usual hors d'oeuvres, open bar, pinball machines, pool table, hot tub and strippers.

Jeanne Marie Laskas continues: There was almost zero interaction between the two bands that I saw. GN'R seemed to be having a lot more fun than Metallica, except everyone was so sick of Axl. Slash was a delight - to everyone. Duff was a delight also and sort of lovable in a goofy way. Those are the two I really remember. Axl was nocturnal and freaked out when the sun came up. I spent very little time with Metallica because they seemed so cranky. Maybe they were just mad that GN'R was getting all the attention. I don't remember GN'R caring one whit about Metallica, and Metallica looking on and scowling.

September 15. Hubert H Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

(Reviewer, Minneapolis Star Tribune): The best selling T-Shirts last night were the $23 models with both GN'R and Metallica on them, according to the vendors. As for individual band shirts, the GN'R ones were outselling Metallica's. Vendors expected to sell more than $500,000 worth of souvenirs.

October 6, 1992. The tour comes to and end with the final show at the Kingdome, Seattle, Washington, having grossed over $32m from a total audience of almost 1.2m people.

Axl Rose: Let me tell you a couple of things about Metallica. First off, they do a lot of bitchin' for a band that got paid about 20% or 30% more than what they fucking deserved at a show, because they didn't...I thought I was friends with these people. I don't know how long they were on the road, but there was nobody in their crew that had ever got a bonus or paid anything extra for workin' their fucking ass off.

James Hetfield: It [the tour] was different. It was a good idea. We really had no idea what was going to come with it. We were out to show people that there was something a little more progressive and hard-core than Guns 'n' Roses. And to go about it our way. But it was hard going on, dealing with Axl and his attitude. It's not something we'd want to do again.
[Extracts from 'Get In The Ring - Guns N' Roses Vs Metallica' 1992 Tour Smackdown, Classic Rock #172, July 2012 p68-75]

The second bootleg (Vol 2) is a compilation of earlier recordings taken from 1987-10-30 - CBGB's, New York, NY (An acoustic set as reported by gunsnrosesbootlegs) and three tracks from the infamous 1986 City Sound Sessions from their 'Appetite for Destruction' album.  A highlight of the set is their very early piano version of "November Rain".
These tracks feature Axl Rose: vocals / Slash: lead guitar / Izzy Stradlin': rhythm guitar / Duff McKagan: bass / Steven Adler: drums. The Acoustic set also thought to be the first live performances of  "One In A Million" and "Patience".  Oh, and listen out for Axl when he tells the crowd that he hasn't been asleep for 2 days, at the end of "Patience"!

The piano/vocal demo for the band’s 1991 epic “November Rain” was recorded in 1986 at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, Los Angeles (one of 25 unreleased tracks from sessions there), and showcases a pretty fully formed version of the song based largely around Rose’s piano and vocals. There are some light moments of percussion to hint at the form of the full band arrangement that would coalesce later. 

The band had laid down a few different versions of “November Rain” during the Appetite sessions, including an acoustic-guitar take, but even during the 1986 recordings, it was clear that the song worked best on piano — and stretched out to a length that commercial radio would balk at. (Anything around five minutes tends to make programmers antsy.) The 10-minute version that eventually surfaced on an Appetite deluxe anniversary edition in 2018 is pretty stunning, avoiding the bombast that would later appear when the song was included on Use Your Illusion I. It’s stripped-down and direct, Rose singing to a distant lover with raw hurt in his voice.

The original ‘November Rain’ eventually appeared on Guns N’ Roses’ third studio album ‘Use Your Illusion I’ in 1991 and was released as single the following year, charting at no.4 in the UK.

The ballad “Sweet Child o’ Mine” had been Appetite’s biggest hit to date, and remains the group’s only No. 1 — but Rose thought he could top it with “November Rain.” It had been a song he’d been chasing for nearly a decade, first conceiving the epic piano anthem when he was still a kid living in Indiana, dreaming of moving to L.A. and pursuing rock stardom. By the time GNR finally recorded “November Rain,” they were probably the biggest band in the world and Rose most definitely was trying to come up with a pull-out-your-lighter power ballad that would demolish anything their competition could conceive. “November Rain” was a monster and also ridiculous — and that goes double for the video that emerged in its wake. It’s one of their most indelible love songs. It was also, according to guitarist Slash, “the sound of our band breaking up.”

This post consists of FLACs ripped from my two Australian AMCOS Bootlegs, released in 1993 and distributed legally by most major Aussie Record Resellers for a short period, due to a legal loop hole.
Vol 1 is a far superior recording than Vol 2, which sounds like it suffers from tape timing issues on the first couple of tracks.  
Nevertheless, I'm sure the die hard Guns 'N Roses collectors will still be interested in both of these titles.  I spent hours trawling through Guns 'N Roses bootleg listing sites, trying to identify the source of Vol 1 without any luck. I suspect the track order on this bootleg has been tampered with by AMCOS, however the set list is typical of their 1992 concerts. If anyone can identify the exact origin of these recordings, I'd be very interested in hearing from you. Both posts include full album artwork of course.

Unlicensed Live Vol 1 
01 - Night Train
02 - Welcome To The Jungle
03 - Don't Cry
04 - Double Talkin' M.F
05 - Civil War
06 - So Fine
07 - It's So Easy
08 - Mr. Brownstone
09 - You Could be Mine
10 - Paradise City
11 - Knockin' On Heavens Door

Unlicensed Live Vol 2
01 Jumpin' Jack Flash *
02 November Rain (Acoustic) *
03 You're Crazy
04 One In A Million
05 I Used To Love Her
06 Patience
07 Mr. Brownstone
08 Move To The City
09 November Rain (Piano Version) *

* Taken from 1986 Sound City Sessions



    edit of the standard setlist, as you said. Someone with knowledge of the best sounding GNR boots of 1992 required. AMCOS, Banana, Grapefruit released boots that were already widely circulated (usually).

    1. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. But a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. So many possibilities although inclusion of Knocking On Heaven's Door helps to narrow it down.