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"Paradise City"

Spooky thing – Guns’n’Roses’s Paradise City is quite possibly one of my favourite introductions of all times. I’m not actually wild about the song as a whole, but the first 80 seconds, until the thrashy overdriven bit starts, just hit the spot everytime. Ok, I’m a huge fan of “layering” in almost any song – by which I mean building up layers of music/instrumentation/harmony a bar or stanza at a time. (I guess Kirsty McColl’s Days struck me the other day as the example par excellence of layering up an entire song). Still, I love the the sort of clean guitar and high-hat, then on to heavy kick and snare, then vocals, bring in some bass and distort guitar, sounds like some pads going on too. The comes the policeman’s whistle, and the song goes downhill for me.

Ok, so nothing too spooky so far (except for the fact that G’n’R are interspersed with The Monkees on my MP3, which is plain odd) – and indeed had it not been for my headphones Paradise City might have passed unnoticed. These are the headphones I bought last year (Shure e2c’s, I think) when was putting together an in-ear foldback system, and decided to actually spend more than 5.99 on a pair of naff bud earphones thingy which are tinny and last about 2 days. Anyway it’s a world apart – fantastic reproduction, full frequency range. All of which meant I heard something on the intro to Paradise City that I’ve never heard before.

What is it? Well there’s a fourth part singing “Take me down to the paradise city…” in the intro. Right down the bass end, almost below hearing – although he’s plain enough when they get to “oh won’t you please take me home.” Actually I can’t decide how many parts there are – might only be three. They’re messing around with reverb and panning, and I’ve never been very good at pulling out parts. Still, his voice is so low it’s almost like the bass strumming a single note in time, and I have never noticed it before!!

Now if we’re talking Guns and Roses, of course Sweet Child ‘o Mine doesn’t have any of Paradise’s flaws, except for when they cut out the riff between the verses in the single release. I challenge anyone not to succumb to air guitar for Sweet Child. Quite possible air drums and air bass too. It’s got everything – instantly recognisable riff, great tune, lyrics, and it just rocks. And it’s got surprise too; just as you think you know what the song’s doing, along comes a bridge and some thrashy overdrive, and the whole “where do we go” back-off, which isn’t really a back off.

Strangely, I hate pretty much every other G’n’R track I’ve heard. 🙂

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