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Axl Named Greatest Lead Singer

Axl Rose
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OOOOOooooookaaaayyyyy.

Music Radar says number one on its list of The 30 Greatest Lead Singers of All Time is…
Axl Rose?

Really?

Not Plant.  Not Mick.  Not Roth or Hagar.  Not Mercury or Lennon.

Dio?  Cobain?  Morrison?  (Made the list but weren’t top dogs.)

Hetfield, Joe Strummer, Daltrey.  All there, but not even close.

Michael Jackson was a no-show. All things being what they were, the  Jackson Five were the real thing.

Been about eleven hours since I first read about this. So no knee-jerking, here. Just calm, cool, collected analysis.  I understand opinions vary, different criteria nets different results, etc.

And I’m not even saying that this particular result is totally without merit.

Maybe it’d be a little more tolerable if Slash was still by his side onstage. If only Chinese Democracy had not only been some urban myth to keep us at least somewhat interested but had at least been, well, good.

If only the “showing up hours late to perform because I’m a legendary mercurial genius controversial rockstar rebel” routine was at least one one-thousandth as spellbinding as it may have been in 1987.

Then maybe Music Radar’s list of the 30 greatest lead singer’s of all time could be a little more tolerable.

But alas.

The site’s editors said, “The public have spoken. Forget the caricature of recent years and think back to the late 1980s — he was dangerous, lean, angry, confrontational, and controversial. The hotheaded, horny ginger stepchild of Steven Tyler and Robert Plant, a born rock star who made being fashionably late a lifestyle choice and started riots in the process.”

Axl was kinda that. For maybe three, four years at the most. Or more accurately – and sadly – could have been that.

GN’RLies was very, very good. Both Use Your Illusion 1 and 2 were great.

And Appetite for Destruction was/is as good as any album I’ve ever heard. And yes, true-believers, that includes my Boy’s Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town.

His sound was unique, like Plant’s, like Morrison’s, like John Fogerty (ALSO not on the list – CCR the greatest American rock band, but we’ll save that battle for another day) like Journey’s Steve Perry.

He had the swagger and attitude. He got into just enough trouble. He was arrogant and clashed with his bandmates. Like another of my fav’s – STP’s Scott Weiland – he was born for the gig.

But ask yourself, when you hear “legendary front man,” is Axl really who immediately comes to mind?

Oh, maybe if there’d been a reunion. Maybe if there had been a tour where he displayed some sense of reality and humility. Maybe if Chinese Democracy hadn’t been a now forgotten punch line. Maybe if there was an album with the original line up. It wouldn’t have had to been Appetite-good — that’s too much to ask of anyone — but just given us the sound, the attitude, the feel we were used to.

The aforementioned Mr. Weiland and Stone Temple Pilots absolutely nailed the formula in their recent tours. Scotty pulls just enough shenanigans to remind us he is Scott Weiland. But the shows – for one – start on time and are affordable (I was at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in August for their MN stop) the band is as tight as you could ask, the set-list laid out perfectly.

At the end, after tearing through “Sex Type Thing” for the final encore, they came to the front of the stage, locked arms and smiled and waved to the crowd. Robert DeLeo’s young daughter ran out on stage and jumped on his shoulders.

See, Axl, maybe do something post-1994 to truly remind us what all the fuss was about.

But the editors want us to forget all that.  Okay.

I’m a boxing fan. When I discuss mythical match-ups with fellow fans it’s automatically concluded we are referring to each fighter in their total primes.  We say “Ali vs. Tyson”, and we mean the dazzling Ali of 1965, not what he faded into fifteen years later. We mean the devastating Tyson of 1988, not the eventually troubled, apathetic old man of 2003-04.

At his late 80′s peak could Rose have matched up to any of the other legendary names on that list? Sabbath’s Ozzy? Wings’ McCartney? Judas Priest’s Halford?

I suppose so.  Guns N’ Roses were good.  Very, very good at their best.

I just wish their frontman had followed STP‘s lead.

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