Keeping in mind that Guns N' Roses have been in creative limbo for seven years, one would think the perfect time for a retrospective live disc would have been the mid-'90s, not our rap-metal-dominated premillennial era. Fortunately, LIVE ERA '87-'93 is hardly a case of too little, too late. Hits like "Welcome to the Jungle," "Paradise City," and "Sweet Child o' Mine" hold up years after they've gone out of circulation, and the album they return on reads more like a testament to an enduring legacy than a wistful missive. Recorded throughout GNR's heyday at concerts in London, Paris, Las Vegas, New York, Budokan, Tokyo, and Mexico City, the bulk of the material comes from the band's 1987 blockbuster, APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION
, with the remainder dedicated to songs from 1989's GN'R LIES
and 1991's USE YOUR ILLUSION I
. A cover of Black Sabbath's "It's Alright," featuring frontman Axl Rose on a decidedly Elton John-style piano, provides a welcome added curve ball. But throughout, LIVE ERA '87-'93 succeeds in showcasing a band that could rock you like a hurricane in concert, while exemplifying exactly what's missing from today's hard-rock scene -- dramatic energy, sexual dynamism, and charismatic persona. Guitarist Slash unleashes fiery guitar leads that flash and burn without seeming self-indulgent, helping the bansheelike Rose to goad the rest of the band toward rocking out a style halfway between glam metal and punk rock. From the Bic-in-the-air balladry of "Patience" to the fury of "Nightrain," LIVE ERA is a vindictive middle finger to those who said the band's music would never hold up.