The Spirit Of ’88 (See No Evil Records 055/056 DVD)
Nakane Sunplaza Hall, Tokyo, Japan – December 7, 1988
CD DISC 1: (78:45): 01 Introduction; 02. You’re Crazy; 03. It’s So Easy; 04. Move To The City; 05. Mr.Brownstone; 06. Out Ta Get Me; 07. I Was Only Joking/Patience; 08. Rocket Queen/Steven Adler solo; 09. Slash solo; 10. Welcome To The Jungle; 11. My Michelle; 12. Band Introduction; 13. Hey Fuckers!; 14. Mother/Only Women Bleed; 15.Knockin’ On Heavens Door; 16. Night train; 17. Sweet Child O’ Mine;
CD DISC 2: (18:20): 01. Used To Love Her; 02. Mama Kin; 03. Slash solo; 04. Paradise City
DVD DISC 3: (1:38:43): 01. Introduction; 02. You’re Crazy; 03. It’s So Easy; 04. Move To The City; 05. Mr.Brownstone; 06. Out Ta Get Me; 07. I Was Only Joking/Patience; 08. Rocket Queen/Steven Adler solo; 09. Slash solo; 10. Welcome To The Jungle; 11. My Michelle; 12. Band Intro/Hey Fuckers!; 13. Mother/Only Women Bleed; 14. Knockin’ On Heavens Door; 15. Night train; 16. Sweet Child O’ Mine; 17. Used To Love Her; 18. Mama Kin; 19. Slash solo; 20. Paradise City
“Spirit of 88” is an almost complete Soundboard 2CD, with audience source filler, and single audience shot DVD set of the Guns N’ Roses December 7, 1988 gig at the Nakane Sunplaza Hall in Tokyo. By the time the band played this gig they had a number one Billboard album, “Appetite for Destruction”, and had just released the EP “GnR Lies” the week before which would eventually reach the #2 position on the charts. Before the end of the year both records would be in the top 5 on the charts simultaneously.
This show was previously released on the single silver cd titles “3rd Gig” “Papillon Records” (PPL 021) S.I.A.E. and on “Freewheel” (no label) both with only 13 of the sets 20 songs. I don’t own these titles so I can’t say they are SB or audience sourced. This was also previously released, on the prolific CDR label Metal Sword, under the title “Self Destruct= Aces High” as a 2-CDR title which also claims to be a soundboard using an audience tape for the last two songs “Mama Kin” and “Paradise City”. I mention this due to similarities in setlists and the use of the audience recording to fill in the gaps at the same places so I am speculating that “Spirit of 88” may be a knockoff of this title?
On CD1 there is a small cut during Axl’s introduction of Slash’s solo intro into “Welcome to the Jungle” and the last two songs of the show on CD2, “Mama Kin” and “Paradise City”, all of which are filled using an excellent quality audience recording. The SB recording is crystal clear with just some very slight background hiss which you can only hear when there is no music playing between songs and only with headphones. The show starts off initially with Axl’s vocals and Steven Adler’s drums dominant in the mix with the guitars slightly in the background and Duff’s bass and Steven’s cymbals lost in the sonic soup. The balance starts to gradually improve with the guitars moving up in the mix starting with ” Mr. Brownstone” eventually becoming VG to EX around the time of “Welcome to the Jungle/ My Michelle”. While the stereo separation is not great the SB is very lively with just enough audience mixed in to keep it from being dry. The audience recording used to fill in the gaps is an excellent atmospheric stereo recording which blends in perfectly with the SB. It was recorded very close to the stage with all the instruments well balanced. It is so good some might even prefer this to the SB. It almost makes me wish the complete audience recording had been included in this set as a bonus.
The show starts with the pre-concert music playing Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died” from his “Catholic Boy Album”. This leads into the intro where the MC announces the band as ” Alright Tokyo, Out of all the bands in the world these guys are definitely one of them, would you please welcome from Hollywood Guns and Roses”, the band then kicks into “You’re Crazy” which is a slower tempo then the studio version. It is very similar to the version on the official live cd “Live Era ‘87-’93. Other then that song the band pretty much stays faithful to the album version of the songs with the exception of the couple guitar solos by Slash and the Steven Adlers drum solo.
The band is very tight this night and while they play close to the recorded versions Slash does throw in some tasty solos and his playing is near perfect. Axl’s voice is strong and he is able to hit all the high notes with no hint of the hoarseness he would experience at times during their run as the opening act for Aerosmith on the Permanent Vacation and later tours. Based on the in between song banter Axl is in a very good mood urging the audience on with none of the anger and ranting we see during later tours.
The DVD is an audience shot affair of the complete show which is synced to the SB/Audience recording so the audio is excellent. Strangely it seems better balanced then the CD audio recording to my ears? The video was shot from the balcony and is slightly distant, grainy and fuzzy with colors that bloom slightly. Due to the generation of the tape, distance it was shot at, and the stage lights, there is little to no definition to the faces. The camerman does a decent job following the action but has a tough time keeping the camera steady so you do get fair amount of ceiling and back of the head shots. He does do a commendable job capturing the complete show in watchable quality considering the location and technology used. This DVD is a nice bonus but due to the lack of definition and shakiness of the camera work this may only be of interest to harcore GnR fans.
Silver disc Audio shows of Guns N Roses from this early period, with this audio and performance quality, are very rare and with the bonus DVD this release is highly recommended to all fans of classic rock.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)