On Friday night I was driving over to the cinema in Welwyn Garden City to see Allied with my father in law. (Great film by the way!) It was a dark and wet evening and thanks to the Bluetooth audio in my new car, I was listening to Use Your Illusion I by Guns ‘n’ Roses via Spotify. It’s funny, I didn’t buy any of the later Guns ‘n’ Roses albums, the pair of Use Your Illusion albums were my last GnR purchases. I’ve bought Slash’s Snake Pitt, Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds and various other post GnR output but for me the Use Your Illusion albums were the end of the road.
Funnily enough I always think of Use Your Illusion I as being the newer of the two and somewhat exotic. When GnR released two separate albums simultaneously there was some criticism that they were ripping fans off- a double album would have been cheaper. Slash cleverly countered this in an interview by saying kids could buy one each and tape the other off a friend. I didn’t do that but did buy II before I because of the gushing review in Q magazine that called Civil War “their Stairway [to Heaven]“. I’m a bit hazy with timings but I think they’d probably also had a hit with You Could Be Mine off the back of Terminator 2.
As I drove along Cooper’s Green Lane, I was transported to my second* visit to Hitchin way back in the winter of 1991. At that time I was on a break from high fantasy and science fiction and reading a lot of horror. And by a lot, I mean a lot- Stephen King, Shaun Hutson, John Saul, Clive Barker, James Herbert, Richard Laymon, Graham Masterton, and a near endless list of other (not so great) authors. But back in that winter, I had been reading an awful lot of Ramsey Campbell. He was doing a book reading from his new novel, The Count of Eleven, and I convinced my mum to take me along.
I don’t remember much about the book, I don’t remember much about the evening but there was something about driving the other night in the dark with Guns ‘n’ Roses blaring out that brought the memory right to the fore.
Cheers Axl and co, much appreciated.
*I was born there, I suppose that technically counts as a visit right?