Welcome to the Swedish jungle

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What is it about the older generation’s belief that because they did it first, they did it better? The late ‘80s brought us the badass, bluesy, now familiar hard rock of Hollywood’s Guns N’ Roses. The late ‘90s return the favor with the badderass sound of Sweden’s Hellacopters. Lots of dirty, screaming guitar, angst-ridden vocals and hairy metal rock musicians with their shirts open down to there. All that long hair must make them hot – or something.

Recorded "across the universe," G N’ R’s Live Era ‘87-’93 kicks off the double CD set with this prophetic announcement: "You want the best? Well, they didn’t fucking make it. So here’s what you get ... from Hollywood ... Guns N’ Roses!!"

(Well, maybe we didn’t get the best because the Hellacopters were still teething on their Motor City rock records.)

Live recordings serve two purposes: a nostalgic trip back to those concerts you loved and will never forget and will tell your grandkids about; or a poor substitute experience for those fans who despair about missing such a mind-bending, fucking-amazing experience.

Although well-produced for a live album, G N’ R’s Live comes nowhere near to capturing the legendary two-finger rock salute that Axl Rose embodied. Half the songs come from G&R’s groundbreaking debut, Appetite for Destruction. The rest is a conservative selection of singles and popular favorites from G&R Lies and Use Your Illusion I & II. Nothing new here, except maybe a surprisingly gentle cover of Black Sabbath’s "It’s Alright."

If you’re looking for less of a trip down memory lane, the Hellacopters’ second album Payin’ the Dues will take you into overdrive with a punk sensibility that screams Stooges, MC5, Motorhead and Hendrix. Hard to believe, but, honestly, the Swedes are not all about disco-ABBA. Even the Cardigans covered a Black Sabbath tune as a B-side. Really. And yes, the Hellacopters sing in English.

Named one of 10 best albums of 1998 by Time Out New York, the original ‘97 White Jazz release Payin’ the Dues is now domestically available through SubPop, this time with a limited-edition, bonus live CD culled from spring 1999 shows in Seattle and Vancouver. Screaming with wah-wah duels and heavy, garage-punk rock, the Hellacopters experience evokes a youthful, energetic, indie-metal grind that makes me want to file Guns N’ Roses under "Rocking-Chair Rock."

Don’t believe me? I bet the Hellacopters’ "Where the Action Is" will kick G N’ R right out of their very own jungle. This new generation has taken off their rose-colored glasses and have rawer axes to grind.

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