LA Guns
L.A. Guns was formed by former Guns N' Roses guitarist Tracii Guns in 1987. Teaming with ex-Girl vocalist Phil Lewis, former W.A.S.P. drummer Steve Riley,
bassist Kelly Nickles, and guitarist Mick Cripps, Guns adhered to the Aerosmith-derived raunch of his former band. L.A. Guns released their self-titled first album in 1988.

L.A. Guns L.A. Guns (Vertigo) 1988

1. "No Mercy" (2:45)
2. "Sex Action" (3:38)
3. "One More Reason" (3:05)
4. "Electric Gypsy" (3:24)
5. "Nothing to Lose" (4:12)
6. "Bitch Is Back" (2:50)
7. "Cry No More" ( 1:20)
8. "One Way Ticket" (4:17)
9. "Hollywood Tease" (2:43)
10. "Shoot For Thrills" (4:24)
11. "Down in the City" (3:58)

OK boyz, let's strap on our bullet belt, black leather pants, tease our hair, light up a Marlboro, and let the fight begin. L.A. Guns comes out fighting on their 1988 debut. Musically these guys are usually described as pop metal, but in reality, L.A. Guns side-stepped the glam and schlock of the L.A. strip scene and bring forth an honest and heavy rock 'n roll record, mixing a street version of Kiss with a polished version of early Crue. There are some similarites to Tracii Guns former band, Guns 'n Roses. I am sure the comparisons to G'n R burned Tracii Guns to no end, however, there is almost no way of not comparing the two. Since Tracy Guns formed Guns 'n Roses with Axl, there are comparisons that will inevidably be made. The big difference is that L.A. Guns lacks the charasmatic vocals that Axl Rose offers for his band. Philip Lewis, despite not having that same charm and draw that Axl has, can actually sing and does a more than commendable job on this platter. Lyrically the band travels down similar sleezy roads as every other L.A. band to come out of the Whiskey or Roxxy. This debut actually did well for the band generating a minor hit with "Sex Action" and landing the boyz a tour opening for AC/DC on their '88 Blow Up Your Video Tour. It's also worth mentioning that drummer Steve Riley, used to be in W.A.S.P.

Cocked & Loaded L.A. Guns - Cocked & Loaded (Vertigo) 1989

1. "Letting Go" (1:22)
2. "Slap in the Face" (3:54)
3. "Rip and Tear" (4:11)
4. "Sleazy Come Easy Go" (4:01)
5. "Never Enough" (4:10)
6. "Malaria" (5:22)
7. "The Ballad of Jayne" (4:30)
8. "Magdalaine" (6:05)
9. "Give a Little" (3:29)
10. "I'm Addicted" [Guitar Solo] (1:51)
11. "17 Crash" (3:39)
12. "Showdown (Riot on Sunset)" (3:18)
13. "Wheels of Fire" (4:56)
14. "I Wanna Be Your Man" (3:36)

Down and dirty Hollywood Strip metal. Tracii Guns and his ragtag crew of glamsters put forth one of their finest albums ever. "Cocked & Loaded" manages to have that fun, party sound without sounding corny, but also manages to embrace the harder rocking side of the genre, stearing clear of the Poison/Warrant light weight stuff. "Never Enough" gained some success on MTV. "The Ballad of Jayne," is a tribute to actress Jayne Mansfield and was a Top 40 hit as well. "Give A Little" has an addictive Aerosmith-like groove.

Hollywood Vampires L.A. Guns - Hollywood Vampires (Vertigo) 1991

1. "Over The Edge" (5:41)
2. "Some Lie 4 Love" (3:34)
3. "Kiss My Love Goodbye" (4:42)
4. "Here It Comes" (4:37)
5. "Crystal Eyes" (5:54)
6. "Wild Obsession" (4:14)
7. "Dirty Luv" (4:29)
8. "My Koo Ka Choo" (4:06)
9. "It's Over Now" (4:10)
10. "Snake Eyes Boogie" (2:56)
11. "I Found You" (3:43)
12. "Big House" (4:12)

LA Guns' third album, "Hollywood Vampires" was released at the very tail end of the pop-metal era that dominated the 80s and early 90s, and just before the onslaught of the depressing grunge revolution. "Hollywood Vampires" pretty much takes up where "Cocked & Loaded" (1989) left-off, but this time the band incorporates some old-school Aerosmith-inspired, blues-based, boogie-grooves and a much slicker production, thanks to producer Micheal James Jackson. I think this cleaner production was to the band's detriment. It takes away a bit of the band's heaviness, which turned off a lot of fan. Still, this album is chock full of Hollywood attitude and memorable hooks, so there is no reason why it shouldn't have been huge. Perhaps if it had been released just a year earlier, it might have broken L.A. Guns into the mainstream. As it stands, "Hollywood Vampires" is a forgotten gem from that time when lipstick, hairspray, leather and spikes ruled the scene.

Vicous Circle L.A. Guns - Vicious Circle (Polydor) 1995

1. "Face Down" (4:11)
2. "No Crime" (2:34)
3. "Long Time Dead" (3:22)
4. "Killing Machine" (3:27)
5. "Fade Away" (4:11)
6. "Tarantula" [instrumental] (:56)
7. "Crystal Eyes" (5:53)
8. "Nothing Better To Do" (2:51)
9. "Chasing The Dragon" (4:50)
10. "Kill That Girl" (3:12)
11. "I'd Love To Change The World" (3:39)
12. "Who's In Control (Let 'Em Roll)" (4:02)
13. "I'm The One" (2:26)
14. "Why Ain't I Bleeding" (4:32)
15. "Kiss Of Death" (5:54)

L.A. Guns attempted a comeback in 1995 with Vicious Circle, the first album in three years from the Hollywood, California metal band. The result is a much heavier album with an almost modern Skid Row flavor. The band clearly doesn't want to embrace the new breed of depressing grunge rockers that owned the world in '94, but they certainly attempted to update their sound here. Along with hair cuts, the band has also cut away most of the 80's Sunset Strip sound, adding in a heavier punk rock aggression and sound much more reactive and a bit darker as well. One of the things I have always enjoyed about L.A. Guns style of metal is that it wasn't about political banter, agendas and such, rather they were just about enjoying life and having fun. I think the band somehow managed to keep that feeling in this CD while at the same time gaining that darker edge. Tracks like "Killing Machine" are full blown heavy metal tracks, this one even pushing the boundries of power metal. "Fade Away" is a rather mystical sounding tune. "Crystal Eyes" is a catchy ballad, while album opener "Fade Away" is just an angry rocker. Perhaps not the band's finest platter but certainly a good comeback album.

American Hardcore The L.A. Guns – American Hardcore (CMC International) 1996

1.   F.N.A. [intro] (:21)
2.   What I've Become (3:37)
3.   Unnatural Act (4:09)
4.   Give (3:16)
5.   Don't Pray (4:06)
6.   Pissed (4:01)
7.   Mine (3:35)
8.   Kevorkian (4:45)
9.   Hey World (5:01)
10. Next Generation (2:32)
11. Hugs and Needles (3:08)
12. I Am Alive (6:59)

1996 saw the emergence of a new L.A. Guns, now called THE L .A. Guns. The new band also featured a new line-up. Only guitarist Tracii Guns and drummer Steve Riley are left from former incarnations of the band. The new lineup brought Johnny Crypt (bass) and Chris Van Dahl (vocals) into the fold. Van Dahl is very far removed from former singer Phil Lewis, and shouts most of the lyrics in a style similar to Phil Anselmo. With the new singer and altered band name came a new sound that is far, far removed from anything even remotely sounding like L.A. Guns. What we have here is an experiment with industrial sounds, hardcore influences, some hip-hop, a bit of Red Hot Chili Peppers, and other things that aren’t really worth mentioning. The opening intro track purposely skips like a scratched record and made me wonder if I had received a bad disc. After listening to the entire CD, my initial thought was correct, this is a bad disc. What we are left with is a failed experiment in a band trying to stay relevant and a CD that becomes a placeholder in the L.A. Guns collection and not much else.

Man in the Moon L.A. Guns - Man In The Moon (Spitfire) 2001

1.   Man In The Moon (4:42)
2.   Beautiful (4:18)      
3.   Good Thing (3:27)
4.   Spider's Web  (4:37)    
5.   Don't Call Me Crazy  (6:42)     
6.   Hypnotized (3:25)     
7.   Fast Talkin' Dream Dealer (4:03)      
8.   Out Of Sight (3:22)     
9.   Turn It Around (5:30)      
10. Scream (4:18)

Thankfully L.A. Guns gets back to basics on its Man In The Moon and just do what they do best; sleazy rock and roll. Vocalist Phil Lewis and guitarist Mick Cripps are back in the fold again, alongside original drummer Steve Riley and founder Tracii Guns. What we have here are ten guitar heavy rock and roll songs with just a bit of funk and groove. The band does move away from the glammy Hollywood sound and sticks to a more straight forward 70’s influenced sound. The ballad "Don’t Call Me Crazy" is really the only song that sounded like that 80’s sound. Album closer "Scream" is probably the albums fastest and hardest rocking track. The song has a slight punk edge to it. It is probably one of my favorite tracks on the album. Phil’s raspy howl is a welcome return to the band. His voice really gave L.A. Guns their character. I doubt that anyone would think that "Man in the Moon" is better than the band’s classic 80’s releases, however, this is still a very good CD from L.A. Guns, and a million times better than "American Hardcore".

Waking the Dead L.A. Guns - Waking the Dead (Spitfire Records) 2002

1. "Don't Look at Me That Way" (4:00)
2. "Ok Let's Roll" (3:54)
3. "Waking the Dead" (3:23)
4. "Revolution" (3:26)
5. "The Ballad" (521)
6. "Frequency" (4:38)
7. "Psychopathic Eyes" (3:04)
8. "Hellraisers' Ball" (3:23)
9. "City of Angels" (3:39)
10. "Don't You Cry" (4:22)

Put this one with Britny Fox's Springhead Motorshark as a great mixture of old and new. (Actually Springhead Motorshark came out a year after this one.) This is the L.A. Guns in full throttle; music straight out of the L.A. strip but with a more modern edge and approach. In other words, they stay true to their roots and yet still manage to sound current and vital. Original L.A. Gunner vocalist Phil Lewis really rounds out the bands sound. It's almost like the cherry on top of the hot fudge sundae, it just makes it that much more appealing.

L.A. Guns - Rips the Cover Off (Shrapnel) 2004

1. "Rock N Roll Outlaw" (3:24)
2. "I Just Want To Make Love To You" (2:48)
3. "Tie Your Mother Down" (3:45)
4. "Until I Get You" (4:50)
5. "Wheels Of Steel" (4:49)
6. "Nobody's Fault" (4:22)
7. "Custard Pie" (3:09)
8. "Moonage Daydream" (3:53)
9. "Marseilles" (4:47)
10. "Hurdy Gurdy Man" (3:21)
11. "Search & Destroy" (3:18)
12. "Revolution" [live] (3:39)
13. "Don't Look At Me That Way" [live] (4:06)

LA Guns, minus Tracii Guns, return in '04 with a disc full of classic covers. Covers of classic hard rockers like Queen, Foghat, Aerosmith, Zeppelin, Bowie, and Iggy prove that LA Guns basically came from the same school of rock and roll that the rest of us came from. All the songs here are capably covered, but some of my favorites are Saxon's "Wheels of Steel" and Foghat's "I Just Want To Make Love To You". These two bands are rarely covered, but both are deserving. Actually, "I Just Want To Make Love To You" was originally a Willie Dixon composition but Foghat re-arranged and made the song their own. The gunners stick pretty close to the Foghat version of the song, obviously playing homage to the 70's boogie rockers. The band's choice in Aerosmith covers was excellent. "Nobody's Fault" is one of 'Smith's heavier numbers, although I think that Testament pulled off a better cover. Vocalist Phil Lewis has a unique voice and does a good job here. He sounds especially good on Bowie's "Moonage Daydream", Rose Tattoo's "Rock n Roll Outlaw" and Iggy's "Search and Destroy", a song that had also been recently covered by Def Leppard. I know many people look down on 'tribute albums' as a whole, but personally I really enjoy them, and "Rips the Cover Off" is no exception.

Tales from the Strip L.A. Guns - Tales From The Strip (Shrapnel Records) 2005

1.   It Don't Mean Nothing (5:06)
2.   Electric Neon Sunset (4:40)
3.   Gypsy Soul (3:04)     
4.   Original Sin (4:24)     
5.   Vampire (4:22)     
6.   Hollywood's Burning (3:44)     
7.   6.9 Earthshaker [instrumental] (4:06)     
8.   Rox Baby Girl (4:12)
9.   Crazy Motorcycle (4:19)      
10. Skin (3:11)
11. Shame (4:53)     
12. Resurrection (3:45)     
13. Amanecer [instrumental] (3:12)   
14. (Can't Give You) Anything Better Than Love (4:44)

L.A. Guns 2005 is minus guitarist and founding member Tracii Guns, for which the band was named. This incarnation of the band features original vocalist Phil Lewis and longtime drummer Steve Riley. With "Tales from the Strip", L.A. Guns get back to their roots, which is of course right off the Hollywood Strip. While saying something as non-descriptive as “this CD rocks” doesn’t really say much, it was my first thought when listening to this CD. "Tales" is the best L.A. Guns CD since "Waking the Dead". Perhaps the loss of their founding guitarist did the band some good. The album has that classic sleazy Hollywood Strip sound that fans expect from L.A. Guns, but it has more modern production techniques that adds to the appeal. Some of the guitar riffs have an almost punk delivery. This is especially true of opening track "It Don’t Mean Nothing." Unlike many modern bands, L.A. Guns offer up an album of songs that do not sound like carbon copies of one another. There are the more upbeat songs ("Original Sin", "Crazy Motorcycle"), the more mid-paced tunes ("Gypsy Soul", :Hollywood's Burning") and the slower, more melancholy moments ("Vampire", "Electric Neon Sunset"). The instrumental "6.9 Earthshaker" even features a drum solo, making it Steve Riley’s "Moby Dick". "Amanecer" is an acoustic instrumental and sounds like something Ace Frehley might have recorded for one of his solo albums. Had "Rox Baby Girl" been recorded in 1987, it most certainly would have been a hit. The song has a vibe similar to those first L.A. Guns or Faster Pussycat albums. Best of all, none of this sounds trite or forced. This is the album that L.A. Guns fans have been hoping for.  New guitarist Stacey Blades fits the bill perfectly. I don’t think anyone will even notice the absence of Tracii Guns.

Hollywood Forever L.A. Guns - Hollywood Forever (Deadline) 2012

1.   Hollywood Forever (4:43)
2.   You Better Not Love Me (4:18)
3.   Eel Pie (2:40)
4.   Sweet Mystery (4:02)
5.   Burn (4:01)
6.   Vine St. Shimmy (2:48)
7.   Dirty Black Night (4:50)
8.   Underneath The Sun (4:40)
9.   Queenie (3:44)
10. Crazy Tango (4:41)
11. Venus Bomb (2:36)
12. I Won’t Play (3:09)
13. Requiem (Hollywood Forever) (4:05)
14. Arana Negra (Black Spider) (5:00)

The L.A. Guns saga has ben a bit confusing over the past few years with Tracii Guns forming his own version of L.A. Guns and vocalist Phil Lewis continuing on with his version of L.A. Guns. Lewis' version of the band consists of Lewis, longtime drummer Steve Riley, bassist Scott Griffin and guitarist Stacey Blades. This is the line-up that recorded the band's 2012 release, "Hollywood Forever".

Not unlike the 2005 release "Tales from the Strip" L.A. Guns has managed to capture their former sound while not sounding dated. "Hollywood Forever" screams that sleazy, 1980's Hollywood metal sound thanks in part to some kick-butt guitar work from Stacey Blades and Lewis' signature raspy howl. Phil is L.A. Guns most powerful and recognizable member. It also helps that there seems to have been a conscious effort placed on crafting songs with big hooks and infectious melodies. However, this is not "Cocked & Loaded Part 2".

The album opens off with a short intro before breaking wide open into the title track. This heavy rocker should be the band's opening number for live performances, if it's not already. Songs like "You Better Not Love Me" and "Sweet Mystery" are less 'heavy' with more emphasis placed on melody and hooks. Both songs bring in a strong 1970's glam influence. I can hear bits of T.Rex, David Bowie and even Kiss in these more melodic numbers. There are also a handful of songs that resemble the band's early years. "Vine St. Shimmy" has a vintage L.A. Guns groove that could have evolved from "Cocked & Loaded". "Venus Bomb" is a fast-paced track with a punk attitude and reminds me of the band's debut.  The album ends with a cover song titled "Arana Negra" originally done by the psychedelic rock band Bicicletas, completely done in Spanish. I've never actually heard the original song, so I can't say how it compares, but it's a nice heavy rocker that musically reminds me of early 80's Scorpions.

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