HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Jake E Lee - Retraced

The reclusive Ozzy and Badlands axeman is back making music (but not talking!). And lemme tell ya, there is no more joyous hard rock sound than the grinding, bashing first 16 seconds of this album, Jake conjuring Mountain, Gov't Mule and of course, the torrid Badlands, before ex-Schenker vocalist Chris Logan hollers in all bluesy and transformed from his clean work with Herr Michael. On drums, you've got Aynsley Dunbar and on bass Tim Bogert, something like 80 years of rock experience there in like, 110 years of living. Pity that this is all blues covers, but don't, er, fret, because most of them are heavy and obscure and from classic rock origins, making, again, for a hard rocking Gov't Mule-type experience, or something akin to Voodoo Highway-era Badlands, or the heaviest Free and Humble Pie songs strung together. Jake is reminding me of Richie Kotzen here, and he is inspiring, energetic, vital, right there in the room with you. But just by the nature of things, of listening to CDs, hah!... I'm enjoying this more as a Chris Logan showcase, Logan striking up a number of chameleon-like poses, twanging like Joe on Woman, hoary elsewhere, wailing, growling, beating his chest... he rules. Closes way more than strong with Robin Trower's arcane I Can't Stand It melodies and then Montrose's Rock Candy, rendered in reverse to the rest of the album, modest and precise, Logan smokier than Hagar, Jake playing it safe, making it all about tone.
Rating 8.5

L.A. Guns - Tales From The Strip

Only a peripheral fan during the heyday, hated the same records you all hate, but have a soft spot for Vicious Circle. Then I totally dug both Man On The Moon and Waking The Dead. I became a fan, full-on. However, here I am finding the Tracii Guns-less Gunners a bit lost, less personable, a bit empty. Big, expensive Andy Johns is producing again, but what he does sounds perfect, bright, unremarkable, ProTooled. The cartoon cover art, the situational title... song after song, I ain't hearing those little charming island states of the last couple surprising records. Instead, it's a good garage band slapping down a whole bunch of riff rockers, same power trio arrangement track after track, many cool tunes, some dull. And man, this band sure doesn't have an identity, outside of Phil's voice of course, the Gunners playing Crue one minute, punk the next, Zeppelin after that, maybe a little Hanoi Rocks for good measure. I dunno, this feels like a toy album, where Man On The Moon felt serious.
Rating 6.5

Hard Reviews Page 5