By Bob Nalbandian


Never a big fan of LA Guns I always considered the band as typical, cliche '80s Hollywood-rock. But years later, after the foreseeable demise of Hollywood glam and gutter rock, I listen back to some old Guns records and acknowledge that this band did in fact standout from the droves of Hollywood glam-rubbish that ruled the Sunset Strip in the late '80s. They certainly had some good, catchy rock anthems in their heyday. But when I heard that the band had reformed with only a fraction of their original members (gone is founder Tracci Guns who left the band to join Brides Of Destruction with Nikki Sixx who left that band shortly after to rejoin Motley Crue) and released the ominously titled CD Tales From The Strip one can only suspect that this was yet another lame-ass attempt from yet another Hollywood has-been band scurrilously trying to rekindle their success, right? Wrong! After hearing the opening riff to "It Don't Mean Nothing" it was plainly obvious that this band hasn't lost their integrity, in fact they sound better and hungrier than ever before. LA Guns definitely did it up right on this release. For starters, they made the wise decision to enlist A-list producer Andy Johns to take control of the recording and it definitely paid off. Without any disrespect to Mister Varney and his production skills (hey, I love the production of the first WASP album...) it was a wise decision to have a seasoned veteran like Johns take over the helm. The ironic thing is the fact that Tales From The Strip (sans Tracci) sounds more like LA Guns than their last 4 albums! In fact, this is arguably the best LA Guns album since their debut Cocked And Loaded. What I feel makes this CD so magical is the fact that the band was not only able to recapture, but they revitalize the true spirit of sleazy Hollywood rock'n'roll without sounding overly sappy or nostalgic. Both musically and lyrically this CD combines the enthusiasm and decadence of '80s hard rock with the raw-power, energy and grit of modern metal. But unlike today's arrogant, whiny nu-rock crap, LA Guns portray the (once-considered) mandatory elements of good classic hard rock music - talent, melody, catchy lyrical hooks and memorable riffs, and tasty lead-guitar work. Vocalist Phil Lewis also sounds better than ever, he truly seems to have mastered his craft over the years reminiscing the soulful grittiness of the likes of Steve Marriott yet he doesn't refrain from letting loose on tracks like "Skin" where he wails like a banshee atop a killer bass-heavy groove. Other standout tracks include; "Electric Neon Sunset," "Original Sin," and the semi-ballad "Vampire," a track that admittedly portrays the nostalgic sappiness that typifies this genre, but as you well know, every '80s hard rock band has to have at least one cheesy power-ballad on their CD! Being a part of the Hollywood scene back in the day I can sincerely say that this song really hits home and takes you on a trip through memory lane. Musically the band sounds superb, the rhythm section of (former WASP) drummer Steve Riley and bassist Adam Hamilton is brilliant and new guitarist Stacey Blades spews out some incredibly tasteful, yet wicked leads that quite honestly puts Tracci to shame. All in all, Tales From The Strip is a fantastic hard rock CD that truly captures the essence of great, classic Hollywood Sleaze.

Shockwaves CD REVIEWS ISSUE 13 Page 3