2005 sees LA Guns releasing “Tales From The Strip,” their first studio CD since Tracii Guns’ much publicized defection to Brides Of Destruction. (The much-hyped “all-star” band featuring sleaze legend Nikki Sixx) Replacing the guitar hero / founding member / band name-sake Guns would be no easy task, but the band seemed up to the challenge, recruiting former Roxx Gang member Stacey Blades (who debuted on last year’s LA GUNS covers CD, “Rip The Covers Off”)
Hoping not to skip a beat, the band headed back to the studio, once again with famed producer Andy Johns, who was at the helm for their last, highly acclaimed CD, “Waking The Dead.” To keep forward momentum and cater to possibly skeptical fans, the band decided to go back to their roots, striving to make an album in the vein of their classic debut. By in large, they succeeded. What was delivered was a vintage slab of late 80’s sleaze rock, with a raw, stripped back production (Gone are the slick, high-glossed, multi-layered production values of Cocked And Loaded and Hollywood Vampires)
“It Don’t Mean Nothing” opens the disc up on a very promising note, complete with police sirens, rife with swagger and attitude. And what a great hook! Stacey wastes no time stamping the songs with his own pyrotechnics. Phil sounds in fine form, and it’s pretty evident from the get-go, that the band seems content to stick with the formula they’re best at. They’ll be no modern rock, nu-metal here! Just 14 tracks of vintage 80’s cock rock. A concept album of sorts, giving the listener a seedy view into the West Hollywood neon lives of LA Guns.
Another highlight and personal favorite is the autobiographical “Vampire,” cleverly lifting lyrics from throughout the bands history, weaving them into a great, moody and highly memorable track. “Electric Neon Sunset” and “Gypsy Soul” keep the parting rolling, delivering a fantastic groove and providing all the ingredients needed for a proper LAG song. The latter, complete with some fantastic wah-wah soloing.
“Crazy Motorcycle” really picks up the pace, reminding me of “Kill That Girl” from 1991’s “Vicious Circle,” with some killer guitar outro leads. “Shame”, which has been getting a lot of stage time recently when the band toured with WASP, really comes across great live and has the potential to become a set staple for the foreseeable future.
This is not to say there is no filler. “6.9 Earthshaker” is Steve Riley’s attempt at his own “Moby Dick,” and, while his playing seems better than ever, the track doesn’t really go anywhere. Also, the second instrumental, “Amanecer”, sounds suspiciously like Adam Hamilton trying to re-write “God Bless The Children Of The Beast”. Pretty, but pointless.
While “Tales From The Strip” won’t capture any new fans for the band, it’s definitely recommended for all who miss the vintage glory days of LA Guns; maybe not their best, but in good company with “Vicious Circle” and “Waking The Dead.”
- Phil Lewis - Vocals
- Steve Riley - Drums
- Adam Hamilton - Bass
- Stacey Blades - Guitar
- It Don’t Mean Nothing
- Electric Neon Sunset
- Gypsy Soul
- Original Sin
- Hollywood’s Burning
- 6.9 Earthshaker
- Rox Baby Girl
- Crazy Motorcycle
- (Can’t Give You) Anything Better Than Love