COCKED AND LOADED
Released on August 22, 1989 (Island Def Jam)
On August 22, 1989, L.A. Guns unleashed Cocked And Loaded upon the world. Featuring hits like “Rip And Tear” and “The Ballad of Jayne”, the album peaked at #38 on Billboard’s Hot 200 and charted for 56 weeks. In less than a year, Cocked And Loaded was certified gold in the US, with over 500,000 units sold.
Cocked And Loaded lands directly in the middle of my own personal exploration of sleaze metal, so yeah, I have a soft spot for it. I rank this album right up there with Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction and Skid Row‘s self-titled debut. Even Dr. Feelgood had minimal impact on me compared to this. I’ll add that on my 90 minute Maxell tape, the flip side was Long Cold Winter by Cinderella, so needless to say, the cassette rarely left my deck.
Some would say the album is a tad overproduced… too slick for the material. That may be, but boy does it sound beautiful. Every riff, bass note, hi-hat flourish pops hard. I have always contended that Extreme’s Pornograffiti was one of the best productions of the era, but Cocked And Loaded sure comes close. I love how the album kicks off with “Letting Go.” At just over a minute, the track tells you exactly what to expect over the next 55 minutes. Seamlessly mixing into “Slap In The Face”, the sleaze is dripping out of the speakers. And doesn’t “Rip And Tear” easily rank up there as a defining song of the LA gutter band era? That interlude works beautifully between the guitars and vocals. The way the tempo picks up near the end… wow!
Kelly Nickels’ bass line opening “Sleazy Come, Easy Go” identifies the song as something dirty, but in a fun way. It’s playful with a hint of nasty. I remember the video for “Never Enough” as being a bit pretentious for the time, kinda comparing themselves to The Beatles… but who cares, the song kicks ass on many levels; mostly by being a fun hard rock tune. “Malaria” is a bit Mötley Crüe, but that’s OK. Similarly, “Magdalaine” is a tad White Lion. Not saying they’re bad, but just that I’d passed them by so many times over the years, they were forgotten. “17 Crash” is a killer, and I hear its tempo and style re-created many times in more recent releases by newer bands.
The two songs I skipped over above were so that I could highlight them on their own. “Give A Little” was always a fun stomp that my band would sometimes cover. The song is silly in the sense that back in the day, sometimes bands would take themselves too seriously, even when it was silly. Finally, betraying the over-the-top sleaziness of every other song, “The Ballad of Jayne” is a truly beautiful ballad, from the production to the performance, to the execution. I am in no way a fan of ballads on hard rock albums, but every once in awhile, one hooks me, and “The Ballad of Jayne” has always been a fave of mine.
Cocked And Loaded is an example of a classic pure sleaze album, at a time when pure sleaze albums were a dime a dozen. It has to be in your collection if it isn’t already. That said, sometimes albums have emotional connections that create or destroy perceptions of its value. Some may feel different, and that’s OK. Leave a comment about what you think of Cocked And Loaded!
01. Letting Go
02. Slap In The Face
03. Rip And Tear
04. Sleazy Come Easy Go
05. Never Enough
07. The Ballad of Jayne
09. Give A Little
10. I’m Addicted
11. 17 Crash
12. Showdown (Riot On Sunset)
13. Wheels of Fire
14. I Wanna Be Your Man
Phil Lewis – lead vocals
Tracii Guns – electric, acoustic 12-string guitars, electric coral sitar, theremin, backing vocals
Mick Cripps – electric and acoustic guitars, piano, backing vocals
Kelly Nickels – bass, harmonica, backing vocals
Steve Riley – drums, percussion
Produced by Duane Baron, John Purdell and Tom Werman
Engineered by Duane Baron and John Purdell
Mastered by Howie Weinberg
Reviewed by Metal Mike for Sleaze Roxx, August 2019
L.A. Guns‘ “Rip And Tear” video:
Music video by L.A. Guns performing Rip and Tear. (C) 1989 Universal Records
L.A. Guns‘ “Never Enough” video:
Kick Ass Video!
L.A. Guns‘ “The Ballad of Jayne” video:
Music video by L.A. Guns performing The Ballad Of Jayne. (C) 1989 Universal Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc. #LaGuns #TheBalladOfJayne #Vevo