L.A. Guns – Hollywood Forever
Released on June 5, 2012 (Deadline/Cleopatra Records)
01. Hollywood Forever
02. You Better Not Love Me
03. Eel Pie
04. Sweet Mystery
06. Vine St. Shimmy
07. Dirty Black Night
08. Underneath The Sun
10. Crazy Tango
11. Venus Bomb
12. I Won’t Play
13. Requiem (Hollywood Forever)
14. Arana Negra (Black Spider)
Phil Lewis – vocals
Stacey Blades – guitar
Scotty Griffin – bass
Steve Riley – drums
Kelly Nickels – bass and backing vocals
Produced by Andy Johns.
The first half of 2012 brings us a new L.A. Guns studio album — and since there have been two versions of the band I suppose we should let you know which one this is. The Phil Lewis and Steve Riley version of L.A. Guns is behind this new studio recording — their first all original material record since 2005’s Tales From The Strip. While there has been another L.A. Guns, led by guitarist Tracii Guns, it seems likely that he might have thrown in the towel — because years of instability led to their implosion at the tail end of 2011.
On Hollywood Forever, Lewis and Riley reunited with producer Andy Johns — who worked with them on previous albums Waking The Dead, Rips The Covers Off and Tales From The Strip — and is best known for his work with Free, Humble Pie, Van Halen, Cinderella and Joe Satriani among others.
While not a bombastic sounding album by any means, the majority of effort was placed in crafting songs with big hooks and infectious melodies. Hollywood Forever continues in the tradition of L.A. Guns‘ post Man In The Moon material, where the sound is more contemporary hard rock than the classic sleaze that landed them on the map. Phil Lewis‘ vocals sound great on Hollywood Forever, and kudos to guitarist Stacey Blades for his fantastic solos and memorable riffs — his effort helped this album tremendously.
Unfortunately for those of us that were hoping for L.A. Guns to look back on their roots, they didn’t on this album — not completely anyway. At this stage in their career it’s unlikely they ever will completely, so while their contemporaries are making ‘vintage’ sounding albums L.A. Guns continue to press forward and stay the course with the sound that they’ve been utilizing for over a decade. There are glimpses of the sound of old, but with 14 tracks Hollywood Forever drags along at times — mainly with the mid-tempo stuff and the ballads. The strongest 10 songs would have sufficed, but by adding extras they increased the chance of filler.
The standouts on Hollywood Forever are the title track, which could have been taken from Hollywood Vampires, “Vine St. Shimey”, a vintage L.A. Guns effort that could have evolved from on the Cocked & Loaded sessions, “Venus Bomb”, a fast-paced and gritty track that will have you thinking of the band’s debut album, “Dirty Black Night”, which has a great riff, furious solo and a heavy groove to it, and “Queenie”, a bluesy rocker that works to Lewis‘ strengths — it’s probably one of the best things L.A. Guns has done in the past decade. There’s also an interesting cover of “Arana Negara”, originally done by the psychedelic rock band Bicicletas, that is completely done in Spanish.
While Hollywood Forever doesn’t knock it out of the park, it’s a very good record and I look forward to hearing Phil Lewis and company break in some of the exciting new songs.
www.laguns.net – www.facebook.com/officialLAGuns – www.cleorecs.com
Reviewed by Ruben Mosqueda for Sleaze Roxx, May 2012
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