Category Archives: L.A. Guns

THE L.A. GUNS – American Hardcore

The L.A. Guns – American Hardcore (1996, CMC International Records)

1. “F.N.A.” … 0:21
2. “What I’ve Become” … 3:37
3. “Unnatural Act” … 4:10
4. “Give” … 3:16
5. “Don’t Pray” … 4:07
6. “Pissed” … 4:01
7. “Mine” … 3:35
8. “Kevorkian” … 4:47
9. “Hey World” … 5:01
10. “Next Generation” … 2:33
11. “Hugs And Needles” … 3:08
12. “I Am Alive” … 18:51

Chris Van Dahl – Lead Vocals
Tracii Guns – Guitar, Keyboard, Backing Vocals
Johnny Crypt – Bass, Backing Vocals
Steve Riley – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals

Producer: The L.A. Guns & Denis Degher

Yikes, what a difference from the days of Cocked & Loaded! American Hardcore is generally to be considered the worst album from L.A. Guns. Or should I say the worst album from The L.A. Guns? The band was really going for an image overhaul at this point in their career abandoning their traditional sleazy pop metal sound like rats fleeing sinking ship.

Just take a look at the album’s cover. With addition of “the” to their name, I guess it does make the group seem a bit more dangerous in conjunction with the album art. If I had never heard of this band before and picked this album up when it was released in 1996, I probably would have thought this was gangsta rap! Luckily, Tracii doesn’t chase that trend but along with new lead singer and ex-Cherry St. vocalist Chris Van Dahl (having replaced Phil Lewis) the Guns go for a much darker, heavier alternative vibe that sometimes comes across like Black Label Society, Marilyn Manson or Rob Zombie. Hilariously, All Music Guide refers to this album as a return to the band’s “hair metal heyday” then calls it a “standard pop-metal” release that apes KISS, Aerosmith, Motley Crue and Led Zeppelin. Um… WHAT !!

Honestly, the album isn’t too bad. It’s heavy metal, it’s alternative, it’s angry and while none of those terms typically bring to mind L.A. Guns, it’s not half bad if you’re in the right frame of mind. Chris Van Dahl actually has a decent voice for this type of music. He does the whole deep, guttural screaming thing well.

I have to wonder the point of keeping the L.A. Guns name though. Tracii was obviously taking a desperate stab at relevancy yet was holding onto a name associated with the ‘80s (the ‘80s were sooooo lame in the mid ‘90s) in order to pull in the few fans this band had at the time. He was trying to have his cake and eat it too. He should’ve just gone one step further and renamed the band. This project might’ve been better received.

Further adding the the album’s weirdness is the final track “I Am Alive”. The song ends at 6:57 and there’s nothing but silence until about the 17 minute mark where there’s some weird scene playing out with violins, prison guards talking and then some murderer gets the electric chair and we hear him screaming.

Highlights: “What I’ve Become”, “Unnatural Act”, “Don’t Pray”, “Mine”, “Hey World” (Phil Lewis’ version, AKA – “the real one”) (Tracii Guns’ version)

L.A. GUNS – L.A. Guns

L.A. Guns – L.A. Guns (1988, PolyGram Records/Vertigo Records)

1. “No Mercy” … 2:47
2. “Sex Action” … 3:42
3. “One More Reason” … 3:07
4. “Electric Gypsy” … 3:25
5. “Nothing To Lose” … 4:14
6. “Bitch Is Back” … 2:53
7. “Cry No More” … 1:18
8. “One Way Ticket” … 4:20
9. “Hollywood Tease” … 2:52
10. “Shoot For Thrills” … 4:30
11. “Down In The City” … 3:56

Phil Lewis – Lead Vocals
Tracii Guns – Lead Guitar
Mick Cripps – Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Kelly Nickels – Bass, Harmonica, Whistle, Backing Vocals
Steve Riley – Drums (credited but did not play)

Additional Musicians:
Nickey “Beat” Alexander – Drums
Alan Jones – Sax
Paul Kaufman – Washboard

Producer: Jim Faraci

I’ve seen some critics call L.A. Guns a combination of Guns N’ Roses and Poison. That’s a pretty good description of them, though I think there’s a dash of Motley Crue as well. The Guns have always seemed to straddle the line between the seedy, sleazy life that GNR wrote about and the sex & party world of glam metal poster boys Poison. It makes for some good rock ‘n’ roll and L.A. Guns have never fully gotten the respect, success and credit that they should have despite having two platinum albums in their catalog (this one and Cocked & Loaded)… They should’ve sold more!

Anyway, this a really good debut. Phil Lewis rocks, guitars are great (Tracii also does not get the respect he should), there’s plenty of sleaze and fun for everyone! But the band has a softer side — there’s “Cry No More”, a pretty instrumental, to break up the album and it leads into the ballad “One Way Ticket”.

“Sex Action” was a small hit for the band, but I tend to think that’s an overrated song. It’s a good song, but I’ve often seen it mentioned as a LAG fave but I think there’s plenty of other songs here that overshadow it. “One More Reason” is my favorite from the disc. Cocked & Loaded is regarded as the quintessential L.A. Guns release. That album is a bit more catchy and melodic, but this one is heavier. I like them both equally.

Original LAG drummer Nicky “Beat” Alexander played on the album, but it was Steve Riley (coming over from W.A.S.P.) who got the album credit and his face in the band photo as he joined the band just before the album was released. Most of these songs were written with L.A. Guns’ previous singer Paul Black. Maybe that’s why Phil was able to get “Hollywood Tease” (from his previous band Girl) on the album?

Picked this up online for about $6. Definitely worth the cash. The cover is really cool too — you’ve got guns, a skull and a Hollywood night in the background. The art was done by Tyler. I wonder if he’s ever done anything else in the hair metal arena?

Highlights: “No Mercy”, “Sex Action”, “One More Reason”, “Electric Gypsy”, “One Way Ticket”, “Shoot For Thrills”

L.A. GUNS – Tales from the Strip

L.A. Guns – Tales from the Strip (2005, Shrapnel Records)

1. “It Don’t Mean Nothing” … 5:07
2. “Electric Neon Sunset” … 4:41
3. “Gypsy Soul” … 3:04
4. “Original Sin” … 4:25
5. “Vampire” … 4:22
6. “Hollywood’s Burning” … 3:44
7. “6.9 Earthshaker” … 4:07
8. “Rox Baby Girl” … 4:12
9. “Crazy Motorcycle” … 4:20
10. “Skin” … 3:11
11. “Shame” … 4:53
12. “Resurrection” … 3:46
13. “Amanecer” … 3:13
14. (Can’t Give You) Anything Better Than Love” … 4:45

Phil Lewis – Lead Vocals
Stacey Blades – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Adam Hamilton – Bass, Backing Vocals
Steve Riley – Drums, Backing Vocals

Produced by: Andy Johns

When Tracii Guns jumped at the chance to form Brides of Destruction with Nikki Sixx in late 2002, the rest of L.A. Guns decided they weren’t going to sit around and wait until Guns turned his attention back to the band he had originally formed. The band rebounded by selecting ex-Roxx Gang guitarist Stacey Blades to step in for Tracii Guns (They brought a knife to a gunfight?) and releasing the covers album Rips the Covers Off in 2004.

With this album, they released their first slab of original post-Tracii material and it stands up quite well. The absence of Tracii hurts, but Blades jumped right into the creative process and every song was written by the band as a whole (and isn’t that how it SHOULD be?).

If this is how L.A. Guns is going to sound without Tracii, I think they’re doing just fine.  I must have had a lot going on in my life when this first came out, because I didn’t give it an extensive listen but this album rocks! Phil Lewis is still one of rock’s vocalists and this is L.A. Guns churning out the same solid L.A. sleaze they’ve been doing since their 1988 debut, and they’ve retained that modern/old school sound Waking The Dead had. So, c’mon, guys– when’s the next album coming out?

The one thing that I found humorous about this album is that it’s a concept album about that world-famous Sunset Strip. Is that really much of a concept? Isn’t that the dominant theme of practically every hair metal album released in the 80s?

It’s sad to not see Tracii in the “real” L.A. Guns. Especially after his final work in the band was the awesome Waking The Dead, which was a great blend of old school Guns and modern hard rock. To me, it seems like the second chance at stardom went to his head and he decided L.A. Guns, his own band, was beneath him. Karma got him in the end though because Nikki himself ditched Brides for a better gig by reuniting the original Motley Crue and now Tracii is stuck with his own unofficial version of L.A. Guns, which seems to change members by the month. I’m sure he’ll eventually reunite with Phil & Steve, but when will so many of these “80s” rockers realize they’re better off working together than feuding together?

Highlights: “It Don’t Mean Nothing”, “Electric Neon Sunset”, “Original Sin”, “Vampire”, “Hollywood’s Burning”, “Crazy Motorcyle”, “(Can’t Give You) Anything Better Than Love” (Phil Lewis’ version, AKA – “the real one”) (Tracii Guns’ version)

L.A. GUNS – Cocked & Loaded

L.A. Guns – Cocked & Loaded (1989, Vertigo Records/Polydor Records)

1. “Letting Go” … 1:22
2. “Slap in the Face” … 3:54
3. “Rip and Tear” … 4:11
4. “Sleazy Come Easy Go” … 4:01
5. “Never Enough” … 4:10
6. “Malaria” … 5:22
7. “The Ballad of Jayne” … 4:30
8. “Magdalaine” … 6:05
9. “Give a Little” … 3:29
10. “I’m Addicted” … 1:51
11. “17 Crash” … 3:39
12. “Showdown (Riot on Sunset)” … 3:18
13. “Wheels of Fire” … 4:56
14. “I Wanna Be Your Man” … 3:36

Phil Lewis – Vocals
Tracii Guns – Guitar
Mick Cripps – Guitar
Kelly Nickels – Bass
Steve Riley – Drums

Produced by: Tom Werman, Duane Baron, John Purdell

Another great find in the used CD section during my late-90s rummaging for any and all hair band CDs. I picked this one up at Turtles Music/Wherehouse Music. They had a decent used section, but were even more of a ripoff than a major chain like FYE when it came to new releases (or even older releases).

Anyway, this is an essential album for any hair metal fans. It’s arguably L.A. Guns’ best with all the right amounts of swagger, attitude, and a cool loose rock ‘n’ roll feel that combines Guns ‘N Roses and Motley Crue. This is the kinda album you wanna hear playing while sitting in a smoke-filled tattoo parlor getting inked up at 1AM by a hot busty chick.

The initial hook for me with this album was “The Ballad of Jayne”. I’m a huge sucker for hair ballads and this is one of the best. “Never Enough” is another great song and one of my favorites from the Guns.

“I Wanna Be Your Man” was bonus track for the CD version of the album.

Highlights: “Rip and Tear”, “Never Enough”, “Malaria”, “The Ballad of Jayne”, “Magdalaine”, “Give a Little” (Phil Lewis’ version, AKA – “the real one”) (Tracii Guns’ version)

L.A. GUNS – Waking the Dead

L.A. Guns – Waking the Dead (2002, Spitfire Records)

Track Listing:
1.  “Don’t Look At Me That Way” … 4:00
2 . “Ok, Let’s Roll” … 3:54
3.  “Waking The Dead” … 3:23
4.  “Revolution” … 3:26
5.  “The Ballad” … 5:21
6.  “Frequency” … 4:38
7.  “Psychopathic Eyes” … 3:04
8.  “Hellraisers Ball” … 3:23
9.  “City Of Angels” … 3:39
10.  “Don’t You Cry” … 4:22

Phil Lewis – Vocals
Tracii Guns – Guitar
Adam Hamilton – Bass
Steve Riley – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Ricky Beck Mahler – Guitar (“The Ballad”, “Call Of The Wild”)

Produced by: Andy Johns

I’ve never been a huge L.A. Guns fan. I mean, they’re okay, nothing against them, but outside of picking up a used copy of Cocked & Loaded in the late 90s, I never gave anything else a try (though I’ve been tempted to get their debut every now and then).

I had heard good things about Waking the Dead though and I believe I bought it a few months after it’s release. What a great hard rock album. It’s not a nostalgic trip, but it still retains that Guns sound while still sounding like a current release. I played this album nonstop for months and still listen to it occasionally. My first extensive listen was on the run from one of the hurricanes that was hitting northwest Florida in 2002.

“OK, Let’s Roll” is easily my favorite song here and it’s based on Flight 93 from 9/11. It’s a great hard rock song with a very emotional story.

Unfortunately, this was Tracii Guns’ last album with the group before doing the Brides of Destruction thing and then eventually going on tour with his own version of L.A. Guns, that runs separately from this group. Shame too, because the lack of Tracii’s input from the next original studio album definitely hurt the quality.

Highlights: “Don’t Look at Me That Way”, “OK, Let’s Roll”, “Waking the Dead”, “Revolution”, “The Ballad”, “Hellraisers Balls”, “City of Angels”, “Don’t You Cry” (Phil Lewis’ version, AKA – “the real one”) (Tracii Guns’ version)

%d bloggers like this: