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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 – 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)


Brides of Destruction – Runaway Brides (2005, Shrapnel Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Aunt Biente” [Instrumental] … 1:09
2. “Lord Of The Mind” … 4:22
3. “Dead Man’s Ruin” … 3:01
4. “Criminal” … 4:12
5. “This Time Around” … 4:02
6. “White Trash” … 3:46
7. “Brothers” … 3:27
8. “Never Say Never” … 5:14
9. “Blown Away” … 2:56
10. “Porcelain Queen” … 4:23
11. “White Horse” … 3:14
12. “Tunnel Of Love” … 4:39
13. “Dimes In Heaven” … 5:11

London LeGrand – Lead Vocals
Tracii Guns – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Scott Sorry – Bass, Backing Vocals
Scot Coogan – Drums, Backing Vocals

Produced by: Andy Johns

One year into B.O.D.’s existence, Tracii Guns was left without the support of Sanctuary Records and Nikki Sixx, who was co-captain (and co-writer) of the Good Ship B.O.D.

Tracii decided to continue with the group while Nikki rushe back to the Motley Crue reunion and this album is definitely hurt by the lack of Nikki’s presence (though he does hold a few co-writing credits here and there). The album is much more serious, darker, and takes on a much more modern rock/metal sound than Here Come the Brides did. It just isn’t as catchy and throws out some of the 80s L.A. Strip sound the previous album had. The haunting instrumental opener “Aunt Biente” sets the mood for the rest of the album and is a good indicator and where they were heading.

It’s not a bad album by any means, it just fails to live up to the potential the band showed with their debut. Again, I think Nikki leaving the band hurt this album and I really would have to liked to have seen Brides at least put on hold for whenever the next Motley down time came up. I don’t blame Nikki though because what would YOU rather do, play clubs or play arenas?

In 2006, the band was put on hold when Tracii Guns (VERY temporarily) joined Quiet Riot. Since then, Tracii has gone on to form his own version of L.A. Guns to compete with the legit Phil Lewis version.

Is the band done? I hope not, but I fear so. I’d like to see them continue in some form, though with the success of SIXX:AM and the revitalized Motley Crue, I highly doubt B.O.D. is of any concern to Nikki. Maybe Tracii can snap out of his current fake L.A. Guns band mindset and decide to do give us something new again and bring London along as well.

The curse of B.O.D. struck again: The Wildhearts‘ Ginger had joined the band as guitarist, even co-writing a handful of songs for this album, but had left by the time recording started.

Highlights: “Aunt Biente”, “Criminal”, “This Time Around”, “Never Say Never”, “Porcelain Queen”, “Dimes in Heaven”

BRIDES OF DESTRUCTION – Here Come the Brides

Brides of Destruction – Here Come the Brides (2004, Sanctuary Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Shut the F*ck Up” … 3:03
2. “I Don’t Care” … 3:21
3. “I Got a Gun” … 3:48
4. “2x Dead” … 5:38
5. “Brace Yourself” … 4:04
6. “Natural Born Killers” … 4:31
7. “Life” … 3:32
8. “Revolution” … 4:37
9. “Only Get So Far” … 5:07

London LeGrand – Lead Vocals
Tracii Guns – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Nikki Sixx – Bass, Backing Vocals
Scot Coogan – Drums, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
John Corabi – Rhythm Guitar
Kris Kohls – Drums

Produced by: Steve Bruno

Brides of Destruction were a “supergroup”, which was put together by Nikki Sixx (while Motley Crue took one of their many breaks) and L.A. Guns’ Tracii Gun. Ex-Motley Crue singer John Corabi was recruited to play guitar and nu-metal band Adema’s Kris Kohls was to be the drummer, but both were out of the band by the time of this album’s release.

I remember London LeGrand catching a lot of flack before the album was even released, with some of the more negative rock/metal sites saying he “sucked” and was a horrible singer. Just not hearing that here. The guy’s voice is fitting this music perfectly, which is a blend of 80s hard rock, punk, power pop, and modern hard rock. I love London’s performance on “I Got a Gun”.

The band never took off though, even though they did manage to get an appearance on The Tonight Show. They chose “Shut the F*ck Up” as their lead single, which was a mistake because it was heavily edited for radio and received very little play. The band even chose to play that song on The Tonight Show and it sounded horrible without them being able to utter that four-letter word.

I remember as soon as the album was released, Nikki was crowing about how much more material they had and that they would be releasing ANOTHER album in 2004, but it never happened. Eventually, Motley came calling again and Nikki ditched the band, though they soldiered on without him and released Runaway Brides in 2005.

This album shows a lot of promise though, I don’t think there’s any filler here and I’ve often wondered what the follow-up album would’ve sounded like if Nikki had remained fully involved.

“Only Get So Far” was originally written by Nikki with Faith Hill & Tim McGraw in mind, but that didn’t pan out. And if anyone still has complaints about London’s voice, they should check out that song as well.

Highlights: “Shut the F*ck Up”, “I Got A Gun”, “2x Dead”, “Brace Yourself”, “Life”, “Only Get So Far”

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)

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