L.A. Guns

L.A. Guns

Vertigo / Polygram Records, 1988


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Sometimes, I think I was smarter when I was younger.

You see, there were albums that came out when I was a teenager that I refused to even consider purchasing, even if I had a constant stream of money running through my pockets. (I didn't, of course.) But now that I'm a decade older, I see some of these same albums in the used record stores for a dollar or so, and I immediately snatch them up.

When, oh, when, oh, when will I learn that I knew something then that I refused to recognize now? Take for example the self-titled release from the hard rock quintet L.A. Guns... please. This band proved that the metal explosion that occurred in the mid-'80s was clearly stretching itself thin at times, and these guys were about as musically thin on their first album as Calista Flockhart at a Weight Watchers meeting.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

At the mike you have Phil Lewis, who doesn't sound like he could whip out a powerful vocal line even if you placed his manhood in a hydraulic press. You've got lead guitarist Tracii Guns and rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Mick Cripps, who combined maybe put together two - count 'em, two - solid guitar lines and no killer solos. You've got bassist Kelly Nickels, whose presence just isn't felt on this album. And you've got drummer Steve Riley, who didn't even play a single beat on this album. (Nickey Alexander handled the drum chores.) All I can think is, "Steve, you left W.A.S.P. for this?!?"

Does it seem like I'm being a bit harsh? Just wait until you get into the music. The whole first half of this album has an incredibly poor mix - I mean, if the production value of this disc alone had been improved, maybe I'd have had a rosier picture of the band. But the metal mush that songs like "No Mercy," "Electric Gypsy" and "Sex Action" become... eeewww!

Things don't necessarily improve on the second half. The two-song set "Cry No More" and "One Way Ticket" sounds like a poor man's Great White, only much less convincing in Lewis's vocals. (This is the one area where I will give props to Guns and Cripps's guitar work, though.) "Hollywood Tease" is the first ray of hope the band has, though a weaker than expected chorus and a sudden ending to the song hurt its chances. All I can say is that by the time you get to the album closer "Down In The City," you're ready to jump out the window if only to alleviate the pain.

L.A. Guns probably could have been a better album, with a few major improvements. First, as stated, would have been some real production on this disc; Jim Faraci just fails on this one. Second would have been stronger vocals, though I wonder whether Lewis would have been able to deliver. Third would have been a little more focus on the guitar work - c'mon, Tracii, turn up the amps and shred on that thing, man!

There were hundreds of metal releases in the '80s. Some were good, some were bad. L.A. Guns most definitely qualifies as one of those bad releases that you can't wait to scrape off the bottom of your shoe.

Rating: D-

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Vertigo / Polygram Records, and is used for informational purposes only.