Man In The Moon

L.A. Guns

Spitfire Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


L.A. Guns were an example of how hype could make a band in the late '80s - and how it could just as easily break a band. Riding on the ties to Guns 'N Roses (guitarist Tracii Guns was once a member), and the strength of songs like "Never Enough" from Cocked And Loaded, the group earned their place in the minds of hard rock fans.

Then, almost as suddenly as their rise, the bottom fell out for L.A. Guns. Changes in people's musical tastes and changes within the band all helped to push the group to the border of "where are they now" status, even while they continued to slug it out with new releases.

I fell away from L.A. Guns quickly, and have never spent a lot of time catching up with their discography. That all might change, though, thanks to their latest release Man In The Moon. Featuring 80 percent of the original lineup (singer Phil Lewis and keyboardist Mick Cripps return for this album) and a new approach to the music that made them famous, this disc reflects a band who have lived through some major musical changes and have not only survived, but thrived.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

If you like your guitar chords crunchy, Guns does not disappoint throughout Man In The Moon - but what is notable is that the group doesn't always go for the hard rock/heavy metal jugular. It's not the riffs that power these songs - it's the songwriting. (Imagine! A metal band that features songs! Who woulda thunk it?) Man In The Moonis a surprisingly mature album from this band - even though there still are occasional flashes to their past.

"Spider's Web" is an example of how a band can retain their hard rock prowess while working within the boundaries of a song that has an absolute groove to it. The verses and the chorus have a wonderful interplay, and Lewis almost tries to tone down his vocal delivery to match the musical output of his bandmates. Whatever the case, it works, and it works well.

Likewise, "Don't Call Me Crazy" is an absolutely beautiful ballad that gives L.A. Guns the chance to be introspective on both their songwrtiting and their musicianship. It would have been one thing for Guns to have tried to raise the mood with a killer solo; instead, he practices moderation, and maintains the mood of the song. Well done!

Most of Man In The Moon features a side of L.A. Guns that many people probably never thought existed. The only drawback to this is that often no one instrument stands out. I can understand Guns maybe wanting to pull back a little bit in the mix, allowing his bandmates to share the spotlight. But I'd have done simple things, like bumped Lewis up a notch or two in the mix.

There are but two mistakes on Man In The Moon. "Good Thing" tries to create a Lenny Kravitz-like vibe, and it just never takes off for the band. And while "Fast Talkin' Dream Dealer" is a decent enough song, I would question the obscenities in it. I have no problem with the words being used, mind you - but it sometimes feels like the band put this particular word in not only because they could, but because they wanted a link to their early image. All it does is distracts from the whole picture of what could have been a great song.

If you once were a fan of L.A. Guns and you fell away for one reason or another, Man In The Moon is the disc that should get you interested in this band once again. L.A. Guns might have passed their time on the red carpet, but if this disc proves anything, it shows that this band is screaming for your attention with a high-quality disc. Go ahead, listen to them. You'll be glad you did.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 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 Spitfire Records, and is used for informational purposes only.