Deadline Records, 2012
By Shane Pinnegar
By tapping into their classic sound, L.A. Guns have created one of the best albums of their career in any incarnation.
To clarify, this is Phil Lewis’s L.A. Guns, not the band of the same name featuring Tracii Guns, and “Hollywood Forever” does give some strength to the argument that the singer of a famous band is always gonna have a more recognisable sound than instrumental members.
However, I don’t want to get into a debate about the merit of either band recording and touring under the L.A. Guns moniker – this review is about “Hollywood Forever” and damn, it’s good.
Danger and sleaze drip from the grooves on every song – Lewis is in better voice than ever and Guns’ replacement Stacey Blades is a monstrous riff and solo machine on the six string, making songs like Eel Pie and Burn sound huger than you’d believe.
Highlights are everywhere – the aforementioned Eel Pie has all the swing and bounce and attitude of anything on their 1987 debut, Sweet Mystery is a classic L.A. Guns singalong, Dirty Black Night could also slot comfortably into the masterpiece of raw sleaze that was their debut album.
By the time you get to Underneath The Sun, the transition is complete – L.A. Guns are back with renewed vigour, sporting the sleaze punk attitude they had in their early days but appeared to have misplaced in recent years, most notably on 2004’s disappointing covers album “Rips The Covers Off”.
Talking of attitude, Venus Bomb sees Lewis spitting punk fire over a steamrolling supercharged Chuck Berry stomper while Scotty Griffin and Steve Riley pound out an irrepressible rhythm, and I Won’t Play is bubblegum sleaze at it’s most irresistible.
The title track is a barnstormer, and it’s reprised as the penultimate song in a slower, grindier form before final song Arana Negra (Black Spiders), originally performed by The Bicicletas and performed entirely in Spanish. Lewis even credits his Spanish Language coach on the cover! With a singalonga ba-da-da chorus, a stonking solo from Blades and a good time groove, this is a great way to round out one of the best albums of the year so far!
Review posted 6th June 2012