Oft-considered amongst Hollywood rock royalty, riotous sleaze insurgents LA Guns came spitting and snarling out of that infamous Sunset Strip scene of the mid 80s that also bore Guns n’ Roses, Motley Crue, Poison, Ratt et al.; their illegitimate kith and kin.
The Guns’ initial releases – 88’s eponymous debut, 89’s ‘Cocked & Loaded’ and ‘Hollywood Vampires’ two years later – achieved a relative degree of success but always in the shadow of the aforementioned; more princes less kings perhaps.
Since then the band has been dogged by numerous changes to the lineup and even two versions performing and recording under the LA Guns name for a period of time.
There is, however, life in this rock n’ roll dog as ‘Renegades’, the 13th studio release from the Guns, ably demonstrates.
The current lineup features drummer Steve Riley and bassist Kelly Nickels both of whom played alongside Tracii Guns, Mick Cripps and Phil Lewis; in what is widely considered the ‘classic’ Guns quintet.
Riley and Nickels have recruited former Ratt bassist Scott Griffin on lead six-string duties with vocalist / rhythm guitarist Kurt Frolich completing the quartet that have brought forward this tempting morsel.
Recent single ‘Crawl’ kickstarts proceedings with Frolich’s sneering vocals proclaiming ‘Everything about you makes me want to crawl’ accompanied by buzz-saw licks from Griffin sturdily constructed upon a solid foundation provided by the rhythm section of Riley and Nickels.
This opening salvo is followed by ‘Why Ask Why’ that continues to plough a similar furrow; one that conjures up low-slung guitars appetisingly coupled with bourbon by the double in a haze-filled LA drinking den.
‘Well Oiled Machine’, which recently gained a cover placement on Spotify’s esteemed ‘Hard Rock’ playlist, keeps affairs, quite appropriately, motoring along; diving down a highway chock full of sleazy innuendo.
A shift up in gears, next, presents the listener with the anthemic ‘Lost Boys’; a well crafted tale of the outsider versus society. Comtemplate the thought of Crue and Jovi, in their prime, giving forth offspring and you’re heading in the direction of the right ballpark.
A catchy chorus most ably delivered by Frolich, alongside four and a half minutes of barbed six-string hooks set free by Griffin.
Power ballad ‘You Can’t Walk Away’ is the gentler side of The Guns with a chorus tips a knowing nod and winking eye to Crosby, Stills & Nash’s ‘Our House’. This will have the lighters, or whatever the 21st century digital equivalent is, aloft for sure.
Battering the front door down ‘Witchcraft’ gatecrashes the party in blustering fashion as The Guns continue to fire on all cylinders. ‘All That You Are’ continues the hard rocking with a surefire beat and a swaggering pace that could see this track become a live favourite.
Acoustic ballad ‘Would’ slows things down a touch before the album’s final couple of tracks in a style that Poison and Extreme hit the nail on the head with.
The Guns make a decent enough job that will keep their faithful content; at a shade over four and a half minutes this is one of the longer tracks presented here and adds another element to the album.
Title track ‘Renegades’ increases the momentum back into top gear with some style. With a cracking solo from Griffin layered over a solid, metronomic beat delivered by sticksman Riley woven with Frolich’s rasping vocals that conjure up images leather-clad ‘outlaws’ riding out on v-twin engined cruisers. ‘Gypsies on the open road’ indeed; a standout moment personally.
Closing Crue-inspired track ‘Don’t Wanna Know’ leaves a lasting hard rocking impression before it’s sudden ending; ensuring that this offering ends on a high note. Clocking in at just under 40 minutes the album that The Guns have delivered is, overall, a competent, solid affair with a few stand-outs contained.
‘Renegades’ is released, via Golden Robot Records on 13th November.
Review by Gary Spiller for MPM