Review by Monty Sewell for MPM
30 years ago LA Guns prowled the streets of 1980s Los Angeles with enough grease to oil a Harley and dirt smeared grime to fill ‘the Whiskey’.
Now, since their 2016 comeback, Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis stand once again at the helm of that seemingly uncrushable age of hair metal biker rock with their latest release, ‘Checkered Past’.
A good few years of fan confusion were held captive by the various forms LA Guns took that saw members mysteriously shape-shift and even play on other sides of the continent at once. Nevertheless – as we’ve seen time and time again – it’ll always come back to that original duo.
The album opens in a blizzard of rock n roll fury in the form of ‘Cannonball’. It’s unapologetic and nasty with a sneering Lewis reminding us what it means to sweat from the music.
‘Bad Luck Charm’ is the necessary blues fix, lugging its way favourably with a sleazy momentum. It acts as the slight but stout pacifier for ‘Living Right Now’ which hounds its way into the mix. The track lends much to its refined production which allows the fifty-harmony chorus to breath as one, igniting a firepower of stadium style vocals.
But what really separates LA Guns from the general mass of riff-happy mavericks is their ability to sink into the slower tempos without breaking their own.
(Whilst noting Johnny Martin’s beautifully jutting bassline) ‘Get Along’ is more of an acoustic folk rock take on the band’s strengths, edging its way into ‘If It’s Over Now’ with a gentle grace that presents the album as not just a track listing but a well thought out compilation dedicated to taking its listener on a journey.
‘Better Than You’ resuscitates the listener back to a front row seat on the sunset strip before ‘Knock Me Down’ harks back to the early days of LA Guns. The track has essences of their 1989 ‘Rip And Tear’, oozing with self confidence as they swing their way down the road of middle-finger-to-the-sky cleansing.
The final chapter of ‘Checkered Past’ is a four track delivery with as much appetite for hard-earned crowd satisfaction as the rest. ‘Dog’ strips the years gone by as Lewis sneers out ‘Don’t be a dog for the money!’, relishing in the bygone attitude of the band’s initial years. On a softer tone, ‘Let You Down’ pulls upon the modern strings of ethereal sonics before jumping on the hard riffing home run with ‘That Ain’t Why’ and ‘Physical Itch’.
This seemingly final incarnation of La Guns shows no signs of slowing down or dropping their standards. Fierce and unforgiving, the band pour out their all and it’s back-combingly brilliant.
Bad Luck Charm
Living Right Now
If It’s Over Now
Better Than You
Knock Me Down
Let You Down
That Ain’t Why
Total length: 0.44.48
Ace Von Johnson
From the album CHECKERED PAST. Buy or Stream: https://orcd.co/checkeredpast