A blast from a sleazier past
L.A Guns are a good example of an 'of the moment' band. Their emergence into the mainstream in the late 80s was more due to a bandwagon trend of glam/sleaze metal, arguably spearheaded by the likes of Motley Crue and Hanoi Rocks. Their first two albums, 'L.A Guns' and 'Cocked and Loaded' were both a critical and commercial success, the subsequent years have been dogged by poor albums and endless line up changes. These are typical signs of a band that had really lost their way and trying survive in a music industry where their relevance has been forgotten and the genre they were tagged onto died away many many years ago. For all their internal tribulations, L.A Guns kept plugging away releasing regular albums until we come to their latest release, 'Live and Dangerous: Live from Hollywood.'
It's worth point out that, due to the merry-go-round of band members, there are two versions of L.A Guns treading the boards at the moment. The first version is headed by vocalist Phil Lewis, L.A Guns' stalwart singer. The second contains the talented Tracii Guns and L.A Guns' singer prior to Phil Lewis, Paul Black (Phil replaced Paul just before the release of their debut album. Paul writing a lion share of material for the debut album as well). This recording is of the first version of the band, and judging by the crowd reaction in between the tracks, L.A Guns are far from their former glories but can still pack out a club or two.
The set list of this live recording is quite rightly centred around the bands most commercial releases, and for an old rocker like me it was a great trip down memory lane. I've not heard such great tunes as 'Sex Action' and 'One More Reason' for over a decade, and the more cuts that graced my stereo, such as 'Electric Gypsy' and 'No Mercy', I finally remembered what a great album their debut was. 'Never Enough' and 'Rip and Tear' also hinted at the long forgotten quality of their 2nd disc. I was enjoying these classic sleazy songs but something was niggling at the back of my mind. Although they are great songs there were of a different time. I soon lost patience with this release because after the nostalgia trip had ended there was little left in this disc that kept my interest. Although the production has a raw energy to it, it has that notoriously messy live quality about it. The guitars are edgy, but there's little in the way of bottom end, and it takes Phil Lewis, and his rather unique voice, about four songs to get warmed up.
How many L.A Guns fans there are in this world is anyone's guess. Whether or not they'll purchase this release remains to be seen, but it's nothing the L.A Guns fanbase won't have on a different format. The band has already released two previous live albums and six compilations, so how necessary is another collection of their classic material? It's probably not necessary at all, it's another attempt to get the most out of those classic songs, and as a trip down memory lane it serves its purpose well, but as an attempt to gain new fans, and perhaps tap into Motley Crue's incredible come back or Guns n Roses' gagging fanbase, it doesn't really live up to the challenge. I guess it's up to the band to realise their time was had and to keep plugging away in the US clubs, or dig deep, while they still have the ability to release records, and produce material that is both cutting edge and can appeal to the old rockers of this world. Hell, if Tokyo Dragons can do it, then I'm sure L.A Guns can.