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L.A. Guns – Hollywood Forever
The first half of 2012 brings a new L.A. Guns studio album. Since there are two versions of the band I suppose we should let you know which version this is. The Phil Lewis and Steve Riley version of L.A. Guns have issued a new studio recording – their first all original material record since 2005’s Tales From The Strip. While there is an existing version that is led by guitarist Tracii Guns it seems likely that he might have thrown in the towel; after years of instability Tracii Guns’ L.A. Guns imploded at the tail end of 2011.
On Hollywood Forever Lewis and Riley reunited with producer Andy Johns who worked with them previously on Waking the Dead, Rips The Covers Off and Tales From The Strip. Johns is best known for his work with Free, Humble Pie, Van Halen, Cinderella and Joe Satriani among others. While not a bombastic sounding album by any means, the majority of effort was placed in crafting songs with big hooks and infectious melodies. Hollywood Forever continues in the tradition of L.A. Guns post Man In The Moon when the sound is more contemporary hard rock than the sleazy sound that landed L.A. Guns on the map. Phil Lewis’s vocal sounds great on Hollywood Forever. Kudos to guitarist Stacey Blades for his fantastic solos and memorable riffs. His effort helped this album tremendously.
Unfortunately for those of us that are hoping for L.A. Guns to look back to their roots, they didn’t on this album – not completely anyway. At this stage in their career it’s unlikely they ever will completely. So while their contemporaries are making “vintage” sounding albums, L.A. Guns continue to press forward and stay the course with the sound that they’ve been utilizing for over a decade although there are glimpses of the sound of old. With 14 tracks Hollywood Forever drags along at times, mainly with the mid-tempo stuff or the ballads. The strongest 10 tracks would have sufficed – instead there are 14 which increases the chance of filler. The standouts on Hollywood Forever are the title track “Hollywood Forever,” which could have been taken from Hollywood Vampires, “Vine St. Shimey,” is vintage L.A. Guns that could have been taken from the Cocked and Loaded sessions, “Venus Bomb” is a fast paced, gritty track that will have you thinking of the band’s debut album, “Dirty Black Night,” has a great riff, furious solo and a heavy groove, “Queenie” is a bluesy rocker that works to Lewis’ strengths – it’s probably one of the strongest things L.A. Guns has done in the past decade. There’s also an interesting cover of “Arana Negara,” originally done by the psychedelic rock band Bicicletas, completely done in Spanish.
So, while Hollywood Forever doesn’t knock it out of the park, it’s a “very good” record and I look forward to hearing Phil Lewis & Co. break in some of the new exciting songs.
Deadline Music 2012
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