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Articles Home » 1988 Articles » L A Guns - 1988 L A Guns
L A Guns - 1988 L A Guns

LABEL: Polygram
SERIAL: 834 144-2
YEAR: 1988
CD REISSUE: 2012, Rock Candy Records, CANDY141


LINEUP: Phil Lewis - vocals * Tracii Guns - guitar * Mick Cripps - rhythm guitar * Kelly Nickels - bass * Nickey Alexander - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 No Mercy * 02 Sex Action * 03 One More Reason * 04 Electric Gypsy * 05 Nothing To Lose * 06 Bitch Is Back * 07 Cry No More * 08 One Way Ticket * 09 Hollywood Tease * 10 Shoot For Thrills * 11 Down In The City

In all my years of research on assorted bands I'm not sure I've ever come across one as convoluted as the L.A. Guns. Most are probably aware of the connection to Guns 'N' Roses, with Axl Rose spending time in an embryonic version of the L.A. Guns before they merged with Hollywood Rose to become Guns 'n' Roses in 1985. Thus the band was dormant for a few years until resuscitated by Tracii Guns and original vocalist Paul Black. Somehow Black contrived to be booted from the band, alleging he refused record company pressure to become another Cinderella or Poison. As far as replacements go, Phil Lewis was a great one, having proved his mettle years back with Girl and Torme. Drummer Steve Riley was also absent on the debut, despite appearing on the album artwork, replacing Nickey Alexander after the album's release. This of course would be considered the definitive lineup of the band, which it still is to this day, even after 490 lineup changes and multiple versions of the band.

The Songs
This is by far the best work the band ever did, with nothing coming close some 29 years later. Half of the album was written by Black and has a harder edge than most of their repertoire. The opening pair of 'No Mercy' and 'Sex Action' are as effective as any tracks to open any album, both pushing heavy metal rather than hard rock. This is material more comparable to early W.A.S.P than anything and if they'd played their cards right might even have rivaled Guns 'n' Roses themselves. This is the Sunset Strip in all its glory. 'One Good Reason' has obvious shades of Ratt running through its chorus, with a touch of Motley Crue in the riffs. It's highly accessible and is a classic in my books. Continuing the momentum is 'Electric Gyspy' and its timeless 80's riffs, the energy and attitude clear in every note. The faster 'Nothing To Lose' reverts back to the metallic side and once again is a Black co-write. The swagger of 'Bitch Is Back' is almost unmatched for the 1988 period, hard rock at its sleaziest and heaviest. Acoustic instrumental 'Cry No More' leads into the inevitable ballad, 'One Way Ticket' the culprit. It's adequate, but par for the course seeing it was 1988 after all. A pair of covers follow, including Girl's 'Hollywood Tease' and Sweet Pain's 'Shoot To Thrill.' Both are handled convincingly and could almost be originals if you didn't know better. 'Down In The City' is the best of the non-Black tracks, a raucous tear up which tries to evoke the spirit of the L.A. scene in all its decadence. This album as a whole sums up the period like few others, a magical time.

In Summary
The album was an instant success, which was quickly followed up by 1989's 'Cocked And Loaded.' That was another hit for the band, but predictably by 1991 the wheels began to fall off and the band seems to have been in a state of turmoil ever since. This is the way to remember them however, one of the truly great efforts of a still much missed era, contrary to what anyone else thinks.

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#1 | spawn71 on March 07 2017 19:15:37
The best LA Guns record, at least for me! The attitude of the boys in this one is simply great, but also the songs are excellent: aggressive, raw, full of energy! The follow up 'Cocked and Loaded' is also very good, but lacks the magic of the debut. One of best examples of the sleaze-street metal genre!
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