L.A. Guns are an American hard rock band from Los Angeles who formed in 1987. They have a complex history but basically, and perhaps most noteworthy, Tracii Guns left to merge with fellow Los Angeles group Hollywood Rose to form Guns N' Roses. L.A. Guns was reformed, going on to achieve some chart success and experience a multitude of lineup changes. After more than a decade apart, Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis were reunited in the band last year, exhibiting a newfound energy and releasing arguably their most critically-appraised album. The new live album 'Made In Milan' is released 23rd March 2018, available with accompanying DVD to relive the night in your on living room.
This live album starts off with a couple from the self-titled debut album; 'No Mercy' and 'Electric Gypsy'. 'No Mercy' is an upbeat stomper of a track, exciting hardcore sleaze with an A grade guitar solo and fantastic scream. 'Electric Gypsy' is chock-full of killer riffs, a drum and bass from down a deep, dark well somewhere, and a real anthemic feel as the band provide a chanting backing vocal; "Show no mercy!" Both are real crowd pleasers and warm the audience up nicely. Also from the debut album, the live album features 'Sex Action' - classic sleaze with a deep beat to get down and dirty to; "Here she comes, never get enough of that sex action" - and 'One More Reason' - a track to jump up and down to, with a screaming guitar. All exemplary sleaze prototypes.
'Killing Machine', from the 1994 'Vicious Circle' album, which was described by some as focused on quantity rather than quality, is an early-GnR style track with a screamed chorus. It's not one of my favourites but it would certainly work a live audience into a frenzy! Despite the arguable lack of focus of that album, there are some really good tracks on Vicious Circle but for me this isn't one of the best.
In 'Bow Solo/Over The Edge' Tracii Guns does in fact play guitar with a bow, before leading into the track 'Over The Edge' from 1991's 'Hollywood Vampires' album. If you haven't seen the band live, the bow solo may be lost in translation on an album but believe me it's a wonderful experience. And you can always check out the DVD or innumerable videos of it online. 'Over The Edge', which was used in the film Point Break, is a throbbing, melodic track packed with 5 star music so good I could actually weep. Also from that album is 'Kiss My Love Goodbye' which features some jaw-dropping guitar work from what was a slightly mellower and more commercially-attractive period for the band.
'Speed' is an exciting, fast-paced track with grinding guitars, from The Missing Piece album of 2017, which makes the crowd go wild. This has a Deep Purple feel, complete with a lyric "borrowed" from 'Highway Star', and is raw and powerful. This is the only track from that album that features in the set which is a shame as it was a strong album. There is only one song from the 'Waking The Dead' album too; 'Don’t Look At Me That Way', with a beautifully recognisable guitar intro and - wow - that scream at the end.
If you’ve seen the band play live you'll recognise 'Jelly Jam' as the instrumental with bluesy guitar and exquisite shredding - #guitarporn. While the two most important people in L.A. Guns have got to be Guns and Lewis, Michael Grant is one of the best live performers that I have seen, he’s rock star through and through. And I love that ‘Jelly Jam’ features both guitarists in a fusion of old meets new.
There are 4 tracks from the 1989 'Cocked & Loaded' album on this live offering; 'Malaria', 'Never Enough', 'The Ballad Of Jayne' and 'Rip And Tear'. 'Malaria' reaches through the speakers and grabs me, a masterpiece of sleaze perfection with impressively showy guitars and iconic lyrics; "She's malaria, she's malaria, swamp fever, water black as mud". This is one of my favourite Guns tracks and I love to hear it, either recorded or live. It’s a track with balls of steel that always gets the crowd excited. I can feel this coming through this live album and this performance of the song is exceptional. 'Never Enough', which features towards the end of the set, is a dirty rock n roll track, again with a retro GnR style intro, packed with soaring guitars and a deliciously gritty yet pristine vocal.
To close the album (and the show from which the album came), we have 'Ballad of Jayne' followed by 'Rip And Tear' - both quintessential Guns tracks. ‘Ballad Of Jayne’ raises the roof with the crowd audibly singing along throughout. Finishing the collection is 'Rip And Tear', which always pulls out all the stops, ensuring the audience is left with nothing but a good time with its chugging roar. The perfect end to the album and these guys nailed it as usual with a set full of seminal sleaze classics.
As live albums go, especially if you're a fan of L.A. Guns or glam and sleaze rock, this is one of the better ones. I'm not always a fan of live albums but if you’ve seen the band live, and they are as impressive and memorable as Guns, this is the perfect reminder of a great night out seeing a true rock n roll great. The performance is slick, not too far removed from the recorded versions, the sound great and the experience is awesome. Buy it or I'll send Tracii round…
Bow Solo/Over The Edge
One More Reason
Kiss My Love Goodbye
Don’t Look At Me That Way
The Ballad Of Jayne
Rip And Tear
Tracii Guns - Guitar
Phil Lewis- Vocals and rhythm guitar
Michael Grant - Guitar
Shane Fitzgibbon - Drums
Johnny Martin - Bass and backing vocals
NB. Announced 7.3.18 that Michael Grant has left the band