At last Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns are able to put recent unsettling events behind them and do what they know best, write amazing songs. This follow up to the 2019 ‘The Devil You Know’ was created during the lockdown months and takes the band into another chapter of their career. With more soul searching and deeper meaning, the tracks are assembled to take a path through differing emotions. The result on Checkered Past, is eleven episodes of magical writing, that combine to reveal an update on the L.A. Guns story.
You couldn’t get a more electrifying introductory track than ‘Cannonball’, Phil Lewis blasts out breakneck lyrics and the guitar issues a rapid riff to lie alongside. Stacks of Tracii interaction and it’s a perfect storm of a song. With a jaunt of sleaze ‘Bad Luck Charm’ has a simple rolling of chords that just work and it’s another that attaches itself quite quickly to your inner ear. I like the way ‘Get Along’ stumbles into view with a sense of Southern mellowness. Not exactly a ballad but a soothing amount of acoustics and enough to gently wrap its melody around you to create a warm smile. ‘If It’s Over Now’ is in the same line of thought, slowly descending like a dusting of snow.
With more intense guitar ‘Better Than You’ commences with rigid and unyielding pressure. It’s dirtier than the predecessors and Phil’s vocals are incredible, there’s a wave of more scorching from Tracii and it crawls right under your skin. Relaxed drums from Scot Coogan are the base for ‘Knock Me Down’ and the rhythm guitar of Ace Von Johnson, who is also lead axe for Faster Pussycat, sits in to add structure. It’s a sturdy track and the credits list all the band, as having a hand in the writing on this album, which is also why it has such an encapsulating feel about it. ‘Dog’ sees the switch back to the theme of faster punching rock and then ‘Let You Down’ drops the lid and we have a beautiful ballad, the type of which, only this band can manufacture. The final offering ‘Physical Itch’ attacks from all sides, encircling and binding you with its creeping and growing tempo and I’m liking the bass of Johnny Martin on this one. A masterstroke to end this album, which is so more diverse and multi sided than the previous release.
This is a must have for any Guns devotee, the goes without saying. But it’s also an album from a long established band, that have survived all the perils of the music industry and come out the other side, with more experience, stamina and determination than ever before. If there is one outfit that deserve to be promoted to the high ranks of rock supremacy is must be L.A. Guns. If you have any liking for sheer raw rock and roll with a guitar virtuoso and infamous frontman thrown in, then purchase ‘Checkered Past’ and then I promise, you will delve into the shelves for their previous albums, if you haven’t captured them already.
‘Eleven episodes of magical writing’
HIGHLIGHTS – Cannonball, Bad Luck Charm, Get Along, Let You Down
Tracklist: Cannonball, Bad Luck Charm Living Right Now, Get Along, If It’s Over Now, Better Than You ,Knock Me Down, Dog, Let You Down, That Ain’t Why ,Physical Itch.
Total length: 0.44.48
LINE-UP: Tracii Guns – Guitar , Phil Lewis – Vocals , Johnny Martin – Bass , Ace Von Johnson – Rhythm Guitar , Scot Coogan – Drums
FORMATS – CD RELEASE DATE: November 12, 2021 . LIMITED EDITION COLOURED LP MARBLE LP RELEASE DATE: December 10, 2021