The Steve Riley version of L.A. Guns are currently in dispute with Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis over the use of the bands name, logo and everything else. To be honest the history of the band is so complicated, both have reasonable claims to the title, but I can only see a painful loss of friends and money, resulting from this argument. Personally I love both versions of L.A. Guns, each line up consists of previous allies and they both still release the kind of debauched rock that Guns fans adore. So I am going to duck and dive between court cases, restraints, allegations and all the other complaints, to write this review solely on what Mr Riley and Co have produced.
From the moment ‘Crawl’ begins, the atmosphere is full of Hollywood glam and gutter crawling swagger. The song is a kick in the teeth, bursting with attitude and has the most delicious sleazy guitar hook, giving us the L.A. Guns treatment from the off. Vocalist Kurt Frohlich has a mild approach in delivering his lyrics but still manages to hit the mark. ‘Why Ask Why’ is lower in tone and slightly heavier, the riff is a subtle accompaniment to Kurt’s higher range. Again there is a stack of screaming licks from Scotty Griffin, who binds the track until the end. One of the singles already released is ‘Well Oiled Machine’ which has all the elements of an engine soaked in grease and grime, pumping the carburettor to its limit. The chorus isn’t the strongest, but the rhythm makes up for any lack of thrust. ‘Lost Boys’ is more delicate and the album takes a stroll along a charming route with backing vocals and a quieter mood. The production, however, is so precise that you pick up on every beat of Riley’s drums and strum of Kelly Nickels bass. Another slow one ‘You Can’t Walk Away’ follows, a pretty little ballad that has meek and mild edges. ‘Witchcraft’ steps it all up a notch, mystical vibes that send a haunting message. The latest single ‘All That You Are’ is a track with such wide angles. A stomp of a beat with defined vocals and a flow of immense stature. I like the way it sways and goes in and out of the basic riff, classic Guns style.
‘Would’ is the most wondrous of ballads, so touching and mellow. Simple words are laced with semi-acoustic strings. It will make a great addition to a live performance, I can see the phone lights flickering already. The title track ‘Renegades’ has also been out a while as a single. Back to storm force rock with a constant bashing from Riley, the song delves deep into a pile of underlying tones. Another that flows with continuous and rapid fire, the guitar is supreme and hangs like the smoke from a mass of cigarettes. It all ends on a high with the fast running ‘Don’t Wanna Know’ which has unstoppable and catchy fret racing.
What a delight and pleasure ‘Renegades’ is to listen to. A fine balance of songs and as I previously mentioned, the production is top drawer. You hear every note and there is a strong and level equality between the instruments. This version of L.A. Guns have only been together a short while, but Riley and Nickels have always had quite a bond and that’s reflected in the rhythm section. Bringing in Kurt to sing and adding his guitar in addition to Scotty Griffins, makes for a much fuller finish.
‘Full of Hollywood glam and gutter crawling swagger’
Highlights – Crawl, Well Oiled Machine, Would