L.A. Guns - Hollywood Forever
"Hollywood Forever" is the latest release from California rockers LA Guns - the Lewis, Riley, Blades and Griffin version anyway (but lets not get into that old debate…). The album sees the band taking off where “Tales From The Strip” left off in 2005 and if there is one thing this album does, it is revisit old territory. The album, as did “Tales…”, has plenty of flash backs to older releases especially “Cocked and Loaded” and “Hollywood Vampires” - both of which seem to be the favourites of the majority of LA Guns fans. Take the title track for example: it’s as if the band were given the task of recreating “Letting Go” (the opener of 1989’s Cocked and Loaded) but with a modern hard rock edge.
Ballads are what plenty of 80s rock bands were known for, and you can definitely count LA Guns among the ranks of the greatest rock ballads of the turn of the 90s - “The Ballad of Jayne” anyone? When I began listening to Hollywood Forever, it was in eager anticipation of a song, one song, that could possibly match up to the aforementioned hit. I may have been a little bit too optimistic, as the better songs on this album all seem to be the more up tempo edgier tracks. Instead, the ballads are a bit limp. "Sweet Mystery" gathers my attention in the intro, only to be let down by the verse. The song certainly is nice, but that’s just it: “nice” isn’t quite enough.
At 14 tracks, Hollywood Forever does tend to drag a little at times with one too many songs that start off promising but never really get anywhere, such as "Underneath the Sun". On the other hand, "Queenie" (my personal favourite), "You Better Not Love Me" and "Dirty Black Night" really make up for the lacklustre ballads and hit-and-misses in other songs. “Queenie” is packed full of rock’n’roll rhythm, enough to get Marc Bolan a tad jealous, whereas “You Better Not Love Me” is everything LA Guns are/were known for with its mixture of sleaze and romance (for want of a better word) - it’s easily the “Sex Action” of the 21st Century.
Hollywood Forever is exactly what you would expect from LA Guns in the 21st Century, but although it is pretty much “paint by numbers” sleaze rock for the majority, the album has some hidden gems that could be considered the band’s best work in a long time.
L.A. Guns - The Diamond, Sutton-in-Ashfield, 30.09.11
Sutton-in-Ashfield? No, I haven’t heard of it either, but don’t let that fool you. Sutton is home to The Diamond, which may look like an old social club from the outside, but once you get inside you can clearly see that the owners and locals are avid rock fans – the walls are covered in plenty of rock posters, ranging from Elvis Presley to the Red Hot Chili Peppers (and a bit of Robbie Williams in there too for a bit of a twist). Early on, the place is quite empty and quiet, but people begin to pile in away from the tropic temperatures outside. The end of September’s a great time for a heat wave, right?
The night’s support band (and for the rest of the UK tour I believe) is Damn Dice, a relatively new band from around London. They’re in a similar vein to the bands of today’s Swedish “glam scene” (speaking of which, they played a cover of “It’s a Miracle” by Crashdiet) and throughout their set they give out a lot of energy and enthusiasm, but in the wrong places. They seem to spend a lot of time off stage and off to who-knows-where to play a little piece here and there. Unfortunately, they weren’t in time with each other or in tune at some points. Strangely enough, Damn dice played three covers: Crashdiet’s “It’s a Miracle”, Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” and Skid Row’s “Youth Gone Wild” (which seemed to please quite a few of the older people in the audience).
L.A. Guns took to the stage after a somewhat odd intro song, “What’s New Pussycat?” by Tom Jones, which provided a great singalong for a somewhat drunken audience. Even though it was incredibly hot in there, L.A. Guns hardly stopped, offering a good variety of songs from nearly all of their albums (every album that features Phil Lewis on lead vocals minus 2001’s Man in the Moon) – from old favourites such as “Sex Action” and “Rip n Tear” to a selection from 2005’s Tales from the Strip, “It Don’t Mean Nothing” and “Gypsy Soul”, to kick of their set. Scotty Griffin and Stacey Blades both powered through the old Kelly Nickels “Nothin’ Better to Do”, proving to be far more than “bookends” (as Phil Lewis called them).
This is the second time that I have seen this L.A. Guns live, and one of the biggest differences that I noticed was the lack of “harsh words” against the other L.A. Guns (the Tracii Guns version) this time. Perhaps there is nothing more to say on the matter? Phil was definitely feeling rather talkative and told of a tale that took place during his time with the band Girl in the early 80s. It involved graffiti, angry Grimsby bikers and a hasty getaway with the band dressed as women as a disguise - a bit mad to be true, perhaps? Who knows!
The show was already running over time-wise, but the band still came back for an encore. Both band and audience barely paid attention to the stifling heat at this point – “No Mercy” is too good a song to not sing along to!
Overall, the band put on a fantastic and memorable show – this tour is definitely not one to be missed, so catch them whilst you still can:
5th - York - The Duchess
6th - Cardiff - Bogiez
7th - Grantham, Lincolnshire - The Playhouse
8th - Pontypool - Hog & Hosper
9th - London - The Underworld