- Tales From the Strip (2005)
The Guns release a new studio album, their second since Tracii left.
I have high expectations for an L.A. Guns release. With 4 excellent releases at the beginning of their history (s/t, Cocked and Loaded, Hollywood Vampires, Vicious Circle), they did a serious ball-drop with the incredibly horrid 5th album, American Hardcore. With that release, they switched lead singers more often than Dave Mustaine
changes the Megadeth
line-up. Some of the other releases after Hardcore had their moments, but just didn't sound like L.A. Guns without Phil Lewis
doing the screaming.
But then he returned for their 2001 release, Man in the Moon. While that wasn't the "killer comeback" album, it was a return to form, and better than anything released since Vicious Circle.
All skepticism on whether the Guns could release a doorblaster album left with the mother of all albums, 2002's Waking the Dead. 3 years later I still find myself listening to that one quite often.
Then Tracii left. Everyone kept saying it's not L.A. Guns without Tracii Guns. But that wasn't my opinion. My opinion was that it wasn't L.A. Guns without the unique voice of Phil Lewis, and that was easily proven with horrid trash like the American Hardcore release.
It was also proven not to be the case when the Gunners released "Rips the Covers Off". A well-done covers release, and the guitars were just as good as any from the Tracii days.
So after 3 good-to-killer releases, I've gotten the brand new release, "Tales From the Strip", a 58-minute, 14-track semi-conceptual album.
My first-listen thoughts are that I'll be listening to this one quite often as well. It's no "Waking the Dead", but it's damn good in its own way.
Some tracks, like Gypsy Soul and Original Sin, sound best as part of the album rather than tracks on their own. But then, that happens on (semi-)conceptual albums. Others like the straight-on rocker "It Don't Mean Nothing", or the haunted-style "Vampire" can be played regularly on their own.
The Guns obviously weren't just trying to "rush out a product" here. The lyrics are well done, and the music fits each song perfectly. The "Cocked and Loaded" and "Hollywood Vampires" sounds poke their heads out here and there throughout the album, and of course several tracks like "Hollywood's Burning" could have fit nicely on Waking the Dead or Man in the Moon.
And halfway through the album, you get an excellent drum-based instrumental in "6.9 Earthshaker", with guitars complementing the drum work beautifully.
Overall: Phil's vocals are as good as ever. For those who think Tracii's disappearance actually means anything, they've found a more than excellent replacement with ex-Roxx Gang
guitarist Stacey Blades.
Long-time L.A. Guns fans will very much enjoy this release.
High Points: The overall album sound and concept, excellent musically throughout. Particularly "It Don't Mean Nothing", "Vampire", "Skin" and "Shame".
Low Points: Not worth mentioning. I guess I'll go with "Crazy Motorcycle". While listenable, it's the weakest track IMHO.