By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks
Steve Riley and Kelly Nickels are back with a new L.A. Guns album full of nods to the band’s 1980s Sunset Strip roots while at the same time making the band relevant here and now.
Fans who question changing line-ups of their favourite rock bands miss the point. The point of a band is to create great music for the enjoyment of the fans. Members come and go in almost all bands. It’s how life works. People move on, new blood comes in. Ever since the first version of California rock band L.A. Guns was formed back in the 1980s, the band has seen constant line-up changes with musicians coming and going. At the moment there are two versions of the band out there at the same time. This version of L.A. Guns is led by two of the members from the band’s classic line-up: drummer Steve Riley and bassist Kelly Nickels. In this version of the band, Riley (a former W.A.S.P. drummer) and Nickels (ex-Faster Pussycat) are joined by guitarist Scott Griffin (who joined L.A. Guns in 2007 and who has also played in Bobby Blotzer’s version of Ratt) and new vocalist Kurt Frohlich (ex-Brent Muscat’s version of Faster Pussycat). Discussions around L.A. Guns in recent years have focused a lot on which version is the proper one. I don’t care. I care about the quality of the music that is played for me. This version of L.A. Guns is a very good version of the band. (When I saw the Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis version of L.A. Guns perform in Japan in 2017, they too were very good.) On the new album “Renegades”, not only do we get a talented line-up but the new material is also at the right level. L.A. Guns was always good-fun party rock performed to entertain you. This version of the band carries on that tradition very well. The previously released singles “Crawl”, “Renegades” and “Well Oiled Machine” are on this album backed up by other laidback, yet kick-ass, songs such as “Don’t Wanna Know”, ”Witchcraft”, “Lost Boys” and “Why Ask Why”. With their roots in the 80s Sunset Strip rock scene and its traditions, the band obviously gives us the obligatory ballads in the form of “You Can’t Walk Away” and “Would”. They are alright, but personally, I prefer the rockier side of this band. “All That You Are” is one of the highlights on the album for me and its anthem-like appearance will make it a great new addition to the band’s live set. L.A. Guns is beers-and-chicken-wings music. It works great to get a party started or a fab night out at a rock bar. Sometimes that’s what you need in your life. Rock music is not all about two-hour concept albums by some European prog-rock band that overthinks, overcomplicates and overdoes everything. Sometimes you just need a cold beer, some chicken wings and a good time with some American rock. L.A. Guns has announced some live dates in the US next spring. Hopefully those will happen as they now have some great new songs to add to the back catalogue for their live shows.
L.A. Guns’ new album “Renegades” is out now via Golden Robot Records.