"Waking the Dead" (Spitfire; 2002)
Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton
Unfortunately, "Waking the Dead" suffers a bit, perhaps unfairly, from the success of the previous L.A. Guns CD, "Man in the Moon." "Waking the Dead" is a great CD, no question, but the absolute brilliance of "Man in the Moon" made the anticipation for "Waking the Dead" so great that - unless the new CD was even better - it was bound to be a bit of a disappointment. And, upon first play-through, it was. "Waking the Dead" didn't catch my attention immediately, whereas "Man in the Moon" surely did.
Subsequent listenings, however, revealed that "Waking the Dead" is a killer record in its own right. Things start off with a bang with the rocker "Don't Look At Me That Way" and then take a serious turn for the better with "OK, Let's Roll," a song about the valiant efforts of those aboard Flight 93. Latter songs, including the racing "Revolution," the requisite ballad (entitled, simply enough "The Ballad"), the Motorhead-like "Psychopathic Eyes," and the party anthem, "Hellraisers Ball" all feature that L.A. Guns hard rock sound and, like the entire CD, get better with each listen.
Alas, not everything works that well, however. The CD's final track, "Don't You Cry" is just plain dull filler stuff, for the most part.
According to the press release, the band considers "Waking the Dead" more metal than "Man in the Moon" and that may be true. The fact of the matter is that - if you like the band or if you enjoyed their previous CD as much as I did - you're going to like this one as well. It's great to see a veteran band releasing such consistently good music as L.A. Guns is.
L.A. Guns: Adam Hamilton - bass; Tracii Guns - guitars; Phil Lewis - vocals; Steve Riley - drums.
For more information, check out http://www.lagunsweb.com.
"Man In the Moon" (Spitfire; 2001)
Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton
There's nothing more refreshing than a band that steps back and stops working so hard at sounding a certain way. Too many bands these days try to sound like what's hot, what they think will be hot or what they think is hot and too many bands fail. Just play the music, dammit, and let the cards fall where they may.
L.A. Guns have done just that with "Man on the Moon." There's no leather-bound, big-haired rock star posing going on anywhere on this CD. Instead, the band plays hard rock that's got a solid blues background with great guitar riffs, singable melodies and an undeniable style. "Man on the Moon" probably sounds more like L.A. Guns than any of the band's previous releases.
The success of "Man on the Moon" lies as much in the songwriting as in the musical performances. Again, the songs on this CD sound as though they were written because the band wanted to write them - not because they thought they'd sell. That freedom allowed the songwriters to write songs that some listeners may never have expected from a band like L.A. Guns, and that's half the reason they work so well here. Some of the songs even go so far as to sound Beatle-esque ("Beautiful," for example) but still working astoundingly well. Most, however, simply rock good and hard.
Although the musicianship throughout "Man on the Moon" is excellent, Tracii Guns on guitars must be singled out for his savvy restraint. Guns' fretwork on this CD is above average, not because he plays as fast and furious as he can but because he makes every note count. The verse riffs are solid and hard-driving while the leads are bluesy, hypnotic and full of soul. Again, Guns - along with the other members of the band - knows that the songs come first.
"Man on the Moon" is a fine return to form by a band that knows it's really the music that counts. Let's hope this CD serves as an example to those who try too fervently to keep up with trends and wind up selling themselves out instead.
L.A. Guns is: Steve Riley - drums and vocals; Tracii Guns - guitar and vocals; Phil Lewis - lead vocals; Muddy - bass guitar and vocals; Mick Cripps - keyboards.
For more information, please visit http://www.spitfirerecords.com.
A classic. This record will kick your ass.
Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.
So-so. You've heard better.
Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.
Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.
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Copyright © 2002 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.