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L.A. Guns
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Discography/Album Reviews

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L.A. Guns have a very interesting history. The L.A. Guns members all came from Faster Pussycat and Guns N’ Roses, and their first album, L.A. Guns, rocked the L.A. sleaze world. Even through their 4 different line-ups and many problems (the album American Hardcore rings a bell), they have finally reconnected with their roots and sound somewhat like the band that everyone loved in the late 80s. Even with Tracii gone and off to Quiet Riot, you can still love The Guns.

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The L.A. Guns are:
  • Paul Black- Vocals
  • Phillip Lewis- Voclas
  • Chris Van Dahl- Vocals
  • Tracii Guns- Guitars
  • Mike Cripps- Guitars/Synthesizers
  • Stacey Blades- Guitars
  • Kelly Nickels- Bass
  • Johnny Crypt- Bass
  • Mark "Muudy" Duton- Bass
  • Adam Hamilton- Bass
  • Steve Riley- Drums
  • Nickey Alaxander- Drums
 
 


Los Angeles, 1983. Guitarist Tracii Guns formed The LA Guns with singer Axl Rose, bassist Ole Beich, and drummer Rob Gardner. Axl later quit to form Hollywood Rose and was replaced by Michael Jagosz. The band demoed in 1984, but Tracii & Rob left to reform with Axl as Guns N’ Roses (after Tracii Guns & Axl Rose) and LA Guns broke up. Tracii left GNR because he didn’t like the direction of their music to re-form his own band. Guns N’ Roses replaced him with guitarist Slash and went on to sell millions of records. Faster Pussycat members, drummer Paul “Mars” Black (who switched to vocals) & guitarist Mick Cripps (who switched to bass) teamed up with drummer Nickey “Beat” Alexander and Tracii to form a third LA Guns, and were later joined by Dogs D’Amour guitarist Robert Stoddard. They demoed and giged in 1985 and 1986 until Paul was replaced because of drug problems by Phil Lewis of the British band, Girl (with Def Leppard’s Phil Collen). Mick switched to guitar after Robert left, and another former member of Faster Pussycat, Kelly Nickels was added on bass. The LA Guns then recorded their first album, released in 1988 on Vertigo Records, ‘LA Guns.’ Alexander was replaced by former WASP drummer Steve Riley for the tour and this lineup remained until 1992.

The debut album spawned the singles “one more reason” and “sex action” along with many other LA Guns classics. In 1989, they released their second album, titled ‘Cocked & Loaded.’ ‘Cocked & Loaded’ contained the smash radio and video hit, “the ballad of jayne” which brought the album to platinum sales status (over one million sold) and this was the commercial peak of their career. The album also contained the hits, “never enough” and “rip & tear.” The band also released two home videos coinciding with these two albums, ‘One More Reason’ (1989) and ‘Love, Peace, & Geese’ (1990). In 1991, the band released their third album, titled ‘Hollywood Vampires,’ on Polydor Records. The album failed to re-achieve the platinum status of ‘Cocked & Loaded,’ but did spawn a few hits such as “kiss my love goodbye” and “it’s over now.” Also in 1991, Tracii Guns participated in the “supergroup” Contraband with members of Ratt, Shark Island, MSG, and Vixen. The LA Guns released a 5 song EP titled ‘Cuts’ in 1992 and around this time Phil fired drummer Steve Riley. Steve says it was because he hit Phil over the head with a newspaper and Phil got mad. Steve was replaced by drummer Michael “Bones” Gershima for the ‘Cuts’ EP and for their 1994 album, ‘Vicious Circle.’ Steve later returned to the band for the ‘Vicious Circle’ club tour. After this, the LA Guns were dropped from Polygram (Vertigo/Polydor) Records Incorporated. Phil Lewis and Mick Cripps then left the band.

In 1995, Tracii, Kelly, & Steve and recruited Cherry Street vocalist “Roxy” Chris Van Dahl and a friend of his, guitarist Johnny Crypt (both were in a band called Boneyard at the time). Six months into recording sessions, Kelly left the band and Johnny was asked to switch to the bass to avoid having to seek out & deal with another member. In 1996, the new LA Guns released their sixth album, on CMC International Records, titled ‘American Hardcore.’ This new album built on the heavy music from ‘Vicious Circle’ and projected and darker image for the band. They toured throughout 1996 and into 1997 when Tracii let Chris go in hopes of regaining Phil and the band’s former glory. Phil refused, and Chris was replaced by Van Halen cover band, The Atomic Punks singer, Ralph Saenz. Tracii, Steve, Johnny, and Ralph toured for the remainder of ’97 and in early ’98 released the six song EP, ‘Wasted’ on Standback Records. Half way through the 1998 “Rock Never Stops” tour, Ralph quit to form his own band, leaving Tracii to another singer change.

Joe Leste’ from Bang Tango and Jizzy Pearl from Love/Hate were named the two candidates. Tracii & Steve picked Jizzy and quickly geared up to tour. (*note* Love/Hate formed around 1985 and was picked up in 1990 by Columbia Records when the band, Jizzy, Skid, Jon E. Love, and Joey Gold released ‘Black Out In The Red Room.’ They since released ‘Wasted In America’ in 1992, ‘Let’s Rumble’ in 1994, ‘I’m Not Happy’ in 1995, and independently, ‘Livin’ off Layla’ in 1997. The band broke up due to money problems and other interests in early 1998.) The LA Guns toured clubs with Jizzy in late 1998 and early 1999 when they released ‘Shrinking Violet’ on Perris Records, followed by Johnny’s departure. Tracii and Steve had been talking with their former bandmates, Phil, Mick, & Kelly about a reunion album and tour and when the album became a reality, Johnny found out and on February 6, 1999, he left. ‘Greatest Hits & Black Beauties’ was released around the same time as ‘Shrinking Violet’ on Deadline Records, and contained the five “original” band members. During the ‘Greatest Hits & Black Beauties’ sessions, Jizzy released an album of songs from his former band, The Sin-Eaters under the Love/Hate name on Perris Records called “Let’s Eat”. LA Guns then recruited Dad’s Porno Mag and Gilby Clarke bassist Stefan Adika to tour in support of ‘Shrinking Violet’ as the reunion was not ready to happen. Stefan was later replaced by The Turds & Dio bassist Chuck Garric (I’ve also seen it spelled Gherig) and toured with Poison, Great White, and Ratt on the “Exiled From The Mainstream” tour in the summer of 1999. As of September 1, 1999, Jizzy and Chuck were fired from the band as the “original” lineup of Tracii Guns, Steve Riley, Phil Lewis, Kelly Nickels, and Mick Cripps geared up for the full blown reunion.

Phil Lewis had kept busy over his five year hiatus from LA Guns. In 1997, he and Bones formed Filthy Lucre with guitarist Steve Dior and released the album ‘Popsmear’ on Pulse Records along with a short tour that followed. In 1997, Phil released ‘El Nino’ in Japan and in re-released it in 1998 as ‘More Purple Than Black’ on Standback Records in the US (and was re-released by Deadline Records in 1999). Phil and his band, The Liberators (which included guitarist Brent Muscat and bassist Eric Stacy of Faster Pussycat) toured a little in the US and Japan. The Liberators recorded an album in September & October of 1999, done live in the studio, which they released in Japan, called ‘Access Denied,’ and was later released in 2001 by Deadline Records under Phil’s name. In 1995, Phil participated in the release of a Japan-only hits compilation called ‘Hollywood-A-Go-Go’ and in 1996, he reunited with Mick and Kelly to record a Japan-only LA Guns album, ‘Hollywood Rehearsals’ with drummer Rod Alman. Tracii Guns also released a solo album in 1998 called ‘Killing Machine’ with singer Riley Baxter on Standback Records, which was re-released in 1999 by Deadline Records. Tracii was also featured on former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke’s album “99 Live” in 2000 on Mafia Radio Records (which was reissued in 2002 by Spitfire Records).

The LA Guns set out on the reunion tour in October of 1999 and recorded a live album in their hometown of Hollywood which was released in 2000 called ‘Live: A Night On The Strip.’ On the summer 2000 tour, Mick and Kelly couldn’t commit to the plans, so they were replaced. Mick by Faster Pussycat and The Liberator’s guitarist Brent Muscat and Kelly was replaced by bassist Muddy. Johnny Crypt was asked to return, but declined because he joined Jizzy’s latest incarnation of Love/Hate, which also included former LA Guns frontman Chris Van Dahl on bass. Love/Hate was axed in July, as Jizzy joined Ratt with Bobby Blotzer, Warren DeMartini, Robbie Crane (of the Vince Neil Band), and new guitarist John Corabi (of Motley Crue). Ratt and LA Guns teamed up with Warrant for a remainder-of-the-summer tour, which LA Guns dropped off in August due to booking problems. Johnny Crypt didn’t let that get him down, in late 2000 he wrote and recorded an album called “Plazmaholix Virus”, which was released independently on his own website. The LA Guns have also re-recorded and in August of 2000, re-released ‘Cocked & Loaded’ as ‘Cocked & Re-Loaded’ on Deadline Records. Mick Cripps rejoined the band briefly (after Brent left) in late 2000 to record an album with the band, titled ‘Man In The Moon,’ which was released on Spitfire Records in April of 2001.

Mick played keyboards on the album, but did not tour to support it. Muddy later left the band after a short promo tour for ‘Man In The Moon’ to join Gilby Clarke’s band, Col. Parker. Col. Parker released an album called ‘Rock & Roll Music’ on V2 Records in late 2001, which features Muddy singing parts and playing bass. He was replaced by Adam Hamilton for the winter of 2002 ‘Man In The Moon’ club tour. This summer, the LA Guns are touring with Dokken, Ratt, and Warrant on Metal Edge’s Rock-Fest 2002 tour. Tracii, Phil, Steve, & Adam are joined by guitarist Keff Ratcliffe, who formerly played bass with Pretty Boy Floyd. The band also will release their eighth full length studio album, titled ‘Waking The Dead’ in August on Spitfire Records.

-Trevor (motley_scrue@hotmail.com)- L.A. Guns official website

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