|LA Guns Tales From The Strip||Shrapnel|
LA Guns' output in recent years has been mixed, with the pendulum swinging back in favor of the band with their excellent last album Waking The Dead release.|
Sadly since then the revolving door line-up saw guitarist Tracii Guns leave and with him went some of the band's momentum.
Tales From The Strip is an attempt by vocalist Phil Lewis to take the band back to their early roots with new guitarist Stacey Blades – reflecting on the band's golden era as one of LA's Sunset Strip bands – an era that saw Motley Crue, Shark Island and Guns N Roses also at their peak.
In its own way, this album has a retro vibe that mirrors the sound of the band's first three records, primarily mixing the vibe of the self-titled debut and Hollywood Vampires.
However, just has been the case with other bands attempting a similar step backwards, the guys have taken a step backwards with production quality. This is one of LA Guns roughest and rawest efforts to date and it is a long way from their hard hitting best displayed on Waking The Dead and my personal favourite, 1994's Vicious Circle.
I say it time and time again - you don't have to sacrifice a decent sound to achieve a retro vibe. Andy Johns is producer again here, as he was for Waking The Dead, but sonically the two have little in common. I'm really surprised at the quality of Johns' recent production work.
On the upside, the songs of Tales From The Strip – for the most part – are pretty memorable and have that classic LA Guns attitude.
I like the dirty rock n roll of the opening track It Don't Mean Nothing and the Hollywood Vampires vibe of Electric Neon Sunset.
And the autobiographical Vampire is a moody walk through the past with a cool chorus and is perhaps the album's highlight.
But on the other side of the coin you have Hollywood's Burning – a track that is just too rough and raw and doesn't sonically match the better sounding numbers.
And there simply is no point to 6.9 Earthshaker – a forgettable mid-album drum solo instrumental.
The punk rock of Crazy Motorcycle and the heavy rock of Skin almost work, but neither track has the venom produced on the Vicious Circle album.
And the album closes with a double disappointment - another instrumental in the form of Amanecer leads into the closing track (Can't Give You) Anything Better Than Love which is just sonically messy.
The drum and guitar sound on this album is really sub-par and isn't close to the major label quality of Waking The Dead.
Kudos to new guitarist Stacey Blades, who does a great job replacing the big personality that is Tracii Guns. The Lewis/Guns chemistry is probably impossible to replicate, but Blades does put his own stamp on these proceedings.
Yes, the production should have been better and the album doesn't close as strongly as it opens, but the album is strong enough to see the band continue on.
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