November 27, 2021

The L.A. Guns of Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis return with their latest album, Checkered Past, which was written and recorded in the Winter of 2020-2021 and is the band’s first studio album release since the impressive The Devil You Know which was released in 2019 and continued the brilliant run of form that the band showed with 2017’s The Missing Piece.

Now, this is L.A. Guns, a superior US glam influenced hard rock band that came out of Los Angeles in 1983 with a host of hugely successful albums behind them plus a back story that is long and convoluted and this is not the place to look at the past other than to say that this new album is by the Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis led version of the band and, oh boy, are they on fire! Their last two releases have shown just what a good place the band is currently in and part of this must be down to having a relatively stable line-up at the moment with Tracii Guns on guitar and organ, Phil Lewis on vocals, Johnny Martin on bass, Ace Von Johnson on guitar and the relatively new drummer Scot Coogan who has succeeded drummer Shane Fitzgibbon who featured on the last studio album with Coogan also featuring on the Cocked & Loaded Live album released earlier this year.

The band still bumps and grinds spectacularly and will still be recognisable to those early glam metal fans of the ’80s but the recent releases have seen the band maturing and developing into a damned fine rock and roll band. There is a much harder and heavier edge to their music with Guns and Von Johnson developing a real rapport with Guns remaining the senior axeman but Johnson plays the wingman perfectly. Coogan proves himself to be a perfect replacement for Fitzgibbon and he too is developing a wonderful working relationship with the outstanding bass work of Martin. There is a real vibe in the band at the moment and you can tell that they are in such a good place now and this allows Phil Lewis to give the performance of his life and I always knew he could sing but his performance on Checkered Past is totally off the scale, this guy is burning hot and reminds me of the one and only Phil Mogg of UFO in his prime. I’m sure we all have our definitive Phil Lewis performances but this is most definitely mine as he has never come across better and he sounds so much in control, on top of his game and seems to be having a truly great time but when the music is this good then it is easy to get swept away in the flow. Let’s state it clearly, L.A. Guns is a band that always rocked and enjoys delivering fresh and vibrant rock ‘n’ roll straight in your face and prisoners are never taken! A

s already mentioned, the bump ‘n’ grind of the early years is still there but they have bulked up with some serious hard driving metal but still with the band’s trademark swagger. The guitar is impeccable and Guns is in sensational form with Von Johnson matching him note for note and you will rarely hear two guitarists in the form that these two are showing. The darker edge to the band truly suits their music and style and it shows that almost 40-years into the career the band is still growing and developing. There is a real feel of the rock and roll sound as perfected by The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith with a blues vibe permeating the album and a bouncing, direct and dark metal edge that thrills to the core. Long standing fans are going to be amazed by Checkered Past and will love the more direct and heavier approach and if you have previously dismissed them as a simple glam metal band then have a listen to this and your world will be turned upside down.

L.A. Guns has released their best album in years and maybe even best ever and I haven’t stopped playing it since I first heard it and that is the real test, his is the real deal and you simply have to hear it.

Checkered Past

  • Cannonball (3:28)
  • Bad Luck Charm (4:00)
  • Living Right Now (3:32)
  • Get Along (5:30)
  • If It’s Over Now (4:19)
  • Better Than You (3:50)
  • Knock Me Down (4:07)
  • Dog (3:00)
  • Let You Down (5:36)
  • That Ain’t Why (3:35)
  • Physical Itch (3:52)