So, how do you write a short and concise resume of the often glittering but equally dark and gloomy history of the legendary US rockers L.A. Guns? The answer is, leave it to someone else because you need to be an advanced mathematician to keep count of the comings and goings of all of the musicians involved in this band and now we also have multiple versions of L.A. Guns to contend with. It truly is a mind numbing situation when there are two versions of the same group so probably the easiest place to start with is the band line-up with this version featuring Steve Riley on drums, Kelly Nickels on bass, Scott Griffin on lead guitar and Kurt Frohlic on vocals.
The album cover states L.A. Guns but to all intents and purposes this is ‘Steve Riley’s L.A. Guns’ and not to be mistaken for the Official L.A. Guns featuring. Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns. The ‘official’ version is also apparently working on a new album so expect the confusion to continue for some time and I leave it for you to decide on the semantics of the situation but it is not a healthy place to be in by any means.
Also, this is a totally different band to the one that released The Devil You Know so the name may be the same but the musical path is totally different even if there is something of a shared heritage through Steve Riley which dates back to 1987 and he did appear on the classic Cocked & Loaded too.
Of course, this being L.A. Guns then there simply must be complications and Riley was sacked in 1992 only to return in 1994 and, when the band then split into two groups in 2006 and Riley went with the Phil Lewis version. Then in 2016 it got really complicated with the bands merging but the issues remained and without filling another ten pages we now find ourselves with the current situation. It should also be stated that Scott Griffen and Kelly Nickels have also previously been members of L.A. Guns so it is not a simple case of stealing the band name. However, if it makes it any easier, let’s just leave it on the understanding that this band is and is not L.A. Guns! This version of the band was formed at the end of 2018 and this is therefore the first album from them although it seems certain that there is going to be legal action over usage of the name so it may be a long, complicated and drawn out battle before there is some clarity for us to take solace in.
So, finally, we get to the new album Renegades and the music contained within which is rather excellent hard edged melodic rock. There is a most definite flavour of Sunset Strip about the proceedings and you can tell that the sound is born of the same roots as bands like Motley Crüe, Ratt and Quiet Riot so it is a superbly crafted and played modern rock album with a perfect clarity courtesy of some excellent mixing and production techniques. Scott Griffen is a great guitarist with a style that incorporates pleasing riffs and perfectly executed solos and Kurt Frohlic is outstanding on vocals and a true asset to the band. Steve Riley knows how to put a band together and he has done really well with this team of musicians and the songs are all insistent and have immediacy about them with lots of hooks, wonderful choruses and marvellous harmonies. There are a couple of ballads too, how could there not be, and the band does slow and gentle really well but when they crank up the power they become like a feral animal.
This is an album based on classic ’80s metal but utilising all modern day techniques to make a truly rocking album that is a delight to hear. So, is it L.A. Guns? In truth, it doesn’t matter as it is a truly inspired melodic rock classic and that is all that really matters. Let the lawyers sort out the name and we can sit back and enjoy the music, simple.
Renegades track list
- Don’t Wanna Know (3:40)
- Renegades (3:22)
- Would (4:10)
- All That You Are (4:34)
- Witchcraft (4:16)
- You Can’t Walk Away (4:08)
- Lost Boys (3:39)
- Well Oiled Machine (4:32)
- Why Ask Why (3:40)
- Crawl (3:26)