March 21, 2024

This is no time to dwell on the long and convoluted history of the celebrated, classic glam/sleaze rockers L.A. Guns as there is enough material out there to fill a host of books and neither should we ponder on the confusing later years with several versions using the name which was eventually settled following legal moves which resulted in the formation of Riley’s L.A. Guns in 2018. The ‘new’ team of Steve Riley on drums, Kelly Nickels on bass, Scott Griffin on lead guitar and Kurt Frohlich on vocals then put out the rather splendid Renegades in 2020 which was a thoroughly decent sleaze rock album in, understandably, the best traditions of the Guns and when taken on face value alone was a cracking rock album that showed there was much still to come from Steve Riley and friends.

Photo: Mark Weiss

Renegades was a record born out a shared history of bands like Motley Crüe, Ratt and Quiet Riot so how could it not be an enjoyable romp through all things sleaze and it meant that the next instalment would be eagerly anticipated. Thankfully, January saw the release of The Dark Horse but most of the joy was taken out of the vent by the sad news last year that Steve Riley had passed away on 24th October having succumbed to pneumonia at the far too young age of 67.

However, we always have his music to remember him by and The Dark Horse is a fine testimony to a most talented musician and he has left us with a spectacular back catalogue and a thrilling new album to remember him by. The new work very much picks up where Renegades left of with stunning guitar from Scott Griffin, another great vocal performance from Kurt Frohlich and the sublime skills of Riley in harness with Kelly Nickels make for a first-class rhythm section. The songs are sublime and instantly hitting with a kick straight to both the brain and heart and it is actually difficult to take in that this is the last album we will see from Steve Riley but he has bowed out in great style.

Indeed, this is another modern rock album with a classic retro feel and very much puts me in mind of the sublime Mott The Hoople and that is high praise indeed. Perfect melody, great hooks and intense musicianship all combine to make an album that will have you on your feet and grinning like a loon so buy, enjoy and remember a rare talent indeed.

The Dark Horse

  1. Overdrive (3:56)
  2. Rewind (4:46)
  3. The Dark Horse (4:07)
  4. Somebody Save Me (5:57)
  5. Sweet Summer Girl (Florida) (5:26)
  6. The Truth (4:34)
  7. Changing Lights (4:02)
  8. It’s the World (3:51)
  9. Down Day Drag (4:18)
  10. While I’m Away (5:00)