The Favored Nations label chose a winner here when they decided to release a unique live acoustic album from the usually electric-sounding Hollywood band L.A. Guns. It’s a pleasant surprise.
Many may know L.A. Guns as the ’80s sleaze hard rock/metal band fronted by the British vocalist Phil Lewis (ex-Girl). Lewis’ voice is a gift to any rock ‘n’ roll band. But vocalist Jizzy Pearl may be the better voice for the live performance of “Acoustic Gypsy Live.” Pearl’s strong, raspy and soulful vocals compliment the acoustic style of this live show. In fact, his rendition of Otis Redding’s “These Arms of Mine” may be better than Paul Rodger’s when he sang it for Bill Wyman’s superstar charity project Willie and the Poor Boys in the ’80s — and that’s pretty damn good.
All the songs from L.A. Guns self-titled debut album come off exceptionally well. “Electric Gypsy” sounds uniquely brilliant, “Sex Action” surprisingly evolved and “One Way Ticket” may sound better than the original studio version’s ballad.
While L.A Guns’ 1988 debut album was raw, punkish and glammy in all the right ways, their second album the very next year, “Cocked and Loaded,” took a step down into the more generic hair metal mix of the day. Its hard rock distillery almost went from killer authentic moonshine to Coors Light in a flash— and it really shouldn’t be any surprise that the songs from “Cocked and Loaded” don’t translate as well acoustically. It’s almost as if some of the sleaze rubs off some of the organic soul of it. For instance, “Never Enough” and “Rip and Tear” don’t really work out and are the only real blemishes on an otherwise perfectly-done acoustic live album.
L.A. Guns founder/guitarist Tracii Guns claims that he had not played a show acoustically since high school. Well, he certainly could have fooled me. The guitar work sounds wonderful and the arrangements for most of the songs are fantastic.
With the many formations and line-up changes of L.A. Guns it can get confusing on where the listener’s loyalty should go, but let’s face it, Tracii Guns is the real L.A. Guns. He owns the soul of the band. And he proves that here. He’s still got it.