Tuesday, 1 June 2010

L.A. Guns - Shrinking Violet (Deluxe Reissue)

(To be printed in PowerPlay Magazine Issue 121)

With the name L.A. Guns now referring to two syncretistic bands, the arguably more authentic Tracii Guns led band have reissued their 1999 album Shrinking Violet to remind listeners how a Jizzy Pearl fronted L.A. Guns sounds. Whilst lacking the signature voice of Phil Lewis, Shrinking Violet is a surprisingly strong album throughout. Present as ever are the well delivered guitars and hooks; moments like the title cut’s winding riffs and slithering leads show that Tracii still has a knack for good guitar lines - Pearl even makes a good job of filling his predecessor’s boots, although his signature whine has an awful tendency to sleep to a very uncomfortable screech. Amongst the album’s strongest moments are the slightly more mature tracks, however. For instance, desperado-ballad 'Barbed Wire' sees the band stretching out, moving discreetly from subdued rhythms into a haunting and grandiose guitar-dominated climax, before finishing with a rather tasteful acoustic solo. Indeed, Shrinking Violet shows a lot of variety throughout, from the grungy, bass-heavy skulk of 'I’ll Be There' to the glam-tinged blues of 'Bad Whiskey'and yet, remarkably, nothing sounds out of place.

The reissue sees the addition of some live tracks of the newest incarnation of the Tracii Guns-led L.A. Guns tackling some of the band’s classics more than capably. Whilst cuts like 'Rip N Tear' don’t sound quite right without Lewis behind the mic, the band shows they’re still able to pull of classics like 'Never Enough'. All in all, the live tracks prove a nice bonus for fans new and old alike.

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