The 80s produced many different well known subgenres of “metal,” from speed to thrash to progressive to glam. But there’s one subcategory of the style that’s not quite as established in the vernacular of rock aficionados: sleaze.
Often confused with glam, sleaze rockers were regularly lumped together with fellow makeup wearing, big hair bands from the era. In reality, however, there was a major distinction. While most sleaze metal practitioners unapologetically lathered on the lipstick and blush and sported manes as high as the best of them, they proved to be much heavier sonically than their more glamorous, pop-oriented brethren.
L.A. Guns, perhaps more than any other act that originated in the decadent decade, personified the gritty sound of sleaze to perfection. Led by original Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist Tracii Guns and former Girl vocalist Phil Lewis, the group burst onto the rock scene 30 years ago with their tremendous self-titled debut effort, an album that spawned classics such as “One More Reason,” “No Mercy,” and “Sex Action.” Cocked & Loaded would follow only a year later, carried partially by the infectious anthem “Never Enough” but mostly by the band’s most successful tune, the tragic ode to legendary 50s and 60s film actress Jayne Mansfield, “The Ballad Of Jayne.”
While the group would go on to release several more records throughout the years, their inability to get along, the evolving musical climate, and a seemingly endless revolving door of band members (including a period, at one point, of two different versions of L.A. Guns, one with Guns and the other with Lewis) resulted in them never again reaching their previous commercial triumphs.
But don’t tell that to those in attendance at the band’s recent headlining gig on May 4 in Amityville, NY. The Revolution Bar & Music Hall was teeming with loyal followers, as evidenced by their immediate intense interest the moment that Guns and Lewis, along with rhythm guitarist Johnny Monaco, bassist Johnny Martin, and drummer Shane Fitzgibbon, hit the stage playing the first notes of “The Devil Made Me Do It,” one of the tracks off the band’s latest offering, The Missing Peace. Considering its unfamiliar status compared to more recognizable songs from the band’s catalogue, it managed to whet the crowd’s appetite for what was still to come.
Meaty favorites followed, in the forms of “Electric Gypsy,” “No Mercy,” and “Over The Edge,” the latter being the sole selection from the band’s underrated third disc, Hollywood Vampires. Another new cut, “The Flood’s The Fault Of The Rain,” slowed things down a bit midway through the set after such a raucous, frenzied start. But it was Guns’ masterful solo that proved to be what the packed venue was anticipating, as he managed to turn every single person’s focus on the his virtuoso-like guitar work. The epic “Rip And Tear” closed out the evening in typical L.A. Guns fashion, as the spent crowd sang along to every word, exhausted after a full 90 minutes of sweat-inducing fist pumping.
For an act that has certainly had its shares of highs and lows, L.A. Guns are proving that they are currently in the midst of an inarguable high. They are indeed sleaze rock at its finest.
- The Devil Made Me Do It
- Electric Gypsy
- No Mercy
- Over The Edge
- Sex Action
- One More Reason
- The Flood’s The Fault Of The Rain
- Don’t Look At Me That Way
- Never Enough
- The Ballad Of Jayne
- Rip And Tear
Click here for more on L.A. Guns.
Click here for L.A. Guns’ tour dates.
Click here for upcoming shows at Revolution Bar & Music Hall.