L.A. Guns – The Missing Peace
2017, Frontiers Records
- It’s All the Same to Me
- A Drop of Bleach
- Sticky Fingers
- Baby Gotta Fever
- Kill It or Die
- Don’t Bring a Knife to a Gunfight
- The Flood’s the Fault of the Rain
- The Devil Made Me Do It
- The Missing Peace
- Gave It All Away
Phil Lewis – Vocals
Tracii Guns – Guitar
Michael Grant – Guitar
Johnny Martin – Bass
Shane Fitzgibbon – Drums
Producer: Tracii Guns
After leaving L.A. Guns in 2002, Tracii Guns returned with his own version of L.A. Guns in 2006. At the same time, the original L.A. Guns (led by Phil Lewis & drummer Steve Riley) continued on. Both versions of the band fell apart by 2016, which led to Phil Lewis & Tracii Guns reuniting with a new incarnation on the band. Oddly, there hasn’t been a peep from the exiled Steve Riley, who was a part of the band’s “classic” line-up and served as drummer from 1987-1992 & 1994-2016.
Time will tell if Riley will pop up with his own version of band (he co-owns the name with Tracii last I heard). I’m not sure why he wasn’t a part of this Phil & Tracii reunion, but he should’ve been given he’s been the most consistent member of the group over the decades.
The first thing that struck me on this album was the mix of the album. I had just finished listening to a previous album, and when I started to play this one, I had to to turn the volume up considerably. Not sure what’s going on there as Frontiers releases generally sound great, but the volume and mix is off with this one. Minor complaint, but one I felt worth mentioning.
The music itself is certainly L.A. Guns. While the band has been kind of a joke over the last 15 years or so with all of the drama, two versions of the band and constantly rotating members, at the core you have a great vocalist with Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns is still a shredder who can write some great riffs. He’s certainly one of the best guitarists to come out of the hair metal scene and probably never got his due as a guitar legend.
The Missing Peace is a return to form for the band. The last handful of Lewis/Riley L.A. Guns albums were well-received, but Tracii really puts the Guns back in Guns. Most of this album sounds like classic L.A. Guns. Riffs, sleaze, Phil Lewis wailing… this album makes you think of some bar down on the Sunset Strip. If you listened to 1989’s Cocked & Loaded, and then popped in The Missing Peace, you’d hear a band that hasn’t really lost a step. The songwriting on this album is a bit more mature, but the sound is still very similar.
The band still writes a killer ballad. While not a ripoff, “Christine” might as well have been called “The Ballad of Christine”, as it seems very much an homage to “The Ballad of Jayne” from the band’s second album. “Gave It All Away” is an epic mid-tempo metallic closing number. Not the fastest song the band has ever done, but maybe their most heavy metal moment?
The first five tracks of the album are one fantastic song after another, where again Tracii Gunns proves he is a riff-master and the heart & soul of the band. And there’s no one else I’d rather hear singing over those riffs than Phil Lewis. It is magic when these two create music together. Hopefully they’ll actually stick together this time around.
The Missing Peace (which I’ve always assumed was reference to the band’s rocky history and the fact that the two main members of the group haven’t worked together in 15+ years) is a highlight album for 2017. It fits in with their old material quite well and is a much more consistent album than the recent albums that didn’t feature Tracii Gunns (Tales from the Strip and Hollywood Forever).
Highlights: “It’s All the Same to Me”, “Speed”, “A Drop of Bleach”, “Sticky Fingers”, “Christine”, “Gave It All Away”