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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

LA Guns

Shrinking Violet (Deluxe Reissue)

Review by Gary Hill

Perhaps it’s metal, perhaps it’s not, but either way, this disc is cool. LA Guns is forever tied musically to Guns N Roses through Tracii Guns, but you really don’t hear a lot of the GNR sound on this set. The album is a reissue of a classic LA Guns disc and is very diverse in sound. They’ve added some live tracks to the mix at the end as a bonus and there’s not a weak cut on show here. It’s a great set and highly recommended.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Girl You Turn Me On

Fiery hard rock meets metal on this. The cut makes me think of a more punk oriented Motorhead. It’s got some of that LA metal sound from the 1980’s, too (think Motley Crue). The instrumental break here really does a great job of showing off that punk Motorhead sound.

Shrinking Violet
Less punky, this hard rocking metal sound reminds me quite a bit of Alice Cooper. It’s got a grinding riff pattern that had to have been very influential because it really became popular in metal in recent years. There’s a killer bridge that appropriately calls to mind Guns N Roses.
Dreamtime
A metal ballad, this is a great tune. It’s raw, but also incredibly tasty. I can make out hints of both Alice Cooper and Guns N Roses here. 
Barbed Wire
This is definitely a change. It starts with keyboards and then moves out into a balladic jam that’s quite cool. It powers out for a metallic chorus. The cut continues to grow and takes on some very progressive rock oriented elements in a distinctly Zeppelin-like jam later. It drops to an acoustic guitar solo with flamenco leanings further down the road. This motif eventually ends the cut.
I'll Be There
The motif that leads this off makes me think quite a bit of Metallica. As it pounds out from there, that element is still prominent, but perhaps you might pick up some Motley Crue, too. This is one of the heaviest pieces on show here, and yet it has a rather power pop-like chorus. 
California
Take an early Motley Crue sound. Blend in some Alice Cooper and some Guns N Roses. Now, you’ve got a great idea of what this smoking rocker sounds like.
Cherries
Here’s a real screamer that’s a raw metal number. It’s got that Motley Crue thing going on, but the Alice Cooper element is here, too and I can actually make out some Dead Boys on this, too. 
Big Lil' Thing
The riff that drives this thing is really cool. The cut has an almost Suicidal Tendencies element to it. 
Bad Whiskey
A twelve bar blues progression is the basis for this hard rocker. It’s a smoking blues jam that has a lot of AC/DC in it. 
Decide
The first of five live bonus tracks, this track is quite progressive rock like. It’s definitely LA Guns, but it’s got some intriguing changes and vibes. There are portions that remind me quite a bit of Led Zeppelin, too. This is without question one of my favorite songs on the set. It’s got a killer instrumental section with one of the coolest guitar solos on the whole disc. 
Rip And Tear
With some killer vocal and guitar interplay, this really reminds me a lot of Led Zeppelin. I don’t know that anyone could convince me that it is actually Zep, but I’ve heard a lot of live jams from them that were not that different from this. It’s another highlight of the set and a real powerhouse. Later it becomes more along the lines of AC/DC.
Never Enough
This is more of a straightforward metal stomper. It’s not the most original or unique thing on the set, but it’s also quite a strong tune. Parts of this make me think of Montrose. It’s another of the live bonus tracks. 
The Ballad Of Jayne
With a classic rock meets metal ballad approach, this does call to mind a number of bands. Guns N Roses are one of them, but so are the Black Crowes. There’s even a bit of a country edge to this, linking it a bit to southern rock. It’s another of the live bonuses. 
One More Reason
The final track of the set is also the final live bonus. It’s one of the most purely metallic cuts here and is really pretty heavy. It’s got a lot of that 1980’s metal element to it. I can make out a good chunk of Guns N Roses, too. While it’s not my favorite track on show here, there are some cool things about it (the guitar solo is definitely one of them).
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