L.A. Guns celebrate 31 years of their Cocked and Loaded album with a live album recorded and streamed during the pandemic. 10/10
It was in 1991 I finally saw LA Guns live, sandwiched between Love/Hate and Skid Row and it certainly was a teenage dream come true. I had bought Cocked And Loaded (and the newly released Hollywood Vampires) the day they were released and the coach I travelled in was suffused with excitement and the illicit smoke of dozens of fans. Despite the rumours that the band had to borrow the instruments of Love/ Hate – nothing could mar my joy. The line-up, the songs, the company; it would take a lot to beat.
Since that date, I have seen Jizzy Pearl (Love/ Hate) sing LA Guns, the ‘original’ vocalist and songwriter Paul Black with Tracii Guns (and son) and the inimitable Phil Lewis (without Tracii Guns, but with Brent Muscat of Faster Pussycat). But I have failed to view that perfect alliance of precision guitar and vocals again in three decades. With their numerous live albums, there are no regrets and no fears of missing out however this recording is an essential addition for fans and anyone melancholic for live music.
Cocked And Loaded Live was recorded at the Fremont Country Club in Las Vegas, in November 2020 ‘Celebrating 31 years of Cocked And Loaded’ during a pandemic that has limited live music and audience interaction. As much as I would have dearly loved visual footage, its absence enhances the magic (the gig itself had limited capacity, but was available as a live-streamed Pay-Per-View, which I regrettably did not indulge in at the time).
I was nervous with the anticipation of what would unfold as I settled into my favourite chair and cracked a beer for this live replay of an album so integral to my youth. This isn’t the ‘classic’ line-up, I believe LA Guns are close to Hawkwind levels of churn in terms of band members, but bassist Johnny Martin has been involved since 2017’s Missing Peace.
Opening with Slap In The Face, the energy and enthusiasm is palpable and increases to contagion levels within minutes. Guns retains his alarming accuracy while Lewis’s admittedly more mature voice demonstrates greater subtleties (which would be missed drunkenly singing along in the first few rows of an actual gig).
It even sounds live, not the overtly polished, regurgitated turds that are insultingly presented as ‘live’ these days. LA Guns are an actual, accomplished live band, with music that transcends space and time and may induce a state of euphoria.
Cocked And Loaded cannot be faulted, nor can it be faulted live (despite the mild gripe that the album opener, the brief ‘Letting Go’ and the unnecessary ‘I’m Addicted’ instrumental was left out, but the rather splendid ‘Speed’ from The Missing Peace is substituted.
If you are familiar with the band, no matter how familiar you are with the album it’s an exhilarating ride.
If not, this is a bloody marvellous introduction and demonstration of what made rock music great, before the grunge years.
Cocked And Loaded Live can be bought at Amazon on red double vinyl, CD and mp3 download.
Slap In The Face
Rip And Tear
Sleazy Come Easy Go
The Ballad Of Jayne
Give A Little
Showdown (Riot On Sunset)
Wheels Of Fire
I Wanna Be Your Man
Ace Von Johnson