PROPHETS OF ADDICTION are led by a tall and skinny Sunset Strip die-hard, named Lesli Sanders. His regal rock star posturing is quite entertaining, and his cartoon character, gutter-punk band are a promising hybrid of catchy, pop-punk sing-along's, and hedonistic sleaze-rock decadence. His wet cat singing style reminds you of Bill the Cat from the old "Bloom County" comic strip, Billy Hopeless from Black Halos, and Faster Pussycat's Taime Downe. His boppy, poppy, glammish sound is bashed out by an animated band of weirdoes, who will make you smile, especially if you were ever a fan of the Toilet Boys, D-Generation, Dogs D'Amour, the Throbs, etc. His drummer's hair looks like pink cotton candy, reminding me of the purple haired Zeros, the Krayola Kids, Orphan Punks, Peppermint Creeps...all those bands. The guitar player is amazing. "Altar Of Altercation", and "Rejection" could be actual hits, if only, they had the Big-Machine behind them. Lesli, thankfully, does not have an "American Idol", or "Glee" style of singing-voice, but what he does have, in spades, in star presence, a chrome heart, and a raunchy authenticity, sadly lacking, in most all of those whiney, corporate-manufactured, so-called, "punk" bands, we have to hear, on the radio, nowadays.
"I remember way back when, I was just like you..."
....Who knew? It turns out the real L.A. GUNS is Phil Lewis and Steve Riley. There's been plenty of confusion, these past twenty years, what with the thrashy l.p., from the grunge era, and endless promises to reunite with old-school fan faves, Cripps, and Nickels...Tracii's stint on the road with the pre-Axl, L.A. Guns vocalist, Paul Black, from the Mau-Maus, Joneses, Sonic Boom, etc., Tracii quitting the band, to join Nikki's silly, Brides Of Destruction. Tracii's touring with his kid, and random dweebs from television unreality shows, all this sort of nonsense, that divides the fan-base and damages the brand. Some Beautiful Creatures dude came and went. Lotsa Pussycats, Love/Hates, Big Bang Babies. This current line-up has effectively coalesced into a rebellious, black-leather barbarian, motorcycle-punk band. It's the L.A. GUNS we were always waiting for. Part Zodiac Mindwarp And The Love Reaction, part Motorhead, part Sex Pistols, part SLADE!!! Very surprising to see Phil Lewis, Stacey Blades, Scotty Griffin, and that old W.A.S.P., Steve Riley, rip and tear away all the old roll-calls, thus, salvaging their own legacy, and bringing "the fight" back to the gun-fight. These leather-clad crypt-keepers did not come to fuck around. Blades is a perfect counter-part to Phil Lewis. He gets it. He's ninety-nine percent energetic, 70's glitter stompin', punk'n'rollin' virtuoso motherfucker, one percent dinosaur-metal wanker. I was very impressed. Everything you look for, if you still harbor any last, lingering, pale delusions of finding a guitar hero, to help you put a band back together, to reclaim your long-lost glory, man, this brother is an absolute soldier, and I was never a big Roxx Gang fan. If you're in a band, you should go out, to see the current line-up of L.A. GUNS perform, if only to be reminded of what the real rock'n'roll people deserve to see, at a show, but particularly, in tough times, like these: pure spectacle, hard working, emotive, theatrical showmanship, that forges a bond with a crowd of skeptics, like me, and the everyday blue-collar people, the great unwashed, just struggling to make ends meet.
With the radiation clouds floating in from Japan, the oil catastrophe in the Gulf, a million people about to die from starvation-by-design in North Korea, while all our kids are getting sick here, in the States, with various shades of autism-and we can't sue the crooked vaccine-makers, thanks to the crooked Supreme Court...All the animals falling dead, the fish and dolphins washing up on the beaches, the honey bees and lightning bugs vanishing, birds dropping out of the sky...If the neo-con dominated, corporate-owned, permanent war-state we inhabit, tramples on our most basic civil liberties, and human rights, if human rights advocates are openly tortured for exposing war crimes, and the American people are lied to, non-stop, by the media-elites, and it doesn't seem like, "We, The People" have much say, about the oil barons, and Intel-execs, bombing still more, innocent, brown-skinned, poor people ("For peace") in oil-rich nations, or in regards to the prohibitively expensive university-tuition pyramid schemes, or the international banksters diabolical "austerity" measures, and we're all gettin' sick from the mutant-viruses, and the shit they're dumping in to the oceans and the skies, and every last one of us is going broke, while the billionaires finance these smug, far-right, toadies to cut social services, and outlaw our unions, and most of us are just struggling to barely even get by...Well, we deserve to see this caliber of street-fightin' punk rock excellence, if we go scraping through the old jacket pockets, car ashtrays, and couch-cushions, to buy a ticket, this is the kind of show we ought to see.
Most groups who appeared on "Headbanger's Ball" twenty years ago, are still so impressed with themselves, that they only want to play at the big, outdoor, summer festivals with the army-recruiter booths, for top dollar, or in the five or six biggest cities, where the top models, media-professionals, and drug dealers dwell. A band of battle-scarred, unstoppable, road dogs like the newest incarnation of L.A. GUNS can testify, however, that it's actually, in the secondary, and third-string markets, where they can sell the most t-shirts, and receive the most applause, fan-gratitude, and sincere adoration. The big cities bring out all the posers, douche bags, and the Spencer Pratt jaded rich kids. If you want to develop a loyal fan-base of ardently dedicated music enthusiasts, then, you have to go play the shit-holes, in Deadendsville, USA. That's where the real people are. There's never as many boob-jobs, or flash cars parked outside, but the fuglier dives, in the poorer, hillbilly towns, is where you can often, locate the real heart of Saturday Night, as a touring rock band.
MORE PURPLE THAN BLACK....
Phil Lewis is unbelievable, in his old age. Talk about a "seasoned" veteran. The old codger's still an artful dodger, utterly charming. He knows exactly how to generate excitement, lift the people's spirits, he devilishly manifests in a veil of smoke, and bleeds ne'er-do-well personality, all over the stage. I never knew he could sing, or dance this well. Last time I saw L.A. GUNS, was with the Quireboys, twenty years ago, in my own gold lame' prime, and I was immediately bored by Tracii's incessant deedling, and distracted by the crowds of girls taking photographs of me, and my old band mates. 'Ended up going home with a young Virginia Madsen lookalike (*anybody remember "Modern Girls"?) and her sad-eyed room-mate, who insisted on alternating, "Ballad Of Jayne" with the Black Crowes "She Talks To Angels" on the stereo, all night, but it was a sweet evening, in spite of that. Fast forward to here and now, all these guys are still whip-thin and youthful. They could all pass for twenty eight, or twenty nine. 'Bastards. Phil Lewis came swirling out onstage, in a dashing, black leather trench coat, purple plumed top hat, lizard skin trousers, and a designer Charles Manson t shirt. Just Stellar. This guy pulsates with fun loving, cocksure bravado, he storms the stage, and totally has all the women in the first five rows, absolutely swooning, by the end of the first song. Any experienced band of road-worn professionals knows how to make a big entrance and to immediately establish a rapport with the audience, as soon as possible, but that energy usually dissipates, by the third song, their "hit". Not so, with L.A. GUNS, they maintain that peak momentum, throughout the night. Astonishing, really. They must own juicers, take vitamins, and be non-smokers. What stamina, what characters. What entertainment value. Far exceeding my expectations, was the youthful, hyper-talented, rejuvenated, energetic, Phil Lewis. Wow. You really shoulda seen him, "Mach Schau!" He totally put-out, full-on, seventies-rock star style. His performance was Jaggeresque! John Waite, Michael Des Barres, and Rod Stewart got nothing on Phil Lewis. He's got a fantastic growl, like Joan Jett, and Marc Bolan. An absolutely dynamite showman, I was shocked, really. I might expect Peter Wolf, Peter Zaremba, Michael Monroe, or Billy Idol, to be that good, but Lewis and Blades have really hit their stride, together. They need to make a new album. This foursome deserves to still bask in the rock'n'roll lime-light! The best L.A. GUNS LP might be in front of them. I liked their new song about the trailer park hussy nail technician, who moved to L.A. to deal drugs and sponge off an old rocker. I liked their spooky ballad.
The former Roxx Gang guitarist, Stacey Blades, joined the band when Tracii split to be in Nikki's "Brides Of Destruction", he emanates a fantastic pirate swagger, that reminds me of Cobalt Stargazer, when he was young and thin, very good at all the shape-throwing, like Keith 'n' Ronnie, but he can also, impress the male, "GUITAR MAGAZINE" subscribing, weekend-warrior types, who go schoolgirl-giddy, over all the "blistering", wanking, hammer-on's. During his obligatory, eighties-metal solos, that allow the singer to freshen up, have a quick drink, change outfits, etc., Blades won-over all the rednecks and shredder-happy metal-heads, without ever losing his ferocious Steve Jones/New York Dolls-style, badass attitude.
This stripped-down version of L.A. GUNS did not come to fuck around. You can tell they're all FOUR doing it for the right reasons-a love of really entertaining appreciative audiences, of connecting...to be successful at that, you have to possess a true love of real rock'n'roll. Book-ended between these charismatic guitar stars, Phil Lewis also played some guitar, and the "revamped" L.A. GUNS are really, really runnin' with the boss sound. I noticed two cute, teenish, glam dolls in the mini-skirts, and shredded t-shirts, and Andy McCoy hats, and 'asked 'em if they liked Scottty Griffin as much as Kelley Nickles, and they both looked at me, doe-eyed, and said, "Who?" Griffin exudes that youthful, smiling, Shaun Cassidy/Tiger Beat Magazine, "Shazam", rock star, pinup-boy quality, that all the chicks love. They do attract a strange crowd, quite a mix, of young and old, men and women, Nascar fans, youngish kids texting each other, mechanics, dry-wallers, stonewashed old stoners, bikers, smelley crusty punks, macho weight-lifters, hilljacks in hunting camo, twenty-something emo chicks, and sagging ex-foxes: "See that girl with the fangs? She was a major Groupie, in the eighties...", said the dude, who initially, kept insisting, that I MUST be Phil Lewis, because I had on a silver leather-jacket, and also, have black hair, but they don't bring out a lot of faux-hipster "Spin Magazine", Lady Gaga, electro-trash types, which is kinda nice, actually.
"Never Enough" was cool to hear, again. All the girls go wild during, "Sex Action". I used to make fun of that song, but it actually, sounds pretty bitchin' to me, now. "Electric Gypsy" was another high-point. There were lots of dudes with white beards and bandannas, high-fiving one another. Former pole-dancers, strutting their stuff. I saw a white haired dude in his sixties, DANCING! Pretty cool scene. You know the rhythm section's rockin', when even the old dudes are dancing. I was too deathly-ill, with another bout of these insanely stubborn lab-created viruses, to stick around after, "The Ballad Of Jayne", to find out if they encored with my favorite L.A. GUNS song, "One More Reason". I was just so, so sick, I didn't speak to any of the performers, and stayed sequestered-off, by myself, in the corner, because I didn't want anybody to catch whatever I have, and get sick on tour, so I've no zaney after-party anecdotes, or exclusive video-interviews to share, but I wanted to tell you people how I was not merely satisfied with these black cat rock'n'rollers, I was thoroughly impressed. How many eighties bands can HONESTLY say they're "Better Than Ever"? Not Motley...Not Ratt...Not Axl...L.A. GUNS will shake you all night long. Look for their CD, "Tales From The Strip". As Charlie Sheen would say, they're, "WINNING!" Hollywood Vampires never die....