So, once again we have more than one version of L.A. Guns recording albums and touring at the same time. Drummer Steve Riley decided to start his own version of L.A. Guns after vocalist Phil Lewis left to rejoin guitarist Tracii Guns after years of being in competing versions of the band. This supposedly left Riley as the only person other than Lewis and Guns with a claim to the name L.A. Guns. I have no legal knowledge of who rightfully does or does not own the name.
However, I have had a chance to listen to new music by both groups calling themselves L.A. Guns and in my opinion, there is no comparison between the two. While I understand Steve Riley’s frustration with the situation, sound-wise, Renegades does not even come close to delivering what I think of as the classic sound of L.A. Guns. He has even brought in former L.A. Guns members Kelly Nickels and Scotty Griffin to round out the line up with singer Kurt Frohlich. Even when the band does its best to capture the classic sound of the original L.A. Guns with the song “Crawl”,(which in my opinion is the best song on the album) it still comes across as a pale comparison to the original. Frohlich isn’t a terrible singer, but he’s also nowhere near the vocal dynamics of Phil Lewis. Scotty Griffin is not anywhere near the level of Tracii Guns blazing solos either. So here’s the problem…If you like L.A. Guns and you want L.A. Guns to sound like you remember them, Steve Riley’s version just doesn’t come close. I understand the Riley believes he has a claim to the band’s name too, but I think he should have called this band by another name and negotiated with Tracii and Phil over a deal that would put the name in their camp. For my money, the duo of Lewis And Guns sounds like the real deal. Musically, Renegades comes across as a complete band project of some kind…but to me, it’s just not L.A. Guns.