When the final tablets are handed down on the day of rock n’roll judgement, it’s my fervent hope that two names will finally get the full credit they so richly deserve; Those names are Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns, and on this live reworking of one of their best loved albums from the eighties they prove time and again just what a dynamite pairing they make.
This is one of the modern day versions of L.A. Guns, of course, so that means this is Cocked and Loaded sans Nickels, Cripps and Riley, and minus the all-star backing chorus on the album that featured such august names as Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander from Cheap Trick, or Ted Nugent and Derek St. Holmes. But once the needle hits the wax this fact simply doesn’t matter, as the band attack the matter in hand with fire and purpose, reeling in the years with a bravura performance from the two main men that has to be heard to be believed.
Lewis in particular is in absolutely belting form, sounding not a day older than when I first saw him lending his star quality to Irish guitarist Bernie Tormé in the mid-eighties; Whichever particular fountain of youth the man has been drinking from should be bottling the stuff and flogging it to the masses as soon as possible, let me tell you, and his performances on Sleazy Come Easy Go, Never Enough and an absolutely storming Magdalaine are as good as ever I’ve heard from the man.
Indeed Magdalaine is a revelation, heavied up thanks to some fiery finger work from Guns, making the track sound more like UFO in their pomp than anything you might have found on the Sunset strip, and it forms the fulcrum of the album in glorious fashion.
If you loved Cocked and Loaded when it came out in 1989, if you grooved to the snake-hipped big beat of Give A Little at your local rock club like no-one else was watching, or threw shapes in your bedroom to The Ballad of Jayne like twenty thousand people were watching you at Madison Square Gardens, then let me tell you you’re gonna love this live exposition of the band’s glory days. It’ll take you right back – in a good, good way.
Cocked and Loaded is out now.