The thing with L.A. Guns, at least in my eyes, is that you pretty much know what you are going to get just as long as vocalist Phil Lewis is fronting the band. They have definitely been a mixed bag without Lewis (AMERICAN HARDCORE - pretty bad, WASTED - pretty good, SHRINKING VIOLET pretty solid, BLACKLIST - awful). But when Lewis fronts an entity known as L.A. Guns, you are pretty much guaranteed a solid listening experience from these 80s sleaze rockers. True to form, HOLLYWOOD FOREVER is a solid effort once again from LA Guns.
To be honest, L.A. Guns has been consistently good but never great after the release of COCKED AND LOADED a zillion years ago. While they have had several lineup changes and multiple versions of the band over the years, the consistent (and the only "real" L.A. Guns in my opinion) has been the version with Phil Lewis and drummer Steve Riley. Their last album, TALES FROM THE STRIP, had its solid moments, but ultimately ended up filed away next to most of their albums in the collection. With HOLLYWOOD FOREVER, it's more of the same. L.A. Guns have put forth a solid effort that rocks, but ultimately doesn't have a lot of songs that stick with you for a really long time. In short, they are writing good songs that will enable them to keep touring, but not great ones that will propel them back into any sort of prominence.
Again, HOLLYWOOD FOREVER is a pretty solid effort. There's some good rockers here, and there's a song or two that feel ripped from their HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES era as well. Probably my favorite song on the disc is one that exhibits this; the midtempo rocker "Sweet Mystery". This song features Lewis providing a more vulnerable, deep vocal performance than his standard sound generally provides. In many ways, the vocal performance is similar to "It's Over Now" from the old days. It also showcases a simple, yet strong solo from guitarist Stacey Blades. Throughout the entire album, Blades seems right at home now in this band. Blades rocks on songs like "You Better Not Love Me", but changes course for a more deliberate tone-setting sound on "Burn". This song is another of the better tunes here, as it's kind of reminiscent of a slightly faster paced version of "Over The Edge"; again from HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES. The entire disc is anchored nicely by bassist Scott Griffin and Riley on drums.
PITRIFF RATING - 76/100 - Solid, but certainly not close to the caliber of their first two albums that were damn near brilliant for their time. It's L.A. Guns - if you liked them before, you will like them now. If you didn't, there's not a note here to change that or the slightest inclination that these guys would even want to try to. This is L.A. Guns doing what L.A. Guns do; it's as simple as that.