“Hollywood Forever” is the latest release from California rockers LA Guns – the Lewis, Riley, Blades and Griffin version anyway (but lets not get into that old debate…). The album sees the band taking off where “Tales From The Strip” left off in 2005 and if there is one thing this album does, it is revisit old territory. The album, as did “Tales…”, has plenty of flash backs to older releases especially “Cocked and Loaded” and “Hollywood Vampires” – both of which seem to be the favourites of the majority of LA Guns fans. Take the title track for example: it’s as if the band were given the task of recreating “Letting Go” (the opener of 1989’s Cocked and Loaded) but with a modern hard rock edge.
Ballads are what plenty of 80s rock bands were known for, and you can definitely count LA Guns among the ranks of the greatest rock ballads of the turn of the 90s – “The Ballad of Jayne” anyone? When I began listening to Hollywood Forever, it was in eager anticipation of a song, one song, that could possibly match up to the aforementioned hit. I may have been a little bit too optimistic, as the better songs on this album all seem to be the more up tempo edgier tracks. Instead, the ballads are a bit limp. “Sweet Mystery” gathers my attention in the intro, only to be let down by the verse. The song certainly is nice, but that’s just it: “nice” isn’t quite enough.
At 14 tracks, Hollywood Forever does tend to drag a little at times with one too many songs that start off promising but never really get anywhere, such as “Underneath the Sun”. On the other hand, “Queenie” (my personal favourite), “You Better Not Love Me” and “Dirty Black Night” really make up for the lacklustre ballads and hit-and-misses in other songs. “Queenie” is packed full of rock’n’roll rhythm, enough to get Marc Bolan a tad jealous, whereas “You Better Not Love Me” is everything LA Guns are/were known for with its mixture of sleaze and romance (for want of a better word) – it’s easily the “Sex Action” of the 21st Century.
Hollywood Forever is exactly what you would expect from LA Guns in the 21st Century, but although it is pretty much “paint by numbers” sleaze rock for the majority, the album has some hidden gems that could be considered the band’s best work in a long time.