Black City Records
Release date: November 8, 2005

Run Time: 65+ minutes

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Without a doubt, L.A. Guns have put out quite a bit of solid material over the years. Unfortunately, the band has often seemed to be right on the verge of getting over the hump and landing into mega-stardom … but that elusive carrot had never been truly attained. Line up changes, missed opportunities, and various levels of internal and/or management strife always tended to get in the way.

When L.A. Guns were first formed, they were tight with the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Mötley Crüe, and other bands coming out of the L.A. area … that has been well-documented. Back in those pre-label contract days, however, L.A. Guns were much more along the lines of having a Ramones-meets-W.A.S.P. musical approach than the Sleaze/Glam Metal direction that they ultimately got grouped into during the late-80s. In the formative years, before Phil Lewis was manning the microphone, there was Paul Mars Black. Tracii Guns, of course, along with Robert Stoddard worked the guitars, Nickey Alexander beat the drums, and Mick Cripps handled the bass duties.

In the mid-80s, that incarnation of L.A. Guns was prone to record demo’s on the run, so to speak, in order to court potential record labels and to have songs to send out to venues to land gigs. Most of these demo’s were at least lightly, if not heavily, written by Paul Black, and more than a handful of these songs eventually made it to the first albums released by L.A. Guns once they signed a recording contract. Most of these songs were subject to name changes and/or musical modification before actually being released to the public, but nonetheless, Paul Black had a significant hand in their original creation.

Not long before L.A. Guns were signed, Paul Black had enough of the bullshit that had and would continue to plague the band, and left to form a band called Black Cherry – a band with some success and a lot of potential that never really landed into mass notoriety. These demo’s were essentially shoved into shoeboxes, into suitcases, or shelved, and it wasn’t until recently that Paul Black was granted “custody” of the original tapes via court ruling. Upon landing rights, Black set his sites on releasing these demo recordings to the public, partly to earn a buck (to be sure) and partly to let the world know that he got the shaft when it came to receiving credit for some of the early success enjoyed by L.A. Guns.

So, the end product of this story is the current release of all of these demo recordings (18 of them), entitled Black List, not by L.A. Guns, but rather Paul Black’s L.A. Guns (to conform with a legal requirement would be a prudent guess). Surprisingly, for demo’s tucked away in various non-conventional storage facilities, the sound of most of these songs really isn’t that bad. As good as current standards? No, but not that far away from the standards found in many mid-80’s recordings.

Also surprisingly, almost all of these tracks are really good. For fans of L.A. Guns, about half of these songs should sound pretty familiar, and should serve as an interesting listen when comparing to what polished up versions and rewrites ended up sounding like. Others that never made it past the demo table are pretty decent too. Overall, the Punk influences run rampant throughout these recordings, and the songs sound very much inspired and “natural,” or no-frills.

The album also comes with a great write-up/history lesson about L.A. Guns prior to their Polygram signing … very insightful, and gives a good perspective about missed opportunities and lack of cohesiveness within the band during a time when they really could have hit the big big time right from the start. The write-up alone is worth part of the cost of this CD … the refreshingly simple and hunger-driven recordings of a band looking to make it big while doing it “their way” is worth the rest. Fans of L.A. Guns shouldn’t hesitate to pick up a copy of Black List to round out their collection, and fans of Sleaze/Punk/Garage Band Hard Rock should look to check out this release too.

Track List

Stranded In L.A. * L.A.P.D. * Show No Mercy * One More Reason To Die * Looking Over My Shoulder * Love & Hate * On And On * Wired And Wide Awake * One Way Ticket To Love * Name Your Poison * Liquid Diamonds * Love Is A Crime * Winters Fool * Everything I Do * A Word To The Wise Guy * Roll The Dice * Black City Breakdown * The Devil In You (performed by Black Cherry)


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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