L.A. GUNS – Checkered Past

L.A. GUNS - Checkered Past
  • 6.9/10
    L.A. GUNS - Checkered Past - 6.9/10


Frontiers Music
Release date: November 12, 2021

[spoiler title=’Metal Express Radio – Ratings Scale’ style=’default’ collapse_link=’true’]

10.0:         Cannot be improved! Perfect, instant classic! Essential in any record collection.
9.5 – 9.9:  Fantastic, spectacular and outstanding!
9.0 – 9.4:  Amazing release! It just lacks that little extra spice to make it perfect.
8.5 – 8.9:  Exceptional release! Will likely rank among top ten albums of the year.
8.0 – 8.4:  Great release! It has many different qualities.
7.5 – 7.9:  Above average! It is an enjoyable release.
7.0 – 7.4:  It is not brilliant, but has many strong points.
6.0 – 6.9:  It has its moments, but is not that strong.
5.0 – 5.9:  Slightly above average, does not stand out. Good outweighs bad by just a little.
4.0 – 4.9:  Just below average, bad outweighs good by just a little.
3.0 – 3.9:  Mediocre. There might be a song or a performance that is enjoyable, but that is it.
2.0 – 2.9:  Very weak! There might be a light at the end of the tunnel, too many flaws.
1.0 – 1.9:  This release gives the word “terrible” new meaning.
0.1 – 0.9:  Awful! Avoid at all cost. There is nothing good to say about this release.


User Review
7.25/10 (2 votes)

The Backstory

Checkered Past is the 13th studio album (14th depending on who you ask) by Hollywood Strip Glam Rock legends L.A. Guns. It is the third album since Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis reunited for their debut album for Frontiers Music, The Missing Piece (2017).

The Album

The openening track “Cannonball” strikes at full speed with its Hard Rock swagger. It almost hits you like a…. you know. “Bad Luck Charm” is driven by a Blues shuffle, which makes sense because a lot of blues songs are about being down and out. However the twist here is Phil doesn’t care if he’s hexed. “Get Along” is acoustically charged. “If It’s Over Now” is the reflective and dark power ballad. It’s a little bit L.A. Guns and a little bit Alice Cooper inspired.

L.A. Guns pushes the pedal to the metal once again on “Better Than You,” with a tempo change here and there. Is this a backhanded commentary towards Riley & Nickels’ L.A. Guns? Most likely. “Dog” has the energy and grittiness of the earliest L.A. Guns material. Phil Lewis flexes his vocal muscle on “That Ain’t Way,” and it still sounds killer after all of these years.

The Verdict

When the energy is in full flow, Checkered Past rocks. When the energy dips down, things get a little boring. 2017’s The Missing Piece still remains L.A. Guns’ strongest album since Guns and Lewis reunited. Now the other factor is, you can pretend that another version of L.A. Guns doesn’t exist, but it does. Last year Riley’s L.A. Guns delivered Renegades and knocked it out of the park. Itn comparison, Checkered Past is a ground rule double at best.


  1. Cannonball
  2. Bad Luck Charm
  3. Living Right Now
  4. Get Along
  5. If It’s Over Now
  6. Better Than You
  7. Knock Me Down
  8. Dog
  9. Let You Down
  10. That Ain’t Why
  11. Physical Itch

L.A. Guns is

Tracii Guns – Guitar
Phil Lewis – Vocals
Johnny Martin – Bass
Ace Von Johnson – Guitar
Scot Coogan – Drums


  • George Dionne

    George was a contributor here at Metal Express Radio, reviewing albums and conducting interviews, out of Massachusetts, USA. George has contributed to numerous music related websites and blogs, and even managed his own from 2004-2009. George's first assignment was covering a live show by the mighty GWAR. By contrast his later assignments featured Judas Priest, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi. George was also the front man for the South Eastern Massachusetts cover band Sound Tower from 2009-2015.  Sound Tower played 300+ shows across MA and had two original songs on the Cape Cod radio station PIXY 103. George enjoys a good whiskey, scotch, and/or bourbon and fights crime in his spare time.

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