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WINTER ALBUM ROUNDUP : Straight Shooters : Check List * * * * Great Balls of Fire * * * Good Vibrations * * Maybe Baby * Running on Empty :

February 14, 1988|SHARON LIVETEN

* * * L.A. GUNS. "L.A. Guns." Polygram/Vertigo. With Los Angeles considering the ban on realistic toy guns within the city limits, L.A. Guns should have had better taste than to pose on the sleeve of their self-titled debut with fake (we hope) Uzis and bazookas. Oh, well.

So the band isn't a perfect role model; L.A. Guns has spitfire, gritty charm and sounds terrific on the highway. Though bits of Led Zep and Van Halen show up in the most extraordinary places, L.A. Guns sounds unexpectedly fresh and remarkably unpretentious. A lot of credit can be given to producer Jim Faraci for bucking the current trend in hard rock toward squeaky-clean sounding records. This album boasts unobtrusive messy production that suits the straight-ahead grunginess of the material. The record is at it's best on the sweat-soaked anthems: "No Mercy," "Down in the City" and "Shoot for Thrills." "L.A. Guns" is far from the ultimate metal album, but it's a step in the right direction.

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