Supergroups. One of the most despised words in music journalism. But, they are a phenomenon which come together for multiple reasons. Some of them come down to financial considerations – a bunch of down on their luck musos pooling their combined, and often dubious talents, in order to pull together a few meagre shekels in order to stave off the inevitability of having to sell off the last of their beloved copycat Strats to pay for the next meal on the family table. Some come down to some bright-eyed wet-behind-the-ears record company A&R wannabe saying to himself “wouldn’t it be a bright idea to put so-and-so and whomsoever in the same studio?”. But, by and large, they come down to the genuine desire of the individuals concerned to make music together and fuck the circumstances and outcomes…
In the case of the Devil City Angels, it is very much a case of the latter. The band has its roots at a Keith Moon and Jon Entwhistle tribute show, when LA Guns guitarist Tracii Guns, Poison drummer Rikki Rocket and Cinderella bassist Eric Brittingham jammed together on stage. It was like a meeting of ’80s glam metal minds and the trio quickly recruited vocalist Brandon Gibbs – at the time fronting Brittingham’s Cheap Thrill project – and headed into the studio.
The result, a year later, being this self-titled debut album. It’s one which is very much rooted in the pedigree of each of its constituent contributors. But, it’s also one which brings that pedigree kicking and screaming into the modern era. For it is one which demonstrates the experience of its protagonists while at the same time sounding so fresh that it seriously will give anything produced by musicians of a younger generation an extremely serious run for their money.
‘Devil City Angels’ is the sort of album that sounds like a bunch of old mates just having fun. Yet, at the same time, it’s as tight and professional as you would expect of a collection of musicians of this pedigree. Guns’ guitar is raw and passionate, grinding out his crunching, dirty riffs over Brittingham and Rocket’s tight rhythms, while Gibbs’ vocals are gritty and empowered. You can feel the rarity of the basic jams which spawned the finished songs, while at the same time the latter are polished, but not overly so, as there is enough grit under its fingernails to echo the pre-permed days of the glam/sleaze era.
Numb / All My People / Boneyard / I’m Living / No Angels / Goodbye Forever / Ride With Me / All I Need / Back To The Drive / Bad Decisions
Recommended listening: Boneyard
‘Devil City Angels’ is out now in the UK and Europe, and released in North America on September 18, via Century Media.
Tracii Guns is currently touring the UK with Gunzo.