Another Xmas in Hell (Frontiers)
It’s Christmas, and so we know to expect a deluge of celebrity Christmas records. Most of them will be terrible, but that’s OK. To be honest, it’s nice to have some seasonal music to listen to that isn’t the same old same old. That said, this five-track offering from local rockers L.A. Guns is a very mixed bag.
It starts, amusingly enough, with a deadpan spoken word piece from William Shatner. The actor is reciting what appears to be a voicemail, though the authenticity is dubious — it sounds like a studio-quality recording. Whatever, hearing Captain Kirk listing his favorite L.A. Guns songs for guitarist Tracii Guns is left-field hilarious.
From there, the EP takes a dip. The cover of Billy Squier’s “Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You” falls flat despite the attempts to make it sound like a pub singalong, and the version of Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody” is worse. Singer Phil Lewis is no slouch, but he’s also a very different type of singer to Noddy Holder, and those words need to be belted out. L.A. Guns made the Quiet Riot covers of Slade songs sound great.
From there, though, the record picks up dramatically. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s with the punk tunes. A rapid-fire blast through the “Dreidel” song is fun for its nine-second lifespan, and then The Damned’s “There Ain’t No Sanity Clause” is superb — Lewis clearly relishing playing the snotty frontman.
The closer is a superb version of the Ramones’ “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)” — again showcasing the band’s punky tendencies. So the EP is more than half great, which is about as much as we could reasonably expect from an L.A. Guns Christmas EP. Could be worse — it could have been released by that other version of the band.