Back in 2020, I reviewed an album by a band called “LA Guns”. I got an indignant email from their US PR man after I published it. his rage basically centred on the fact that I’d written about the Microsoft had decided to put some stock images up as I played it on my laptop and they were of the classic LA Guns line up. He wasn’t happy that I’d mentioned LA Guns on a review of “LA Guns”. Confused?

It’s simple, really. There’s two versions of the band. One’s got Tracii Guns and Phil Lewis in. The other one doesn’t. This one does. Therefore this one is LA Guns. Have we cleared that up?

“Diamonds” is their fourth studio record since Lewis re-joined in 2017, there’s also been at least one live album, and a Christmas EP which involved William Shatner in arguably the greatest cameo in recorded history.

The point is, either they are making up for lost time, or they are so brimming with ideas that the records just flow right now. On the evidence of “Diamonds”, it’s the latter.

Back in 1991, Guns were the main support to Skid Row at Birmingham NEC, in the first proper gig I ever saw. They were touring the “Hollywood Vampires” album then, and “You Betray” ensures that “Diamonds opens in a way that’s more “Hollywood Vampires” than “Sex Action”, if you will, and if “Wrong About You” is gloriously sleazy, with the frankly x rated couplet. “Sweet like Jam but your jelly goes bitter” (they probably aren’t talking about preserves here at a guess?), then they’ve always had more going on than their peers.

To that end, “Diamonds” is a power ballad, with the lyrics “I know we’re broken but we shine like a diamond”. It seems like they might be discussing themselves, while the brilliant “Babylon” showcases punk influences, with nods to Hanoi Rocks. Lewis has never sounded more English than when he offers “You’re playing with fire now and I’m the extinguisher” and “Shame” has a filthy blues groove.

As if to underline they can still knock out the old school stuff, “Shattered Glass” is a classic sound bottled perfectly, with Ace Von Johnson and Tracii Guns dovetailing perfectly on guitar.

Indeed, their DNA is right through this like a fingerprint. “Gonna Lose” even has an Americana tinge, but still sounds like LA Guns. It’s quite a feat. “Got It Right” has an energy, and it’s remarkable how it sounds like the 80s without feeling dated. “Lowlife” revels in its outsider status as it boogies, and perhaps that’s why they still fit in – because they never have, not really. They’ve always done things in their own way, and so it is that “Crying” in many ways brings us back full circle, with the same psychedelic and 70s tinges as the opener.

“Like A Drug” concludes the record, and it rolls back the years. It grooves and Lewis sounds like he’s been huffing glue for about three days down the park, its brilliant too.

So is “Diamonds”, but more widely so are LA Guns. Arguably more consistent than at any other point in their career, certainly I’d argue that they’ve never made four albums in a row as good as the ones that they’ve done since 2017. They’ve got their history, they’ve got their baggage, but like the song says: sometimes even broken glass shines like a diamond.

Growing older does not have to mean getting dull, or rehashing the past. There are many bands who could learn from them, the one and only LA Guns.

Rating 9/10

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