The collaboration of Jack Russell and Tracii Guns in Russell / Guns signals the beginning of a new artistic alliance in Los Angeles hard rock. The pair release their debut album, Medusa, today via Frontiers Music Srl.
Russell / Guns – Medusa (Frontiers Music Srl)
Release Date: 12 January 2024
Words: Brian Boyle
Great White and LA Guns were two bands who never maintained their early promise when ’80s rock ruled the earth. In the case of the former, two platinum albums in Once Bitten and … Twice Shy and a gold certification of their cover of Ian Hunter’s Once Bitten, Twice Shy didn’t prove enough for a longer stay at the top table.
In comparison, LA Guns search for true glory was more fleeting. But they did make a decent ripple with their first three albums achieving top fifty status on the Billboard 200.
Fast forward the guts of four decades and Great White frontman Jack Russell and LA Guns commander in chief and guitarist Tracii Guns have pooled their creative resources to give us Medusa.
The fact that Russell was initially unsure about the collaboration might lead you to believe this isn’t something they’ve been longing to do for years. Probably more of a case of Frontiers Music slinging two of Los Angeles rock’s yesterday men together for a bit of suck it and see.
Either way, it works. Opener Next In Line sparks a comparison to a fully plugged Stones with maybe just a little bit more led in their pencil. They’re back on familiar ground with the freewheeling Tell Me Why, a relentless rocker that pounds you hard with every decibel.
As impressive a musician as Tracii Guns is, he was never mentioned much as one of the golden generation of ’80s guitar heroes. Far from a flash Harry, and never one to hide his talent behind an onslaught of shredding, the guy is a born riffer. On Coming Home and For You, he completely rips it up and lays a rock-solid foundation to let Russell do his thing.
Great White’s House Of Broken Love was, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the finest ballads of the ’80s. Let’s face it, there was a fair chunk of them, and most of them were pure shite. This album’s obligatory slowy, Living A Lie, is not quite in the same league, but it’s still head and shoulders above most. Guns’ solo will knock you sideways.
It would be a crying shame if this album was to disappear into the ether. Tracks like In And Out Of Love and Medusa are far from game changers, but they are solid templates for how to construct classic hard rock tunes with a modern twist.
Russell and Guns aren’t trying to recapture the past, seek world domination or attempting to become the second coming of Hall & Oates.
But it’s blatantly obvious that these two elder statesmen of rock are still as serious and passionate about what they put out. Medusa is a fulsome collection of addictive hooks and tasty licks, and this collaboration is well worth a second visit.
Russell-Guns Medusa is available from here.