Law And Order – “Guilty Of Innocence” (1989)

Law And OrderMCA Records was a notorious failure when it came to hard rock acts.  The strange thing is, I think they had a great ear for talent regarding hair metal!  MCA sought out talented bands that were just left-of-center enough to be considered outsiders in the genre.  (Obviously, I’m splitting hairs here.)  Truth is, MCA signed some damn good bands in the late eighties.  Edgier bands like Lillian Axe, Bang Tango, Sweet F.A., and Spread Eagle all toiled on the MCA roster.  I’m sure I’m forgetting a few others.  Unfortunately, MCA Records’ PR department was not nearly as on-point as their talent scouts.  None of these bands ever made more than a light ripple commercially in the lucrative hair band ocean.  MCA did not do a good job of promoting their acts.  Add Law And Order to the list of MCA casualties.

Law And Order’s debut Guilty Of Innocence is a strong album that checks in with a lusty fourteen songs.  A robust package indeed.  Herein lies the album’s one true flaw — there are too many songs.  While fourteen songs seems like a good bargain (more songs!) I prefer consistent quality over quantity.  Guilty Of Innocence would pack much more of a lasting punch if it included just the ten best songs.  The first half of this album is stellar.  Towards the end of the album, the song quality wanes and my attention fades.  Fourteen songs may seem like a good idea, but sometimes too much just dilutes the impact.  (The LP version leaves off the weak Whiskey — the overly long and soggy finale to the CD.)

Law And Order’s sonic blueprint is not easy to describe.  I think of Law And Order as benevolent like Tesla, but with a little bit of that Guns N’ Roses swagger (yet without the sleaze factor).  A little artsy, a little bluesy, a little street, and a little bohemian.  There are lots of acoustic guitars, both in six and twelve string varieties, to add texture and warmth to the arrangements.  Lead man “Shane” has a commanding presence, even if his voice isn’t exactly world-class.  Much like a singer/songwriter-type, Shane injects plenty of meaning and passion into his vocal delivery.

Killer tunes include Dawg and Your Sister Does.  Law And Order’s cover of Skynyrd’s The Needle And The Spoon is also a strong cut.  Overall, the album is mature and sincere.  Another hidden gem!  My score: A-

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3 thoughts on “Law And Order – “Guilty Of Innocence” (1989)

  1. I own the original LP release, and Whiskey is certainly included. Whiskey is a blues number which differentiates L&O from other bands of the period, and they fall into a 70’s rock genre – not a hair band. Their influences clearly are early hard rockers. Great album, except for the corny title; band’s name was also a questionable choice…

  2. Not your average hair band. Lots of blues influence. My wife and I (girlfriend then) saw them many times at Lamour in Brooklyn and Studio 1 in Newark NJ. They always ended with a long version of whiskey.

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