|By Charlie Goodrich||Sunday, 29 Jun 2008|
A trip to Los Angeles circa 1984 would have yielded a young musician with a world of excess and metal. At this time in musical history, Motley Crue (forgive my lack of umlauts) was one of the founding members of a genre of metal affectionately called ‘hair metal’. They indulged in the excess around them, and their individual lives became derailed.
Guitarist Mick Mars financially hit rock bottom around 2000 when he filed for bankruptcy. Bass player Nikki Sixx was a heroin addict who temporarily lost his life to the drug. Singer Vince Neil killed his friend while driving under the influence. And drummer Tommy Lee served time in jail for the accidental drowning of a young child at his home. Each member of Crue was under the age of twenty-five when they found success in the music business. It took them a long time to grow up and develop beyond adolescence (although I am fairly certain Tommy Lee will never grow up). Despite the low points that surfaced during the lives of these four men, they have endured to record a new album. For the first time in almost ten years, the original members of Motley Crue have assembled and released Saints of Los Angeles. This album tells the story of Motley Crue and their rise to fame in an unforgiving city twenty some years ago.
Saints of Los Angeles oozes with grit. Like the city that inspired its name, the album is dark and grimy. Gone are the soft ballads and pop metal of the 80′s. These men have crafted a soundtrack to Los Angeles that starts off with a warning. “L.A.M.F.” is an introduction that prepares the listener with lines like, “fat cats grovel, ready to steal your innocence, and exploit your soul.” After this, you are catapulted into “Face Down in Dirt” which is a hard hitting rock song powered by Lee’s drumming and Mars’ guitar licks. From this point forward, you realize that Crue is back and they sound sharper than ever. Modern rock bands should take notes on what today’s hard rock should sound like. The energy and electricity Motley Crue captured is unreal. The song “Down at the Whisky” is incredibly catchy and demonstrates how in sync this band can be. Each musician is at the top of his game and each instrument comes together beautifully. Neil’s voice is strong and sounds like he is twenty-five again. Mars’ guitar work is outstanding. It is the main driving force behind every track. The man deserves major recognition for his playing ability. The guitar is deeper from most of their pervious work. It combines a Jerry Cantrell squeal with a classic Motley guitar sound.
Nikki Sixx has always been an average bass player but his main contribution has been song writing. Once again his lyrics shine. You can feel the pain this band went through when you listen to the lyrics on Saints of Los Angeles. Sleazy managers, drugs, women, and living in squalor are the themes this band discusses. It paints a vivid portrait for anyone who listens. My personal favorite track would be the title song. It opens with an eerie bass line followed by a Mars’ riff that reminds me of “Kickstart my Heart”. Deep into the song Neil screams, “Give it up, give it up” which signifies giving in to the hard rock lifestyle. It crescendos at the perfect point in the song and is a great example that Motley Crue have evolved as musicians. Despite the greatness, I feel there are a few weak spots on the album. “Welcome to the Machine” and “Just Another Psycho” are very strong lyrically but lack distinction.
Saints of Los Angeles breathes new life into Motley Crue without the band trying to recapture its glory from the 80′s. The intensity and speed is back in full force, and there are no songs of love lost or the use of an acoustic guitar. Modern rock just got a kick in the ass, courtesy of Motley Crue. Now wake up and rock hard.