Ear to the sound

Mötley Crüe – Saints Of Los Angeles by quickfixx
 L.A bad boys Motley Crue have finally got round to releasing a new album after 8 years. Even the previous album (2000’s ‘New Tattoo’) didn’t feature the original line up (drummer Tommy Lee was absent from recordings). ‘Generation Swine’ (1997) was written in part by Corabi during his stint as vocalist / second guitarist, he also contributed to the self titled ‘Motley Crue’ therefore discounting these as full Motley Crue contributions, making ‘Saints of Los Angeles’ the first album since 1989’s ‘Dr Feelgood’ to feature all four members. It was described by band members prior to release as a kind of soundtrack to the band’s autobiography entitled ‘The Dirt’. So you could say they have a fair amount to live up to with the release of the album in June 2008.

The first single to be released was the title track and features tales of debauchery, pretty much setting the scene for the entire record’s focus. All things considered its clear to see that they couldn’t have chosen a better song to sell the upcoming album because quite simply, it packs a mean punch. The chunky guitar riffs and the shout along chorus makes for a classic sounding Crue song that you can easily envisage being blasted at stadiums around the world on the forthcoming ‘Cruefest’.
      The album contains 13 tracks (an omen?) which include the prelude to the album entitled ‘L.A.M.F’ which closely resembles the openers on what may be viewed as ‘classic’ Crue albums like ‘Shout at the Devil’ with the aptly titled intro song ‘In the Beginning’ and ‘Dr Feelgood’ with the eerie opener ‘T.N.T’. Track 1 totally prepares you for the lyrical content of the album, a dark and twisted tale of four self proclaimed ‘saints’.
      “It’s a dirty job but someones gotta do it!” sums up the Crue’s attitude perfectly as they launch into a rip-roaringtrack that satisfies any of those hopes and aspirations you may have had for the album. It’s fast paced, Neil’s vocals fit neatly over the top of the predominant guitars with the tight combination of Sixx and Lee bringing up the rear.
      “What’s it gunna take” is softer but has more of a definate groove to it, offering a contrast to the previous track and showing that Motley Crue isn’t just a one trick pony. This song tells of the struggle of making it big in a culturally saturated part of America where the Crue were shunned at the beginning of their careers but have ultimately come out on top despite being proclaimed “Too Loud” by all the radio stations!
      As the familiar feedback kicks in for the start of ‘Down at the Whisky’ you know this is going to be a punchy anthem. You would be right, particularly shining on this track is Tommy Lee who’s drums come pounding through the pick slides, subtle guitar solo (not to be overlooked) and signature sweet voice of Neil. The Motley boys definitely ‘make a scene’ with this song and it will stay in your head allday if you aren’t careful!
      Ever thought you’d hear the Lord’s Prayer on a Motley album? Well you have now! The satanic twist still lives on in the Crue as the common representation of innocenceis mutated as the intro to the stand out track ‘Saints of Los Angeles’. This song has verses as catchy as ‘Sick Love Song’ and a chorus that packs one hell of a punch that could leave you gasping for breath if you even dared to underestimate this album. The riffs and licks present on this song just totally go back to the mid 80’s Crue that we all knew and loved, with all industrial and alt rock sounds sent to the S.I.N bin! Mars dive bombs through a solo with his trademark high pitched pinches and leaves you just wanting more… 
      The more you were waiting for comes in the next song. One word to describe this track would definitely be crunching. It drives home that classic Motley riff while Neil soars over the top with the chorus, almost sickly sweet yet again but isn’t this what we’ve all been waiting for?! ‘M*****F****** of the Year’ definitely doesn’t hold back and totally immerses the listener. The layering from Mars on guitar and Neil on vocals totally enhances the song, giving it a deep and hugely powerful sound that they perfected in the production of ‘Dr Feelgood’ all the way back in 1989. The solo is a particular standout moment and complements the song entirely rather than seeming as though it is simply there because you HAVE to have a guitar solo.
      ‘The Animal in Me’ certainly is a more sensitive and inward looking song that perhaps is the most noticeable for external influence in the songwriting department. Sixx had help this time for SOLA not just from his Motley partners but also from Sixx:AM bandmates; DJ Ashba, James Michael and also Marti Frederiksen who wrote a large amount of post 1990 Aerosmith songs and also produced some of their albums. Perhaps aimed at radio audiences rather than stadium ones you can’t imagine this song making it into a greatest hits album any time soon.
     Anybody up for a bit of industry slating and a slice of Sixx venting his seemingly never ending anger at record companies? Though so. ‘Welcome to the Machine’ may not be one to stand out in your mind on the first listen, but after heard it a couple of time it’s entirely worth it’s slot on the album. With Neil panting half way in it seems like as described in ‘The Dirt’; totally exhausting! Hearing the pent up frustration that they seemed to feel at their record label (Elektra back in the day) it’s no wonder that they went on to form their own!
      Nikki Sixx could easily be recognise as the rockstar who pushed the boundries the furthest (with the exception of Lemmy perhaps). Dying twice seems to have it’s benefits though, as the tormented and dillusional life he led around his deaths to have provided him with endless song writing ammunition! Having completed an album already on the subject of his worst experiences with smack in 1987 it’s surprising that he could russle up another. But no, he’s done it! The song is catchy enough and provides some thrills but yet again doesn’t quite meet the expectations drawns from the what can be seen as the centre piece of the album (the deadly combination of ‘Saints’ and ‘M*****F***** of the year’)
      For those of you who have read Sixx’s’Heroin Diaries’ you will see which andle the next track comes from. For those of you who haven’t (why not!?) it refers to a slogan Sixx often adopted in his writing. After encounters with women who more often than not caused only hell for the addled rocker he would frequently write in his diaries in big bold letters “Chixx= Trouble”. The song itself is one of the stand out moments on the record, it has the required shout along chorus that screams Motley Crue! Certainly one for the Ipod!
       Listen to the drums on the following intro as they first kick in and you will think to yourself “Surely not!” as it really does sound like they’ll kick into a (Shout at the Devil ’97’ esque) update of ‘Too Young to Fall in Love’. But it’s OK as they know that they couldn’timprove it, so instead they play ‘This Ain’t a Love Song’. Comedy? Motley Crue? Well ‘This Ain’t a Love Song’ has a huge portion of tongue in cheek lyrics to accompany the hammering drums. Neilgoes on to state that although this ‘Ain’t a love song, it’s just a f*** song!”making it blatantly obvious what the intentions of the young and lustful musicians were during their height of fame.
      As we all know by now, the Crue like to remind us just what a bunch of misfits they are! This song does just that, they take pride in their attire and attitude and simply ‘don’t give a damn’. The tales of sex booze and drugs displayed in the bands autobiography is reflected in its truest and most sleazy form by this song. The swing and swagger that is conveyed by the twisted circus riff is really catchy and would have been totally at home being play on the Carnival of Sins tour, with the psycho clowns and PVC clad lesbian acrobats!
      Going out with a bang is important, and Motley Crue sure know how to go out with one! The more up tempo song ‘Going Out Swinging’ gets the blood racing and is remeniscant of classic speed offenders like ‘Kickstart My Heart’. The crunching and punching riff drives home the message that these guys are a gang, nobody is going to mess with them and put simply by the band themselves “come on, bring it!”
      As a whole the album is a complete success, it provides everything expected for a new Motley Crue album and some! As a loose idea of a concept album the lyrics seem to work, though on some songs a whiff of cheddar can be identified. The songwriting is good in general, excellent on songs like ‘Saints of Los Angeles’, ‘M*****F***** of the Year’ and ‘Going out Swinging’ but there are weaker numbers that really lack the attitude and energy that you get from the high flyers on the album. The trakcs that maybe drag the album down and add no real power to it would stand out as ‘Animal in Me’ and ‘Welcome to the Machine’. Having been somewhat dissapointed with the music produced by Sixx:AM for the soundtrack to the ‘Heroin Diaries’ it was hard not to think to myself that having Michaels working on the songwriting wouldn’t be a good thing (Ashba proved himself in Beautiful Creatures and BulletBoys). The overall effect doesn’t seem that bad, but you can clearly see that there is a stylistic change in the two songs mentioned above that detract from the overall feel (not so much in  ‘Just Another Psycho’ though it is clear that this was another Michael influence). The production is good, keeping with the larger than life sound that defines Motley Crue but making more use of layering. Consequently despite my negative preconseptions about having James Michael produce he has done a brilliant job for a band who could have been tricky customers (Sixx knows what he wants, and he’s gunna get it!). What more could a Cruehead ask for? This album provides enough songs of debauchery and drug addiction to leave you feeling somewhat drained (or maybe that was just the partying along) it also leaves you craving, craving not only for the next studio album, but also for this summers Cruefest.    

1 Comment so far
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Rock on dude!! Yeah, this is what rock music should be played! Crue gets it right this time. I hope it will bring more great rock bands to come out with their “true to their roots” album. Bring on Van Halen and Metallica!

Comment by ibenimages

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