Motley Crue – Saints Of Los Angeles (2008, Motley Records/Eleven Seven Music)
- Face Down In The Dirt
- What’s It Gonna Take
- Down At The Whiskey
- Saints Of Los Angeles
- Muther Fucker Of The Year
- The Animal In Me
- Welcome To The Machine
- Just Another Psycho
- Chicks = Trouble
- This Ain’t A Love Song
- White Trash Circus
- Goin’ Out Swingin’
Vince Neil – Lead Vocals
Nikki Sixx – Bass
Mick Mars – Guitars
Tommy Lee – Drums
Produced by: James Michael, Nikki Sixx, DJ Ashba
Total Time = 44:10
It’s been just over 10 years since the original lineup of Motley Crue released a new album of original material. Has it really been that long since GENERATION SWINE (1997) and the reunion? It seems like the Crue has been very busy in the last decade or so: tours, live CDs & DVDs, a tell-all book (The Dirt) by the band themselves, box sets, greatest hits albums, solo careers and the band even managed to release an album of new material, NEW TATTOO (2000) with the late Randy Castillo on drums instead of Tommy Lee. Get all that? It’s hard to believe that SAINTS OF LOS ANGELES didn’t come sooner, the question is…..was it worth the wait?
I’ve been a Motley Crue fan since around ’82 when I discovered TOO FAST FOR LOVE at a local record store. I have been excited for every new record, every tour, and every move the band has made for the last 26 years. Hell, I even hated the Crue back in ’83 & ’84 when everyone was jumping on the bandwagon because they were the hot new thing…..secretly, and unknown to my friends, I was listening to TOO FAST FOR LOVE and SHOUT AT THE DEVIL at high volume in my bedroom, LOL! These guys were the baddest band in the land when I was growing up and every Hard Rock band was chasing them in terms of success and excess. So I was definitely psyched to hear new music coming from the Motley camp but I wasn’t sure about the concept: an album loosely based on their collective autobiography The Dirt. The book came out in 2001 and that seems like a long time to release an album based on it. Granted there were personal issues between the original band members but these guys have been back together since the Fall of 2004.
Like most Motley Crue albums after SHOUT AT THE DEVIL (1983), SAINTS OF LOS ANGELES has some really good songs and some filler but the good definitely outweighs the bad. ‘L.A.M.F.’ starts the album off and it’s a spoken word intro by Vince Neil akin to ‘In The Beginning’ from SHOUT. I’m not sure if this intro is really needed and I find it rather annoying so I hit the skip button. ‘Face Down In The Dirt’ is pretty cool and has that trashy vibe to start things off on a high note while ‘What’s It Gonna Take’ slows down slightly and hits a nice groove. My favorite song is ‘Down At The Whiskey’, it has that sound that screams vintage melodic Motley and it has an infectious chorus. What I hear most in this song is Tommy Lee’s inspired drumming (listen to those cymbals crash!) and Mick Mars’ guitar playing, I think that Mick turns in the best performance of all the members on the whole album. More inspired playing from Mr. Mars on the lead single ‘Saints Of Los Angeles’…..sounds a little like ‘Wild Side’ & ‘Dr. Feelgood’ doesn’t it? Comparisons aside, this is probably the best track on the album despite my favorite being ‘Down At The Whiskey’. Motley Crue has always put their best songs forward as singles and videos and ‘Saints’ is no exception…..it has that big sounding chorus thanks to the guest singers (and labelmates/touring partners) and Mick turns in one hell of a performance. I watched the press conference live on TV and when they played ‘Saints’ live, Mick went from basically a cripple to fluid motion almost instantly. Great song, I bet it comes off well in concert.
‘Muther Fucker Of The Year’ starts off the filler. It’s an annoying song with juvenile lyrics, it just seems so unnecessary to have the profanity but this is the Crue so they do it. The first ballad is ‘The Animal In Me’ and is has that whiney Vince vocal that just sounds depressed. It kind of reminds me of ‘If I Die Tomorrow’ from the hits package RED, WHITE, & CRUE (2005), it has that sad vibe but it’s good. One glance at the tracklisting and I was afraid that the band added a Pink Floyd cover to the record with ‘Welcome To The Machine’ but it’s thankfully a gritty, punky original that rocks up like some of the songs did on TOO FAST FOR LOVE. The guitar solo on this song is particularly good and it just makes me respect Mick Mars that much more. Another cool tune is ‘Just Another Psycho’ that has the catchy hook to get me singing along with Vince and there’s a cool bass line from Nikki Sixx that just follows along with the drums to provide the groove. I could do without ‘Chicks = Trouble’, another filler tune for me. Think they’re talking from Tommy Lee’s perspective on this one? Or Vince’s? Or Nikki’s?
A little drum intro starts ‘This Ain’t A Love Song’ and it sounds similar to ‘Primal Scream’ (from DECADE OF DECADENCE) at times, it’s an OK song. ‘White Trash Circus’ has some decent drum beats but the song bores me with it’s chanty singing and dumb lyrics, just awful! ‘Goin’ Out Swingin’ was added to the album late in the game, I think right after the press conference, to add a little punch (forgive the pun) to end the album. The song is uptempo and has some decent guitar lines but it’s repetitve with the title in the lyrics…..I have to give it a “thumbs up” though after the last three duds.
Just a few words here about the package, concept, production and performance….. I like the black and white concept the band is using, it’s basic and gives the band that street look. I’m not cracking on the guy’s medical condition but Mick Mars just looks like one scary bastard! All the promo shots I’ve seen depict Mick as this mysterious, leather-clad, grim reaper type…..very cool. The songwriting tells the sleazy story of the sex, the drugs, the triumph and tragedy of being in one of the most notorious bands in Rock. I can remember different chapters of Motley history on each song…..Nikki is normally the main songwriter and he had a long history to draw inspiration from, I’ll bet everyone contributed much like they did on the book. Production is 2008 modern but you can hear some old school Crue in some of the songs but also some Sixx AM in there too. Obviously, the production assistance Nikki and the band had from James Michael & DJ Ashba (Nikki’s Sixx AM bandmates) had some influence on the sound, it’s sounds great though and is crystal clear. Performance of the album goes to Mick Mars for his inspired guitar playing despite the Ankylosing spondylitis that is ravaging his body. Second place goes to Vince Neil who sounds pretty good on the mic.
I’ve been playing this non-stop since I bought the album and I think it’s a pretty solid record. Like I said before, all Crue albums after the first two have filler but the good songs outweigh the bad. It may not be the next SHOUT AT THE DEVIL or DR. FEELGOOD but I would say that the band has come back with a good album with some great songs and a lot of attitude. Let’s just hope that the Crue won’t wait another 10 years to release a follow-up!
Favorite Songs: ‘Down At The Whiskey’, ‘Saints Of Los Angeles’, ‘The Animal In Me’, ‘Welcome To The Machine’