It’s hard to believe it’s been two decades since Motley Crue released Dr. Feelgood (1989). For the band’s four original members, the past twenty years have been just as volitile as their hard hitting music. While the band was on top of the world, vocalist Vince Neil quit and was replaced by John Corabi. Corabi’s departure/Neil’s re-arrival a few years later was marked by drummer Tommy Lee’s departure. Lee was replaced first by ex-Ozzy Osbourne drummer Randy Castillo, and later ex-Hole drummer Samantha Maloney, who had an affair with Nikki Sixx. After multiple rounds of name calling and everybody-suing-everybody (including each other), Motley Crue dissolved and the band members went their own ways. Vince Neil continued his solo career, Nikki Sixx founded bands 58, Brides of Destruction and Sixx: AM, Tommy Lee founded Methods of Mayhem, married Pamela Anderson and appeared in his own reality television program, and guitarist Mick Mars disappeared from the public eye.
When I heard that Motley Crue was set to release a new album, their first with the band’s original lineup in over a decade, I was both excited and nervous. Would we get a nu-metal version of the Crue along the lines of Shout at the Devil ’97? Would the group be able to put their differences behind them and actually kick out some rock?
Yes. Yes, yes, yes!
Saints of Los Angeles, Motley Crue’s ninth studio album, finds the wild foursome back in top form. Loosely based on the band’s 2001 autobiography “The Dirt”, SoLA includes twelve songs based on topics any old school Crueheads should find familiar: sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
Nikki Sixx (historically the band’s primary songwriter) shares writing credits on SoLA with every member of his other band, Sixx: A.M. All thirteen tracks were written by Nikki Sixx, DJ Ashaba (guitarist, Sixx: A.M.), Marti Frederiksen (producer, Sixx: A.M.) and James Michael (vocals, Sixx: A.M.). Mick Mars contributed to seven of the album’s tracks, and Tommy Lee contributed to one. Any fears that SoLA sounds like anything but a Motley Crue album went right out the window with the first Mick Mars’ signature guitar sound.
The songs on SoLA all sound like Classic Crue (a’la Girls, Girls, Girls) but cleaner, tighter and thicker. In fact, it’s hard to remember a time when the band sounded better. Through a pair of headphones the layers of guitars sound amazing. Sixx and Lee deliver the same solid back end they’ve been hammering out for years, and Vince Neil sounds better than he has in ages — whether that’s due to the song writing team or simply studio production, who’s to say.
The album’s first two singles (“Saints of Los Angeles” and “Mutherfucker of the Year”) sum up the band’s current sound, style, and attitude. Those who have read The Dirt (or have ever listened to Motley Crue) won’t be surprised at the album’s lyrical content. One of the band’s favorite topics (girls) gets plenty of attention on “Chicks = Trouble”, “The Animal in Me” and “This Ain’t a Love Song”. There’s plenty of old memories wrapped up in “Down at the Whiskey” and “White Trash Circus”, and in true Motley fashion, the album ends with the band literally “Goin’ Out Swinging”. Despite the fact that half of Motley Crue is over 50, I get the feeling they could probably still kick your ass, or go down trying.
Saints of Los Angeles is Motley Crue’s best work since Dr. Feelgood and definitely holds its own alongside the band’s classic 80s albums. Motley Crue is back, big time.
02. Face Down In The Dirt
03. Whats It Gonna Take
04. Down At The Whiskey
05. Saints of Los Angeles
06. Mutherfucker Of The Year
07. The Animal In Me
08. Welcome To The Machine
09. Just Another Psycho
10. Chicks = Trouble
11. This Aint A Love Song
12. White Trash Circus
13. Goin Out Swingin’
On the Web: Motley.com