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Friday, June 27, 2008

CD Review: Motley Crue - Saints of Los Angeles

Motley Crue - Saints of Los Angeles
2008 Motley Records/Eleven Seven Music
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



Sometimes a long layoff is just the right medicine in terms of finding your motivation if you're a band like Motley Crue that still manages to call the beacon light unto yourselves despite revolving social changes and taste swings. As it's been eight years since the Motleys last took a shot at a rock 'n roll comeback with 2000's pretty entertaining New Tattoo, the rowdy ones find themselves in a more favorable market now than they did the last time around when even a smidgeon of their hardcore fans turned indifferent to them. Honestly, there hasn't been this much buzz about a Motley Crue album since the self-titled album with John Carabi that blitzed the charts then tanked immediately thereafter once the fans cried foul that Vince Neil wasn't holding court. Sad to say in hindsight, that 1994 album is unfortunately bashed more than is perhaps justified.

Saints of Los Angeles finds Motley Crue in the peculiar role of elder statesmen when 27 years ago they were the young punk trash savantes of the Sunset Strip, setting a mold for many of the future hard rockers of the scene that debauched themselves and the City of (Arch)Angels on survival instincts to pony their ambitions on the shoulders of strippers and newcomer A&R reps willing to put up with their footloose fuck-off shenanigans. The L.A. metal culture of the eighties is worthy of its own filmed sociodrama, but for now, we have Marc Canter's Guns 'n Roses expose book The Making of Appetite For Destruction and of course the Princes of Plastered Motley Crue are making their own documentation with their guilded book The Dirt and what could be looked upon as its musical companion, Saints of Los Angeles.

In the time Motley Crue has been floundering around a hard rock scene that's given them just a few inches to dicker with side projects and random television appearances, the new generation of headbangers and punkers can be seen wearing Too Fast For Love t-shirts, much as they could back in the eighties. One of the few unifying metal albums that the two sanctions of fans ever could see eye-to-eye upon, Too Fast For Love remains a grime classic and there's a certain excavation effect from that album along with spots from Shout at the Devil and Dr. Feelgood on Saints of Los Angeles. The trick is it is all concocted with a contemporary denseness of sound that Motley Crue has happily brought into Saints of Los Angeles, something they couldn't have done during the times they recorded Generation Swine or New Tattoo. Sometimes one has to live life a little further to find some introspection, if not inspiration, and for sure Saints of Los Angeles is the most inspired Motley Crue has sounded in two decades.

Apparently Tommy, Mick, Nikki and Vince have found a way to exorcise the demons that have crept into their camp repeatedly over time, something that can occur almost by nature when you have four varying personalities caught in the midst of a jading limelight. Saints of Los Angeles may not be as deeply confessional as The Dirt, but certainly the cracked glass of whiskey bottles and filled condoms has its own soundtrack amidst the largely pumping vibe of this album on songs like "Face Down in the Dirt," "Chicks = Trouble," and "MF of the Year."

Appropriately rowdy when trying to convey the life and times one of modern rock's biggest studies of depravity, Saints of Los Angeles is nostalgic, more for Motley Crue and their original followers on Sunset than the public at-large, while their worldwide audience gets the benefit of a loud and shouting rock album that hypothetically has its eye on the money all the way through. Motley Crue jives along in retrospection on "Down at The Whiskey," where everyone who's everyone in rock from The Doors to Velvet Revolver has splashed and crashed in an everyman's showcase.

While Vince Neil reminisces about the glory days of 1983-85 on "What It's Going to Take" (borrowing a tad from their cover of The Beatles' "Helter Skelter") and "Down at The Whiskey," he and the boys peel the paint with "Welcome to the Machine" (not of the Pink Floyd variety, fret not) and their ballsy closer "Goin' Out Swingin'." Along the way, the Crue sarcastically bobs along on cuts such as "White Trash Circus," "This Ain't a Love Song" and of course the title track.

The metal resurrection has obviously brought the majority of the old school's constituents out of retirement like dogs to the hunt, and while some may dismiss this madhouse clamoring as a cash 'n stash ploy, so long as there's some sort of crediblity to the effort, then we can forgive a good bit of it. Saints of Los Angeles could've been an utter disaster; in fact, a fair amount of fans were predicting it to fall flat on its face. Fortunately the Crue have found a way to make their leathers fit and to dust some of the burrs from their street cowboy facades. Saints of Los Angeles is the album Motley Crue's fans have been waiting a long time for and undoubtedly deserve.

Rating: ****

1 comment:

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