If their astoundingly good breakthrough album New Wave was called a sell out, then than was nothing compared to its follow-up, 2011’s White Crosses album. Singer Laura Jane Grace describes the backlash brilliantly in the autobiography Tranny: Confessions Of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout.

It was the band’s last album before their seminal, momentous, once-in-a-generation masterpiece Transgender Dysphoria Blues. In the band’s catalogue it has a really distinctive style. I mean, no two Against Me! albums sound much alike anyway, but even taking that into account, this is even more different yet again. Its unarguably their most commercial release to date. Its unarguably their cleanest album to date. It is their most radio friendly effort to date. Its kind of a grower in places. But don’t ever let anyone tell you that it isn’t fantastic.

One of the best songs I think I’ve ever heard by any artist comes from this record (‘Because Of The Shame’ …a really touching and emotional songs in the band’s already weighty cannon, describing coming back to town for the funeral of someone you slept with, and all the difficult emotions seeing them and their family). As well as being interesting lyrically however; it is outrageously catchy and memorable musically. It has that same mega-anthemic feel as someone like The Foo Fighter’s biggest songs but with so much more oomph and edge.

Not that the album is a one trick pony either. Single ‘I Was A Teenage Anarchist’ is a real ballsy ode to the bands oh-so-punk past, and how they aren’t that band anymore much to the chagrin of the punker-than-thou original fans. Lines like ‘’I was a teenage Anarchist but the politics were too convenient’’ and ‘’the revolution was a lie’’ are so refreshing to hear in music’s don’t-you-dare-sell-out culture.  Once again, I’m talking a bit too much about the lyrics, but it is one real bad ass rock song that you can hum all day long and gets stuck in your head for days. The fun surf-rock tone of the guitar solo and the breathy opening non-lyrical ‘ah ha ha ah ah, ha haha’ noises are real highlights.

Its not all anthemic rockers either, there’s the harmonica and acoustic guitar woozy vibes of ‘Bob Dylan Dream’ (a song about exactly what you think its about) that to me is as infinitely sing-able as something like Country Roads or Dirty Old Town are to the drunken masses. ‘Ache With Me’ is similarly quiet but more contemplative and sad sounding.

The rhythmic ‘Bamboo Bones’ is so bouncy and fun, with excellent drumming and a bigger chorus than any of the genre’s biggest bands. When the singer lets out the wounded bellow of ‘’What God doesn’t give to you, you’ve got to go and get for yourself’’ you can hear so many different shades of emotion I want to give it some kind of award. How the hell this song isn’t a global mega hit like Queen’s ‘Somebody To Love’ I’ll never know.

Its pointless sitting here pointing out highlights, because every song is great. Rapid Decompression and One By One and Bitter Divisions are all melodic but up tempos rockers that would all be the best song on a lesser band’s album. Suffocation, Spanish Moss and Lehigh Acres are all catchy as hell with interesting lyrics. The only song I didn’t love right away was the title track, but that’s grown on me a lot over time too.

Overall; a superb album, as chocked full of memorable moments as an average band’s greatest hits collection. Its their least punk and their most commercial release. But as long as the songs are this catchy, then who the hell cares? (Well, the punker than thou crowd cared, as we discussed above, but for everyone else, just lay back and let the good tunes wash over you).

I remember when Baroness first broke out, they were quite sludgy and while not inaccessible, certainly not quite radio-friendly either. Early albums like Red Album and Blue Record mixed Thin Lizzy clean guitar with thick stoner-sludge and swampy vocals. I remember also, when they dropped their double album ‘Yellow And Green’ and they went from a band I liked a bit due to a slight Mastodon similarity, to a band I really cared about and actively followed.

To date, I still think of Yellow & Green as an utter masterpiece and that it was one of the best albums by anyone I care about to be released that year. Its when the band really stepped out of any other band’s shadows or any one subgenre’s constraints and just went everywhere they wanted all at once…. The follow up Purple was near as good, trying (and succeeding) to condense the sprawling mix of styles, tempos and timbres of the very diverse double album into one single straight-up rock record with flavours from everything the band had done before but a focus on being succinct and accessible (without sounding too far from their more metallic roots of course).

With their new album, Gold & Grey, the band are leaning a bit back more into Yellow & Green’s experimental territories. There is a focus on diversity here. Succinct is not a word I’d use to describe this. This album seems to be reveling in the freedom to do everything and anything. ‘Seasons’ for example has spidery guitar lines that wouldn’t feel out of place on a King Crimson album, mixed with a strange lo-fi noisy production job that makes it sound like some Sonic Youth style art rock piece, but then there are also blast-beats in their briefly to bring back the metal. Sometimes it goes full prog, with ‘Sevens’ sounding like mid period Camel. ‘Broken Halo’ has some lovely bridges that I can see crowds loving when this material is toured live, but goes a bit Yes during the solo.  

There are also quite a few brief quiet, sombre, slow numbers across the album’s 17-track duration. ‘Blankets of Ash’ for example is a nice sounding acoustic guitar interlude over some creepy foreboding soundscape. ‘Crooked Mile’ is a jangly acoustic number that sounds more like an intro than a full blown tune of its own. ‘Assault On East Falls’ sounds like the music from a dream sequence in a Japanse videogame.

You can hear a bit more Radiohead and a bit less Red Fang in the DNA at times I guess (the intro to ‘Tourniquet’ or for example), but that being said there are still enough big fat choruses and catchy hooks to keep the sing-along feel of Purple. The album opener ‘Front Toward Enemy’ for example is just a foot down melodic rocker to get the blood pumping. The chorus to the single ‘Throw Me An Anchor’ is almost as catchy as something like ‘Take My Bones Away’ or ‘Shock Me’ from previous albums. ‘I’ll Do Anything’ sounds like it could be used to advertise the Olympics. Its like if Bon Iver took happy pills and wanted to inspire people to action.

Singer John Dyer Baizley’s rich voice really sets this band apart from the crowd, and when he really leans into the big melodies, it is proper 360 degree helicopter shots on a cliffside stuff. He has such a powerful and evocative voice that can make any line sound immensely meaningful and majestic.  

Considering the line-up change between albums, it still sounds totally like Baroness. You may not have had female backing vocals back on Blue Record but the way John and Gina’s vocals blend and mesh together just sound right.

The album isn’t without its flaws however. The production seems to be quite controversial based on all people I’ve seen complaining on social media. It is also a bit tough to swallow in one go, sitting somewhere between standard and double album length. (Its only an hour, but with 17 tracks there is a lot of different moods, directions and sounds to digest and so it takes up more brainpower than your typical 10-14 track album. If you just wanted an album of ‘Shock Me’ clones, something like ‘Can Oscura’ might be a bit off-putting for example). You couldn’t just slap this on in the background once and love it forever, it’s a grower that you’ve got to give a lot of attention to. That being said, these are minor flaws at the most. I didn’t really consider the production notable until it was pointed out to me by others, and usually an album being a grower at the start leads to an album you’re still loving years later rather than an album that would lose its flavour as fast as chewing gum if it popped right away.

Maybe if you were only into the band for the heaviness of the early days, this album won’t suit you. If you liked the last two albums though, this album is very much going to be right up your street. Its softer, proggier and more considered than it is bludgeoning and meaty. It’s a bit more ponderous than direct and rocking. But it is definitely worth checking out, sticking on repeat and loosing yourself in. It’s an odyssey of new worlds to glimpse, it’s a journey to get lost on. You might not want to head-bang, but you’ll never be bored.

I went to go see Clutch live at Cardiff Great Hall Sunday 16th June 2019. It was my first concert since the birth of my son, I didn’t want to be away from him too long, so skipped the opening act and got their late.

The support band I did manage to see was Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons; a band with Phil Campbell from Motorhead and three of his sons (and then a singer). They were quite decent, playing mixed tempo rock songs. A few speedy numbers, a few mid-paced rockers and one fun slow song with a stoner rock vibe. They also covered ‘Born To Raise Hell’ and ‘Ace Of Spades.’ This marks the second time I’ve seen a Motorhead member play Ace Of Spades with a different band (I saw Fast Eddie Clarke supporting Saxon previously). I kind of feel bad but like when Diamond Head played ‘Am I Evil?’ versus new songs, the audience reaction was so much more enthusiastic for the Motorhead tunes versus the origional tunes, as was my own. Not being disrespectful, but Motohead tunes are Motorhead tunes. Still, I liked their own material fair enough too, it was a fun warm up and I don’t have anything to say about the band. I feel they would really suit touring with Orange Goblin.

Usually at a gig in the long wait between bands I have no-one to talk to, but this time my brother wanted to see Clutch too, so I had someone to speculate on setlists with a discuss the new album and favourite songs with during the wait.

Because its Clutch, not someone violent and heavy, I decided to stay at the back and just nod along having a good time rather than get into the thick of it. This venue is good in that you can see the band just as well from the back wall behind the sound desk as you can in the middle of the room. I did the same thing for Mastodon the first time I was at this venue, just sit back and watch the band without getting too sweaty.

Clutch are one of those bands that literally do not play the same set two nights in the row, and any night you can hear different songs. Sometimes they even don’t play their most well known songs. Some days they play mostly new stuff, some times they play mostly old stuff, some times anything can happen. The setlist yesterday was an eclectic grab bag of all eras. They opened with a deep cut off their self titled ‘90s classic sophomore album. ‘Escape From The Prison Planet.’ They played a few tracks off their furious and outrageously fun modern album, Psychic Warfare, They played a respectable amount of material from their new album, they dropped in ‘Red Horse Rainbows’ from Pure Rock Fury for the first time since 2011, and even played some rare material like ‘Willie Nelson’ from their B Sides album and the really early track ‘Passive Restraints.’

Luckily, even amongst the eclecticism they got to play what I feel is their most well known song (I may be wrong, they’re not exactly a one hit wonder) ‘The Mob Goes Wild’ which is one of my favourite songs by anyone, ever, of all time. Seeing it live is not a guarantee. Its not like Metallica and Enter Sandman where you know its going to be there, so it was very fun to get to see it once again. Also; they played my favourite song from the new album, the outrageously fun ‘How To Shake Hands.’ My throat is still sore from how loud I sang along to ‘’First thing that I’m gonna do is go for a ride on a UFO.’’ I am sure I’m not the only one either, the room utterly loved it, the energy in the crowd was immense.

Other highlights include a bouncy rendition of ‘Ghoul Wrangler’ with its amusing pest-control-against-lawyers lyrics,  (any band can make a lawyers-are-ghouls comparison, but only Clutch are creative enough to have a snowy barn infested with them as the owner gets his pest control business certified and bonded), an interesting take on blues classic ‘Evil’ (also covered by Monster Magnet) and the title track from Psychic Warfare, which I never previously realised was a massive hit, but which the crowd utterly salivated over. The volume of the singalongs was extra loud on that one!

The performance from the band was great. The solos and fills were superb. The vocals so character-filled and colourful. The gesturing and acting out of the lyrics live by singer Neil Fallon so enthusiastic and powerful. The guitar tone was often better than the albums.  The mix was pretty perfect with nothing inaudible and nothing over-loud.

It was also just so fun to turn around every few seconds and share with other fans some golden gem of a lyric, drum fill or guitar part. You’d lock eyes with someone else air-guitaring the intro to ‘Electric Worry’ or air drumming the floor tom parts to ‘Gimmie The Keys’ or singing with a grin on their face countless memorable lyrics.

‘Just a glass of water and a ham sandwich,’ or ‘Everybody move to Canada,’ or ‘Weaponized Funk,’ or ‘He said I have seen them, I said ok its yours!’ and so on and so on. Clutch songs and albums are absolutely littered with enough memorable moments to fill a greatest hits album of most bands. Having a whole concert full of them is just joyous.

I had an uproariously good time, the band were fantastic, (and I didn’t have to travel half way around the country away from the baby). I could have happily wathced them play two more hours and still not heard all I wanted to hear from them. Brilliant band, brillaint night.

I cannot recommend seeing Clutch live highly enough. The band write superb music, they play it brilliantly live and the setlist is a roulette where anything can happen, but its always good.  

I have been an Arctic Monkeys fan for a fairly long time. Basically, since the same month the debut album dropped. I have bought all their early singles and like all the B-Sides and deep cuts as much as the fan favourite stuff. I still liked the more controversial moments like their Humbug album and the trippy B-sides from the Suck It And See era singles.

Basically; I am not some casual fan who just cares about the big hits. Coming into this record, the band have basically done no wrong.

…And then we come to this album. To the moon. The Tranquillity Base to be specific. Now, I am not a fan of negative reviews. You may have noticed reading this blog, there are ‘its good’ and ‘its average’ reviews in abundance, but not many, if any ‘what a pile of shit’ reviews. I am very much of the ‘’If you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all’’ approach to reviews. That being said, this album is very possibly the single worst album I have heard by a good band in a long time.

Don’t take this for me just not liking the band’s change of direction. This album is a bit progressive, a bit psychedelic, a bit dreamy, and very low key. As I said though, I like the band doing all sorts of things. Its not like ‘’Your So Dark’’ from the last album’s B-Sides or ‘’Fire Side’’ from the last album didn’t work with the band being low key. Its not as if ‘’Pretty Visitors’’ and ‘’The Jeweller’s Hands’’ from Humbug didn’t work with the band being a bit Psychedelic. Its not as if I don’t like me a bit of prog now and again or the general sound of this album (sometimes I can pick up little flavours of Caravan here and there).

Its not even as if the theme of a hotel and casino on the moon, and songs from the perspective of different staff and visitors is too confusing or off-putting.  Just look at how many Mastodon, Dream Theater, Pink Floyd, Queensryche or Coheed & Cambria albums I own to know I am a big fan of concept albums.

No; the problem with this album isn’t the direction or the concept. Its not that it is a departure from previous styles. Its not that it is for serious fans only. The fan is that the songs are uniformly boring. The material uninspiring. The whole album is one-paced, uninteresting and forgettable. It is a samey sludge of un-music that is so dreadfully dull it may as well not exist. If you don’t have laser-beam focus on it you can’t tell when one song ends and the other begins (my wife has been heard to remark ‘’Is this still the same song?!’’ three songs later).

Okay, in fairness; When you do focus as hard as you can, its not all bad… You can hear some flashes of attempted hooks. For example, in ‘Star Treatment’ there is a line that goes ‘’who you gonna call, the Martini-police?’’ that is musically catchy (even if the lyric itself is a bit smug and pretentious). The bit on the title track where he says the title of the album is also good. The single ‘Four Out Of Five’ is kind of decent all the way through and is somewhat reminiscent of their better single from Humbug, ‘Cornerstone.’

But really; you shouldn’t have to dig so deep to apologetically try and find some small sliver of likeability. Compare that to their debut album, where it is literally as difficult to find something NOT to like as it is to name great moments from here, and you can see by just how far this once great band has missed the mark.

How do we explain this terrible dirge of an album? Maybe this album was a response to the huge success of the previous album AM. Maybe the band were sick of playing bangers like ‘Arabella’ for years on end and wanted to do something deeper. Maybe the band have always wanted to make this album and are only now in a position to risk it with near universal acclaim for a decade to buoy their confidence. Maybe they just took a bunch of drugs after hanging around Josh Homme too long and decided to get trippy. Who knows?

All I know is I have listened to this album so many more times than it deserved, constantly trying to get it to ‘click.’ Constantly trying to discovery its hidden depths. Constantly trying to find the good in it. I have tried across several months, in different contexts, with different kinds of music before and after, just wanting something good to happen.

The only thing that happened is that I finally felt allowed to give up on it. This is not a deep a profound work. This is not a slow burn. This is not a grower. This is not even one for hardcore fans only. This is, unfortunately, as much as it goes against my instincts to say so… a pile of shit.

Motley Crue – Some Thoughts about Dr. Feelgood

Posted: May 5, 2019 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

Dr. Feelgood was apparently a stratospheric success.  Numerous singles. Heavy MTV rotation. Six times platinum. An iconic production job. Guest stars. A very large part of their biography is dedicated to discussing the writing, recording and touring of it.

I’ve gotta say, when I first heard it… I didn’t care for it. For about 7 years, I thought there were only two good songs on it. (The title track, and Kickstart My Heart). Hypocritical I know. My last two articles have complained about people thinking those albums only have two good songs and here was me doing the same.

I really wish they wrote a whole studio album the time they released ‘Primal Scream.’ That is one of the band’s best songs and I would argue better than 75% of this record, and I really wish there was more where that came from.

However; About 2-3 years ago I decided I had to revaluate it.  I always thought it was completely chocked full of ballads, but really there are only two, spaced pretty far apart. I don’t know where I got that idea from. Perhaps its because the intro to ‘Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)’ sounds like it could go ballady. As it turns out it actually goes into a huge bouncy Kiss direction. The drum pattern is very non-Tommy Lee. It’s a lot of fun. It sounds like sparklers and stage lights.

Also, I dismissed a lot of songs because of the lyrics. ‘She Goes Down’ for example, I always dismissed due to its lyrics. But with such fun riffing and vocals, it is undeniable. If I can love bands like Led Zeppelin (‘’Squeeze my lemon til the juice runs down my leg’’) Deep Purple (‘’a cunning linguist’’) and Kiss (‘’…every kiss song ever…’’) then why is ‘She Goes Down’ a step too far?

I remember hating ‘Rattlesnake Shake’ due to the horns, but now I don’t see what the big deal is. ‘Sticky Sweet’ and ‘Slice Of Your Pie’ are decent, but I could live without them. They fit the overall vibe of the record though.

Stylistically, I don’t think there is any song that sounds like it could be on any other Motley Crue album. Its strange that it all sounds right in a live set, or on a compilation together. But its hard to imagine the band that wrote ‘Looks That Kill’ or ‘Take Me To The Top’ also wrote ‘Time For Change.’

Of the first 5 classic Motley Crue albums, it is still my least favourite, and just like when I started out, I think the best two songs on it are the Title Track and ‘Kickstart My Heart.’ But that I guess all boils down to what the rest of my taste in music is and where I’m coming at this from. But my tastes have changed over time. I remember for example hating Aerosmith as a teenager and now I am a fan. I remember hating all ballads as a preteen and now many of my favourite songs are ballads. I remember the first time I heard Kiss’ Destroyer album, the only two songs I liked were ‘Detroit Rock City’ and ‘God Of Thunder.’ But I can stick this album on front to back now and enjoy every song. I can understand why it sold boat loads. I can understand why it may be someone else’s favourite Motley record even if it isn’t mine.

If I had to rank the early albums, Shout would come out on top every time, Theater would be second (in the format I have rearranged the track-listing with), Girls 3rd, then Too Fast and finally this.

That being said, its still miles better than anything they’ve done this side of the new millennium.

Motley Crue – Some Thoughts about Girls Girls Girls

Posted: May 4, 2019 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

I don’t know how history works, but my whole teens, the one Motley song I knew, and the one that was always on MTV2 or Kerrang or Scuzz, was always ‘‘Girls, Girls, Girls.’’ To this day; You say ‘’Motley Crue’’ and I think ‘’Girls, Girls, Girls’’ …like Motorhead and ‘’Ace Of Spades.’’ In fact, until I was about 20 years old it was the only Motley Crue song I ever heard.

Years of watching music TV for hours, and hours, many days a week, and that is the only Motley Crue song I ever heard.

Knowing more about the band now, that seems strange. When you think of it, the million selling ballad ‘Home Sweet Home’ might be this band’s most famous song. Or indeed, any of the singles from the insanely successful career peak Dr. Feelgood. If the band are making that much money and getting that much exposure, then surely those must be the band’s best known song.

If you read or watch The Dirt, it almost seems like this album was just a bit of a footnote in history between the car crash and the sobriety. Yet; as I already said, You say ‘’Motley Crue’’ and I think ‘’Girls, Girls, Girls.’’

Getting the whole album, there’s more to it than just that one omnipresent hit. Opener ‘Wild Side’ is utterly essential listening. I’d rank it in my top 10 ‘Crue songs, alongside ‘Live Wire,’ ‘Louder Than Hell,’ ‘Kickstart My Heart’ and then the majority of the ‘Shout album. I love that slightly off snare beat, with all the reverb on it, you know the one I mean… ‘‘dum-dah -dupah dah.’’ I love the bit when the main riff comes back in over a bunch of energetic cymbal chokes. I love the production. It was the band’s biggest, boldest, most expensive sounding album to date, but wasn’t yet over-polished.

Like the album that came before, there are some weak points… once again an unnecessary cover song (at least they had the wits to put it at the end of the album this time) which is even more bizarrely live, on a studio album, yet not officially being classed as a bonus track. Then, trying presumably to replicate the success of ‘’Home Sweet Home’’ (or perhaps subvert it, considering the lyrics..) there is another ballad. This time though, it is nowhere near as good. Additionally ‘’Nona’’ is a bit pointless to the listener. I mean, if you read the book, and the story behind it, it kind of seems mean to begrudge it. But as a listener who doesn’t feel bereaved, it just comes across as an unnecessary addition. Kind of like GNR’s ‘My World’ in it out of place nature and lack of necessity. It doesn’t add anything for me.

Once again though, like the last album, the band and many fans act as if this album is just two good songs (in this case, ‘Wild Side’ and the title track). Once again, I disagree. I have to say, ‘Dancing On Glass’ is really good. I like how dirty it sounds, I don’t know if there are horns on it or just something that sounds that, but it has some really memorable bits, it has some fun drum parts and the lyrics are pretty interesting. The female backing vocals also remind me the tiniest bit of Pink Floyd’s Great Gig In The Sky… (the tiniest bit).

The best non-hit on the album for me is ‘‘All In The Name…’’ which is a bit like a mixture between Motorhead’s ‘’Jail Bait’’ and Kiss’ ‘’I Pledge Allegiance To The State Of Rock N Roll’’ lyrically, and musically one of the most pumping and driving tracks on the whole record. It is such a Motley Crue riff. I don’t know if Nikki or Mick or someone else wrote it, but there is a certain way that Motley Crue guitar parts work, and this is a prime example. So is the title track from this album. So is ‘Kickstart My Heart.’ (I wish I knew more about guitar theory so I could explain it, but all I can think to say is it goes from thin to thick, then turns in on itself).

‘Five Years Dead’ is quite fun too. That’s at least 5 very good songs. ‘Bad Boy Boogie’ and ‘Sumthin For Nuthin’ are passable too and work in album context, but wouldn’t be blowing the wind up my skirt if they were my first exposure to the band.  They sound very different from the band who wrote ‘’Bastard’’ and ‘’Red Hot.’’ Definitely more rock than metal. Not that that’s a problem, its more the songs themselves. Not bad, but just not special.

I really wish the band had been a bit more productive though. I know it is selfish asking for more gold. But there are bands who managed to get a lot more work done and a lot less time lost to drugs and legal issues. There aren’t a hell of a lot of tracks on their early albums when you discount covers and intros. Considering how good their best songs are, it’s a shame they never squeezed a three or four more songs as good as ‘’Wild Side’’ out between this album and the last, and really made the albums unarguable classics. I know people who call Motley’ more of a singles band, and excluding Shout At The Devil…I can see why.

Overall; this is a good album, certainly more than just two good songs, but still not their best and not 100% satisfying. But I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say ‘Girls…’ and ‘Wild Side’ were the main attractions.

Motley Crue – In Defense Of Theater Of Pain

Posted: May 3, 2019 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

Theater Of Pain is a lot of things. It’s a transitional album between the Metal and Glam directions. It is a breakthrough album that saw the band’s sales skyrocket. It is a talking point album due to the Razzle background information. It is a controversial album that gets a lot of criticism in hindsight, even from band members themselves.

You know what else it is? Underrated. I read a book of best metal albums and its in their with a negative write up. I read the band member’s books and it has a bad write up. I ask the friend who got me into Motley Crue, he gave it a bad talk-up. I read websites and blogs I respect, and they all give it a bad review.

Who the fuck bought all those copies if it sucked so much? Who voted it into the best metal album lists if it sucked so much? Why do I like it so much if it sucks that much.

Now, I have a history of liking unpopular albums. Testament’s Souls Of Black and Exodus’ Impact Is Imminent for example. People say they are rushed and a disappointment, but I like them. So maybe, I just have a less discerning ear than other people. That being said, there are numerous examples of me not liking unpopular albums too. I mean I don’t like Megadeth’s Risk or Metallica’s LuLu. So its not like I am a blind fanboy with no critical faculties either.

There are some circumstances I think explain Theater Of Pain’s raw deal. First of all, the band talking shit about it. The band had a bad time making it, because they were unhappy with the down sides of the Rock N Roll lifestyle, the sleeplessness and the drugs and the tragedy of the car crash. They associate it with a bad time in their life and don’t talk it up, they don’t play a lot of it live and they don’t put a lot of it on compilations. If people don’t hear it, they don’t get a chance to fall in love with it.

Secondly; the change in name, the change in image. There’s a famous line in the book/movie where the band said that it was meant to be called Entertainment Or Death, someone got that tattooed, and then they changed the name last minute. But Theater Of Pain as a name, is the wrong message for this album. These are not a bunch of songs full of pain and suffering. This is not a contrite record about the misery from the Razzle incident. This is just pure entertainment. Also, everyone continuously calls this the band moving away from metal and towards glam. The way they dressed certainly changed. People don’t like that. Just ask Burning Red era Machine Head or Load era Metallica.

Thirdly; the choice of singles and the influx of new fans. A big memorable, bouncy, cartooney almost-novelty cover song, and a big MTV ballad with a piano intro. A lot of people say these are the only two good songs on the album, but I also wonder if they also like the deep cuts on Shout’ or Girls’ ? Before I was a fan of the band, I was sceptical of this album, I thought it might be a disappointment with a ballad and a cheesy cover as the two songs the band chose to showcase this with. I went in expecting a turd. I wonder how many other people did too?

I feel like if the band had have been in a good place emotionally, kept their image and didn’t make a play for the mainstream, and released Entertainment Or Death marketed to a metal audience, combined with if they actually supported it, and more of the tracks were well represented live and on compilations… then I think this album would be held in higher regard. Who’s going to take it seriously when the band don’t ?

To my mind, this is one of the band’s better albums. People give it a lot of shit. But there is not one track on Saints Of Los Angels that I like more than it. Every song on here is better than the new material on the Dirt soundtrack in my opinion. I like more than half this album, more than I like most songs off of any album after Dr. Feelgood. I like several songs of this more than I like the less-good songs on their debut, on Girls or on ‘Feelgood.

Let’s start with the good. ‘Use It Or Loose It.’ Pure blistering speed metal satisfaction in the vein of ‘Red Hot’ and ‘Bastard.’ Stick that in a set list or compilation between ‘Live Wire’ and ‘Red Hot’ and you would have one utterly adrenaline filled run.

Next is ‘Louder Than Hell’ which is one of my favourite Motley Crue songs altogether. Its big fat, stomping, satisfying riff is the closest they got to the Shout’ era quality or direction on any other album. It feels like a mixture between Saxon’s ‘Denim And Leather’ and Kiss’ ‘I Love It Loud’ with its bouncy, reverby drum intro and mid-paced riffage. It has some great stop-start bits and nice mini-fills from Tommy.

Also, it is a crying shame that they don’t play ‘Tonight (We Need A Lover)’ more, which has for my money one of Vince’s best vocal performances from the early day. I utterly love that bit when it goes all ‘’Tonight, tooonight, too-niiiight.’’

Every song has some great little bit to hang onto. ‘Fight For Your Rights’ has one of Mick’s best guitar solos from the early days (why does no-one talk about it more?). ‘Keep Your Eye On The Money’ has a great breakdown with the funky cowbell strikes, and actually contains the line ‘’Comedy and tragedy, entertainment or death’’ which explains the cover art and the previous album title.

‘Raise Your Hands To Rock’ sounds like a Lynyrd Skynyrd song in the background of a montage about sunshine.

I’ll admit not every song is a hit. ‘City Boy Blues’ and ‘Save Our Souls’ wouldn’t be my favourite songs ever, just like ‘Danger’ or the title-track from ‘Too Fast For Love’ aren’t my favourite songs on those.

I used to dislike ‘Home Sweet Home’ and ‘Smoking In The Boys Room’ too, for years. Eventually they ground me down. I still think of ‘Smoking as almost a bonus track, but ‘Home Sweet Home’ is  a good song, I think the turning point for me was The End dvd. As bad as Vince’s vocals are live, I think I finally ‘got’ the song.

Shame it didn’t have a beefier guitar tone, and more enthusiasm from the band. Shame it didn’t have to live up to ‘Shout. But still… I know I won’t convince anyone who already hates this to love it. But if you are new to the band I hope you would not overlook it without a fair chance. Its more than a wacky cover and a soppy ballad. Even if it isn’t perfect, there are 7 tracks here I really rather love. That’s quite a good ratio for any 10 track album. Especially one with a reputation for only having two good tracks.