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.

Motley Crue – Some Praise For Shout At The Devil

Posted: May 2, 2019 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

Shout At The Devil is hands down my favourite Motley Crue album. No questions asked. By a distance. Looking around in books, magazines and the internet it seems to be considered a classic too. I can see why.

There’s 11 songs on here and there are at least 9 I would want to see live, have in a playlist or see included on a best-of compilation.

I think it is the bands most outwardly metal album. Tracks like ‘’Shout At The Devil’’ and ‘’Too Young To Fall In Love’’  have a stomping power to them; ‘’Red Hot’’ and ‘’Bastard,’’ are basically speed metal with the power, energy and flailing double kicks.

There is a bit of variety with the more melodic ‘’Danger’’ as well as the acoustic ‘’God Bless The Children Of The Beast’’ (which in my opinion should have been the intro, and I have rearranged it to be so in my iTunes) and the surprisingly heavy Beatles cover ‘’Helter Skelter’’ (which is the only cover song the band did that I would want to hear in a set list or hits compilation). But its all good. No filler. No directionlessness. Its just all good.

The two things that really set the album ahead of the rest of their catalogue though, are the production job and the performance. There’s just more umph to it than any other Crue record and the way the guitars and drums sound just has more bite. The band feel like they care more, after they got used to their instruments but before drugs and tragedy impaired the performance. They just play harder and more enthusiastically than on any other album.

When I think of Motley Crue, the thing that goes into my head is the sound of the reverb in the title track, Shout…Shout….Shout and the image of them on the tour for this (like in the Looks That Kill video, like the current Knucklebonz statues or the old McFarlane toys).

This is the band at their absolute peak for me. Like I said in my last post, when I first got into music, I didn’t take Motley Crue seriously and thought they were a strange relic from the past… but now this album is every bit as important to me as Screaming For Vengeance or Powerslave or Holy Diver.

The only thing that could make this album better is if it had ‘’Louder Than Hell’’ and ‘’Live Wire’’ on it… then it really would be a 10/10 masterpiece. Heck, it almost had ‘’Louder Than Hell’’ on it if the demos on the bonus tracks are anything to go by.

Motley Crue – Some Thoughts On Too Fast For Love

Posted: May 1, 2019 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized

I first heard of Motley Crue some time around the release of their popular biography The Dirt. A lot of my friends were getting into the band when I was more into Limp Bizkit and Marilyn Manson. At the time, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with the lame, old-fashioned, girly looking, out of touch hacks that old-me I perceived them to be. Not just Motley Crue but all ’80s Glam/Hair bands. I had a real anti-glam snobbery due to the music mags of the time (the same thing probaly exists for the Nu Metal bands of my youth nowadays too now ironically).

Some time later, when making a concerted effort to explore the history of heavy metal when I was in university, my friend gave me a copy of the dirt and a lend of some Motley Crue albums. The thing with book, is that while it is entertaining, it really made me hate the band. Disrespectful, abusive, thieving, borderline rapists such as they come across in the book… I just could not come to like the band. Guns N Roses, who were probably as bad, got a free pass it seems, because I got into them when I was young enough to buy into the whole sex drugs and rock n roll schtick, but I was in University and old enough to see through that nonsense by that age.  

Reading the book did make me listen to the music. I listened to it with curiosity at first, and the more of the book I read, and the more I came to hate the actions and words of the band, I then came to listen to it with resentment. I almost wanted to dislike it, because of how dislikeable the band were  in the book as they used and abused people and disrespected property, people and laws throughout its duration.

But if there is one thing in the world I can’t deny, its good music. I loved heavy metal. I loved hard rock. I love Judas Priest, and who knows maybe they were just as bad but I just hadn’t read a book about yet?

‘Live Wire’ is utterly undeniable. The chugging riff, the double kicks, the cymbal chokes. There is a sense of urgency, a sense of fun, it is dynamic. It doesn’t outstay its welcome. Its one of those utterly perfect Metal songs like ‘Ace Of Spades’ or ‘Stand Up And Shout’ or ‘Breaking The Law.’  I think, pretty much, if it hadn’t have been for ‘Live Wire’ the band could have completely fallen off my radar. It is just too good. No matter what rude, immoral or illegal thing they do in the book, there is just no fucking with ‘Live Wire.’

The album isn’t just a one hit wonder either. ‘Take Me To The Top’ has the same sort of bouncy fun as early NWOBHM bands like Tygers Of Pan Tang, but with the production job it has a sort of punk feel, but then there is a sweet pop sensibility too. ‘Piece Of Your Action’ (which I always hear as ‘Piece of Direction’) has that same mixture.

‘Starry Eyes,’ ‘On With The Show’ and ‘Merry-Go Round’ lean even harder on the pop side of things.  Very catchy. Vince Neil being high pitched and melodic. There are some moments on this album that very clearly inspired Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day (especially on deep cuts from American Idiot).

Is it strange that I find this album under-rated? I mean its gone platinum, it can’t be that under-rated. That being said; Out of all the early Motley Crue album, this is probably my least favourite. It is raw and charming and full of potential. However; the albums that followed would build on that. They also lean less on the pop and punk sides, and go more metallic and rock focused. Due to my overall tastes in music, that is just more up my street than this.

Watching the Dirt Movie recently, especially with its focus on the early days, made me go back to this album and give it more of a generous ear. Just because they made better albums, doesn’t mean this one should be overlooked.  

Against Me! – New Wave Review

Posted: April 28, 2019 by kingcrimsonprog in Music Reviews, Rock, Rock Studio

2007’s New Wave is the fourth full-length studio album by Florida Punk band Against Me! It was produced by Butch Vig (Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins, AFI), and saw the band get both a huge boost in audience and a huge backlash from their early fans. The story of it is really interesting, and I’d recommend reading their singer Laura Jane Grace’s autobiography, ‘’Tranny.’’

I haven’t been with the band since the beginning, in fact, I read the aforementioned autobiography first based upon reputation alone and worked backwards, so I am completely immune to all this backlash, and to my ears, this album is not only a stone cold, unarguable classic but also, in the short time I have had with it, one of my absolute favourite albums I have heard by any band, no caveats. That is huge praise from me, becuase I usually have a thousand caveats to every recomendation and like to catagorise things to death.

The lyrics are absolutely phenomenal. So clever, biting, insightful, and interesting …not to mention catchy) and are such a good mixture of personal, political and punk. There are pre-coming out lyrics about the conflicted feelings about identity, there are Bush era political lyrics about America’s place in the world and there are punk perspective lyrics about the music industry. Regardless of what they’re about, the way they’re written, the way they flow and are delivered is just fantastic.

Then there’s the songs; from the ramshackle punk road trip feel of ‘’Americans Abroad’’ to the almost Franz Ferdinand vibes of the insanely catchy ‘’Up The Cuts’’ to the trippy and loose ‘’The Ocean’’ there is a real diverse range of style explored. The quality of the songs is outstanding, each setting out to do something different and each absolutely nailing it.

I don’t know if it is the passion, the production or the way they were penned, but almost every song on this is an absolute 10/10.  The album feels more like a greatest hits compilation than a single album. ‘’White People For Peace’’ is so explosive, ‘’Piss And Vinegar’’ is so fun and danceable, and the famous ‘’Thrash Unreal’’ is so emotional (especially in hindsight after its unintentional sister song ‘’Because Of The Shame’’ was released).

I am no writer, so I have a very limited way of recommending this album that really doesn’t do it justice. Masterpiece, Classic, Genius, these words all seem too generic and inaccurate to describe how good this record is and how highly I’d recommend it to you, (”but I just can’t help but think that there’s comparison.”) I wouldn’t even do a ”for fans of…’ becuase I just purely recomend it to everyone. No caveats.

2018’s Unheavenly Creatures, (or to give it its full title ‘Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures’) is modern prog masters Coheed And Cambria’s  9th full-length studio album. It follows up from their 2015 record The Color Before The Sun, which departed from their Amory Wars concept album series, and Unheavenly Creatures sees the band return once more to their sci-fi comic book concept.

Don’t worry if you haven’t been following the story, which is already out of order with various prequels and side stories, as the songs are that catchy anyway you don’t have to follow the story as closely as some other concept albums. It’s a nice touch if you are paying attention, but the band have always been more than just a story, they aren’t a gimmick band and the music, vocals and sound have always been just as noteworthy as the concept.

Musically; The Color Before The Sun was also a bit of an evolution which saw some new territories covered, with big stadium rock riffs and bubblegum melodies. Unheavenly Creatures incorporates parts of that, while also leaning more on the style the band were going for on the two Good Apollo albums from 2005 and 2007.

The vocals, the production and lead guitars are all superb and continue the long tradition of interesting and memorable songs that are easy on the ear, but come across as progressive when you look at them more closely. The band have all the hooks of the catchiest pop punk bands, all the solos of the catchiest NWOBHM guitar masters and an ear for production that always makes them sound humongous. This album is no exception. Just listen to the powerful opener ‘The Dark Sentencer,’ when Claudio sings ‘‘Kiss your lover with that filthy mouth you fucking monster’’ you just want to scream along with it like you’re on top of a cliff in the November Rain video.

That being said, its not an instant album, in fact it is 79 minutes long, so there is quite a lot to get through and it can take a lot of spins to really sink your teeth in to, but there is a lot to love if you are willing to give it the time.

For a band who, in my opinion, haven’t released a bad album yet, it can be quite hard to make a recommendation to an outsider. That being said, the general public would seem to suggest Year Of The Black Rainbow and The Afterman Descension from 2010 and 2013 respectively are the band’s least impactful works, whereas the public would advise In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth 3 and the lengthily titled Good Apollo, Tonight I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness (commonly just called ‘4’ or ‘Good Apollo’ for ease)  are the ones to check out first… at this point I can’t really imagine not loving a Coheed album, but just in case, I would say don’t pick this as your first one. Pick up 3, 4 and Afterman Ascension at a minimum before getting this one.    

Once you are an established fan though; this is not an album you want to miss. Some of these choruses will bounce around your head for days. Some of the guitar lines are as memorable as the average band’s choruses. The first four songs alone have more memorable moments than most albums.  In fact, take any four songs in a row, the first four, the last four, any four in between. Even the slower moments like ‘Queen Of The Dark’ pop on this. If you want to dip your toes in, some of the highlights include ‘True Ugly,’ ‘All On Fire,’ ‘Toys,’ and ‘Unheavenly Creatures.’