Well, apparently gone are the days when Motley could write songs on their own. EVERY SONG here has at least two outside writers, and most have three. I went back to my CD collection to compare, and aside from cover songs, THREE total songs out of their original lineup collection (81-89) had outside writers. What happened? Shouldn’t they be better at this by now and need less help writing songs? If you want to buy this album to hear what Nikki, Mick, Tommy and Vince have to say, forget it. But if you want to hear words and chords from James Michael, DJ Ashba and Marti Frederiksen, then yeah this is your CD.
First Motley Crue album with all original four members in over a DECADE!
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I am stunned at how good this album is. Although I hoped for the best, I was actually expecting to be disappointed, but the Crue have delivered some serious rock with Saints of Los Angeles. The CD opens with the roaring “Face Down in the Dirt,” which is an all-out rocker, and it just doesn’t let up through track 13.
The production of this album is excellent. The guitar tone is as raw as Mick sounds when they play live. It’s loud & rude and aggressive from start to finish. Unlike some of the older Crue albums where the bass is buried and inaudible, Nikki’s bass cuts through on each track. And then there’s the drums. Up until now, I’d say Tommy’s best playing was on their self-titled album featuring Corabi. But on SOLA, Tommy’s playing is outstanding. He’s creative and interesting without overplaying. Few drummers can pull that off, but Tommy does.
All the tracks are good, but my favorites are “Face Down in the Dirt,” “Down at the Whiskey,” “Just Another Psycho,” and “This Ain’t a Love Song.” Interestingly, the title track on here sounds even better than the single I downloaded from iTunes.
Motley delivered the goods on this one.
In a year loaded with unexpected comebacks (REM’s Accelerate, Def Leppard’s Songs From The Sparkle Lounge), Motley Crue reasserts their place at the top of the gutter pile with “Saints of Los Angeles,” their best work since Dr. Feelgood over 10 years ago. Basically a concept autobiography, Vince, Tommy, Nikki and Mick recall their days as up and sleazing baby Crues with defiant power chords and manic drumming.
In short, everything you’d expect from vintage Crue. It’s also loud, fast and gleefully obscene, with titles like “M—F—er Of The Year” and liberal spouting of the F-Bomb all over the CD. They also make sure that the story isn’t 100% romantic nostalgia: “We’re the drunken gods of the living dead” they proclaim in the none-too-complimentary “White Trash Circus.” There’s also the funny tirade “Chicks = Trouble,” which sounds aimed at the rotating wife roster the band has maintained.
“Saints Of Los Angeles” will rock your socks, which is not bad for a bunch of 50 year olds. There’s nothing held back and not much by way of filler. Vince sounds in great voice, and the guitars sting like it’s 1989. You missed The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band? Do you miss Girls, Girls, Girls? Then Motley Crue’s “Saints of Los Angeles” will give you some goat throwing adrenaline.
Considering that drummer Tommy Lee was absent from the band’s last album “New Tattoo,” (2000) that singer Vince Neil basically dubbed over John Corabi’s vocals for “Generation Swine” (1997) and Neil was absent from the band’s self-titled CD, “Motley Crue,” (1994) in some respects Motley Crue’s ninth album “Saints of Los Angeles” (2008) is the first “true” Motley album since “Dr. Feelgood” (1989).
Loosely based on the band’s autobiography “The Dirt,” “Saints of Los Angeles” is a semi-concept album, the major theme being the lifestyle of rock n’ roll excess in the city of Los Angeles. Clocking in at 45 minutes, SOLA is a go-for-the-jugular, lean, mean, gritty album that, like “New Tattoo” sees the band, pardon the cliche, “return to their roots,” after the alternative leaning “Generation Swine” and the Soundgarden/STP styling of the self-titled album.
“Saints of Los Angeles” has a lot of things going for it. For one thing the band sounds great–never better, in fact. The Crue sounds totally energized and on fire. The songs themselves also manage to sound like classic, sleazy Crue, but also have a modern touch, as the production is terrific–so “Saints of Los Angeles” sounds retro, but doesn’t at the same time. The pacing of the album is also great–it’s pure straight-up rock that never drags, so you can listen to the entire album all the way through without having to skip a track. The album is thoroughly enjoyable, from start to finish.
But while the album and the band sound great, SOLA unfortunately doesn’t really have any truly great songs. While all the songs are definitely good–their isn’t a gem like “Kickstart My Heart,” “Primal Scream” or “Too Young to Fall in Love” to be found. The songwriting on “New Tattoo” was actually stronger than it is here, as those songs had more memorable melodies with stronger hooks. Perhaps next time Sixx should write most the songs himself, like he did in the past, and not rely on Michael/Ashba/Frederiksen.
While “Saints of Los Angeles” may not live up to the band’s earlier work like “Shout at the Devil,” (1983) “Girls, Girls, Girls” (1987) or “Dr. Feelgood,” it’s still a strong album, none-the-less. If you’re a fan of the band, you’ll definitely find something to like here.
THE BAND: Vince Neil (vocals), Mick Mars (guitars), Nikki Sixx (bass), Tommy Lee (drums & percussion).
THE DISCS: (2008) Disc-1 is the music disc – containing 13 tracks and clocking in at approximately 44 minutes. Disc-2 is the DVD – containing interviews, concert footage and music videos. Included with the disc is 6-page foldout containing band photos, song titles and website info. This is the band’s 9th studio album (previous album was “New Tattoo” in 2000). Recorded at the Lightning Bolt Garage (Los Angeles). Label – Eleven Seven Music / Motley Records.
COMMENTS: In 2008, the original 4 Crue members are reunited. After almost 20 years, enter a once banished Vince Neil and team sobriety. Following the band’s commercially successful “Dr. Feelgood” (1988), the band remained alive in name, but the members had developing outside interests. Neil – driving race cars, inhaling hot fudge sundaes, and battling his inner demons. Sixx – writing his memoirs, battling addictions, recruiting new bandmates, and releasing a solo album. Mars – flying under the radar and still involved with all things Crue. Lee – busy with solo albums, and reality TV (going to college, and “Rockstar Supernova”). Motley Crue released a few albums with substitute members – receiving only mild success. So being a Crue fan since “Too Fast For Love” (1981), I really wanted to see if the original 4 had something to say. I bought the disc blindly…having heard none of the songs. After dozens of spins, I find myself really surprised with “Saints Of Los Angeles” – in a good way. Sixx remains the main creator behind the songs, though I find it slightly disappointing that many of the tracks are co-written by members outside the Crue (not to mention Mars with only 2 songwriting credits and Lee with 1). This truly makes me wonder how many creative juices are left in the tank. Sixx’s bass guitar, as usual, is solid. Vince Neil is back with a vengeance – though his voice is (still) limited and a bit gruff at times, he still sounds great two-and-a-half decades after their first release. Neil has never been an outstanding singer, but he fits with the Crue and you always knew what you were getting with him belting out the lyrics. Mars’ guitar is loud and crunchy – a warm fuzzy feeling… like you’re back in the 80’s. Tommy Lee, though outspoken at times, is an accomplished hard rock drummer. He still has the licks and beat behind the kit. As for the music… the album starts off with a slow minute-an-a-half Sci-Fi welcome with “L.A.M.F.” – reminiscent of the way “Shout At The Devil” (1983) started out so many years ago. The album proceeds to kick out your front teeth with 12 hard rocking songs that will surely get your heart pumping. The title track is the first hit to be released, and I can see the slow, yet heavy rocker “The Animal In Me” reaching the airwaves in the near future. Other standouts include “Down At The Whiskey” (my favorite on the album), the opener “Face Down In The Dirt”, “Just Another Psycho”, the head-bobbing fist waving title track, and “Welcome To The Machine” (not a remake of Pink Floyd’s classic). Like most albums, there has to a clunker or two… my least favorite tracks include “White Trash Circus” (sounds way too close to a Marilyn Manson song), and “Chicks = Trouble” (with its trite chorus and lyrics). Does one song stand above the rest? Is there a bonified Top 10 hit here? Is there a “Looks That Kill”, “Home Sweet Home” or “Kickstart My Heart” that will win radio stations over for the next year? Probably not. Still, the album as a whole simply kicks ass. Overall – a solid release from the old Motley Crue. Easily the band’s best in any shape, manner or form since the late 80’s. A nice comeback full of attitude and sleaze from one of the best Los Angeles hair bands (4.5 stars).