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With their highly tumultuous personal lives and ragged professional lives cooking a like a steak on the grill, it looked the boys in Motley Crue were basically going to hell in a hatbox. It seems to me that after the overwhelming intensity of the gigantic Dr Feelgood tour some 5 years prior, that the notion of a new studio album would be the last one on anyone's mind. But after a series of hardships, including the inevitable departure of longtime frontman Vince Neil and a series of record company dickings, the new Crue spat out this mean motherfucker in 1994, their self-titled 6th studio record. "Motley Crue" is something quite different from their glam days; this album is overall probably their heaviest, and instead rather takes cues from contemporaries like Guns 'N' Roses or the grunge scene. The result is essentially a mixed effort, but interesting one, filled with moments that go on for too long, as well as shining moments of brilliance.
First of, let's talk about the production. It's one of the best parts of this particular album. Produced by infamous Metallica bassist Bob Rock, "Motley Crue" just sounds HUGE. The guitars are sharp and loud, the bass booming and gnarly and the drums just sound thunderous; overall a great sound. But how about the men behind them? Well Tommy Lee has never been too great of a drummer; lots of attitude, for good or bad, but nothing special in the way of actual skills. Nikki motherfuckin' Sixx on the other hand I always found to be a very talented bassist. On here his work gets buried under the guitars but even still the guy rips those strings whenever he gets a chance. Let's talk about new guy John Corabi. Well, like Dio in Sabbath before him, he is a superior replacement to the singer before him, easily outdoing Vince Neil's whiny ranting with a vicious attitude and actual singing chops. Additionally, he provides rhythm guitars for this album, allowing with the first Crue record with a richer guitar sound. His own work is also superior to the rather standard leads of Mick Mars, though the two play off each other quite nicely.
Between the new singer, extra guitar, and the gritty, heavier sound, one wouldn't even think this to be a Motley Crue album at first listen. But it is, and it sometimes isn't so great. "Motley Crue" tends to sound more like a ballsier Pearl Jam album or maybe if you mashed Soundgarden with Guns 'N' Roses, with only scant traces of traditional metal. And if you don't dig that scene man, then some of these songs will get on your nerves. That is mostly because of the length. Even some of the better numbers on here like to wear out their welcome, hurting the potential for more memorable, punchier tracks. Some weaker Motley Moments? Sadly the two closing tracks blow. "Dropping Like Flies" is a terribly bland mid-level rocker that plays the overlong card, while closer "Driftaway" is a really lousy ballad. Even lamer of a ballad is thankfully short "Loveshine", which sounds ready and packaged for your radio-friendly listening pleasures. "Hooligan's Holiday" and "Til Death Do Us Part" round out the plodding, overlong slowish rockers plaguing this album.
But luckily there are stronger moments to boot. Easily the best song on here, and one of Crue's best songs period, is of course "Smoke The Sky". Fast and heavy as hell, built largely on Lee's immense pounding drums and Corabi's biting speed riffing and pissed vocals; cool fucking song! Opener "Power To The Music" is no slouch either; overlong yet again but at least it maintains a series of good riffs and a memorable chorus. Similar is the pissed off "Welcome To The Numb", which at the same feels like the closest, musically, to older Crue material; again a bit long, but pretty good. Other solid tracks include "Uncle Jack" with it's stomping grooves and the half-ballad "Misunderstood", which starts and ends slow but is satisfyingly heavy in the middle.
Overall, "Motley Crue" is an odd album. If you're not into the 90's rock/grunge scene, then this probably won't do anything for you, even if you like Motley Crue beforehand. The main issue is that practically half the album is filled with very forgettable, sometimes downright lame, songs, and even the good ones get botched by being too long for their own good. Otherwise, it's fairly listenable. The Bob Rock production is pretty killer, and John Corabi's contributions are stellar and welcomed. I recommend it if you're opened up enough to listen to something totally different this band has tried, but otherwise skip it if the 90's rock sound isn't your thing. Or maybe just download "Smoke The Sky", that works too...
What sounds like the worst idea on paper - former glam band tries to curry favor with the alternative/grunge crowd - works surprinsingly well for Mötley Crüe on their self-titled album from 1994.
First of all, I love "Misunderstood". The acoustic beginning and the heavier middle part, the perfectly integrated orchestra and, last but not least, the chorus feat. Glenn fuckin' Hughes at his best - probably one of the ten best power ballads of all time. However, the last 1.5 minutes are completely unnecessary and that's the problem with many of the songs on here. "Power To The Music" and "Uncle Jack" are fantastic songs, but outstay their welcome by about two minutes ("Power To The Music") and 1.5 minutes ("Uncle Jack"). "Hooligan's Holiday" is easily the best Crüe song of all time, but again, it's about two minutes too long.
"Mötley Crüe" contains not only the best Crüe song, but also the heaviest (and one of the best as well), the incredible "Smoke The Sky", which leaves us with one more song to complete the brilliant half of this album, namely the good time rocker "Poison Apples". "Hammered" is also a good song, but not comparable to the aforementioned (the bonus track, if you will).
And the rest? Well, I never listen to the rest. "Droppin' Like Flies" is yet a decent song, but the remaining four tracks are completely forgettable and I'm sure they only landed on the album to stretch it to an hour.
The production should be mentioned as well, because "Möltey Crüe" was produced by Bob Rock and that means that the sound of this album is HUGE. It is as heavy as possible (see "Smoke The Sky") AND extremely transparent (see "Misunderstood"), plus it demonstrates how drums are supposed to sound. Skid Row, by the way, must have have been impressed by this album as well, because not only did their "Subhuman Race" sound very similar to "Mötley Crüe", but they even hired Bob Rock to produce it.
This album provides six great songs somewhere between Guns 'n' Roses, Ugly Kid Joe and Soundgarden's "Badmotorfinger" with the production of 90s Metallica, but it is also one of the worst examples of useless stretching. First off, four of these songs, as good as they are, are running too long for no reason whatsoever and the second half of the album is by no means on par with the first half. Nevertheless, in the end you get about 24 minutes of true brilliance plus one good "bonus track" which adds up to one of the best half hours of the 90s.