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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...