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Glam/hair metal has always been despised by "trve" metalheads, but I for one still love it to death. Sure, Poison and Winger are garbage, but on the flip-side there are bands like Whitesnake (when they weren't writing ballads) and Motley Crue. Motley Crue isn't one of my favorite bands of all time or anything, but I still really like them a lot. Albums like Too Fast for Love, Girls Girls GIrls, and Shout at the Devil are classics and rightly so. However, no band has a perfect discography. Every band has at least one album that no one likes to talk about. Metallica has St. Anger, Bathory has Octagon, and Motley Crue has Theatre of Pain.
Well, first I'll just talk about the good things about this album. It sounds really good, in terms of production. Many bands have been ruined by flat production (TNT is probably the best example) and it's nice to see that Motley Crue has good production. Also, the album had two hits, both of which are great. Home Sweet Home is one of the best power ballads ever (not that it had too much real competition) and their cover of Smoking in the Boys Room is a great fun song. While Home Sweet Home has lyrics that sound like Bob Segar wrote them, the do fair better than most other self-pitying ballads.
As for the bad. this is going to take awhile. Remember how I said the production was good, well maybe good is a bit of an overstatement. Producer Tom Werman did a great job on Shout at the Devil, but instead of carrying over that style of production, he attempts to emulate Mutt Lange's production with Def Leppard. As is to be expected, he fails. It's still pretty okay, but doesn't hold a candle to Lange's work. As for the songs here, the two hits are the only songs worth mentioning. Some of the other songs are better than others, but they all are sub-par and annoying. The lyrics are probably the weakest part of the album. While dumb lyrics work on songs like Girls Girls Girls, it's only because they match the over-the-top fun of the music. Here they are pared with bland boring songs and it's just grating. Also worth mentioning is the pathetic song names, "Fight For Your Rights" and "Use it or Lose it" are among the worst. They are just hilariously cheesy and it's a good indication of the quality of song that follows.
Only pick this up if you're a hardcore fan. Heck, unless you want to be a completionest don't even bother listening to it at all. It's an album filled with almost nothing but bad lyrics and boring melodies. It isn't awful, but it sure is close. It's albums like this that give hair metal a bad name!
Um, ok. We have a bit of a problem here. Let me just start this review off with one main main question. How in the fuck can you go from something as remarkable as "Shout At The Devil" to something as mediocre and corny sounding as "Theatre Of Pain"? This one is just barely at the mark for something I'd get, and that's mostly just for collecting purpose and for two tracks as well. If I get this one eventually, I'm not paying more than a couple of dollars for it. So, let's dig into this in greater depth.
Let's start with the good, the few things that hold this up in the higher than 50 area. I guess it's not that hard to figure out, but mainly I only like the two on here that everyone likes. "Smokin' In The Boy's Room" and "Home Sweet Home". Well way to go there Motley Crue, one of those is a cover, so it hardly means much anyway. But, it is one bangin' cover. There is nothing better than a metal band covering an old classic rock song. Well, at this point, some would even call Motley Crue classic rock. But Brownsville Station is definitely a little different than Motley Crue, you could say the least. Their version is a bit more better to jam to, it's got a harder edge to it, and honestly, the style fits the lyrics a little better as well. I mean let's face it, it's a rather rebellious song, and this band is far more rebellious and plays it in that style. The other one is "Home Sweet Home", which is an absolutely beautiful ballad. I really don't know how something this great can appear on an album of such simplicity and lack of effort. This one has a great, soft tone to it, and the lyrics are very well written. The instruments are also incredible, as there is a beautiful solo at the end. They also make great use of combining the piano with the guitar, and using it in the outro. Now, the vocals aren't much different than the rest of the album, but they fit well for a ballad. As far as metal songs and whatnot go, the vocals on here don't work at all. Thankfully this song was on here. Because if it was not, I most likely would not want anything to do with this record. I will say though, it is strange having a hole in my collection. That being having the first five albums minus this one.
Now, the rest of it. To start, when I first played this, I was immediately disappointed. Like I said, "Shout At The Devil" was one of the greatest heavy metal works in classic metal history. You would think that whatever follows it would be somewhat great, but it's not. The first track "City Boy Blues" starts off with really simple guitar work that really has nothing special in it. Then, in come the vocals. Ah! What happened! They went from great, powerful, evil metal vocals, to whiny, nasally, effortless ones. Well ok, perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration. But still, they're not anything like the other ones, and are no good. This is fixed a little, thankfully, on the next record, "Girls Girls Girls". Now, like I said, they do work for ballads. Simply because Vince doesn't try to be heavy, so the softs are very clean sounding. I don't know what happened on this record, but the vocals changed a little too much for my taste. Now, I touched on this earlier, the instrumentation. The riffs are all very monotone, simple, and don't have a lot of effort either, clearly. They also lack solos on this one big time. So what does the guitar really have to offer here? Right. Nothing. A lot of the song writing overall is rather cheesy. There's a lot of stuff that's just repeated vocals, and it's almost like the record is broken. Hey, guess what, we get the same thing with the instrumentation. It all just seems kinda recycled. At least it takes a little bit of talent, I guess. Perhaps since this is around when they got popular, they felt like they didn't really have to step up their game anymore, and just sorta decided to slack off a little. Again, I'm really glad that changes and doesn't last for long.
In this album's defense, the ending isn't quite as bad, which also keeps this above the 50%. The riffs aren't quite as repeated and the vocals aren't as whiny. It's almost like it was warning us that the crappy stuff is over. Thank you guys. Even though they aren't amazing, at least the last two leave me with a little hope.
Motley Crue isn't exactly what I would call an excellent band, but I do see some of the good things they've done. They did, after all, release "Shout at the Devil" a few years before, and that album is actually pretty decent. It would all go downhill from here in terms of music, though, for Motley Crue had to conform to MTV's standards of what they considered to be "metal", and that meant creating some bland, generic, hard rock songs as well as weepy ballads. The result was "Theatre of Pain".
What else could you expect from a song entitled, "Use it or Lose it"? A song about reckless lifestyles coupled with a generic bluesy, hard rock riff and the lead vocals singing each verse that features generic glam rock lyrics with a somewhat bluesy overtone and, to top it all off, a sing-along chorus with words like "hey" repeated over and over again until you want to leap in front of an oncoming train? Congratulations! You are correct! That's exactly what that song is about! Clearly that song is a groundbreaking musical magnum opus that the public will eat right up! Just listen that riff in "Keep Your Eye on the Money" that might have been used by other hard rock bands in the past! What originality! Pure genius! This album is going to sell like hotcakes if the boys keep this up! What's this? "Smokin' in the Boys Room?" A cover of a dated 70's rock song that should not have been covered? Mick Mars creating a guitar effect that makes it sound like a saxophone during the solo? Brilliant! There's no way that bluesy riff and shufflin' tempo would annoy people in any possible way! Guess what dude, it did.
And unfortunately for us, this album actually did sell like hotcakes, thus anyone unlucky enough to be listening to the radio having a chance of the appalling "Smokin' in the Boy's Room" playing in their car. Seriously, what is up with that? It's a song from a completely different decade with a completely different sound from Motley Crue's, it serves no purpose, why even bother doing it (other than to make it a hit single)? I'll tell you what, that is one of the dumbest hit singles ever to be released by a hard rock/metal band! Don't even get me started on Vince Niel's irritating vocals. I'm sorry, he just should not be singing at all! His bright and nasally vocals just don't sit well with me at all. It's like he puts more energy into his mouth rather than his throat or his lungs, which is what a singer should do. Vince's Porky Pig-like vocals might seem perfect for those generic glam metal songs that take up 90% of the album, but they're especially out of place when he tries to sound sentimental in the supposed cream of the band's crop, "Home Sweet Home". It's just not that much different than when he sings normally in other, rowdier songs. It just isn't as snarly, that's all. Given the basic nature of how bland the rest of the songs are, his voice just makes the experience worse.
Speaking of "Home Sweet Home" it's the only other song more different than the rest of the album, yet it still manages to be atrocious. The piano riff isn't horrible, but the song is just ruined by Vince Niel's horrendous pretty-boy voice. Again, Vince doesn't even try at all, he just sings his standard glam band voice that can be heard in everything wrong not only Motley Crue, but also with 80's music in general. There's also the fact that the melody that Neil sings doesn't really go together with the music being played on the piano, at least not the tone of his voice. It's like they're recording two completely different songs. To make matters worse, Mick Mars, the sole reason why I listened to Motley Crue in the first place, plays a sloppy solo. Okay, Mick might not be anywhere near the level of Joe Satriani, but man, that solo was lame! It just had him playing a small melody after playing a few rushed individual notes. Here's the kicker; the song isn't even about love, it's about life on the road! Yet still, it's a song to be avoided at all costs to save your mind from sugary decay, love song, or not.
This album is evidence of all our hopes of Motley Crue at least being a decent band being dashed in order to pad Elektra's profits. It sealed the band's fate as the poster child for every horrendous musical act that existed in the 80's. No wonder the thrashers didn't like 'em! "Theatre of Pain" truly is a theatre of excruciating pain that we all want to be demolished and replaced with a parking lot sooner than later, and that's a fact.
When it comes to Mötley Crüe’s 80s output, the Theatre of Pain is consistently overlooked and overshadowed by the albums that came before and after. Sandwiched between the bombastic Shout at the Devil and 1987s Girls, Girls, Girls album with it’s two massive hits, Theatre of Pain is only really well known for it’s famed power ballad. For me though, Theatre actually ranks at the top with Shout as my favourite Crüe album.
The music here is a lot less aggressive than on the previous albums, but as IWP pointed out it’s not as catchy as bands like Poison and the works. To some, this is a bad thing, but all that aside there’s something about this album I just love. As with all Crüe albums it’s jam packed with attitude, it’s just not as aggressive.
Aggression aside, in terms of riff quality, it’s business as usual. Mick Mars is the man, every riff on this album is memorable and effective. At times, this album sounds much like a less aggressive version of Shout at the Devil; the song “Louder Than Hell” was actually a live staple from the Shout era, and a demo version can be heard on the re-release of that album, only it’s called “Hotter Than Hell” instead. The song is virtually identical aside from the lyrics, of which I prefer the first version (any song that has the words “some like it hot” will always get my vote), although this song is one of the highlights of the album. Other highlights include the opener “City Boy Blues”, which has a really cook smoky atmosphere (not actually sure what a “smoky atmosphere” is, but that description seems to fit the whole album nicely), “Use it or Lose it”, which is the compulsory speed metal song that Mötley always seem to include. Not quite “Live Wire”, but I’d say it was better than “Red Hot.” Although it should be noted that the main riff sounds awfully like “Breaker“ by Accept. The Brownsville Station cover is good fun as well and is relentlessly catchy.
“Home Sweet Home” is the most well known song on the album, and it is often credited for bringing power ballads to the glam metal forefront. An emotional song with a really nice piano melody, this is how a power ballad should sound.
It wouldn’t be fair to give this a score to match the previous albums, but really, it’s an awesome listen. Even if you forget the other Crüe albums overshadowing it, Theatre of Pain still had a fairly big underdog factor. A year later Poison would steal the spotlight with the release of their debut (a lot more poppy than this, but still a great album), as well as Cinderella’s Night Songs being released that year as well (although they never really became truly awesome until Long Cold Winter).
Overall then a great listen, and essential for any Crüe fans. My version is the 1999 “Crucial Crüe” remaster with various bonus tracks, but best go for the 2003 release, which has all of these bonus tracks plus the “Home Sweet Home” video, which is pretty cool.
Especially coming from a band that released to classics in the form of Too Fast For Love and Shout at the Devil. This album is not bad at all, though it's not even close to quality of the Crue's last two albums. It was apparant, Motley Crue wanted to be recognized by the mainstream after Shout at the Devil. They achieve that on this album, but the quality goes down as a result. This album just seems so watered down and bland.
There's really not that much that stands out here, but at least the album stays consistent for the most part. The main problem I have with this album is that the riffs have lost their aggression. I wouldn't have a problem wiht that had the songs have been very catchy like Poison. However, we hardly even have that much catchiness on this album either. Some songs are better than other though.
The best song on here surprisngly is a ballad in the form of Home Sweet Home. This song often takes responsibility for starting the whole trend of puting ballads on glam metal albums in order to soud more commercial. However, this song is one of the better hair ballads. It's done with just the right amount of emotional and melody which helps it succeed as a great ballad. Use It or Lose it is also pretty awesome as well. Like Livewire and Red Hot, this song is also the obligatory speed metal song, though thus one is a bit watered down just like the rest of this album. However, it's still speed metal, and thus is still awesome almost by default. Louder Than Hell and Smokin' in the Boys Room are also pretty good though lack the aggression of songs from their first two albums.
Overall, this album is not bad, though it's not really great more to less awesome like the Crue's first two albums. On that note, this album is still pretty good, and if you're into glam, you might still dig this album. I'd say it's the worst out of Motley Crue's first five albums. Though, it's still pretty good, and thus should not be overlooked.
Well, I haven't heard any of the stuff after Dr. Feelgood, but they dropped quite a bit after this album, and I have my doubts towards that they managed to redeem themselves. But on here, it's all good.... mostly.
Theatre of Pain is more in the vein of Too Fast For Love than Shout At The Devil, and at times seems to have lost the intensity and heaviness that was present on the bands sophomore album. However, for what it is, this is pretty solid traditional metal.
The songs go on at a solid pace, not very fast but enough to keep them interesting all through. The riffs are not too spectacular, but they're memorable and catchy, and just do their job, and Mick Mars' soloing is as spectacular as ever for the most part. He also whips out some really sweet and tasteful licks on here, just listen to the first two tracks City Boy Blues and Smokin' In The Boys Room.
The band is in damn fine shape, and Theatre of Pain is a rockin' album, but it has a few filler songs as well, unfortunately. Those are Keep Your Eye On The Money and closer Fight For Your Rights. The first one is just downright boring and one of the most forgettable tracks of the first three Crue albums. The second tries to be anthemic but fails, and just comes off as mediocre and uninspired.
The rest though, is all vintage Mötley Crüe. Catchy, rocking, headbangable and fun to drink to. Perfect party metal, pretty much.
The songs that stand out especially much are among others the cover of Smokin' In The Boys Room, which is one of the most insanely catchy songs they ever did. Gotta love the lyrics, too. Then we have the splendid ballad Home Sweet Home, which I'm sure you've all heard. Use It Or Lose It is the fastest song on here, and serves for a good, solid punch in the face, and finally the acoustic Raise Your Hands To Rock, to which you just can't help but singing along.
Then City Boy Blues, Louder Than Hell, Tonight (We Need A Lover) and Save Our Souls is the classic just-above-midpaced Crue material that we all know. Think Public Enemy #1, Too Fast For Love, Bastard, stuff like that. Great shit, if you're a fan of the band.
In conclusion, this is another quite essential Mötley Crüe album for fans of heavy metal with hard rock-ish vibes, who're looking for a good time.