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Five years ago, I wouldn’t have been caught dead listening to a band like Motley Crue. High heels, peacock costumes, make-up, and endless songs about boning with an occasional ballad thrown in for those occasions when the planned boning went tits up? Please! They’re poseurs! I was a thrasher and I wanted my metal to speak to me either about other worlds or this one disappearing in a nuclear cloud, not conveying the LA streets filth and strip-club sleaze. Well, blame this album for getting me out of that elitist rut and going down the path of enjoying braindead, three-chord party metal absolutely non-ironically. All you need to know is that I now love Kiss, and fuck you, “Great Expectations” rules, ok?
But wait. You see, Motley Crue ARE poseurs. More specifically, they are the cream of the crop of poseurs, right up there with such famous fake and insincere style-compilers like David Bowie, who, not incidentally, is one of Nikki Sixx’s admitted influences. What is sincerity when it comes to music anyway, and what has it ever done for us? It gave us Tori Amos, that’s what. Yes, dear uptight younglings, the best thing about Motley Crue is their absolute trashiness, in looks and sound alike.
Imagine a relatively normal, expected heavy metal sound circa 1981. This is the skeleton of it. I have no doubt for a moment that they spent half their recording budget on heroin, and they were together as a band mere months before recording this anyway. Oh, but they had the attitude. So what, you say, so does Barbra Streisand. Yes, but Motley Crue are better actors. Nikki Sixx feigns perfectly that he can write songs, Mick Mars is fantastic at convincing you he can play them, and Vince Neil is the great pretender at the microphone. Great? The Greatest. Tommy Lee kills, and that’s all you need to know about the drums. Cowbell abounds, and you’ll be asking yourselves how you ever managed to live without it in no time.
But it is all so basic, perfectly set to transform you directly to the nearest strip joint, except no strip joint is as beautiful as this suggests (I suppose). You see, Motley Crue are a fantasy band, just as much as your local power metal unicorn panderers, it’s just that these particular fantasies are built on booze, blooze, heroin, speeding, and girls, girls, girls. Fine with me. You and I will never live this life, but damn if it isn’t so exhilarating to observe it from a safe distance.
Let me fast forward you to “Merry-go-round”. Hear that? That’s called bubblegum. You might have heard pretentious critics using this word to describe the Ramones and their ilk, not wholly inaccurately. The idea is that there is something very, very right with the combination of heavy guitars and sickly sweet melodies. Also, notice how, much like the Rolling Stones or the New York Dolls before them, Motley Crue were supposed to be this minds-blasted-on-drugs-don’t-care-about-feelings-give-me-pussy band, but their songs drip with the most exquisite melancholy whenever they slow down.
By contrast, there is nothing melancholy about the likes of “Live Wire”, “Take Me to the Top”, or “Piece of Your Action”...of course not. Except for “Live Wire”, which is almost speed metal, if it weren’t ridiculous to use that tag in this context, all these songs burn at the sexiest of sexy mid-tempos. I swear to you that all these beats were scientifically pre-calculated to simulate the mating rhythms of the vast animal kingdom. There is not a single beat or guitar, ahem, stroke that doesn’t suggest a sudden rush of blood to everyone’s sex organs, not one. They didn’t only pinch the cover art of the Stones’ Sticky Fingers, they pretty much adopted the “play as lazily as possible, so that it sounds sexier” philosophy. Good for them.
In other words, this is a badly played record of rudimentary songwriting and moronic lyrics, and I mean that in the best way possible. I have this piece of plastic suggesting sex and death with its every note, wrapped in black, white and red, and I feel like I have the nectar of the gods in the fridge. Cause I’m hot, I’m young, running free, a little bit better then it used to be. DEATH TO TRUE METAL!