Motley Crue are back with their first album featuring all the original members in over a decade. Saints of Los Angeles (Motley/Eleven Seven Records) features 13 tracks loosely aligned to the 2001 band autobiography The Dirt and tells the story of Motley's rise (and fall) in the L.A. Glam scene. Track list:
Face Down in the Dirt
What's It Gonna Take
Down at the Whisky
Saints of Los Angeles
Muther Fucker of the Year
The Animal in Me
Welcome to the Machine
Just Another Psycho
Chicks = Trouble
This Ain't a Love Song
White Trash Circus
Goin' Out Swingin'
Saints of Los Angeles (henceforth SOLA) is a mixed bag, but overall the hits outweigh the misses.
The album opens with "L.A.M.F.," a spoken word dialogue courtesy Vince Neil in the same vein as "In the Beginning" from Shout at the Devil. Here the introduction is less than effective and actually falls in the annoying category. Deleting this track would probably make the album stronger.
The first half of the album is fairly strong, chronicling the band's struggle to rise from gutter trash to multi millionaires. "Face Down in the Dirt" is decent and "Saints of Los Angeles" is fabulous. Quite frankly, "Saints of Los Angeles" is in an entirely different league when compared to the rest of the songs the new album. There's something sonically different about this track. The sound is so rich, so strong and so Motley. The guitar work coupled with superior lyrics make "Saints of Los Angeles" one of the best songs in Motley's deep catalog.
"What's It Gonna Take" and "Down at the Whisky" are fairly weak compared to some of the other songs on SOLA. Next to "Saints of Los Angeles" my favorite new track is "Muther Fucker of the Year." I can't quite explain why I love this song so much, but it probably has something to do with the repetitive chorus or Vince's nasally whine. Whatever the case, I listened to this song about 17 times on repeat. It's true, I can't get enough! I also really dig "Welcome to the Machine," "Just Another Psycho" and "This Ain't a Love Song."
While SOLA has some damn strong tracks, there are plenty of stinkers. "Chicks = Trouble" is pretty bad. In fact, it's my least favorite track on SOLA. I listened to the album from start to finish three times before making any real judgements, but after that time I found myself skipping "Chicks = Trouble." The lyrics make me cringe and the actual music is pretty bad too. Also a downer is "White Trash Circus." The lyrics are not as heinous as "Chicks = Trouble" but the track lacks anything special. If there's nothing special about the song, there's no reason to listen.
There's no true ballad here and I think that's a wise move. "The Animal in Me" has a slower tempo and thus provides a natural thematic break between songs.
Is SOLA Motley Crue's best effort? No, but it does have a certain sound quality that is reminiscent of the Dr. Feelgood era. Some of the lyrics on SOLA are just a little strained and that comes out pretty clear. The difference is that this time, Nikki Sixx and company are looking back on history instead of writing in the moment. History and memories change our perception. Struggling financially at the time is pretty tough but can seem a little romantic after a certain level of success is achieved. I suspect Nikki looked back on his early Sunset Strip days with a hazy fondness and wrote what came to his mind which of course is sex, drugs and rock n' roll.
The downlow? Buy this album. Even with a couple bad tracks, it's a strong effort from a classic Glam band.