Motley Crue
Saints of Los Angeles

It’s about time that Motley Crue remembered what they do best.

Since their first breakup in the early 1990s, they’ve struggled to find their identity. For those who haven’t been keeping score, it started with the heavier sound of 1994’s self-titled record with vocalist John Corabi. It was a solid record, arguably one of the best in their catalog from a musical standpoint, but a lot of longtime fans didn’t buy into Corabi. That resulted in the return of original singer Vince Neil for the dismal 1997 effort Generation Swine, where the band tried to show off its “artistic” side. Really bad idea.

Another breakup followed, with drummer Tommy Lee leaving and the late Randy Castillo stepping in. In 2000, the band again tried to placate fans displeased with the direction of Generation Swine with a record New Tattoo. An attempt at a return to their glam success of the 1980s, the record, for the most part, contained a collection of lame songs that would make the worst ’80s hair band cringe.

So then it was time for another reunion. The Red, White and Crue “best of” package brought us two very promising new tracks in “If I Die Tomorrow” and “Sick Love Song,” easily the best tune the band had recorded in 15 years or so. There was some excitement, but tempered. After all, fans have been there before.

The good news is, this time, they got it right. No electronic noise, no alternative, no plaintive ballads about band members’ children, just straight up rock. While Saints of Los Angeles is certainly no match for Shout at the Devil, it is a return to what you want from a Motley Crue record: sleazy, three chord anthems about sex and partying. It’s music to turn off your brain, pick up a drink and rock out with.

There are some stinkers here. “The Animal in Me” takes itself too seriously. It’s too hard to get past the goofy lyrics of “Chicks = Trouble” to enjoy the pretty good blues rock stomp of the music. The tough guy bravado of “Goin’ Out Swingin'” doesn’t translate musically, and “Down at the Whisky” retains that thin, lifeless, going-through-the-motions feel that sank New Tattoo.

But when they’re on, they’re really on. A concept record of sorts, since almost every song here is about the band, the best moments come when Motley Crue embraces their past and delivers some raunchy, glitzy, mindless rock ‘n’ roll. The title track is a standout moment, reminiscent of the Dr. Feelgood era. There are also some hot grooves to be found throughout the record on songs like “Mutherfucker of the Year” and the record’s second-best track “This Ain’t a Love Song,” which reminds me a lot of “Primal Scream” from their first “best of” compilation way back when. They rock out in fine form on the bouncing “White Trash Circus,” and tip the hat to Alice Cooper on “Just Another Psycho” – a song that’s begging for a guest shot from Cooper, but unfortunately doesn’t get it.

If you hated Motley Crue in the 1980s and wish that era in rock history would go away, then likely nothing will change with this record. If you’re a fan that wandered away during the band’s lost years, you should definitely give Saints of Los Angeles a listen. The record has its ups and downs and doesn’t completely match the energy of their heyday, but it’s easily their best work since 1994’s Motley Crue.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
June 24th, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: Franklin Delano Bluth

    Normally I would keep stuff like this to myself, and I mean no disrespect to the reviewer, but my hatred of this band is so profound I feel I have to say that they are the worst band of all time, IMO.


  2. Commented by: Hevy Blevy

    Apologies to TOTD which I love, and don’t want to be one of those people, but I have to agree with Bluth – a Motley Crue review….really? They really are the absolute worst band of all time.


  3. Commented by: Fred Phillips

    Guess that means I shouldn’t post my review of the new Brett Michaels record, huh? :D j/k, of course.


  4. Commented by: Chris Teeth

    Guys,

    I support reviews like this. Gives the site a rounder feel. Even though most of the site’s fanbase won’t like MC, I think it’s important to explore some rock elements.

    Good review, Fred!


  5. Commented by: foodi

    you know, some level of objectivity is always welcome. while the band members’ shenanigans and messed up personal lives certainly make it a target for monikers like “worst band of all time”, you cannot deny that records like Dr. Feelgood and earlier are solid. its the same with courtney love. if the bitch is being run over by a truck at this very moment, i dont think i could possibly care less, but records like Live Through This cannot be ignored.

    so get over your petty biases and allow the reviewer to do his job.


  6. Commented by: Old Pick Axe

    Brilliant review. It’s good to find someone else who saw this album for what it was. Absolutely astonishing. It’s my second favorite Crue album (behind Shout At The Devil) and songs such as “Face Down In The Dirt,” “Saints Of Los Angeles,” “Motherfucker Of The Year,” “Just Another Psycho” and “Chicks=Trouble” are all barn burners. A must have for Crue fans or fans of good hard rock.


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