Motley Crue at thier best,
This review is from: Mötley Crüe (Audio CD)
I bought this album on first release and have always liked it a lot. It is my favourite Motley Crue album, but is it the best Motley Crue album? The answer is yes and no. It is the best album released under the name Motley Crue, bar none. But with the excellent John Corabi on vocals (he also plays guitar) in place of Vince Neil it is a somewhat different band.
Allegedly costing $2 million to make, this wonderful album has outstanding song writing (including lyrics), musicianship and performances. It is tight, right on the edge and breathlessly full on. A lot of the songs stick in your head, "Hooligans Holiday", "Uncle Jack" "Hammered", "Misunderstood" "Poison Apples", most of them in fact. But the best of all is "Til Death Do Us Part", a song which gave the album its working title until late in the process, and led to John Corabi tattooing it on his arm. It starts quietly but introduces a raw power grounded by a wonderfully skilful and measured drum part from Tommy Lee, and a guitar from Mick Mars that has poise, swagger, and constraint until it is unleashed in the chorus, like a growling lion from a cage, but still somehow chained. The song never stands still it is always twisting and turning, not too fast, not too slow, not a ballad as such but not a rocker. Just one of a kind and simply astonishing.
Would it have been even better with Vince Neil? No way dude. Vince has a different vocal range (higher) and could not have recorded these songs. The album they started to make with him in 1991 would have been quite different in the end. It is also a great regret that these songs won't be played live again, they would make an amazing show.
Contrast this with early Crue material, take "Too Fast for Love [Explicit]" as a great place to start. What that gives you is sheer punk rock spit and kick. Simple adolescent songs, punched out like nails into a board, classics like Live Wire, Too Fast For Love and Take It To The Top. But what you have here is far removed from that, a band that has developed into top class professional musicians wanting to show it all off and not minding if anyone notices. So while Too Fast is joyful and in your face, this is dark, complex and enduring. They may as well be by different bands altogether.
My only gripe is the soundscape painted in the mix. This is dark and heavy, nodding in the direction of bands like Pantera who were becoming popular in the early 90s. Motley followed that crowd along, presumably as a rational commercial decision, albeit one which failed to ignite the sales both they and Elektra craved. It works just fine but I would have chosen a more traditional production sound had I been there to vote.
In the end the $64 million question remains, probably written on the inside of an empty cocaine bag, underneath a bottle of Jack Daniels. Can you have a proper Crue album without Vince Neil?