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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Mötley Crüe

Saints of Los Angeles

Review by Travis Jensen

It has been said by European countries that the United States has no culture. However, when you consider Cowboys, Harley Davidson and rock and roll, we’ve got them beat hands down. When you think of any of the biggest pioneers in this genre of music, Motley Crue is definitely at the top of the list. Let’s face it; at close to 50 million records sold world-wide they have generated a fan base that is into its second generation. I remember the first time I first heard the Crue. It was 1983 and a friend of mine had gotten the Shout At The Devil album; yes, an album…they were somewhat crude for sound quality depending on your turntable, but for a man of substance, they were fantastic. The cover art and record sleeves were always an interesting conversation piece. When I first saw the cover for this album, I was hooked right away. They looked radical, tough and very cool. Being a Kiss fan for a number of years, rock stars in make-up and black leather outfits always intrigued me. It was then and there that I knew what I wanted to be. When I heard the first few songs, I was completely amazed and knew that I wanted to become a rock star! The drum intro to “Red Hot” was probably my favorite at first, and after several plays, they all had a message that made each them my favorite for one reason or another.

Ever since then, I’ve been a die-hard Crue fan, through thick and thin, and have never given up on them as they’ve proven themselves as one of the few groups of that genre to withstand the test of time. Saints of Los Angeles is their best since Dr. Feelgood, and even better in many ways, because they have come full-circle where they have gotten back to their roots of playing just “kick butt” rock and roll without having to seek the approval of the suits at the record companies and radio stations. With the exception of a handful of greatest hits and tribute compilations, this is a loyal Crue fans’ best stuff in just over 10 years. However, if you are like me, that just isn’t good enough, so a trip to a live show or two is what needs to be done.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
L.A.M.F.
This is your introduction to the pinnacle of rock and roll coolness. Vince Neil is in rare form as he sets you up for what is to become an album of monumental proportions. There is an eerie feeling of despair, death and destruction among the voice-over as the tension, as well as the apparent volume builds to the first actual song!
Face Down In The Dirt
I really like where this one begins, as one of the most notorious bass players in metal history starts this one out. The band as a whole really gets back to their roots here, where there seems to be a raw sound that really grabs your ear. Yet, there is still an energetic pulse to it that reminds you that it is new and untouched by any remains of previous albums. There are also some recording studio sound effects that help this track go beyond anything normal or traditional.
What’s It Gonna Take
This is a very smooth transition from one song to the next. There are countless albums from various genres of bands which seem like one 45 minute song… it doesn’t happen here! The previous track just simply rocks, and this one comes across as more of a party tune with a rhythm that is lead prominently by guitars and vocals. Judging by the lyrics, it is a story about the trial and tribulations that the band faced in the early years of its origins. 
Down At The Whiskey
If I could pick any band in history to write about the debauchery and antics related to The Whiskey in downtown Hollywood, Motley Crue is at the top of my list! Each verse of the song paints a vivid image in my head based on pictures from my youth from all of the metal magazines, videos, etc. that have accumulated over the years. In my estimation, the chorus is the most prominent part of this song, which has an up-beat tempo that could fetch heavy amounts of radio play, or even a video down the road. 
Saints Of Los Angeles
I particularly like songs that have some kind of an alternate intro leading up to the start of the music, as long as it isn’t too long or redundant. This song is no exception, as the raspy effects take us into what is one of the heavier sounding tunes on the disc. Since this is the title track of the album, it only makes sense that this one stands out above the rest in certain obvious ways. I would imagine that the song title suggests something with a little deeper meaning; perhaps the duality of man, where it is impossible to have something pure in a place that represents the downfall of Western civilization. 
MF Of The Year
I’ve listened to this song more than several times, and it has become one of my personal favorites. Maybe it’s because of the title, perhaps the lyrics, or it could just be that it is one of the tunes that is played frequently on one of the popular Chicago radio stations. I think that there is some form of transcendental meditation where I am able to project myself into the person that the song is talking about.  Whatever the reason, it’s a very cool tune that has sort of an American Indian tom-drum beat that carries it through its entirety.
The Animal In Me
There is a dissonant melody in this track which seems to take it in a different direction than several of the others before it. What I like about this one is that the vocals are brought to the surface, which really extends Vince Neil beyond that of a typical lead singer. This song isn’t a ballad by any means, but is a little more melodic with a slower tempo, yet doesn’t become redundant. Perhaps it’s the drums that keep this from happening, which create a powerful, majestic sound. There is also a triumphant guitar solo from Mick Mars that flows very gracefully between the drums and vocals towards the end of the song.
Welcome To The Machine
For me, this particular song starts out a little typical, where the lyrics sort of blend into the background and nothing impressive seems to stand out musically. However, the chorus supports the song fairly successfully where the tempo seems to grow into something that matches the strength of the song title. I think it is the main guitar riff and driving beat at the end of the song that saves its integrity. 
Just Another Psycho
There is a tough, choppy guitar riff that starts this one out which leads to a very fluid progression from one part of the song to the next. The vocal style for this track is probably a great representation of the quintessential Vince Neil, who has an on-stage presence that is absolutely electrifying. Those of you who have seen a live Crue show know what I’m talking about. That energy and persona is projected through the gripping sound of this song that has the same presence of what was so successful in certain tracks from the Too Fast For Love album. 
Chicks = Trouble
What a cool tune! The name of the song says it all. It reminds me of many blurry memories of my youth. However, it does have a 1980’s, glam-rock connotation not only from the name of the song, but the lyric content as well. What I like about this one is that it shows a humorous side of the band which demonstrates that they can still have fun after all these years, yet can still remain creative.
This Ain’t A Love Song
There is a quick, repetitive beat throughout this, which is combined with a rough edge that makes it very appealing. There are some studio effects that give somewhat of an industrial/techno vibe to it. However, the chorus tends to get a little redundant after the second time around because of the melody and lyrics that don’t seem to have the genuine appeal that many of the others do.
White Trash Circus
This song represents the obvious epitome of the notorious reputation the band has had as a group throughout its history. Although this one has a simple melody, it is easy to remember, kind of like one of those catchy tunes that you find going through your head hours after you hear it.
Goin’ Out Swingin’
What a great way to end an album! The driving beat and lyrics to match make this one a real neck-breaker. It’s ironic that the song title represents such a musical punch in the face to its listeners. The bass, guitars, drums and vocals are all in full-speed and perfect unison to create such a powerful track which details such a talented group.
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