REVIEW: Motley Crue – Saints of Los Angeles (Japanese version)

MOTLEY CRUE – Saints of Los Angeles (2008 Motley Records, Japan)

Man, if there was one band due for a comeback, it was the Crue. I mean, seriously! They went from the top of their game in 1991, coming off of Feelgood and Decade, only to have their lead singer abruptly leave. Then of course the awesome new album with the new singer flopped, because he wasn’t the old singer.  Vince came back, Tommy left, and the band released the mediocre New Tattoo.  After a hiatus, Tommy Lee returned again for a big successful reunion tour, and the Crue finally managed to put out an album.  Saints of Los Angeles was better than expected, and did hearken back to the good old days.

You hear that a lot; “hearkens back to the old days”. Aside from the overly glossy production, this album sounds like the natural followup to Dr. Feelgood and “Primal Scream”. Of course, it was contrived that way. Nikki talks about this being a concept album following the the storyline of their book The Dirt, but really that is just an excuse to revisit the old (successful) Motley sound.  Sure, why not?  I’ll buy that.

CRUE SAINTS_0005Despite all odds, this album does succeed. From the opener “LA.M.F.” (which is an obvious homage to “In The Beginning” from the Shout album and “T.N.T.” from Feelgood) to the final track “Going Out Swinging”, there’s hardly any filler here. Just about every song kicks. No ballads, unless you want to count “The Animal In Me” (which I don’t). Hey, and think of it: Sharp fans will recall that Feelgood itself was originally conceived as a concept album with no ballads. Interesting.*

Guitar riffs are kicking, Vince is singing as good as you could hope, and all the songs shine. There’s even the odd female backing vocal, recalling the Nasty Habits. Only the production drags this down to a lower level, I simply find it too processed and glossy. Bob Rock would have added more thud, but that’s just my opinion. Song wise, winners include the title track and first single. Other highlights are the glam “Down At The Whiskey”, “Face Down In The Dirt” (see, The Dirt is in the title!),  the swaggering “What’s It Gonna Take”, and the chugging “Just Another Psycho”.  Those would be my favourites on an album of consistent song quality.  All but “Welcome To The Machine”, which sounds like a transparent ripoff of Ace Frehley’s “Shot Full Of Rock”. I can’t believe I seem to be the only one pointing this out.

I was disappointed by one thing: look at those writing credits. Mick Mars has just one co-write, ditto Tommy Lee. Vince Neil: No writing credits at all. Instead, the album was mostly written by Nikki and his Sixx AM cohorts James Michael and DJ Ashba along with hired songsmith Marti Frederiksen. So, is this a Crue album or another Nikki Sixx solo album featuring Motley Crue? You decide. It sounds like Motley, but c’mon. Both Mick and Tommy were cornerstones of this band’s songwriting. It feels like Nikki just got his buds to write like Mick and Tommy.

CRUE SAINTS_0006There’s one item I’d still like to get, related to this album.  I want to track down the CD single for “Saints of Los Angeles”, which lacks the CrueFest nobodies’ “gang vocal”. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think that a bunch of nobodies from Trapt or Papa Roach need to be on a Crue album.  So I’d like to hear that one.

Other than these minor complaints, Saints wins. When you’re listening you’ll forget who wrote the songs, and you’ll just dig the fact that Tommy is back on drums and Mick is playing better than ever.  God bless Mick Mars — that man is a rock and roll machine.  He is the MVP on Saints of Los Angeles.

OH!  And the Japanese bonus tracks, let’s not forget those.  The liner notes tell us nothing about where or when they were recorded, but they are obviously more recent.  “Kickstart My Heart” is the first, and Vince Neil sings with that annoying habit of singing every other word.  He lets the audience take lines when he can’t.  “Saints” slams, though.

4/5 stars. Crue fans will love it.

*It’s true.  According to a 1989 Hit Parader interview, not only were the band considering a concept album, but Nikki Sixx stated that he wanted Feelgood to be all hard rock, no ballads.  The ballads they had collected such as “Rodeo” and the newer “Without You” were to be included on a second new album to be released in 1990 called Motley Crue: The Ballads.  Bob Rock reportedly talked them out of the “no ballads” concept.  Then the concept was recycled for what would become Motley Crue (1994).  Before Vince bailed/was fired, Nikki said there were to be no ballads on the next Crue album.

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45 comments

  1. I bought this for about £3 and have still never listened to it! Your review makes me… almost… want to. It might finally be time! The “no ballads” thing just sounds like PR nonsense to me though. From the Paul Stanley “our next album is going to be the best since Destroyer” playbook!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m glad this clicked for you. As you may recall, I was fairly harsh on this one – and after you’d gifted it to me! What a thank you, eh? Haha. One thing you mentioned was that it difn’t click with you right away, but it got better with repeated listens. I’ve still not done that yet…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You don’t have to keep it — you can pass it along to someone else if you like! I won’t be offended at all.

      It did not click with me right away. It took some persistence.

      Like

  3. I saw them live once, not so long ago. Over the course of 2 and a bit hours we got audience BOOBS (kept mine covered), grinder-wielding strippers, a tubby out-of-tune dude (quite frankly) waddling about and a whole load of mediocrity – the band only looked interested on ‘Wild Side’ & ‘Girls Girls Girls’, which they played brilliantly.

    I’ve held a bit of a grudge ever since, but you write about this one so well I could almost listen to ti with an open mind…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why did your boobs remain covered? Are you ashamed of your body?

      That story doesn’t surprise me at all. They are notoriously shoddy live lately. Well, for the last 15 years or so I think. Vince in particular seems disinterested.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this album. Well, maybe not love, but I think it’s great. I agree with every word in Mike’s review but I need to state that Goin’ Out Swinging is my fave tune on this album.
    Speaking of Dr Feelgood, they should have gone with Nikki’s no ballads idea. I mean, Time For Change? And they used to give Bon Jovi a hard time for being too cheesy…
    Mötley Crüe will play Sweden Rock this summer. Hope they don’t blow like they did when they played 3 years ago. They sucked big elephant balls then.

    Like

    1. Yup I agree with everything you said. I hope they don’t blow either. But chances are, you know what’s going to happen. And usually it’s not Mick Mars or Tommy Lee that blows…it’s Vince. Laziest singer in rock, for the last 10 years at least.

      Like

  5. > They are notoriously shoddy live lately.

    Really? I have tickets to their February 14th show near Tokyo. It will be my first Motley Crue concert…I decided to see them instead of the March 3rd KISS show at Tokyo Dome because I’ve seen KISS many times but not Crue.

    Should I have gone with KISS again?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s possible. Crue are sometimes great…but lately they have been not so great. Vince Neil has a habit of skipping every second or third word in the song.

      “He’s the one…Feelgood! He’s the one…alright!” They say he’s out of breath.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It could go either way. I saw them on their 2005 Carnival Of Sins reunion tour and they were bloody brilliant. On the other hand they were awful back in 2008. And it wasn’t just Vince. They were all unfocused and they didn’t seem to give a shit, just playing to secure their future economicly. I have no clue about their recent tour though. But it’s not a wild guess that Vince might blow dog!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, I think Vince has been very the most inconsistent of the four guys. I would like to think that Mick gives it everything he’s got. Of the four guys, Mick is really the only one I have any respect for, you know what I mean?

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        1. Yes, especially in the last 15 or so years, Sixx has come across as the smart and genuine guy I always hoped he was. I’m glad a lot of these rockers, once they sober up, can actually string an intelligent sentence together! Duff McKagan is another guy who strikes me as smarter than he looks!

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        2. I think of all the Guns guys, Duff was always one of the most likable. He always came off as a big cuddly kid, I think. He got clean a long long time ago I think. Went to school, got his degree, writes for a newspaper…you gotta respect that. And you know, I think personally that going BACK to school is harder than going in the first place.

          Like

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