mick mars

REVIEW: Alice Cooper – Hey Stoopid (1991)

First of an Alice Cooper double shot!  Tomorrow, The Last Temptation!

ACHS_0002ALICE COOPER – Hey Stoopid (1991 Sony)

When Hey Stoopid first came out in ’91, fans were still reeling from the disappointment (but commercial success) that was the Trash CD. Fans wanted Alice to get heavier and drop the cheese, and Hey Stoopid was a step in the right direction, to be fully realized on his next album The Last Temptation.

It was the era of the virtuoso, and Cooper certainly knows a good musician when he hears one. To me it was a stroke of genius to have Steve Vai and Joe Satriani record a guitar solo together for the first time, and on a song called “Feed My Frankenstein” no less! Guest shots by Ozzy (barely audible, though), Nikki Sixx, Vinnie Moore, and Slash provided enough hype for the fans to salivate.

Songwriting-wise, Hey Stoopid was a step up from Trash. The title track with its lyrical warnings of drug abuse was a fun catchy rocker with a tasty Satriani solo. The solos on this album are all too brief. Still the players being as good as they are create solos that enhance each track. Other standouts include the mindblowing “Might As Well Be On Mars”, an epic Desmond Child song that just aches before it explodes on the choruses. “Die For You”, written by Alice with Motley Crue’s Sixx & Mars, as well as Jim Vallance, has a chorus that bores its way into your brain and stays there like a parasite.

There’s still a lot of filler, something that plagues almost Alice album from Goes To Hell through to Hey Stoopid. “Snakebite”, “Hurricane Years”, “Little By Little” and “Dirty Dreams” are all songs that Alice will never play live in concert, and for good reason.

Yet there are still lots of hidden gems on this CD, all the way through to the final track “Wind-Up Toy”. A song about insanity, as only Alice can do, it is something that really hearkens back to Welcome To My Nightmare. What’s this about “Steven”?

There are also a couple lesser known tracks that aren’t on the domestic CD that are worth tracking down: “It Rained All Night” is a slowy, groovy track that was a B-side but better than some of the ballads on the actual album. “Fire” was a Jimi Hendrix cover with some fiery (pun intended) guitar playing.

The most disappointing thing about Hey Stoopid is the production by the normally excellent Peter Collins. Yes, Trash was too glossy, and yes, Hey Stoopid toughens the sound with more guitars. However the background vocals in particular are so dense, so saccharine, that even Def Leppard would blush. They are credited to different groups of people, and clearly there are a lot of voices here creating this gigantic mush of sound. It’s too much. I much preferred when Alice stripped it down on Dirty Diamonds, an album that deserves much praise. In 1991, production values just seemed to go to this extreme — witness Europe’s Prisoners In Paradise CD for a similar sounding album.

Hey Stoopid was Alice attempting to find his footing again, and while it stumbled, it did pave the way for Last Temptation. If grunge didn’t wipe out hard rock later that year, maybe Hey Stoopid would be regarded more fondly.

3/5 stars. Not great, but certainly not a failure.

Promotional "Hey Stoopid" memo

Promotional “Hey Stoopid” memo

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REVIEW: Motley Crue – New Tattoo (2000 European, 2 CD editions)

MOTLEY CRUE – New Tattoo (2000 Motley records, EU edition with bonus track and 2 CD edition)

The worst Crue album? Could be Theater of Pain, Generation Swine, or 2000’s New Tattoo. I don’t like speaking ill of the dead, but Randy Castillo was not a suitable replacement for Tommy Lee. Tommy Lee isn’t a great technical drummer by any stretch, but he has bombast and his songwriting is crucial to the Motley sound. Here, the songwriting void is filled by future Sixx A.M. collaborator James Michael.

The drum sound is flat and lifeless, the guitar is dry, and there is simply no fire here. The songs drone from soundalike to soundalike, and you will forget which is which. This is the Crue on cruise control if not pure autopilot. Of course, the band hyped this as a “return to the roots” album, which it is not. The Crue’s roots are bombastic loud chrome plated sleezy metal with loads of attitude and aggression. This is dull, pointless, meandering rock that goes nowhere. Without Tommy, I am inclined to say there is no Crue. Compare this to the Vince-less self titled 1994 album, a 5/5 star release all the way. Who is more crucial to the band’s energy?

Not one, I repeat, not one great song here, but plenty of mediocre ones. “Hell On High Heels” isn’t too bad, but it’s certainly not up to the standards of Motley Crue singles past.  Also half decent is “Punched In the Teeth By Love”, a title which dates back to 1991’s Decade of Decadence.  Unfortunately the majority of New Tattoo is clogged up with dreck like “She Needs Rock N’ Roll”, “Hollywood Ending” and the title track.  Nothing stands out after numerous listens.

MVP:  Mick Mars, who always seems to nail a tasty solo when needed.

The saving grace to this particular release is the live disc with Samantha Maloney (ex-Hole) on drums. It is more fun and entertaining than the album itself, but maybe that’s because the live disc is 66.6% oldies. The two demos included are no better than the album versions, but collectors should be aware that Europe got a version with a different bonus track called “Time Bomb”.  On top of that, Japan got an exclusive song called “American Zero”. It’s too bad it was relegated to Japan alone, because it might be the only track that actually hearkens back to the good old days.

Avoid. A bore and a chore to listen to. Pick up 1994’s self-titled release instead.

1.5/5 stars

Part 264: Garbage Removal Machine / REVIEW: Motley Crue – Lewd, Crued & Tattooed – Live

First the tale, then the review.  I would like to dedicate this one to DEKE, Thunder Bay’s hardest rocker, who titled this story for me.  And to Jason C, who just yesterday won tickets to the Toronto show on the Final Tour with Alice Cooper!  Lucky…!

RECORD STORE TALES Part 264:  Garbage Removal Machine

The year was 2004.  I had always been an active on various “social media” but back then the place to be was called IAM.  Iam.bmezine was the full name, but it was where I spent most of my time, and where some of the journals that appear here today originated.

I had joined an IAM book exchange group and specified that I was interested in collecting Stephen King.  Someone sent me The Stand and I was hooked, so I wanted to get more into the mythos.  This girl from Thunder Bay, Ontario sent me a few more as well.  A little bit later, she moved to Waterloo for school.  We met at William’s coffee pub to exchange some more stuff.  She was wearing a Motley Crue – Girls, Girls, Girls T-shirt.

One thing led to another and we ended up going out.  She came over to my place and we watched a couple rock movies.  She was into all things “retro”, so I decided to give her all my old cassettes.  Everything that was duplicated on CD, I gave to her.  All my Iron Maiden, all my Judas Priest, Motley Crue, Van Halen…everything that I had on disc.  She gladly took them, and I gladly took back my storage closet.

In return, she gave me her copy of Motley Crue’s DVD Lewd, Crued & Tattooed – Live.  “It sucks,” she said.  “Vince Neil sucks now.  I was so disappointed.”  I didn’t have the DVD, and it wasn’t especially high on my radar because yes, the Crue had been sucking as of late.  However the presence of Samantha Maloney on drums (filling in for the terminally ill Randy Castillo) meant that it was the kind of one-off that I enjoy owning.

One of the better performances

A couple of weeks went by with Thunder Bay Girl, but my guard was up; my spider senses were tingling.  I felt like she was obsessing a bit.  A bit later she told me that the reason she sent me the Stephen King books in the first place was just to contact me; she went out to a used bookstore, bought a couple Kings and sent them to me.  I know, not exactly So I Married An Axe Murderer behaviour, but there were other factors that made me start to feel uncomfortable.  When she asked me what I wanted for my birthday that year, I decided to pull the plug before it got too far.

I did the manly thing, and dumped her by email.  I know, I know.  All I can say in my defense is that I was right.  My spider senses detected something alright.  Although it didn’t happen immediately, she eventually exploded like a powder keg.  We chose to “remain friends” (not a good idea) but friendship soon turned to a hateful obsession.  She exploded on me one day — something about a ferret?  Eventually she moved back to Thunder Bay, and I never heard from her again.  I like to think that she took my tapes with her, and dumped them in a Thunder Bay landfill out of pure spite.  Although I wish I had kept some of those cassettes, I’ve decided to maintain a safe distance from Thunder Bay at all times.  It’s the only way to be sure.

MOTLEY SUCK_0001MOTLEY CRUE – Lewd, Crued & Tattooed – Live (2001 Motley Records DVD)

Here’s Uncle LeBrain with a dose of reality: This DVD sucks. Truly. It sucks. The New Tattoo album wasn’t great to start with, but this is awful. The awfulness can be boiled down to one factor: Vince Neil, the laziest singer in rock. Here, a breathless Neil does his thing: lets the crowd sing half the song, skips every other word, and weasels his way out of the tough notes.  Set-list wise, this relies heavily on the Motley hits with very little deviation. Which is good, can Vince even remember the lyrics to obscure tunes?

So embarrassing is Vince Neil’s performance on this DVD that I have only managed to watch the whole thing twice.  The main reason to own it is Samantha Maloney. Diehard Crue-heads will remember that drummer Randy Castillo had replaced Tommy Lee, but himself had to sit out the tour due to the cancer that eventually killed him. Ex-Hole drummer Samantha Maloney, the first and only girl to be in The Crue, took his place and did admirably well.  It all came to an end when she hooked up with Nikki Sixx.  You knew these guys just could not be in a band with a girl.

A second reason for me to keep this in my collection is “Nobody Knows What It’s Like To Be Lonely”.  This is an audio-only track, and also the first-ever official release of one of the earliest Motley songs.  To date, the only official release.  It was recorded in May 1981 at the same session that yielded Motley’s first single “Toast of the Town” / “Stick To Your Guns”.  I believe the song used to be known as “I Got the Power” and was written by Nikki Sixx for his old band, London.  It does piss me off that this audio track is only on a DVD, not a CD, but I’m sure those more tech-savvy than me can rip it to an mp3 file.

2/5 stars

Part 251: Punched In the Teeth By Love

RECORD STORE TALES Part 251: Punched In the Teeth By Love

Back in December of 1991, an old M.E.A.T Magazine article on Motley Crue revealed a cool little nugget of an exclusive. Motley were promoting their first “greatest hits” CD, Decade of Decadence.  Like any good official compilation album should, it contained three brand new songs.  They were heavier, alluding to an evolution in direction for Motley Crue.  However there was a fourth new song that didn’t make the cut:

PUNCHED

It always disappointed me that since Vince Neil left the Crue in early ’92, that song title never appeared on their next album.  Too bad, I thought.  Something about the title jumped out at me; I was looking forward to hearing the song, but it never came out.  Bummer.  Especially since I did indeed get “punched in the teeth by love” (figuratively) and been knocked out a couple times.  But you could never keep me down for the count, I always bounced back.

Any time I broke up with some girl back then, I’d always tell the guys at the record store the same thing.  “Man, I need to write a song called ‘Punch In the Teeth By Love’!”  I figured, since Motley Crue hadn’t used it, the title was up for grabs!  I threw some words and a rudimentary riff/melody together as a joke but it never went beyond that.  It always generated a few laughs though, and laughing at work is healthy, especially when you’ve been punched in the teeth by love.

Of course later on (1997) Vince Neil did rejoin Motley Crue.  Later still, after Tommy Lee quit the group acrimoniously, they released possibly their worst ever album New Tattoo (2000).  Interestingly, that album’s track #7 was called “Punched In the Teeth By Love”!

I don’t presume this to be the exact song that would have come out in 1991, since Randy Castillo (Tommy Lee’s replacement) is credited as a writer.  Maybe the lyrics are recycled, maybe just the title, whatever:  it doesn’t matter.  Finally “Punched In the Teeth By Love” surfaced and as hoped it was one of the heaviest songs.  The riff was pretty generic, but Mick Mars’ guitar work is impressive.  I’ve always felt Mick has grown as a guitar player tremendously, especially since Dr. Feelgood.  It’s certainly not the greatest song, but it rocks hard enough and has a cool gang vocal chorus, so I’ll give it a B or a B+.

It was considered to be worthy of the concert setlist in 2000 (Samantha Maloney on drums now, filling in for the terminally ill Randy Castillo).  It was played only on that tour though, and it was not included on any Crue compilation since then, including the double Red, White & Crue.  So I’d like to bring your attention back to this track, a pretty good if not great dirty little Motley Crue song:  “Punched In the Teeth By Love”!

REVIEW: Motley Crue – Motley Crue (Remastered edition)

MOTLEY CRUE – Motley Crue (1994 Elektra, 2003 remastered edition)

It is hard to forget that day in the winter of ’92 when I heard Vince Neil had been fired from Motley Crue. Or quit. Whatever. It was disbelief! I was so into their previous albums, Dr. Feelgood and Decade of Decadence with its crushing single, “Primal Scream”. The Crue were at the top of their game! How could this happen?

But it did happen, and when the spring of ’94 finally rolled around, I picked up Motley Crue (self titled, no umlauts).  I picked it up at the store that, in only a couple more months, I would be working in myself.  I realized after only two listens that Motley Crue had gone from strength to strength. They had produced what was and still is their heaviest album, the most uncompromised, groovingest (is that a word?), serious piece of metal they’d ever done. Sabbath-esque at times, this was one heavy album. John Corabi was in on vocals and (for the first time in this band) rhythm guitar.  John added new dimensions to a band that now demanded to be taken seriously.

The problem was, no one did. While I was working at a record store in ’94, I had a lonely stack of Motley Crue discs (sitting right next to a stack of David Lee Roth’s Your Filthy Little Mouth), going unpurchased. If this album had come out in ’94 by anyone else — Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden — it would have been a #1 smash hit and spawned at least 4 hit singles. It didn’t.

Originally just 12 tracks and now expanded to 15, the Motley Crue CD was heralded in by the grooving riff that was “Power To The Music”. A simple song accented by some of the best drum fills ever on a Motley disc (expertly captured by Bob Rock), “Power To The Music” was a rallying cry, something that the fans could relate to. Especially when Corabi shouts, “Don’t tell me to turn it down!” Lyrically this was not all that different from the old Crue. Musically, it followed the path set out by “Primal Scream”. Sound wise, this was a new different Crue, downtuned, with a gritty vocalist with power to spare, more guitars, clearer and louder drums, and sound effects.  Just more of everything.

Some backwards guitar introduced “Uncle Jack”, a song about a child molester, with a distorted Corabi screaming, “I wanna rip your god-damn heart out!” This, friends, was the new Crue for a darker and more serious time. Corabi’s gritty, bluesy vocal melodies were anchored by Sixx, Mars and Lee, grooving as they had never done on record before (with additions from Bob Rock). The new Crue was on fire after only two tracks!

The single, “Hooligan’s Holiday” was next. At 5:51, this was an odd choice for a single. It boasted a strong chorus, some unusual (for Crue) guitar drones, and some more amazing sounding drum fills. Rock really outdid himself on the sound of this record.  I think it’s the best sounding record that either the Crue or Bob Rock have made.

“Misunderstood” was the first epic piece and the second single. At nearly 7 minutes, it was again hardly a commercial song. It was the first song the band wrote together for the album.  It reflected a lot of Zeppelin influences.  It starts acoustic and somber, about a “little old man, left alone in desperate times, life’s passed him by.” Then it slows down, there’s some backwards parts, and the heavy riff kicks in. An orchestra backs Motley Crue, and the amazing Glenn Hughes joins Corabi on vocals.  Perfection.

From there the Zeppelin influences continue. “Loveshine” could have been on Zeppelin III. I’m not sure how many different acoustic instruments are present, but there are a lot, layered here and there.  There are also some odd percussion instruments that I have trouble picking out. This could have been another single, in a perfect world. One of the best songs on the record, “Loveshine” defied expectations by slowing the pace.  I didn’t expect there to be any ballads at all.

The pace picked up again with “Poison Apples”, which begins with a tinny transistor radio sound before kicking into gear. The only glam rock song on the album (the chorus contains the line, “We love our Mott The Hoople”), “Poison Apples” is really the only possible mis-step on a great record. It simply sounds too much like the Motley Crue of old, which to me confused the direction of the album. I would like to hear Vince Neil tackle this one someday (when hell freezes over).

Side two of the record began with “Hammered”, one of the earliest pieces of music written. I believe the riff and groove go back to when Vince Neil was still in the band. “Hammered” is one of the most Sabbathy moments on the album. I used to play the outro riff on my guitar all the time.  I loved that riff. This is a truly great song.

Another epic followed, this one “Til Death Do Us Part”. An ironic title considering that this was to be the only album with Corabi, it was also once the title track. Very Sabbathy once again, “Til Death Do Us Part” contains a slow droning riff, some clear and crisp cymbal work by Tommy, and some of the heaviest kick drums I’ve ever heard. A classic in any parallel universe.

My two favourite songs followed. “Welcome To The Numb” brings back more Zeppelin influences (think a souped up “Travelling Riverside Blues”), with Mars’ virtuoso slide guitar. The groove here is unbeatable and the guitar work ranks with Mars’ all-time best. Coulda woulda shoulda been a single.  I recall Nikki Sixx saying that this song barely made the album, as it had too much of the “old Motley vibe”.  I disagree; I think it was modern and cool.

“Smoke The Sky” is the “drug song”.  “We love our THC, when it’s time we smoke the sky!”.  It borders on thrash metal. Fast, riffy and heavy, this was single #3. The pace is incredible and the song will put you into a sweat.  Corabi makes absolutely no bones about the subject matter:

Marko Polo hailed it heaven,

Socrates inhaled it too,

Mr. President, tell the truth!

“Droppin’ Like Flies” brings back the Sabbathy grooves. Another slower riffy monster, it too is not brief at 6:26 with a long guitar oriented outro. It is followed by the final track on the original CD, “Driftaway”, which is another ballad. I think it took a lot of guts to end a CD this heavy with a ballad. This song too, perhaps, could have been performed by the original band. After banging your head for nearly an hour, this track acts as a comedown of sorts.  It’s my least favourite song, but it’s not a bad ballad.

The bonus tracks on the reissue include the first B-side, “Hypnotized”. This sounds like a demo to me. It is very heavy, very Sabbathy, and very raw. It has a long, drawn out droning outro. “Babykills” has a funky groove and clavinet. This has a bit of a glam metal sound, and was originally released on the mail-away EP Quaternary (which also contained 4 solo tracks, one from each band member). I am glad it has been returned to its rightful place on the Motley Crue album. Finally the CD ends with “Livin’ In The Know”, from the Japanese version of Quaternary. Not an outstanding track, it is clear that Motley Crue included the best material on the album itself. All killer, no filler — and “Livin’ In The Know” is admittedly filler.

It is very unfortunate that this album did not sell, and the fans couldn’t accept a Crue without Vince. In hindsight, it is great we got Vince back to (eventually) make the decent Saints Of Los Angeles CD. However, with Vince Neil solo at the time with his great Exposed album, and the Crue delivering this masterpiece, I was content for them to stay apart. While grunge had certainly taken over, Motley Crue did sabotage their own chances with some terrible interviews including one on MTV where they expressed indifference to their former lead singer being injured in a surfing accident.  They later walked out on the interviewer, and MTV played that clip ad nauseum. Stunts like these, and having swastikas on stage, tanked any chances this album ever had.

Once again I must give special mention to producer Bob Rock, who also played some additional bass and guitar on this CD. He managed to produce a heavy package without overproducing. There is heaviness, there is amp hiss, and yet the clearest crispest drums I’ve ever heard. He captured the downtuned guitars without making them muddy.

Pick up Motley Crue, turn off the lights, and get ready to rock to the heaviest and best album this band has ever made. It is a true classic in any just universe.

I even bought it twice, to get both booklets!  (And then again, in the Music to Crash Your Car to: Vol. 2 box set.)

5/5 stars

Gallery: MOTLEY CRUE – Generation Swine (1997 Japanese CD)

A short while ago, Jon and I were discussing the Motley Crue “reunion” album, Generation Swine (review here).  I told him that I was still looking for the original Japanese edition, which had a bonus track called “Song To Slit Your Wrist By”.   Even though I already knew the song from Nikki’s side project, 58, and didn’t like it, I still wanted Motley Crue’s version for my collection.  I found one on eBay for just over $30 which is the best price I’d ever seen.  I bought it, it shipped.

Then Jon told me:  “The bonus track ‘A Song To Slit Your Wrist By’ wasn’t a Crüe song at all, it was taken from Nikki Sixx’ very underrated sideproject 58.”

Rats!

See, for me as a collector, that sucks for two reasons.  If the song is by 58 and not Motley (and he’s exactly right, that’s indeed what it is), then it gets pushed way out into a far orbit of my collecting priorities.  Second, I already had the damn thing a long time ago on the 58 album Diet For A New America!

I knew it wasn’t a pristine copy and the packaging had yellowed, so no big deal.  The plastic outer case has also got a bit brittle and a piece cracked off in shipping.  Again, no big deal, last time I saw this CD it was a lot more expensive, and didn’t have the obi strip.  It comes with a really cool generous booklet (in Japanese unfortunately), exclusive to this release, so that helps to make up for the lack of an exclusive bonus track.

Gallery below.  Enjoy!

News: MÖTLEY CRÜE Attacked On Stage In Saskatchewan; Video

Bravewords.com News MÖTLEY CRÜE Attacked On Stage In Saskatchewan; Video.

This really pisses me off, especially to see it happen in a place such as Canada.  We try to keep our image as the nice guys of the world, and then this jackass knocks down Mick Mars.

Like Nikki Sixx (or somebody) said, “What the fuck is wrong with you, you fucking idiot?”

Mick Mars has a very painful bone disease (ankylosing spondylitis).  I’m guessing he could have easily broken his back in that fall.  You can see how freaked out everybody is, and that he can’t get up on his own.

Hope you’re feeling OK today Mick, come back to Canada anytime, don’t let one idiot ruin it for you.

Mars  says: “Thank all of you for your concerns about me being knocked down last night I’m alright nothing broken. My body guard Rhyno got 2 busted ribs.”

It happens at the end of “Primal Scream”.

More Motley:

REVIEW:  Shout at the Devil

REVIEW:  Theater of Pain

REVIEW:  Generation Swine

REVIEW:  “Sex” 2012 single

Part 148: Navigate the Seas of the Sun

RECORD STORE TALES Part 148:

Navigate the Seas of the Sun

We had a staff Halloween party in the late 1990’s.  T-Rev had this cool “alien head” — he got it back in ’97 or ’98 from a convenience store.  It had alien head suckers inside.  He asked the guy at the store, “how much for the alien head?”  The guy answered, “If you buy all the suckers in it, you can have it.”  So he did.

The candy was awful by the way.  I did my share, trying to help him consume it all.

But he got this alien head out of it, and with it, made a cool alien costume.   And for the Halloween party that year, I wore the costume.

We had one girl at the store who had a phobia of aliens.  I’d never heard of that before.  We found it amusing, so after she got to the party, I came up the stairs wearing the alien costume.  Well, she was just terrified.  We thought it would be funny, but it wasn’t funny.  If I could go back and change that, I would.  It was a dick move on our part.

I don’t know the story behind the alien phobia, but back then I didn’t believe in aliens.  I subscribed to Carl Sagan’s theories.  I was a big fan of his book The Demon Haunted World.   I simply didn’t think there was any evidence for alien visitation, nor did I think it was possible.  Speed of light and all that.

Since that time I’ve read a lot of books.  Stanton T. Friedman was the most convincing.  A nuclear physicist has credentials that are difficult to dismiss, and he makes convincing cases.  I’ve also read Whitley Strieber, Jenny Randles, and many others.  I’ve come to the undeniable conclusion that some UFO sightings are real.  Most are hoaxes.  I’m not interested in those.

But what the hell does this have to do with music?

Aliens and UFO’s have provided subject matter for numerous classic rock and metal songs.  Sammy Hagar’s a believer, and he’s incorporated that into some of his lyrics.  Mick Mars is a hardcore believer.  Blue Oyster Cult’s “Take Me Away” is a great example.  Fu Manchu’s “King of the Road”.  There’s many more.

In my years of collecting though, I have never found a better set of lyrics on the subject than side 1 of Bruce Dickinson’s excellent Tyranny of Souls album. Kevin, an employee, picked me up a copy at HMV Toronto back when they still sold Japanese imports.  That was the cool thing about working in a record store. We helped each other out.

Bruce Dickinson is clearly a believer.  I suspect he’s read his share of Von Daniken.  Witness the lyrics to “Mars Within”:

Mankind returns to the stars
But sometimes, the stars return to mankind…
Didn’t you come this way before, a million years ago?

Although there’s also a reference to Professor Bernard Quatermass in the same piece, it’s easy to associate these lines with Von Daniken’s theories on ancient aliens.

But there’s so much more on the same album.  “Abduction”:

Are you the truth to sit in judgement on my sins
Evil laser gadgets come to penetrate my skin

The next song, “Soul Intruders”, is more abstract but contains clear space references about the “solar wind” and “cosmic streams of time”.  But one really cool lyric is “Kill Devil Hill” which combines these themes with the Wright Brothers and first flight.  Everyone knows Bruce is a pilot and is interested in the history of aviation.  The Kill Devil Hills, near Kitty Hawk in North Carolina, is where the Wrights were the first to achieve heavier than air powered flight.  But the lyrics hint at more:

Blood brothers of angels, now hear us
We earthbound your offspring, don’t fear us
God willing, we’ll raise up, be near you
So open your arms now and take us

To me, Bruce is referring to the aliens as the “blood brothers of angels”, and mankind as its offspring. This too is a common theme in UFO lore.  Some believe that, at minimum, aliens have manipulated our DNA and directly interfered with our evolution.  There’s no proof of course, but that’s not my point.  I’m just looking at the lyrics and their inspirations.

The final song of these sci-fi themes on the album is “Navigate the Seas of the Sun”.  Bruce even paraphrases Albert Einstein:

If God is throwing dice,
And Einstein doesn’t mind the chance
We’ll navigate the seas of the sun

Einstein once said, “As I have said so many times, God doesn’t play dice with the world.”  Einstein was talking about quantum mechanics and its seemingly random predictions.  But what Bruce seems to be saying is, if Einstein’s wrong about the universe, then there’s a chance we can break the speed of light and journey to the stars.

Later on in the same song, Bruce changes up the wordplay:

If Einstein’s throwing dice,
and God, he doesn’t mind the chance
We’ll navigate the seas of the sun

I love this.

The song is loaded with all sorts of beautiful sci-fi wordplay.  The song is clearly about leaving Earth behind:

So we go and will not return
To navigate the seas of the sun
Our children will go on and on
To navigate the seas of the sun

This conjures up the image of multi-generational ships that may be necessary to colonize other worlds.  The song in general brings to mind the Arthur C. Clark novel The Songs of Distant Earth.  Eventually, our sun will use up all its fuel.  This is inevitable.  It’s physics.  If humanity is to survive (if we even last that long) we will have no choice but to find another world to live on.  Earth will be fried to a cinder when it goes nova and turns into a red giant.

We can’t go on tomorrow
Living death by gravity
Couldn’t stand it anymore
We’ll sail our ships to distant shores

Death by gravity is another theme that Clarke explored in his books.  He felt that we could extend our lives by leaving this cradle and living in zero gravity.  Now we know that living in zero gravity deteriorates our bones, possibly to the point of no return.  So should we go on to explore the stars, this is an obstacle that must be overcome.

I’m grateful to Kevin for supplying the Japanese version of Tyranny of Souls, but I’m really, really sorry to the girl that we scared with the alien costume!  With the benefit of hindsight, I wouldn’t have done it if I knew then what I believe today.

REVIEW: Motley Crue – Generation Swine (1997)

MOTLEY CRUE – Generation Swine (1997, 2003 Motley Records reissue)

It is hard to believe that the mighty Crue, who had released the record of their lives in 1994 (Motley Crue with Corabi on vocals) put out this bunk next. Such was the 90’s. Fans did not embrace Corabi as predicted, the album flopped, and immediate pressure was on the Crue to kiss and make up with Vince Neil.  So that’s what they relectantly did. 

The Crue were already in experimental mode when Corabi was still on board. They had already said that this album wouldn’t be produced by Bob Rock (a shame, that was) and that it would be more “raw” and “heavy”. Then, as time went on, you started hearing things like, “The new album is Motley Crue meets Sisters of Mercy with the intensity of Nine Inch Nails”. Bands that have nothing to do with the Crue’s roots. In the end, the band was spinning tires so fast that Corabi couldn’t handle it anymore and Vince was brought back. All of this is well documented in the latter half of Motley Crue: The Dirt.  A five-piece Crue with Neil singing and Corabi on rhythm guitar was briefly considered (damn! that would have been sweet!), but it was the original four-piece sans Corabi that became the next Motley Crue lineup.

And what they made together was just…what the fuck is this?  Remember when Crue showed up at the AMA’s and lip-synced that new techno-y sample ridden version of “Shout at the Devil”?  What the hell was that?

I place the blame squarely on the head of producer Scott Humphrey. Humphrey was actually from around here.  People who know Humphrey personally have said he’s always been a tech-head.  Just listen to his records with Rob Zombie.  That’s fine.  But here, Humphrey uses all his techno-wizardry to suck the life out of Motley Crue, no mean feat. The band must also share the blame, as they should have stopped the directionless proceedings before it got too far. In the end though, Motley Crue continued on with this sound, even over Mick Mars’ very strong objections. Mars was sidelined in the recordings, but it turns out Mick was right about Generation Swine.

Generation Swine (formerly: Personality #9 while Corabi was in the band) is the most confusing, un-Motley disc ever recorded. The drums are processed and sampled to the point where there may as well have been no live drummer.  It may as well be a computer rather than Tommy Lee, for what it sounds like.  The guitars, also sampled, squeezed, processed and spat out by a computer, show little of Mick’s spark and feel. I can see why Mick was pissed off.  Vince’s return was hardly worth bally-hooing, as he’s barely able to wheeze out a passable melody here. In fact, both Sixx and Lee take lead vocals, too. What kind of reunion album is that?

The real shame of it is that these songs could have turned out quite well. Check out “Let Us Prey”. It is easy to imagine what this sounded like when Corabi was singing it. In fact he insists that his vocals are still intact in the mix, and that you can hear him scream on the choruses. Corabi also says his rhythm guitar parts on the album are intact too.

But I digress. The point is, songs like “Let Us Prey”, “Generation Swine”, “A Rat Like Me”, and “Anybody Out There?” show enough of the original Motley spirit that this could have been a halfway decent album. However each of those four songs are choked to death under a muffled blanket of samples, sound effects, bells & whistles, and processed unnatural guitars and drums. It’s a shame because any of those four songs (the only solid hard rockers on this disc of slow paced dreck) had potential. Also decent was the single, “Afraid”, although it sounds more like Def Leppard.

To add weirdness on top of the confusion, the album closes with a track called “Brandon” sung by Mr. Thomas Lee Bass himself. “Brandon, I love you. I love her. She is your mom.” Yes, he actually sings that.  God knows what he was thinking when he wrote that lyric.  Nikki Sixx’s “Rocketship”, a hippy dippy ballad for his wife is slightly better, but why not get Vince, the singer of Motley Crue, to sing it?  Nikki’s not an especially good singer – that’s why he plays bass. Yet he insists on singing three songs, on Vince’s comeback record.  I still don’t get that.

People, do yourself a favour. It doesn’t matter that Vince Neil came back for this album (it was mostly finished before he came back anyway). Check out the 1994 album with Corabi, a truely heavy beast that will probably blow your head off if you’re not wearing a helmet. It is a beautiful record.  This is not.  And don’t worry about the bonus tracks on the reissue.  The demos are no better than the album tracks. Nobody needed a demo of “Confessions” with Tommy singing.

Excluded: A techno song only released on the Japanese disc called “Song To Slit Your Wrist By”. An expensive trinket.  I don’t own it myself.  The only time I saw it up close and personal was at a record show in London, and the vendor was asking $70 for it.

2/5 stars

REVIEW: Motley Crue – Theater Of Pain (remastered, bonus tracks)

 
MOTLEY CRUE – Theater Of Pain (1985, 2003 Motley Records remastered edition)
Crue’s third was a mess, a smokey muddy mess of an album that served only to confuse and disappoint those who were enthralled with Shout at the Devil. The Crue, now wearing ridiculous striped (stryped?) jester suits had dropped the chromium metallic sheen of Shout, and replaced it with nothing but a notable lack of direction.
Theatre of Pain was one of the most anticipated albums of the ’85, and one of the most biggest disappointments. Yes, “Smokin’ In The Boys Room” is a fun jokey novelty, but it is also a novelty cover. “Home Sweet Home”, billed by the band as their “Dream On”, is not really. Broken down, it is a cliche-ridden proto-ballad, the type of thing that every L.A. band has done at least once. And usually, better.  I mean, think about it — you can name better ballads by Bon Jovi or Cinderalla, can’t you?  I can.
There is precious little metal on this album, the terrible “Use It or Lose It” being the only foot on the gas pedal, but itself also being nothing more than a grade C song worthy of most bands’ album outtakes. There is absolutely nothing on this album that would have made the cut on the great Shout at the Devil. Even a track like “Louder Than Hell”, one of the better songs, was demoed for Shout and dropped; the band obviously lowered their standards.
The mix is muddy, an alcoholidaze of robotic drumming and lifeless, uninspired vocals. You can hear the wasted band barely trying. Or, rather, trying as hard as they were capable given the chemicals. If a major band released this today as the followup to a beloved classic, it would be a career-ender. Not so with the Crue, as the 80’s were much kinder.
Bonus tracks on the remastered edition are laughable. Did we really need three versions of “Home Sweet Home”? The vaults must be a lonely place indeed. Tommy’s sleepy “drum piece” is worthy only of the skip button.No standout songs, terrible mix, and dull performances aside, the one guy who swims to the top is  Mick Mars, who plays several solos that rise above.
1.5/5 stars
1. City Boy Blues
2. Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room
3. Louder Than Hell
4. Keep Your Eye on the Money
5. Home Sweet Home
6. Tonight (We Need a Lover)
7. Use It or Lose It
8. Save Our Souls
9. Raise Your Hands to Rock
10. Fight for Your Rights
11. Home Sweet Home [Demo Version]
12. Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room [Alternate Guitar Solo-Rough Mix
13. City Boy Blues [Demo Version]
14. Home Sweet Home [Instrumental Rough Mix]
15. Keep Your Eye on the Money [Demo Version]
16. Tommy drum piece from Cherokee Studios
CD-ROM. Home Sweet Home [Video – Bonus Track]