Netflix scored another huge hit with The Dirt. It’s a phenomenon with old fans basking in nostalgia, while youngsters hear the band for the first time. It has been praised, debated, and nit-picked while a surge in Motley sales at the record stores boomed.
The movie soundtrack is an 18 track collection, spanning just a sliver of Motley history: 1981-1989. All the glory, none of the ugliness or genre-jumping later. To hype it further the band reconvened in the studio with producer Bob Rock and cranked out three new songs with one really calamitous cover.
Disclaimer: I haven’t seen The Dirt, and am in no rush either. I already have The Real Dirt in my VHS Archives. I don’t need to see the cock-chopper from Game of Thrones doing an American accent pretending to be Mick Mars. If the songs chosen for this soundtrack have anything to do with the scenes in the movie, I wouldn’t know.
Let’s get the greatest hits out of the way first. Considering that Motley Crue had umpteen (five) compilations already, how does The Dirt hold up?
There are a few notable omissions you’ll have to acquire elsewhere. “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room” and “Wild Side” are missing, but there are better things included instead. You won’t miss those songs too much since you get early album classics like “Merry-Go-Round”, “Piece of Your Action”, “Red Hot” and “On With the Show” instead. The album is also wisely light on ballads. “Home Sweet Home” is obviously a compulsory inclusion, but you won’t find any second-tier ballads like “Without You” here.
There’s something interesting about the new recordings, and that’s the identity of Nikki’s new writing partner. John5 is credited on them (along with a host of other names). For those keeping score, this is the fourth fucking time Motley Crue have recorded a handful of new songs for a hits compilation. (You could make a 13 track compilation album just from those songs now.) But this particular batch of new songs is like finding a few rotten spoiled eggs in your carton.
When bands like Motley Crue start incorporating rap into their tunes, it reeks of desperation and that’s “The Dirt (Est. 1981)”. Machine Gun Kelly is the rapper who portrays Tommy Lee in the film (and does a smashing job of it, say the reviews). It’s not rap music that is the problem, it’s the fact that Motley have never been that band. From a certain point of view it’s cool that they gave Kelly a part in the song, acknowledging his role in the movie. Also, Mick Mars’ solo is brilliant: a six-string stunner, proving the axeman just… keeps… getting… better! But the song is an over produced mishmash of modernity that is starkly at odds with the old material.
What do others think? We reached out to Superdekes over at Arena Rock.
“I liked that Crue album,” he said. “Go figure.”
Even the new songs? “Yeah I do,” continued Deke. The rap too? “Well, the rap as its more of a speed thing…”
And that’s a good point. Check out a rapper like Logic for some amazing speed rapping. That’s an artform and it sounds good.
It’s just not Motley Crue. Next!
“Ride With the Devil” suffers from the same kind of overproduction. What’s cool about it is this cool soul-metal hybrid sound it has going on. Then Vince Neil starts rapping. Yes, it’s true that in 1995, Vince Neil made a solo album that combined hip-hop and metal, and of course Tommy Lee has his Methods of Mayhem. That’s why those were solo projects!
“Crash and Burn” is an appropriate title for this point of the soundtrack, but fortunately the songs is the best of the trio. The groove is mechanical but Mars is right there laying his electric wizardry on top.
What is perhaps most indefensible is Motley Crue’s putrid cover of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”.
In 1984, when “Like a Virgin” was getting regular television and radio rotation, we used Motley Crue to drown that shit right out. To hear Motley Crue now singing that actual shit is alternate-universe level mindfucking.
What did Deke have to say about “Like a Virgin”?
“I thought they did it well. I really like how they twisted the music.”
(We understand that “Like a Virgin” has been getting regular dancefloor action over at the newly refurbished Deke’s Palace up in Thunder Bay. “Asses are shaking” to the song, said our anonymous source.)
Ending this review on a positive note, what’s good is seeing Motley Crue back in the top of the charts again. People are talking about the band again. They’re having debates, like the good-intentioned ribbing here. Fans are loving the movie and demanding a sequel to fill in the gaps and finish the story.
Have we heard the last of Motley Crue? Not by a long shot.