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Motley Crue - "Saints Of Los Angeles" (CD)

Motley Crue - "Saints Of Los Angeles" CD cover image

"Saints Of Los Angeles" track listing:

1. L.A.M.F. (1:21)
2. Face Down In The Dirt (3:45)
3. What’s It Gonna Take (3:45)
4. Down At The Whisky (3:50)
5. Saints Of Los Angeles (3:40)
6. Motherfucker Of The Year (3:57)
7. The Animal In Me (4:17)
8. Welcome to The Machine (3:01)
9. Just Another Psycho (3:37)
10. Chicks=Trouble (3:13)
11. This Ain’t A Love Song (3:26)
12. White Trash Circus (2:51)
13. Goin’ Out Swingin’ (3:27)

Reviewed by on January 21, 2009

"An autobiographical album that serves as testament to the reason Motley Crue deserves the title of hardest partiers in rock n roll history."

Few bands enjoy a career lengthy and successful enough to warrant an autobiographical album. Yet for Motley Crue, that’s precisely what “Saints of Los Angeles” is. Promoted as the soundtrack for the band’s best selling book and eventual movie “The Dirt,” “Saints of Los Angeles” takes listeners on a journey through the band’s early days playing at clubs like The Whiskey A Go-Go, to bassist Nikki Sixx’s battle with addiction, drummer Tommy Lee’s messy marriages and inevitable divorces, and the band’s years of general disdain for vocalist Vince Neil.

One of the challenges facing bands that have been in the industry for 30 years is the ability to stay relevant. While Motley Crue is still considered the founders of glam metal, many, including the band members themselves, don’t call them metal anymore. Over the years the genre and the band’s style have changed and evolved. But diehard Crueheads tend to put Motley Crue in a genre all their own. With elements of pop, monster rock, southern rock, power metal and techno, “Saints of Los Angeles” may just prove them right.

Because the album tells a story, it begins with an instrumental piece to set the stage. “L.A.M.F.” is a strange techno track with dark lyrics that may cause you to raise a questioning brow, but it sets the scene for the rest of the story, and leads the listener to believe he is perhaps even entering the gates of hell. The abrupt transition into “Face Down In The Dirt,” with its hardcore drums and guitar assure listeners that the album really is Motley Crue.

Vocalist Vince Neil has often been criticized for his pop vocals, which admittedly do tend to come off twangy in “What’s It Gonna Take,” though the lyrics are solid. “Down At The Whisky,” despite its power guitar opening riff and sound reminiscent of “Wild Side,” is effectually a pop song, though it is a great piece for fans who remember the band’s early days. A rugged bass prevents the track from sounding too commercial.

Neil shines in songs like the title track “Saints of Los Angeles,” which sees the return of gang vocals, an element that has been with the band since “Shout at the Devil.” The instrumentals are a little bit techno with some grunge thrown in, but the song’s format is classic Motley Crue polished and cleaned up. Possibly the most notorious track on the album, “Motherfucker of the Year” shows off Tommy Lee’s work with other genres, with a box beat opening that leads into a focus on Mick Mars on guitar. Guitar is also the highlight in “Chicks = Trouble,” which includes a muddy bass and an overall power metal sound, albeit with slightly cheesy lyrics. “Welcome to the Machine” displays Mars’ southern rock influence. The lyrics to this track are important in telling the band’s story, but the song overall is unimpressive.

A return to old school rhythm and vocals is featured in “Just Another Psycho,” with heavy gang vocals and a hint of Harley Davidson inspired guitar. “The Animal In Me” is the epitome of Motley’s founding 80’s style glam/monster rock ballad that put them on the map, accompanied by Sixx’s twisted love lyrics that fans know tell the story not of a romance, but his relationship with drugs.

“This Ain’t A Love Song” is unfortunately the only track to really highlight Tommy Lee’s unique drum style and rhythm. The lyrics claim “You don’t have to sing along,” but chances are listeners won’t be able to resist joining in on the melody. “White Trash Circus” is a pop/hard rock ballad that basically tells the story of the band’s history and less than sterling reputation. Techno elements make this perhaps the only Motley Crue song ever with dance potential. Finally, “Goin’ Out Swingin’” provides the closing dialogue to a story that is not yet over. With an opening that sounds like a track off “Dr. Feelgood,” muddy lyrics similar to those on “Theatre of Pain,” and a melting guitar riff to end it all, “Goin’ Out Swingin’” assures listeners that Motley Crue has developed the rare ability to meld all the original elements of their sound while still offering something new.

For veteran Crue fans, “Saints of Los Angeles” plays like a movie, with moments to make you smirk, shout out, and even cry. For old and new fans alike, the album is a testament to the reason Motley Crue deserves the title of hardest partyers in rock n roll history, and leaves them all anxiously awaiting the theatrical release of “The Dirt.”

Highs: Monster guitar solos, rugged bass riffs, and lyrics that offer a stroll down memory lane

Lows: Not enough focus on Lee’s drum talents, and a propensity for twang in Neil’s vocals, though fans still prefer that over John Corabi.

Bottom line: An epic that all Motley Crue fans will want in their collection.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)