photo & text by nacrowe
maybe its because THE DIRT (review linked HERE) is arguably the greatest ROCK N ROLL memoir ever written or maybe its because guitarist MICK MARS and drummer TOMMY LEE are such a POTENT tandem, but MOTLEY CRUE is probably the one HAIR METAL / GLAM METAL band i can actually appreciate. for the record i dont consider VAN HALEN, TWISTED SISTER or GUNS N' ROSES as part of that much MALIGNED cultural movement (in my mind they are more CLASSIC ROCK-aligned than anything else). for me the appeal of MOTLEY CRUE is not that far off from the appeal of KISS, which is that they are a MEDIOCRE band (sorry, VINCE NEIL is terrible) that play to their strengths: namely their penchant for SPECTACLE.
by the time i reached my teens in the late 1990s, MOTLEY CRUE were a CULTURAL ANACHRONISM for nearly a decade. the PSEUDO-BONDAGE GEAR worn without irony in the "LOOKS THAT KILL" and "TOO YOUNG TO FALL IN LOVE" videos just look downright RIDICULOUS in retrospect. it was a time and an era dominated by JUDAS PRIEST, obviously. but that EXTREMITY and penchant for SPECTACLE again is what makes SHOUT AT THE DEVIL (ELEKTRA, 1983) and MOTLEY CRUE in general so FASCINATING to watch. for me the standout track is the title track "SHOUT AT THE DEVIL" which has an INDELIBLE mid-tempo groove and stop-start dynamics that really showcase the VERSATILE musicianship of MARS and LEE. and yes i am aware that bassist NIKKI SIXX wrote most of their catalogue, but im not sure that is really saying much. the songwriting and lyrics are probably the LEAST INTERESTING aspect concerning MOTLEY CRUE. plus SIXX disavowed in later years the apparent SATANIC imagery on the record, remember they are shouting at the devil. how lame. for me the music is a soundtrack to their MEMORABLE videos and OVER-THE-TOP live gigs with their MASSIVE explosions and rolling drum cages.
goes to show that a subdued MOTLEY CRUE unplugged performance would probably never work. thank god.
has SHOUT AT THE DEVIL aged well? not really. if you are looking for great METAL from the 1980s then their are plenty of other more INNOVATIVE and POWERFUL acts with better songs like SLAYER, METALLICA, JUDAS PRIEST, CELTIC FROST, VOIVOD, POSSESSED, MERCYFUL FATE / KING DIAMOND, DIO, MEGADETH, CANDLEMASS, ANTHRAX, MOTORHEAD, OVERKILL, CARCASS, DEATH ANGEL and EXODUS among many others. but MOTLEY CRUE is FUN because of their DEBAUCHED BEHAVIOUR and LAWLESS ATTITUDE and especially their SHAMELESS eye for all-things SPECTACLE. so if that interests you definitely check them out. if not, there are plenty of other SUPERIOR options out there.