Friday, 29 October 2010

Rattlesnakes Of Sunset Strip

1980's Los Angeles spawned a slew of great rock/metal bands, from thrash metal to hard rock. It must have been a f**king amazing scene to have been mixed up in if you had the good fortune to live there at the time.
Even before rock music claimed it, Sunset Strip had been a gltzy, glamorous place in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. There was the 'Gardens Of Allah' apartments where writers including Dorothy Parker and F.Scott Fitzgerald had lived. Make no mistake, the Strip has been the favoured haunt of many artists. One could say it was a cradle of creativity when it was in its prime.
But lets go to the 80's when rock and metal was king. If you were in a band, Sunset Strip was THE place to get noticed and make a name for yourself. Everyone from Van Halen to Guns N' Roses strutted their stuff there and hung out but for me, a young 10 year old living on the other side of the world in Wales, one band stood out. One group grabbed my attention with their wild image (which I thought was utterly beautiful) and rock/metal/punky sound and that was the awesome Motley Crue.
It must be said I loved them as soon as I clapped eyes on them, which would have been after the release of Shout At The Devil in 1983. I bought it on cassette (Cd's were a way off) and it was the cover design that first pulled me in. The flames behind Mick Mars, Nikki's wild hair underlined by those now famous thick, black lines under his eyes, Tommy staring defiantly like he was on a mission and Vince with his blonde good looks resembling a rock n' roll angel come to preach the virtues of sin. And it only got better once you pressed PLAY. I remember sitting up way past bedtime on school nights, listening to Shout At The Devil back to back on a Walkman (they were new then too) and playing 'air drums' while sitting up in bed in the dark. It a wonder I awoke for school at all.

Kickstarted my rebel heart

By the time Theatre Of Pain was released in '85 I was a total Crue head, filling my school books with scrawls of glittery pentagrams and Motley song titles. Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Kiss and Ozzy were there too of course but these dudes from Los Angeles filled with hedonistic attitudes and dangerous 'recreational pursuits' moved into a space in my heart that they occupy to this day. In hindsight I was a pretty wreckless, bratty kid myself so its little wonder they clicked with me and as I myself went on to live a life near the edge Motley were the perfect soundtrack.
Come to think about it the band released a few albums at important times of my life; the awesome Girls, Girls, Girls arrived in 1987 just as I was leaving school and 1989's Dr. Feelgood when I entered into my first 'serious' relationship with a girl. By then I was a huge fan, almost to the point of obssession. (Motley Crue and Slayer will always be the biggest bands in my life. Different sounds, same F**K You aggression.) I could draw Motley tee shirt designs using free hand and without looking at the picture. I knew them all by heart.
The bands debut offering, Too Fast For Love, I got around the same time I picked up Dr. Feelgood because it was such a hard record to get hold of back then in this tiny part of Wales. You had to go to shops which sold imported records and be grateful when your favourite band turned up.

Photobucket Number ONE...erm SIXX!

Nevertheless I must be honest in this piece and while my love for the band has never really left me, my enthusiasm did wane and for a few years I did take time out from their music. In 1993 I (along with everyone else) was swept away from the hard rock scene when Nirvana almost single handedly reshaped music. Grunge was in, rock was out and to be fair it was a refreshing blast. So the Crue's 1994 self titled album 'Motley Crue' slid by without me paying it the slightest bit of attention. Ditto to Generation Swine in 1997 and 2000's New Tattoo. I had gone back to my more heavy leanings and bands like Slayer, Pantera, Cannibal Corpse and Crowbar. I don't think I ever read news about Motley Crue or read a story about them during these times (the internet back then not being as popular as now.) They simply slipped off my radar as far as their new stuff was concerned, but of course I still played the early albums.
It wasn't until 2007 (maybe 2006) that my love was rekindled for the Crue. By this time I had moved in to my new house with my wife and we set up a regular internet connection, enabling me to catch up on the recent news and gossip of artists I had grown up listening to. Naturally Motley were one of the first I checked out.
The internet is a Godsend for music fans when I look back to how fans of yesteryear got their information. Now it only takes a few clicks and one is supplied with everything you need to know in a few seconds. And man was I glad to discover that not only were Motley Crue still going (none of them had died yet shock!) but they were still releasing music. From then on my old love resurfaced and I was a re-addicted Crue head!
Online I found out about Nikki's other projects like Brides Of Destruction and the brilliant Sixx A.M. (should being in TWO cool bands be allowed?) and best of all the new Motley Crue album, Saints Of Los Angeles, in 2008. And what a record thats is! There were a few old metal/rock/whatever artists who released CDs in 2008 which managed to recapture the energy and enthusiasm of days of old and Vince and co. were definately among them. Saints went back to being what the Crue are all about; sleazy riffs, balls out attitude, cute imagery and full on rock n' roll. They went back to being the band I remember sitting up all night in the dark air drumming to. They were simply Motley f**king Crue ~ the beast that never dies.
Someone really ought to make 'em Saints.

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