New Music: Red, White and Crue
On a more serious note, the band will go down in history as one of the pioneers of the now infamous “heavy metal umlaut,” joining the ranks of Motörhead, Assück, Hüsker Dü and Blue Öyster Cult. Yet, all was not well in the kingdom of tough German punctuation; The Crüe era of sex, drugs and little rock and roll came to an end in the early ’90s with the departure of drummer and Playböy sugardaddy Tommy Lee. But the band was so proud of this infusion of improper grammar into the metal world that their new greatest hits album, Red, White and Crüe, bears the patriotic tagline of: “One nation under umlauts.”
Twenty years later, the only real reason people still recognize guitarist Nikki Sixx is VH1’s undying desire to revel in the miracle that is his survival. But does a band with the foresight to predict an age in which their drugs and sex will merit multiple VH1 specials deserve a 37-track greatest hits compilation? Not really. The Crüe’s release is an unwanted trip down memory lane that demonstrates that the only lasting addition to pop culture Tommy Lee has made is a pandemic of hepatitis.
Mötley Crüe, even in its prime, was glam-rock without the glamour of KISS, aspiring punks without any of Sid Vicious’s anarchic roar, and pop artists lacking the likeability of Aerosmith or Duran Duran. They were the poster children for bad boy rockers, head-bashers and unrepentant drug addicts. So what do mediocre poster children do when they turn around and realize they, indeed, have kids of their own to feed? Naturally, they release a bloated greatest hits double CD, promoted via a tour reuniting the original four members for the first time since the flow of groupies dried up.
Under a tour title of “Better Live than Dead,” Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, Vince Neil and Nikki Sixx are celebrating their victory over drug overdoses, STDs and near fatal car accidents with a three month national tour promoting their compilation album. This act and the CD itself are simply further self-aggrandizements of a band built entirely on overt personal satisfaction without any musical foundation. The group makes it very clear as to why they got into rock and roll in the pedophilia-proud lyrics of their anthem “All in the name of”: “She's only fifteen/ She's the reason--the reason that I can't sleep/ You say illegal/ I say legal's never been my scene/ I try like hell but I'm out of control/ All in the name of rock 'n' roll/ For sex and sex I'd sell my soul.”
Does this shock rock hold any significance or drawing power for modern audiences? Frankly, Mötley Crüe’s sleazy sexuality is more of a headache than a turn-on. Hopefully, any groupies who took off their snakeskin miniskirts to the Crüe’s infamous strip club theme “Girls, Girls, Girls” have long since traded bondage for bond trading. New generation would-be rockers have become jaded by an omnipresent sexuality in pop music even Wal-Mart sanctioned acts like Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera get “dirrty” and blatant promiscuity and commercialism in the most bootylicious of rap: in an age of 50 Cent’s “Tip Drill,” and Mobb Deep’s “Hit It From the Back,” the “Wild Side” of Tommy Lee comes out like the theme song for a convention of middle-aged bikers.
Mötley Crüe’s can’t even muster a power love ballad without overt attempts at controversy. “You’re All I Need,” a plodding rock song about the emotions we all go through when being sent to jail for killing an unrequited love, sounds like a mediocre Meat Loaf tune except instead of taking the words right out of her mouth, they take her life. Truly a universal story, one to which anyone can relate…
Few songs stand out in an overly drawn out and interchangeable set of drum patterns, chord progressions and whiny Vince Neil vocals. This is likely because the band lacked any ingenuity or real musical drive; their music was commercially calculated to reinforce their wild lifestyle. The only song lively enough for lap dancing is the Crüe’s most memorable hit, the drug-dealer-mock-heroic “Dr. Feelgood.” Covers of The Beatles’s “Helter Skelter,” The Sex Pistols’s “Anarchy in the U.K,” and The Rolling Stones’s “Street-Fighting Man” show little creativity or distinction from their obvious idols, other than gratuitous electric guitar solos.
But one band can only handle so much boot-tappin’ and gyratin’ in acid-washed jeans before their fans wander on in search of drunker pastures. The second disk is void of any of the songs that gave the Crüe their extended fifteen minutes of fame. Mötley Crüe made its name in mindless driving rock to which one could swig a beer; in trying to highlight their accomplishments of the post-grunge, semi-cleaned-up 90s, they recede into a softening sound and fading tattoos. Where the first half of the album was intermittently comical, and perhaps a guilty treat for former fans of the band, the second half is simply boring.
Put it on only if you’re at The Delphic and are out of “magic pills” for your lady friend. Just don’t expect her to crawl into bed with two other chicks while this cock-rock (pun most assuredly intended) soundtrack blares. Now if you put on some Journey, all bets are off…
---Kristina M. Moore