There’s a song on the new Mötley Crüe album Saints of Los Angeles entitled “White Trash Circus”. If you had forced me a month ago to name one song from the forthcoming Mötley Crüe record, my first guess probably would have been “White Trash Circus”, followed maybe by “Bitch of My Dreams” or “Cruisin’ for a Boozin’ (Turbo Mix)”. Thank God this pioneering hair metal band is staying true to form.
I don’t think anyone would argue that Mötley Crüe isn’t America’s favorite white trash circus, four guys who between them have had enough drug abuse, domestic disturbances, and graphic sex tapes to make up the greatest two hours of COPS you’ve never seen. Somewhere in there they found the time to write and record some music. You might remember hearing a bit of it the last time you drove by the Bust Line or Crazy Girls (“Nine Pretty Girls, One Ugly One!”). Mötley Crüe cornered the market on stripper rock before anyone knew their grimy brand of hair metal was the perfect soundtrack for women to shake their yumbos to.
The Crüe have managed to serve up another satisfying platter of ass-jiggling drag race rock for the NASCAR set and beyond with Saints of Los Angeles. Mick Mars doesn’t sound a day over eighty as he slams out those cheesy metal riffs, which is amazing because he’s pushing ninety. Vince Neil’s voice is similarly youthful and vibrant; you’d never know he’s been Botoxed more times than Kelly Ripa’s neck. As for Tommy Lee, you can barely hear him exclaiming, “Bro!” and “Sweet!” after every sick drum fill.
If it sounds like I’m picking on poor Mötley Crüe, I am, and I’ll admit that’s not fair. They’re one of the few ‘80s metal bands that’s managed to stay together, weathering the storm from grunge to pop-punk to electronica (that last one had a big effect on a few members of the Crüe; traces of the long-dead genre can be heard in various places on Saints). Mötley is even bravely keeping the flame alive past the storied glam metal revival of the early Aughts. These guys have cashed in all their VH-1 “celebreality” chips and are once again back to pure rocking. That’s fairly commendable.
Still, there’s always an element of clownishness to these hair metal bands that refuse to go away. No matter how many times Vince Neil claims to be the “Motherfucker of the Year”, we all know his true bad boy days are behind him. I’ve seen your house on MTV Cribs, Vince. No one with a kitchen that clean and spacious has an “animal” inside of them. I’ll admit, you’re probably a rougher customer than I—no medallion will you find tattooed around my neck—but claiming to be “Just Another Psycho” rings false when one remembers the number of times you’ve been on The Tonight Show.
In this post-Ol’ Dirty Bastard world, it’s hard for dudes like Mötley Crüe to retain their gulliness (Tommy Lee, you’ve got a Starbucks in your basement!), but at least they’re not branching off into acting or making documentaries about their intrapersonal struggles. Mötley Crüe is playing heavy metal, something they’ve always done on an above average-to-excellent level. Occasionally, they hit upon a universal theme.
I will agree that “Chicks = Trouble”, especially when they tell my personal assistant to take the day off when I’ve got a pile of crotchless leopard skin pants that need laundering. I can’t do that myself—I’ve got to pick up the kids from my first marriage after school and take them to pilates! After that, I’ve got to log onto the Internet and see if any of those photos of my wig falling off at Target ended up on Gawker. Somewhere in the middle of all that, I need to remember what my life was like when I was living in a dumpster in England in 1985 so I can maybe come up with a song for the next album.
Rock n’ roll is tough business. It seems to come naturally to Mötley Crüe. Cheers to ‘em for that. With any luck, you’ll hear some tunes from Saints of Los Angeles the next time you’re watching Kitten gesticulate wildly onstage at Rex Harrington’s Planet Boob (right off Interstate 12 before the Pottsville Ikea).