PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Tommy Lee: Never a Dull Moment

Andrew Ellis

Tommy Lee

Never a Dull Moment

Label: MCA
US Release Date: 2002-05-21
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

In the recent best-selling, tell-all Mötley Crüe biography The Dirt, vocalist Vince Neil said of his former bandmate Tommy Lee: "Whatever is in, he wants to do that. He never stuck to what made him what he was, which was rock and roll. If hip-hop is in, he's a hip-hopper. If punk is in, he's a punk rocker. If Tommy had tits, he'd be a fucking Spice Girl." Neil is referring to Lee's Methods of Mayhem rap-orientated project, but in many ways, his comment is a pretty accurate description of the former drummer's second post-Motley record, Never a Dull Moment.

I'm sure Lee cares more about when his former wife Pamela Anderson will remarry than he does about critics' (or Vince Neil's) reactions to his latest offering, but sadly, the contents of the album aren't nearly as exciting as the lifestyle its title refers to.

In a genre full of talentless poseurs, Tommy Lee was one of the most technically gifted drummers of the hard rock scene, and although he has been continually surrounded by controversy down the years, music -- rather than scantily clad Playboy models -- has always been his prime passion. A serious solo career may have been inevitable following his split with Motley Crue, but perhaps it was also inevitable that Never a Dull Moment would reek more of perspiration than inspiration.

Lee has certainly tried hard enough. His chapters in The Dirt reveal he had been considering a solo career for some time during his last years with Motley Crue, and following his dalliance with rap on Methods of Mayhem, his rock roots do show their true colours second time around. Scott Humphrey, who helped produce 1997's alternative-tinged Motley Crue record, Generation Swine, co-produces the album. Ironically, songs like "Sunday" and "Afterglow" sounds like they could have been taken from those same sessions.

Those are certainly two of the album's better tracks, and indeed, when the melodies are present, when the familiar power of Lee's rhythm section crashes in, and when the songs stick to what Lee is good at, then this album lives up to expectations.

The relatively restrained acoustic vibe of "Hold Me Down" and "Why Is It" prove how good this album could have been if Lee had stuck to this formula. The former is interesting as it stands as a real confessional from Lee, with the lyrics complaining that he's unable to express himself freely. It's unclear whether he is referring to his former bandmates, his former wife, his time in prison or the paparazzi that hound him, but it's the clearest glimpse we get at the inner turmoil Lee suffers.

The album's second single, "Ashamed", is another surprise, sounding mature, yet modern with a Verve-style symphony sample flavouring the intro. Yet, conversely, there are moments of pure dross that almost rank up there with Lee's song "Brandon" from Generation Swine (a personal song that should have stayed personal).

Among the chief culprits this time around are the appalling reworking of David Bowie's "Fame", and "Body Architects", a tune containing the refrain "We rocks the party! / We rocks the party!" which Five or S Club 7 would have left on the studio floor out of embarrassment. Then the forgettable closing trio of "Face To Face", "Higher", and "People So Strange" are just plain bland and boring, no matter how intense the guitars might be.

There's a modern vibe all over Never a Dull Moment far removed from Lee's cock-rock days, and although he deserves credit for wanting to move on from his past musical endeavours, it still doesn't alter the fact that most of this album loses its lustre too quickly.

Tommy Lee and his band have just been announced as the replacement for Drowning Pool on the Ozzfest tour following the tragic death of vocalist Dave Williams, which will introduce his solo project to just the kind of audience he wants to appeal to. However, given the patchy quality of Never a Dull Moment, I can't help but feel that fans who saw Lee originally tour with Ozzy in 1983 got the better end of the deal.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Music

The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller
Music

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.

Music

When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.

Music

20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.

Music

The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Books

Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.