Sound Advice

McQueen Street – McQueen Street

Posted in Album Reviews, McQueen Street by mrneil1974 on February 25, 2010

 

Producer: Tom Werman

Released: 1991

Rating: ****

Late comers as far as the hair metal scene goes, McQueen Street offered fans of the genre a nice little slice of goodness at a time when critics were preparing to write the epitaph for bands like this.

I’ll be the first to say that some of you may not appreciate Derek Welsh’s, at times non stop squealing and screeching (check out the final minute of the album’s opener, When I’m In The Mood). At the same time I am quite shocked that these guys haven’t received more kudos from members of the hair metal nation.

Produced by hair metal master Tom Werman (Twisted Sister, Motley Crue, Kix, Dokken, Poison & L.A. Guns) this album is dialed in to the late 80’s early 90’s hair metal sound. Some may call it a formula (let’s be honest, it was), but is sure sounds awesome on albums like this one. Take one screaming lead singer combined with soaring background vocals and a perfect balance of riff heavy rockers and radio ready ballads and voila! You’ve got yourself an underrated hair metal gem.

It’s not quite that easy, though, because as much as fans of the genre sing (scream?) the praises of nearly every hair band past and present, there were a few bands who attempted this formula and produced some absolute garbage. While not curing cancer with their tunes, songwriting is just as important in this genre of music as any other (I feel that production was a HUGE part of hair metal’s popularity). McQueen Street’s album is filled with sing along rock anthems and ballads including

When I’m In The Mood
Woman In Love (shameless “We are rock Gods anthem.”)
Time (a fantastic ballad with fairly original lyrics)
Money (one of my favorite fist pumpers on the album)
Stick It
In Heaven (an extremely haunting, yet awesome ballad. Perhaps the best song on the album)

Time and In Heaven were in non-stop rotation in 1991 on 103.5 The Blaze! (Chicago’s hair metal headquarters). Perhaps that is why I am surprised these guys have received little if any mention on hair metal sites. They may not be for everyone, but I am guessing you’ll like this if you like Wildside.

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Theatre Of Pain – Motley Crue

Posted in Album Reviews, Motley Crue by mrneil1974 on October 29, 2009

Producer: Tom Werman

Released: June 21, 1985

Rating: ****

For years Motley Crue themselves regarded this as the bands worst album. I read many interviews with each member trashing this album for a variety of reasons. The most common was that they felt this was the album where you could hear the band falling apart because of their addictions. Nikki once commented that they played like shit on this album with the exception of Tommy’s drumming and the only highlight was Home Sweet Home. Not too long ago I read an interview with Nikki where he admitted that Theatre Of Pain has become easier to listen to in recent years and it’s not nearly as bad as he once thought.

This is the album that turned me on to Motley Crue. As a fan it can be difficult to hear one of your idols trash an album that you happen to love. In retrospect, Theatre Of Pain is probably the album that became the template for the entire genre. It had what’s often regarded as the original power ballad with Home Sweet Home, it had a pretty cool cover song with Smokin In The Boys Room and in between were hard rockin anthems like Louder Than Hell and live fast, die young tunes such as Use It Or Lose It. This is all delivered through Vince’s signature screech and guitars that were loud enough to be considered “metal” to attract the dudes, but not too loud to scare away the chicks. In a nutshell, that is the hair metal formula.

Question is, is Theatre Of Pain a good album? Absolutely. I share Nikki’s sentiment that the years have been surprisingly kind to this album. This album more than any of their original releases sounds the most dated, but even at that the album is able to sound fresh. There is really only one loser on here for me, Save Our Souls. On the flipside, it also contains one of my all time favorite Crue cuts, Keep Your Eye On The Money. I could listen to this song all day long.

I also happen to disagree with Nikki’s statement that Tommy’s playing was the only saving grace on Theatre Of Pain. I think Mick has some incredible solos on this album. Smokin In The Boys Room, Louder Than Hell, Keep Your Eye On The Money and Home Sweet Home all contain killer work from the bands least vocal member. The solo for Keep Your Eye On The Money is a masterpiece.

There is no doubt that this is probably the bands lightest offering, which in this genre of music is often looked at as a bad thing. Even if the musicianship does fall a bit short (although I don’t think it does), there is some killer song writing on Theatre Of Pain. It’s easy to hate this album because it inspired so many copycats. In 1983 albums like Metal Health, Out Of The Cellar, Stay Hungry and Shout At The Devil were enormously successful, but it was the success of Theatre Of Pain that truly blasted the doors wide open and paved they way for all the hair bands that followed. It wasn’t until this album became a huge hit that the record labels started signing every band with teased hair and spandex (some good, some bad).

Theatre Of Pain is not only a must have for Crue fans, but also a must have for fans of the genre.

Shout At The Devil – Motley Crue

Posted in Album Reviews, Motley Crue by mrneil1974 on October 29, 2009

Producer: Tom Werman

Released: October 26, 1983

Rating: ******

In any genre of music there are landmark albums. Shout At The Devil is without a doubt a landmark album for both hair metal and Motley Crue. 26 years later and this album has stood the test of time. With Too Fast For Love Motley Crue may have established themselves as kings of the Sunset Strip, but beyond that no one was listening. Shout At The Devil was their introduction to the world. That being said, they would remain a cult favorite until their next release Theatre Of Pain.

Shout At The Devil was different from Too Fast For Love in a few ways. It was their first major label release for Elektra and first collaboration with producer Tom Werman. Their look also received a major update. Based simply on the photos for Shout At The Devil, Elektra spent a lot of money on these guys. The most noticeable difference, however, was in their sound.

Too Fast For Love was as much a power pop album as it was a metal record. Shout At The Devil was metal all the way. Along with that metal sound are some terribly angry lyrics. The songs on Shout At The Devil are much darker than those found on their debut album. If you don’t believe me check out the lyrics to Bastard. This is one evil song.

Other album highlights include Crue Classics Shout At The Devil and Looks That Kill, an appropriate cover of The Beatles Helter Skelter (the song that inspired Charles Manson’s killing spree), Too Young To Fall In Love (one of my all time favorite Crue Cuts), Knock ‘Em Dead Kid (this IS my favorite Crue song) and one the bands most overlooked tunes Danger.

Shout At The Devil is a killer album from start to finish that never lets the listener down. Vince’s vocals on Knock ‘Em Dead Kid alone make the album a must have. This is some of Vince’s best work. Angst ridden teens of every generation always find an album or two that best represents their feelings and frustrations. Shout At The Devil was one of these albums. In 2009 this album sounds just as fresh as it did when it was first unleashed on the public because this is an extremely honest representation of a band at a certain moment in their career. In 1983 Motley Crue was preparing to kick the world in the ass and this album was their battle cry.

So come now, children of the beast

Be strong

And Shout At The Devil