It’s kinda odd to see all my favorite bands from Middle School back on the arena circuit in 2008. Modern technology has kept most of the major players in hair and plastic surgery does an admirable job of filling in the rest, but watching Eighties metal gods age can be tough, especially when the lyrical content is pretty much the same and the guys are as old as my Dad. Then again, Nikki is dating Kat Von D and still looks absolutely bad ass and Tommy still looks pretty good. Mick was never young and his reverse Dorian Gray syndrome is truly unsettling. Our Vince may very well be the luckiest of the bunch. He doesn’t write any of the songs and the band only makes money when he’s on the mike, giving him the latitude to rarely sing in tune and fall off the wagon four or five times a tour. It's a pretty easy equation: so long as he and Tommy stay apart, Motley runs pretty smoothly. This, my friends, is why the good lord gives us separate tour buses.
The fact that Motley is still relevant today is due almost exclusively to rock and roll Renaissance man Nikki Sixx. Since kicking Class A drugs for good around the turn of the century he has been an absolute dynamo, founding photo and recording studios and helming Eleven Seven Music in between celebrity divorces and doing charity work for street kids. Exclusive of the Crue, he’s worked up a couple side projects and does a fair amount of songwriting for a lot of artists that you might not expect, like the Backstreet Boys and Meatloaf. Nikki might think globally, but he also acts locally: His work with DJ Ashba and James Michael has spawned Sixx AM as well as most of the songs on Saints Of Los Angeles. Michael produced SOLA as well, keeping everything tied up just the way Nikki likes it.
It’s not all post-recovery hubris on Sixx’s part either. Saints Of Los Angeles is hands-down the best Motley record in a decade, maybe since Shout At The Devil. Every song is crisp and 21st century compliant without seeming forced or cheesy and there hooks every goddamn place you turn. I would have never thought that The Crue would even come close to putting together a record this good in 2008. And did I mention that Tommy and Mick are playing their asses off? Whatever disease that is eating Mick has shrunk his height by six inches in recent years, but he’s still a fucking colossus with the riffs. While their live debut on Jimmy Kimmel was hampered by a gang of guest stars from their summer package tour, their set on Letterman was highlighted by Mars absolutely fucking killing it. Motley Crue is definitely out to show the new jacks that they aren’t going anywhere.
We’ve waited ten years for a new Guns and Roses record that may not even drop before year’s end. The stuff I’ve heard is decent, but certainly not worth the wait. Axl may regret not releasing it earlier, as Motley Crue definitely have one of the best rock records of the year with Saints Of Los Angeles, whether you consider it a comeback or not. Save for a small misstep with that Just Another Psycho song, Saints Of Los Angeles seems to be poised to remind the haters that even as they creep up towards their 30th year as a band, Motley Crue is as relevant as any rock band today.