METALSUCKS AND BRING BACK GLAM! PRESENT THE TEN BEST MUST-HAVE GLAM METAL ALBUMS: THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
One day mankind will go extinct and the remains of our civilization will later be picked over by aliens. Though they can speedily assemble collections of most homo erectus artifacts for their alien museums, their super-brains will struggle to grasp and group the arts of Earth, y’know, for their encyclopedias and stuff. So it’s in the interest of preserving and defining Glam Metal across the cosmos that we at MetalSucks have counted down the Ten Best Must-Have Glam Metal Albums. We even tapped in to the genius of Bring Back Glam‘s Allyson B. Crawford to give it that “definitive text” feel. (Read part one, part two, part three)
Thanks to Allyson and our Anso DF, Glam Metal will live on in other worlds long after our planet has become a barren hellscape. That’s comforting. Here’s the number one Best Must-Have Glam Metal Album! So, come now children of the beast, be strong and …
SHOUT AT THE DEVIL – Motley Crue
September 26, 1983 // Elektra Records // p: Tom Werman
The hits: “Looks That Kill” “Too Young To Fall In Love” “Shout At The Devil”
The heart: “Bastard” “Danger” “Ten Seconds To Love”
Anso: I must know: What makes Shout At The Devil the most essential classic glam metal album? Go!
Allyson: Well, that’s the million dollar question, right? The fact is, the album has it all: cool riffs, great lyrics, danger, awesome jacket art, and big hair. Slap that all together and you’ve got an album that shaped an entire genre.
Anso: In my world, the lead story on this album carries a two-word headline: Tommy Lee! So Allyson, is your mind blown by his playing or what? He was a stud!
Allyson: Yeah, Tommy is an awesome drummer but he’s not the best part of Shout! –- that’s the songs. The lyrics are pretty brilliant for their time. Plus, Motley was trying to prove and point and be “scary” while still being commercial enough to move units. They succeeded.
Anso: The focus of glam metal imagery is usually partying and chicks, but not here. I mean, can you even put on this record at a beer blast?
Allyson: Of course you can because everyone knows the lyrics to the title track and it makes for a great scream-along-chorus song. Plus, let’s be honest: Someone had to write about something other than women (notice I didn’t say “chicks”) and living fast. The difference of topic is what makes Shout so great. It was truly revolutionary for the time. I’ve read message boards where people said they were actually scared by Motley during the Shout era. This makes me smile.
Anso: Can you explain what it means for someone to “shout at the devil?” Is that a metaphor for self-liberation? Or maybe code for wink-wink drug use, like “chasing the dragon?”
Allyson: I think it’s both things you just mentioned. Plus, the Crue were throwing it out there by saying “Hey, if you want to think we’re dangerous devil worshipers, then we’re not going to argue.” Brilliant marketing right there. Kids want to make their parents mad, and what will upset parents more than their kids getting into a group of degenerate rockers who may or may not love Satan?
Anso: Just a few years later, they’d record goofy covers of “Smokin’ In The Boys Room” and “Jailhouse Rock.” Looking back, do you giggle in the face of this cartoonishly serious era of Motley Crue?
Allyson: Actually, it’s sort of sad. Nikki Sixx is a brilliant lyricist. He shouldn’t have had to resort to covers to fill an album but Motley were in a bad way during Theatre of Pain and Girls, Girls, Girls. That’s not to say there weren’t some awesome originals on both those albums because that’s just not true. “Wild Side” and “You’re All I Need” are both amazing (from Girls, Girls, Girls) and “Home Sweet Home” (Theatre of Pain) made the power ballad famous –- and got more women into Motley, thus helping their ticket/album sales.
Anso: Like Ozzy and W.A.S.P., Motley Crue does deserve credit for the element of danger they brought to the genre on- and off-stage. The Motley story consists of fatal car crashes, pentagrams, serious drugs, a flaming bass player, and who knows what else. So would a nice person like you be up for partying with the Crue in 1983? Of course by doing so, you’d be staring down death and/or herpes.
Allyson: Well, thank you for calling me a nice person. I don’t party — I observe and smile and say “please” and “thank you” whenever I am fortunate enough to be invited on a bus or backstage to do some press. I don’t think I would have had much risk of getting herpes as I never touch musicians -– unless it’s for a handshake. I couldn’t hang with Motley Crue in ’83. Not a chance. It would have been cool to interview them during that time, but I don’t even know about that.
So you’re telling me you would have partied with them, right? You’re sizing me up here, aren’t you?
Anso: Yes and yes. Am I that transparent? But I want to know if you agree that Shout At The Devil is the band’s most consistent album? By some counts, it has the same number of quality songs as their next three albums combined.
Allyson: Total agreeance.
Anso: Want another mind freak? Check this out: A few Motley mega-fans in my life firmly state that the self-titled album (with John Corabi) is the band’s second best, after Shout.
Allyson: I would agree with those mega-fans in your life. Actually, for a long time, MC 94 was my favorite Motley record but then I realized it lacked “Danger,” which is on Shout. “Danger” is my all time favorite Motley song. I’ve just accepted I’ll never hear the song live.
Anso: How wacky is it that their major label debut forfeits traditional commercial appeal for lotsa talk of evil and red hotness? Of course, they calculated correctly that controversy could goose sales (especially in an era of rampant Satan-panic), even if no one could’ve predicted the success of “Looks That Kill” and “Too Young To Fall In Love.” I’d like to know how Nikki Sixx convinced Elektra of S@tD‘s commercial value.
Allyson: I think Nikki is a great example that a brilliant marketing mind can’t be taught at some expensive college. You just have to know –- and believe in –- whatever you’re trying to hock. Motley was (and is) Nikki’s life. So who else to talk it up? I’m sure Elektra was all about the controversy, too. Anything to get the band –- and label name -– in the press. The advent of MTV a couple years earlier certainly didn’t hurt and probably helped MC in droves. I mean, during Shout, Motley was an exceptionally visual band. So why not create an over the top video for “Looks that Kill” and just dominate?
Anso: Plus, the approach pays off cuz a darkly intense hair rock album like Shout is attractive to fans of the heavier metals. We could write a movie about a fun-hating frown-metal fan who, at his lowest point, is befriended and taught the meaning of true love by a copy of this album. It’ll star Seth Rogen and the voice of Nicolas Cage.
Allyson: Well, gee. You’ve truly given this some thought. Can I be in the movie? You’ll need to find a Hollywood starlet that isn’t opposed to big, black glasses festooned with rhinestones to play me. Also, can the movie feature Lemmy… just because?
Anso: Lemmy. Roger that. Here’s a question: Tom Werman is the only producer to appear on our list more than once. To your knowledge, why he was in such high demand? The sonics on his records kinda stink, so maybe his strength is hit-making?
Allyson: I figure you’re right and it’s the hit-maker aspect. Plus, it seemed like in the Metal ’80s, a band found a producer they liked and just kept them for awhile and then others came calling and so on. These days I feel like anyone and everyone can be a producer. Actually, that might be a good topic for another top 10 between you and me –- the best producers in 80s metal. Hmm.
Anso: Shit yeah. You are on, my friend. For now, if you were asked to design an ultimate Motley Crue setlist, what songs from this album would make the cut?
Allyson: Well, by now you know I’m going to say “Danger.” Can I add other Motley songs not on Shout? I’m doing it anyway. Motley always needs to play “Hooligan’s Holiday” too, but I bet that smarts Vince Neil, so that’s an issue. Also, “Wild Side” and the original version of “Shout at the Devil.” I despise the ’97 remake version. I’ve fought people tooth and nail on that topic. Why did Motley need to remake a song that was perfect already? Grr.
Anso: True, but the remake sucks ass regardless of technicalities. Speaking of live Motley Crue, I wonder if you have any thoughts on singer Vince Neil’s work ethic. In the live footage I’ve seen in the last decade, he hasn’t been in singing shape at all. Which sucks cuz I love his voice!
Allyson: I have no idea what it takes to be a big time singer. I suppose you need to take care of your body and get enough sleep before shows. Regarding “work ethic,” I don’t think anyone can accuse Vince of not wanting to work. He tours with Motley constantly and then does a zillion solo gigs a year. Did you know he’s doing Shiprocked this November? Do you want to come on that cruise with me? We could have a great time, you and me.
Anso: Right? For one, Broken Teeth is on the boat, so finally there’s my big chance to play shuffleboard with Jason McMaster. Hey, you read The Dirt, right? Do you have high hopes for the movie adaptation? I hope they do the right thing and go for a hard-R rating. That’s what non-pussies would do.
Allyson: No, I’ve never read The Dirt (epic sarcasm). Sorry, that wasn’t nice. I just hate the P-word. That’s the feminist in me. Which is another topic: How can I be a card-carrying member of NOW and run a website dedicated to music that generally degrades women? Le sigh. Anyway, yeah, the movie needs to happen and it needs to be rated R. I’ll even pay the ridiculous ticket price to see a movie in a theater if this thing ever happens. Seriously, why does it cost $14 for a movie ticket these days? Gawd.
Anso: Sorry. In your estimation, how many more tours will guitarist Mick Mars be able to endure in his condition? What is Tommy Lee’s commitment level? Is the penitentiary beckoning Vince Neil? Is the end of true Motley Crue on the horizon?
Allyson: Oh, poor Mick. My dream was always to meet him and shake his hand –- and it happened! He’s super smart, that Mick. I think Mick is an amazing man to keep right on playing. I’m no soothsayer so I can’t say what is going to happen next for Motley, although I’m pretty sure they signed on the dotted line for a couple more albums and I believe another Crue Fest will happen –- maybe even next summer? They were supposed to take this summer off, but then the band did some European shows and is going out on Ozzfest, so who knows?
Anso: You and I have touched on a number of side projects. So, how do you rank Sixx: A.M. and Methods of Mayhem and Vince Neil’s covers album? Let me just say I shuddered a lot while typing that last sentence.
Allyson: Look, Sixx: A.M. owns all the other Motley side projects –- except for maybe the songs Mick recorded with Crashdiet for their album The Unattractive Revolution. The reason Sixx: A.M. is so awesome is easy to understand: Nikki is the songwriter in Motley and he’s the main lyricist in Sixx: A.M. I’m really looking forward to the new Sixx: A.M. record. The debut is dark and beautiful but hopefully this new one will be a little less “deathy.”
Anso: Allyson, as our exploration of essential glam metal classics concludes, I ask for your parting thoughts on this polarizing and oft-reviled genre. What is the future of hair rock? Will our society again embrace plausible escapism through partying or are we doomed to a pop culture of sexy vampires and other impossible, meaningless horseshit?
Allyson: It’s too bad people take themselves so seriously that they can’t allow themselves a few moments to enjoy some fun music once in awhile. Here’s a secret: I like Mayhem. I like Testament. Slipknot. Black Sabbath. Judas Priest. Lamb of God. Iron Maiden. Variety is the spice of life and all that. I don’t only listen to glam just like I’d hope the biggest death metal head in the world would change it up once in a while. I’m not sure why Glam (this time with a capital G) is so polarizing except maybe it’s jealousy. Man, in the ’80s you either liked glam metal or you were on the sidelines of rock. You either had a good time or you listened to … I dunno, country I guess.
Oh, and this might not be the most logical place to say this, but let me set something straight: The people who really love glam and understand how music and business cycles work… we don’t think grunge swept in one day and just killed our party. It was a whole lot of things that created a perfect storm. I think saying Kurt Cobain single-handedly ended the careers of Firehouse and Slaughter is giving him too much credit. And here’s another secret: I own every Nirvana record. So, to circle back to your question… the future of glam (I never say “hair metal”) is good I think. Obviously there’s still a market for this sort of thing because there’s a zillion festivals dedicated to glam now and bands like Motley and Poison still happily tour summer after summer.
Anso: Maybe a new Van Halen record would help the cause?
Allyson: Uh oh, now you’re going to start a debate about Van Halen being a glam band.
Anso: I only submit that a Van Halen record with Dave might get everybody in the mood for fun. Any honorable mentions you’d like to append to this list? What albums would rank at #11 – #20?
Allyson: 20. Shake Your Soul/Baton Rouge; 19. Under Lock And Key/Dokken; 18. Slippery When Wet/Bon Jovi; 17. Stay Hungry/Twisted Sister; 16. Two Steps From The Move/Hanoi Rocks; 15. Cocked And Loaded/L.A. Guns; 14. Faster Pussycat/Faster Pussycat; 13. Metal Health/Quiet Riot; 12. Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich/Warrant; 11. Too Fast For Love/Motley Crue.
Anso: Good stuff, though I can see you and I need to have a little talk about Blue Murder. On that note, the converse of this project would be a list of glam metal’s overlooked masterpieces. I, for one, feel that there are a shitload of these! Without naming any specifically, tell us how much of your time is devoted to shining a light on obscure and under-appreciated classics!
Allyson: Well, I don’t know. I can say that when I started Bring Back Glam!, I worked on the site probably 50 hours a week, looking for bands to discover, interview, whatever. Now, not so much. I cut my time between BBG! and Noisecreep, so I probably only dig for new bands about four or five hours a week these days. Luckily a lot of them just email me preemptively which is very, very cool!
Anso: After reading this list, any listener can instantly build a respectable home library of hair metal and impress veteran glam fans with spirited discourse thereof. It’s safe to say that we are on track for a Pulitzer, right?
Allyson: Baby, if you’re looking for journalism awards I think you chose the wrong genres to specialize in! If you hurry, you might be able to become an expert in global diplomacy or something. But, I totally agree everyone should own each album on this top ten. And buy them, please. Don’t steal. Your mom wouldn’t like that.
Thanks to Allyson B. Crawford of Bring Back Glam! for her kind contributions to MetalSucks’ week-long spotlight on hair, sleaze, and glam metals. And for taking Anso off our hands for the week. See you at Noisecreep and Bring Back Glam!.