1985, Music

Theatre of Pain (1985) by Mötley Crüe

They often say familiarity breeds contempt. But with albums and me it’s the opposite: familiarity breeds acceptance. The first time I listened to this album I thought it was awful. Just awful. I’m on listen #3 now and I can no longer muster up my hatred. I don’t think it’s good but what the melodies have weaseled their way into me enough that I no longer want pan it. And that disappoints me a little bit because I kind of wanted to rant about how bad this is.

As many have noted, this album marks the point at which they very much abandon the metal that was in their earlier sound for one that embraces the hair metal aesthetic that was popular at the time. And that seems pretty accurate to me.

The music is glammy blues rock played at a louder volume than the glam rock bands played it in the ’70s. Tommy Lee sounds like he is playing in a different band – the metal band – that they used to be, perhaps – but everyone else seems firmly okay with this direction. There’s slide guitar – a real surprise on this record – and harmonica so there is at least some element of actual blues that I was not expecting in hair metal.

The material is not great but it’s catchy enough that it wore me down. I really was leaning towards 3/10 or maybe 4/10 on the first listen but the songs are catchy so I upped my rating.

Vince Neil is kind of awful and this is in a recording studio where he can do many takes. (Check out his concert performances on Youtube. They are terrible!) For me, “Home Sweet Home” is the song that really shows that this man is not a great singer to hook your career to as a musician. The song is a terrible power ballad, yes – and the primary reason I wanted to hate this record – but a better singer might turn it into a camp classic. Neil does not.

This is a bunch of competent musicians (not the singer) playing music I don’t like. It still amazes me that this whole movement was so popular and this album has not changed that feeling. Glam rock was just so so the first time it happened. Why did we need a slightly louder American version of it?


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