MOTLEY CRUE LAY 34-YEAR CAREER TO REST WITH “THE END’,

Concerts, Music reviews

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Farewell tours are tricky affairs. Bands come and go—and come back—members leave and return in revolving door fashion and some bands have only one original member left. In short, its not always pretty. In the process certain artists hurt their legacy by staying in the game too long. Mötley Crüe wanted a different kind of farewell.

Mötley Crüe shocked the world in January of 2014 when they announced to decision to call it quits. The Saints of Los Angeles had chosen to end the party sooner rather than later. The band signed a cessation of touring contract, a first in rock history, prior to embarking on a two-year long farewell. In true Crüe fashion, the event served as a tremendous publicity stunt. With displays of “RIP Mötley Crue”, complete with tombstones that read each band member’s name, it would prove to be one can’t miss funeral.

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The End press conference, London, England, 2014. Photo credit: Rolling Stone

If The End has taught us anything, it’s that Mötley Crüe was a wild, untamed beast for more than 34 years. A Mötley Crüe show remained a spectacular, reckless and even chaotic event right up to The End.

Complete with big choruses, pyrotechnics, stage production values, female backup singers and dancers in scantily clad outfits, tears and displays of emotions from the band and fans alike, The End is an exciting visual memento and the end of an era. From the bombast and fire that begins with “Girls, Girls, Girls” to Nikki Sixx adressing the audience, Tommy’s roller coaster drum solo, the flamethrower bass and Vince Neil in tears during the last song of the set “Home Sweet Home”, it’s a relentless, unforgettable journey. It’s one last big, epic, blow-out to top off a truly memorable career.

Let’s get one thing out-of-the-way. Anyone who’s been to a Crüe concert in the last decade can attest that frontman Vince Neil’s voice is not what it once was—by a long shot, some would say—and its true [It becomes especially evident on the live CD of the concert]. In the dysfunctional environment that is Mötley Crüe, however, it works.

Vince Neil’s voice and charisma is part of what made the band so successful. Neil remains one of rock’s ultimate frontmen. Even if his voice isn’t quite up to par at times, the energy and excitement level is there.

Nikki Sixx does a commendable job of looking like one of the coolest human beings on the planet. These are his songs and this is his band. The flamethrower bass bit would make Gene Simmons blush.

Tommy Lee lays down a beat like only he can, providing a solid groove and backbone for the band. While performing a drum solo on his roller coaster contraption, the whole stops unexpectedly in mid-air, Lee’s reaction is nothing short of exceptional.

Perhaps most impressive of all is Mick Mars, Crüe’s sole guitarist. Mars often falls under the radar whenever the band is mentioned, but his playing never ceases to impress even after all these years.

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An emotional Vince Neil in tears during “Home Sweet Home”.

Mötley Crüe’s imperfections are exactly what made them a perfect rock band. Rock was never about perfection. Somehow, when these four beings come together magic happens. New year’s eve 2015 would be the last time this magic would be displayed. Thankfully, the Crüe’s send-off was captured in high-definition for the whole world to relive over and over.

The End comes in standalone DVD or Blu-Ray edition and in DVD/CD, Blu-Ray/CD packaging.

Objectively, the live CD is not incredible—most of the blame can be attributed to Neil’s singing— but the excitement of Mötley Crüe’s last concert was captured and that’s enough. The heart wrenching version of “Home Sweet Home” is almost worth the price of admission alone.

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Nikki Sixx, litterally in the heat of the moment. Photo: Motley.com

The cinematography however, is among the best I’ve seen in a concert film. The cameras capture every bit: the action, emotions and pyrotechnics with beautiful wide angles, just enough slow motion bits, subtle close-ups and depth-of-field shots that would make any rock band envious. Concert cinematography has always been about the emotion and feel, less so about the visuals. The End stands in a category of its own. It sets a template for the next generation of live rock documentation.

There’s a documentary portion just before the concert that serves as a reminder of the dedication fans have for this band. It also legitimizes how big of a draw and band Mötley Crüe really was. The End comes with a few extras. Nikki Sixx talks about his flamethrower bass and Tommy Lee details the history behind his roller coaster drum set.

There are a few more interview that will no doubt be interesting and give insight to fans. Take this particularly one with Nikki Sixx for instance:

“The fact that we’ve lasted is a miracle. Maybe that’s why we’re putting a bullet in its head…We know it’s inevitable that we’re going to break up or blow up or something. Maybe we’re just doing it before it happens anyway. We shouldn’t have lasted this long,” says Sixx in the interview portion of The End.

If anything, The End is a proper send off for Mötley Crüe and one heck of a burial. One final motorcycle ride under the sunset for one of the all time great rock bands. It’s reassuring to see a farewell done right in the world of rock, a landscape where the word “retirement” isn’t always taken seriously. I’ve never been this happy and sad watching a concert on home video.

RIP Mötley Crüe, 1981-2015, you will be missed.

mcrue2.jpg                                                                           Photo cred: Ultimateclassicrock.com

LIVE DVD TRACK LISTING:

1.) Intro
2.) Girls, Girls, Girls
3.) Wild Side
4.) Primal Scream
5.) Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S)
6.) Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
7.) Rock N Roll Part II / Smokin’ In The Boys’ Room
8.) Looks That Kill
9.) Motherf***** Of The Year
10.) In The Beginning / Shout At The Devil
11.) Louder Than Hell
12.) Drum Solo
13.) Guitar Solo
14.) Saints Of Los Angeles
15.) Live Wire
16.) T.N.T (Terror ‘N Tinseltown) / Dr. Feelgood
17.) Kickstart My Heart
18.) Home Sweet Home
19.) My Way (Credits)

LIVE CD TRACK LISTING:
1.) Intro
2.) Girls, Girls, Girls
3.) Wild Side
4.) Primal Scream
5.) Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)
6.) Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
7.) Smokin’ In The Boys’ Room
8.) Looks That Kill
9.) Mutherf***** Of The Year
10.) Shout At The Devil
11.) Louder Than Hell
12.) Saints Of Los Angeles
13.) Live Wire
14.) Dr. Feelgood
15.) Kickstart My Heart
16.) Home Sweet Home

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Quiet Riot past, present and future

Movie reviews, Music reviews

 

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Well now you’re here, there’s no way back, Indie, 2014.

I’ve been hearing for years about Frankie Banali and how he was working on a documentary on the band. Now we finally have this documentary in the form of Well now you’re here, there’s no way back.

I think some were skeptical about the film, possibly thinking that this would be Banali’s attempt to erase the Randy Rhoads era of QR and erase the original Quiet Riot. This could not be further from the truth. The documentary pays tribute to every aspect of the band and covers it’s history, good or bad. It’s not perfect, but it’s very much what Frankie promised.

The movie comes across as well composed and thought-out and documentary. Nothing exceptional, yet it serves as a fitting coverage of Quiet Riot’s entire career. It’s also a tribute to Kevin DuBrow in it’s own way. There should have been more on the early days, pre-Banali era, (as l’m sure fans will agree with me). It’s also a very heavy on the recent comeback years, but overall it works. The documentary features a lot of old clips of the guys goofing arounds being young, dumb and stupid. I loved seeing Frankie talk with Rudy Sarzo about DuBrow and Randy Rhoads.

“Regardless of your stance on QR without DuBrow, by the end you’re cheering for Frankie.”

I was a little perplexed that classic lineup guitarist Carlos Cavaza was only featured briefly although it seems his lack of involvement in this project was his own choice. Speaking of guests, people like Glen Hughes, Dee Snider, Steven Adler, Matt Sorum, Martha Quinn, Eddie Trunk, MTV VJ Martha Quinn and more were interviewed. Everything considered, it’s a decent list of guests. It was also great to see members of the Rhoads family share their thoughts about Kevin and Randy.

It was fascinating to see Frankie explain to Dubrow’s successor, Mark Hoffman, what he thought could have done better during Quiet Riot’s first comeback show in 2010. It’s amazing to see the band on the road struggling and at one point, Hoffman forgets the words to “Cum On Feel The Noize”, yikes!

There are many other horrible and Spinal Tap-esque moments for this lineup. After deciding to part ways and the band set for singer Scott Vokoun, later to be succeeded by Jizzy Pearl. Who knows who will be singing for the band by the time you read this, but it’s safe to say QR will go on for some time.

I give Banali a lot of credit because he’s always more than kind and gracious to fans. His drive and desire to continue when he faces adversity is immense. After watching the documentary l’ve gained new respect for Banali and renewed appreciation for Quiet Riot.

One can’t help but feel empathy when watching Frankie deal with death of Kevin DuBrow and it’s impact on his life. In these visible struggles you connect with Banali. Kevin died but Frankie still has to live with the repercussions on a daily basis. Banali has been facing tremendous backlash from fans and metal websites for his decision to retire, then un-retire Quiet Riot.

Frankie lost his dad when he was young, took care of his mother who later passed away, his wife died, Kevin DuBrow died… Loss certainly seems to be a reoccurring theme in his life. It makes the drummer’s story that much more relatable. Regardless of your stance on QR without DuBrow, by the end you’re cheering for Frankie.

Well now you’re here, there’s no way back really is the story of Quiet Riot past, present and future. It’s also the story of Frankie Banali, a man who learns to forgive, accept and move on. This film has been compared to the Anvil documentary and I can see that in some aspects (mainly in the obstacles QR faces on the road), however Quiet Riot was much bigger and more successful than Anvil ever was and they have a longer and more compelling history.

It’s worth viewing for the Quiet Riot fan, if you enjoy a good music bio or learning about the ups and downs of the music business. The documentary is a little over 100 minutes, yet l’m not convinced everything that was in the documentary required inclusion. It makes for good viewing but ultimately it’s not as effective as it could have been and that’s largely because there are already many of these types of documentaries out there.. 3.5 stars/5 stars.

And I thought I knew a lot!

Book reviews, Uncategorized

 

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Van Halen Rising. ECW Press. Renoff, Craig. 2015

Why is Van Halen Rising met with so much acclaim? Because it covers the subject in an academic manner and gives the reader precious content previously unavailable anywhere else. Despite their popularity, it’s remarkable how little is known of Van Halen’s early days. In that sense they really are an exception when it comes to Rock and Metal, where the really big bands have been covered and perhaps over-explained over time. It isn’t the case with Van Halen. Little was known of the band’s early-mid ’70s period, until now that is.

It’s rare to find a book that delves into a band the way Van Halen Rising does. It’s a gold veritable mine of information on the band. It’s even rarer when the book is not an official band-approved release. The subtitle “How a Southern California backyard party band saved heavy metal” rings true. The author ensures the reader knows that fact by the end of the book, and judging by history and figures he presents, he’s not wrong. In a period where sales were declining, established bands became softer or went in different musical directions (i.e. Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, KISS) and disco was taking over.

To say that record companies did not have much belief in Rock at this point would be a gross understatement. Yet Van Halen managed to give Rock the shot in the arm it needed. To the untrained eye, Van Halen popped out of nowhere and became an instant sensation in 1978. Alas it was a long, slow, steady climb for the band as documented by Van Halen Rising.

It was incredible to read about Van Halen’s story in such detail. The Van Halens and their upbringing, their struggles, moving to America, being trained on instruments, falling in love with rock music and forming their bands… And then some. Knowing the name of the teacher who taught the brothers for instance, that’s going above and beyond.

The same can be said about David Lee Roth’s story (although he seems to be exactly who you thought he would be in high school). Roth’s prowesses and reputation in his teenage years, playing with Red Ball Jet, being cocky to the Van Halen brothers, it goes on and on. There is considerably less on bassist Michael Anthony, but that was a given. From playing backyards to clubs, demoing songs, getting “discovered” by Gene Simmons, dealing with record companies, the backlash against Rock music etc. it never lets us down.

The book uses a lot of quotes to form it’s style and dialogue. It’s a style that can cause the reader to lose interest in certain instances, but never with Van Halen Rising. Sometimes it would be their neighbours talking and painting the scene, or their friends and fans, but whoever is talking it never gets tiresome. I don’t think I’ll ever remember any of those people’s names, but their contributions to the book and Van Halen’s history are not to be undermined. There’s a reason people like Ted Templeman and Chuck Klosterman are giving it hefty praises and why fans are so into this book.

It’s a wonderful book. Many have been written about the mighty Van Halen before, but none ever reached the degree of sources and knowledge Van Halen Rising has. This one takes the cake no doubt about it. It’s revealing, fun and it tells the story as accurately as l believe is possible.

Greg Renoff did VH a solid by writing this book. Everything is properly sourced and attributed to the right people or source. I wouldn’t have it any other way, especially when you’re dealing with a book on a topic where information can sometimes be scarce (in this case VH’s early days). The sources and index sections are also very welcome. Van Halen Rising is a wet dream for the band’s fans. 5 stars.