Mötley Crüe

Saints of Los Angeles

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Since their last hit record, 1989's Dr. Feelgood, Mötley Crüe fans have endured countless live albums, "greatest-hits" collections, reissues and B-sides packages, a record with John Corabi on vocals, one with Randy Castillo behind the kit and one with the original lineup that sank with barely a trace (1997's Generation Swine). The most successful thing the band produced in those ensuing years was its tell-all autobiography, The Dirt, a story so drenched in sex, drugs, and rock & roll that it elicited a venereal disease and a contact high just through picking it up. That book is the impetus behind Saints of Los Angeles, the first record to feature the group's original lineup since Swine, and it's a welcome -- though spotty -- return to form for these aging miscreants. The Crüe are at their best when they mine the manic, punk-infused glam metal of the pre-saturated, mid-'80s Sunset Strip, something they get right on opening cut "Face Down in the Dirt," complete with a Shout at the Devil-era, "In the Beginning"-inspired intro. "Down at the Whisky" echoes the West Coast excess of Girls, Girls, Girls, managing to wax both nostalgic and devious while dutifully summing up the band's rise from local pranksters to international bad boys, while the rousing title cut, though a bit forced, manages to drum up the kind of chest-thumping bravado that sparked some of the best metal anthems of the late '80s. Like all Crüe albums, things start to go south about halfway through, and while the performances and subject matter are as raucous and sadistic as the book upon which they're based, it's all a bit too deliberate. Mötley Crüe have been trumpeting their hedonism for so long and so loudly that it's become more of a caricature than a way of life, and while Saints of Los Angeles is the best thing they've laid to tape since their codpiece heydays, it's more of a walk down memory lane/Sunset Strip than a legitimate call to arms.

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