Mötley Crüe - Shout At The Devil
In the beginning
Good always overpowered the evils
Of all man's sins...
But in time
The nations grew weak
And our cities fell to slums
While evil stood strong...
In the dusts of hell
Lurked the blackest of hates
For he whom you fear
Now, many many lifetimes later
Lay destroyed, beaten down
Only the corpses of rebels
Ashes of dreams
And blood-stained streets.......
It has been written that
"Those who have the youth
Have the future"
So come now, children of the beast
And Shout at the Devil
Motley Crue's* sophomore album begins with this creepy spoken introduction, simply titled "In The Beginning". What follows it is perhaps the best album of their career. Looking at the album cover, it might seem easy to write off the Crue as just another hair band. With their lipstick and leather, early Crue was easily the glammiest band since Ziggy Stardust era David Bowie. But when Shout at the Devil was released in November of 1983, the term "hair band" didn't even exist. Bon Jovi's debut was two months away and Slippery When Wet, the album that made Bon Jovi a household name, was still three years off. Twisted Sister's Stay Hungry and Van Halen's 1984 weren't released until, well, 1984. Cinderella, Warrant, and Skid Row didn't form until a few years later, while Poison was just taking shape under the name Paris. Meanwhile Def Leppard had only started down the pop metal road, having just released Pyromania ten months prior. Formed in 1981, Motley Crue preceded the era of power ballads and high production values. The Crue emerged in a much more menacing early 80s metal scene that included The Scorpions, Judas Priest, W.A.S.P., Iron Maiden, and Ozzy Osbourne. If Motley Crue were indeed part of the so-called hair band explosion, they were at the front lines. Indeed, the band's 1985 hit "Home Sweet Home" helped pave the way for later power ballads. Shout At The Devil, however, was not pop rock. It was not rock in any sense at all; it was pure metal.
Shout At The Devil is everything that a metal album should be: loud, hard and mean. There are absolutely no tracks on it that'll get fourteen-year-old cheerleader-wannabes wet. Directly following a brief spoken word piece, the album opens with "Shout At The Devil", a fist-pumping metal anthem with big drums and killer guitar riffs. Tunes like this are the reason that headbanging was invented. If you don't fucking love this song, you can rest assured that you are not a metal fan. Motley Crue has always been good at picking title tracks. "Girls, Girls, Girls", "Dr. Feelgood", and "Shout At The Devil" stand out as both three of the Crue's best songs and three of their best albums. Despite their rather liberal use of pentagrams and fire during this era, the Crue are apparently not pro-Satan. Nikki Sixx, the band's bass player and primary composer defended the song in 1984, insisting that there's "nothing demonic about Shout At The Devil. All we were saying was that everyone should stand up and shout at those people who are holding them down, whether it's their parents, their teachers, or their bosses." So there you have it, the song is about fighting negative forces, not succumbing to them. Of course, putting a giant pentagram on their LP cover didn't help their argument. It probably did help their album sales though. Religious groups and overly concerned parents were quick to jump to conclusions about rock n' roll, and using the word "devil" was a sure-fire way to invoke their wrath. Accordingly, anything that pisses off adults is sure to somehow find its way into the hands of their children; I call it The Garbage Pail Kids Rule. Virtually none of the metal heavyweights of the early 80s were pro-Satan. Dio, Iron Maiden, and Ozzy had no qualms singing about Lucifer, but the dark lord was never really glorified in their songs. Metal is often dark and macabre by nature, but there's a clear line between macabre and evil. Well, unless you let your local PTA decide what constitutes evil.
Perhaps the one glaring problem with Shout At The Devil is its length. Clocking in at almost exactly 35 minutes, it's slightly longer than most Ramones albums. True, it was the age of vinyl when you could only fit about 25 minutes of music on one side of an LP. Pink Floyd had to split "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" into two parts because at 26:11, it wouldn't fit on one side of a record. However, 35 minutes is still short even by vinyl standards. A typical LP ran between 44 and 46 minutes and Shout At The Devil is 9 minutes shy of the low end of that figure. To be fair, it is a killer 35 minutes. OK, "Knock 'Em Dead, Kid" and "Red Hot" aren't particularly spectacular, but they're not horrible tracks either. Everything else flat-out kicks ass. "Shout At The Devil" is followed by "Looks That Kill", the album's first single. The video, which made absolutely no sense, featured the band as a group of warriors in a post-apocalyptic world performing for a cage full of savage women that they had apparently captured. Eventually a female warrior appears out of nowhere and frees them. Needless to say, Motley Crue doesn't take too kindly to losing their sex slaves so they spend the rest of the video chasing after the bitch. In the end, they catch her and it is implied that they kill her or gangbang her or something. Here's what actually happens: the band surrounds her, she disappears, and then a flaming pentagram appears. I have no idea what the fuck that is supposed to symbolize. They sacrificed her to Satan, maybe? Actually, that sounds good. Let's go with that. The Scorpions' 1984 video for "Rock You Like A Hurricane" is very similar except the band is in the cage and the savage women are on the outside. Also, no one frees The Scorpions because Germans are scary. Cheesy video aside, "Looks That Kill" is a great song. Equally cool is "Bastard" which seems to be about brutally murdering a rapist. Rapists do indeed deserve to die horrible deaths and it's great that there's at least one song about it. "God Bless The Children Of The Beast" is a nice instrumental piece, but it's only a minute and a half long. Crue kicked ass at what they did, but this song has shades of Metallica and Iron Maiden in it. It provides a brief glimpse of what The Crue could have accomplished if they had spent more time writing songs and less time drinking, doing coke, and fucking every willing girl who came within 50 feet of them. I don't blame them though. If I had a steady supply of cocaine and whores, I'd probably turn the site into a crudely drawn web comic. "God Bless The Children Of The Beast" is followed up by a fucking amazing cover of the Beatles' "Helter Skelter". In addition to choosing strong title tracks, Motley Crue were good at picking kickass songs to cover. In addition to "Helter Skelter", they've done "Jailhouse Rock", "Anarchy in the UK", "Smokin' in the Boys' Room", and "White Punks On Dope". Another stand out track is "Too Young To Fall In Love", a great anti-love song. Like "Looks That Kill", this song also had an incomprehensible video. This time, the band fights their way through 19th century Shanghai for no discernable reason. There was apparently some unwritten rule in the early 80s that rock and metal videos had to be unequivocally goofy, with Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast" and Judas Priest's "Breaking Law" being the quintessential examples. The last two songs, "Ten Seconds To Love" and "Danger" provide the album with a strong ending. Not as strong as the opening, but effective nonetheless.
Without a doubt, Motley Crue is one of the best bands to emerge since 1980 and Shout At The Devil is a prime example of this. Sure, they were gentler on Theatre of Pain, sleazier on Girls, Girls, Girls, and catchier on Dr. Feelgood. But in 1983, they were a young band trying to crawl their way out of the gutter. You can feel that energy in this album. You can definitely hear it when you listen to the album. Of course, if you haven't heard the album, most of this article won't be terribly interesting. Buy it, steal it, or download it and come back when you're done. Just don't name me as an accomplice if you get caught stealing.
Posted by: Syd Lexia
*The correct spelling of the band's name is, of course, Mötley Crüe. However, I prefer to use Motley Crue for typing purposes because I'm not made of money and umlauts are real fucking expensive.