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Pop Music Review : Rock Group Ripe For A Crue-sade?

August 26, 1985|RICHARD CROMELIN

TO: Parents Resource Music Center(a k a "the Washington Wives").

RE: Motley Crue.

I heard about your campaign to clean up rock 'n' roll, and thought you should know about this band from Los Angeles called Motley Crue. They're right up your alley.

They might not be especially worse than a lot of the hard-rock bands, but they have this reputation as total degenerates, and on top of that they're popular. Their third album ("Theatre of Pain," to give you an idea) is in the Top 10, and they sold out a basketball arena (the Forum) for their concert here Saturday night. And the kids really ate it up.

The very sight of these four guys would be enough to inspire a crusade. They wear headbands and lots of scarves and tight pants and chaps, and sometimes you can see fishnet and underwear here and there, and they rat their hair and wear makeup. Basically, they look like girls--and not the kind of girl you'd invite to tea with the President.

But I know you're concerned with more substantial issues: sex and drugs.

On sex, the lyric sheet of the new album is disappointing. Except for something about the singer's sword, the lyrics are almost philosophical.

At the concert, though, singer Vince Neil was definitely encouraging the kids to have sex. Actually, he was encouraging the girls to have sex, since the boys didn't need his encouragement. "Are you gonna use what ya got tonight?" was the way he put it. He didn't have much else to say to the girls.

(Neil was also fond of a certain four-syllable word, but if you come down on him for that you'd have to recall Richard Pryor's movies too.)

The drugs/drinking issue is a little touchier. Neil pleaded guilty last month to vehicular manslaughter and drunk driving stemming from a fatal auto accident, so he's not about to run around the stage hoisting a bottle of Jack Daniel's like David Lee Roth.

In fact, the band cautions against drinking and driving on the sleeve of the new album, and the concert itself was a benefit for a Valley drug abuse clinic. So it'll be hard to pin anything on them there. The fans don't seem to be taking it to heart though: There was definitely marijuana being used at the Forum, and those weren't lemonade bottles scattered all over the parking lot.

The Crue's only blatant drug promotion was their single, the old Brownsville Station hit "Smokin' in the Boys Room." But that's about smoking cigarettes, not pot, and we don't want to make waves with any tobacco state wives, right?

If you're interested in Satanism in rock 'n' roll, we might have something: They have songs called "Shout at the Devil" and "Louder Than Hell," but the lyrics are sort of ambiguous. The band could even argue that they're anti-Satan, and they've junked the pentagram that was on their first two albums. Better leave that one alone unless pets start disappearing.

I know you're not especially interested in creativity, but for the record, Motley Crue plays standard-issue riff-bash-squeal metal with absolutely no distinguishing features. Hollywood and the Valley are full of bands like this, scraping and hoping for the big break while playing at Gazzarri's and the Country Club and the Troubadour.

Why is Motley Crue the one with the platinum records and the sold-out shows? Because they push the right buttons. The band knows how to make the kids feel a part of something all their own, and allows them to blow off steam without getting too dangerous about it. In fact, the more they can work people like the Washington Wives into an uproar, the more they like it.

As to why the kids respond so strongly to a singer who sounds like Donald Duck and four guys who look like overfed poodles, you've got me. If you can figure that out, then you can probably clean up rock 'n' roll.

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