Backbeat Books 2015
Bad boys’ illustrious saga in its gory glory detail – reeling in the years without weaving their collective hair in a yarn.
Artists tend to undermine this author’s efforts by continuing to build their chronology after Martin Popoff has written a final chapter of a book on a band’s endeavor, but CRÜE – a musical bunch who always were up to no good – seem to be gone for good now, so the tome’s end is where the end’s due. The question may arise as to who needs it when “The Dirt” that the group penned themselves is available, yet when there’s so much self-mythology involved it does make sense to distill the story to simple timeline facts.
Some of those are truly amazing for a casual fan and uninitiated alike. To think that Mick Mars turned 65 soon after the book was out can be as shocking as to find out that some of the players still name “Motley Crue” – the quartet’s only record without Vince Neil on vocals, and sans umlauts, – as their favorite album, or to learn that they used to cover “Paperback Writer” early in the day. As for their shenanigans (“It’s relentless, the poop,” remarks Popoff) it’s par for the course, and this book offers not so much critique, music-wise and otherwise, as analysis of underlying processes which took CRÜE to the top. Yet even though a familiar day-by-day format would seem rather abstract, it’s not non-personal, what Martin recursively including a quote from his own review of the band. More so, it’s a genuine labor of love, the volume’s lush layout – photos and reproductions of memorabilia, plus quotes from the fearsome foursome and their inner circle visually linked to a particular event, providing contextual immersion into the skeletal tale.
The context, of course, is much wider than the list of milestones. The author outlines CRÜE competition from the likes of Alice Cooper and PEARL JAM – old guard and fresh force releasing their own works during the lifespan of Popoff’s subjects – and doesn’t forget to mention bassist Nikki Sixx’s uncle who was a Capitol executive which, for all their hard-working ethics, could be a factor in the group’s being noticed. Still, the guys’ musicianship oozes out from these pages through small details such as drummer Tommy Lee’s recording with Stu Hamm or the guitarist naming his son Les Paul, the minutiae of the band members’ offshoots and solo projects rounding off the portrait of a collective whose idiosyncrasies and insecurities inform their creativity – and not only theirs: one of the backlinks on offer reminds the reader that AEROSMITH’s “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” was inspired by Neil.
Not surprisingly, the quartet’s songs are “lifestyle put on tape” as Sixx characterizes “Girls, Girls, Girls” so Popoff can’t get away from the roundabout of marriages, divorces, scandals and fistcuffs, yet those are not the point of this book. For all the limited text in it, the tome is impossible to devour in one sitting as it welcomes to savor the fact-o-rama in order to begin respecting CRÜE and spin their records again – or even for the first time ever. Quite a kickstart.