Vince Neil: Tattoos & Tequila


RIYL: Mötley Crüe, Buckcherry, Steel Panther

Vince Neil has always been one of those frontmen that makes up for his lack of traditional singing talent with tons of style and swagger. Throughout the peak years of Mötley Crüe’s commercial success, his high-pitched vocal style served the band’s glammed-up take on hard rock well. Though the group still packs arenas, it’s obvious that all of the years of out-of-range screaming and squealing have taken its toll on Neil’s vocals. He was never the strongest live performer, but these days, listening to Vince live is like hearing a cat being tortured.

It’s no surprise that anticipation for a Vince Neil solo record isn’t all that high. But here we are – 15 years since his last full length record, 1995’s Carved in Stone – and the bleached blonde singer is back with Tattoos & Tequila, his third studio album. With that much of a gap between albums, you would expect the guy to come to the table with a lot of new material, but Tattoos & Tequila features nine covers and only two original songs. Things start off shaky with the title track, which is a weak attempt by Neil to attract Active Rock radio program directors. Written and produced by the usually reliable Marti Frederiksen, the track’s overly processed drum sound and stock stop-and-go riffs sound like something Hinder or Buckcherry would have relegated to B-side status. Luckily, things turn around on the next cut, a faithful version of Cheap Trick’s power pop standard “He’s a Whore.” Jeff Blando’s crunchy guitar tone is the perfect bed for the song’s sweetened melody lines and earworm of a chorus.

Vince_Neil_01

All of the cover songs were produced by Neil and Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees), and they do a stellar job of giving the vocals a pop sheen that recalls Mötley Crüe’s Elektra Records years. Anyone remotely familiar with Vince’s early influences won’t be shocked to see some of the artists he chose to cover here. The Sweet, Sex Pistols, and Scorpions are all represented on Tattoos & Tequila, and while nothing particularly new is done with them, they still make for a fun listening experience. The most shocking part is the strength of the less conventional hard rock material. Perhaps it was his co-producer’s experience from working on the wonderful covers album Influence from Shaw Blades — Jack Blades’ project with Styx guitarist-vocalist Tommy Shaw. Even when Vince takes on Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas,” the meat and potatoes arrangement and revved-up rhythm during the signature chorus, reinvents the song into a Sunset Strip-styled rocker.

Covers of Elton John’s “The Bitch Is Back” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain” keep close to their original ‘70s incarnations, but there’s something intriguing about listening to Neil’s snotty vocal delivery driving them. The other original song, also produced by Marti Fredericksen, was penned by Mötley’s bassist Nikki Sixx and is called “Another Bad Day.” It’s the kind of mid-tempo ballad that would have been massive on Dial MTV circa 1988. It’s also easily better than anything Neil or Sixx have put on an album in years.

So much for expectations. Who would have thought that a Vince Neil covers album would be this enjoyable? Even one out of the two original tracks is a keeper – and we all know how bad the songs they usually throw on these collections are. Now, we’re not saying that you should go out and catch a Vince solo show anytime soon – but if you dig old Crüe and the golden era of Aqua Net rock, Tattoos & Tequila would be a worthy addition to your CD collection. (ElevenSeven Music 2010)

Vince Neil MySpace page

  

Let the Right Ones In: Ten bands that should be in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame

The 23rd annual induction ceremony for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is coming up, and with it comes the annual bitchfest by music fans and critics as to which bands deserve to get in and which do not. The general public has no say in the nomination or induction process; instead, an anonymous committee chooses the nominations, which are then voted on by an equally anonymous group of 500 “rock experts.” Bands are eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Usually there’s little controversy when it comes to the artists chosen for induction, with the real debates circling around those artists who have yet to be recognized by the Hall of Fame.

The Hall has its prejudices when it comes to selecting those worthy enough for induction. Heavy metal, punk and prog rock have a hard time getting in, while anyone with an obvious blues or country influence seems to be a shoe-in. It also helps to be American or British; no artists from mainland Europe, Africa, South America or Asia have been inducted yet.

With that in mind, Bullz-Eye has selected 10 artists, listed in chronological order of their eligibility, that we feel have been given the shaft by the Hall. These are by no means the 10 “best” artists who have failed to be inducted; just 10 “of the best” who have not yet gotten their due.

The Stooges
Eligible since: 1994

The Stooges self-titled debut came out in 1969 and it’s hard to imagine just how abrasive and loud the Stooges must have sounded to audiences at the time. Try putting them in context: the biggest albums of that year were Abbey Road, Blood, Sweat & Tears’ self-titled record that had the hit “Spinning Wheel” and the original cast recording of “Hair.” One of the biggest singles was “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies. Contrast that with “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” and a sense of just how far ahead of the times they were begins to develop.

Rush
Eligible since: 1999

We are loath to use album sales as a measure of a band’s true worth, but it’s worth noting that Rush’s first 16 studio albums, spanning 22 years, have sold a minimum of 500,000 copies each. The only band with a longer gold-or-better sales streak is the Stones. Aerosmith is just behind Rush, with 14 straight gold-or-better albums, and U2 will probably get there if the band doesn’t kill Bono first. Fittingly, Aerosmith, U2 and the Stones are all in the Hall; Rush, however, are not, and their exclusion can be boiled down to three words: critics hate prog.

Motorhead
Eligible since: 2002

They may have paved the way for Anthrax and their thrash metal ilk, but Motorhead’s influence can be heard in punk music of the ’80s and ’90s, alternative rock groups such as Queens of the Stone Age and even in electronic and new wave music (industrial music is basically thrash metal with keyboards). The Hall hates metal, for some reason – it even took them 11 years to get off their asses and induct Black Sabbath. And if Ozzy and company can barely squeak into the Hall of Fame, an underground act like Motorhead doesn’t have a prayer. Pity.

To read the rest of the bands that should be in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, click here

  

Friendly Foes: Born Radical

Just a couple years old and enthusiastically brewing up some fresh power pop noise, current trends be damned, Detroit trio Friendly Foes come out swinging on their first album, and it’s clearly a first. “Full Moon Morning” opens the album with the band’s story in song, a song that’s more for themselves than the rest of us. With that short burst of intra-band self-reflectivity out of the way, we hear a group that is still very much rooted in the present – at no other time would a power pop trio be heard playing a song called “Couch Surfing.” Singer/guitarist Ryan Allen achieves an irresistible vocal blend with bassist/vocalist Liz Wittman (especially on the album’s standout, “My Body (Is a Strange Place to Live)”), who herself turns in a confident, elastic lead vocal in the tradition of indie power pop forebears like Juliana Hatfield and Kay Hanley on “Get Ripped.” If Cheap Trick ever decides to tour rock clubs again, this band should be at the top of their list for potential opening acts. (Gangplank 2009)

Friendly Foes MySpace

  

Top 10 bands from the ‘80s that should be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

(Love to the Mayor of Simpleton, for giving me the idea)

The news hit the AP wire today, announcing that four acts from ‘70s and Miles Davis, who died in the early ‘90s at the age of 375, were inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. They’re technically the Class of 2006, but I call them the Class of ’81, since any band whose debut album was released in 1981 or earlier was eligible for inclusion. The very fact that only two of these bands were within sniffing distance of the ‘80s leads me to believe that a ton of also-ran ‘70s bands will get in before any of the truly worthy ‘80s bands will, and that, frankly, disturbs me.

And so, without further ado and in no particular order, I submit my top ten list of ‘80s bands that should be inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame sooner rather than later. U2 is already in, so they’re obviously disqualified.

1) REM. Forget the Bill Berry-less train wreck that the band’s become of late, and remember when they and U2 ruled the rock world the way Darth Vader dreamed of ruling the galaxy with Luke Skywalker. Between 1987 and 1994, they were bulletproof, and there are thousands of bands and nerdy record store clerks who worshiped at their altar.
2) Madonna. If she doesn’t get inducted in the Class of 1983/2008, she will have Guy Ritchie and her children dropped off the Empire State Building. Which is really hard, because there are these tall metal bars on the rooftop deck with sharp points that curl inward. I’m guessing she uses a catapult.
3) The Smiths. Forever changed the face of modern rock, they did. Johnny’s done some good stuff with Electronic and The The, but he has to know that his best work rests within this band’s catalog, feuds with Steven Morrissey be damned.
4) New Order. Simply put, there is no electronic music scene without these guys. Kraftwerk may have gotten there first (something I’ll get to in a minute), but New Order was the band that fused a rock and roll sensibility into those machines, which in turn created a legion of knockoff bands by the late ‘80s. Even the Cure nicked half of their best licks from these guys. “In Between Days,” anyone?
5) Guns ‘n Roses. It may have ended in a haze of lawsuits and coke, but Goddamn, when Guns ‘n Roses was clicking, there wasn’t a band that could come within a thousand miles of them. And forget Appetite for Destruction: their best stuff was all over the Use Your Illusion albums, the greatest single album that never was.
6) Janet Jackson. Because you don’t make it to First Name Only status without earning it, bitches.
7) Public Enemy. Because their records from the ‘80s still scare white people.
8) Run DMC. The kings of rock. There is none higher.
9) Beastie Boys. It’s safe to say that not even Rick Rubin had any idea what kind of band the Beastie Boys would become. After all, find another band who went from the Juvenile But Massive Debut to Groundbreaking, Trendsetting Sophomore Album.
10) Motley Crüe. If only because they lived the life of rock and roll excess to a degree that would even make Bonzo and Keith Moon go, “Whoa, dudes, let’s not go nuts here.” Few bands embody the spirit of rock and roll more than Motley Crüe. Oh, and they also wrote some kickass tunes.

Bubbling Under: Bands and artists I would like to see inducted but will likely need some help
• Duran Duran
• Depeche Mode
• Stone Roses
• Talk Talk
• The The
• Ministry. The birth of industrial, people.
• English Beat/Madness/Specials. Someone from the ska era has to be represented, dammit.

I didn’t list Nirvana (whose first album Bleach came out in 1989 when none of us were looking) because they’re a no-brainer first ballot inductee. Ditto the Pixies (comment entered after Neil totally faced me on their omission).

Five holdovers from the ‘70s
1) Kraftwerk. Man, how on earth are these guys not in? They were and are light years ahead of their time. Hell, Coldplay’s stealing their songs and claiming them as their own, fer crissakes.
2) Van Halen. And so, a generation of shredders was born.
3) T. Rex. Yeah, okay, Bolan’s dead, so he’ll never know you didn’t induct him, but for crying out loud, bands are still ripping him off. That has to be worth something.
4) Cheap Trick. Few bands have meant so much to so many different genres of music. Cheap Trick is that band. Big Star gets all the love, but Cheap Trick was the better band, by a country mile.
5) Rush. Thrown under the progressive rock bus only because no one knew what to do with them. But they have amassed a body of work that today’s popular bands would be lucky to emulate.

Comments, suggestions, hate mail? Bring it, suckaz.

Post script: It just hit me that I left off the Red Hot Chili Peppers, whom I meant to include, so you Fleabies out there, quit hatin’ right now.

  

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