Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Shocker! Motley Crue is Back

Nikki Sixx and Vince Neil, in their prime, rocking in 1984.
Actually, it's not shocking Motley Crue recently announced they were reuniting and launching a massive US tour in 2020 (which finally launched in 2022 because of the COVID pandemic.
Sadly, though, this is a band that has major egg on its collective face after signing a "legally-binding" contract stipulating they would never tour again after Dec. 31, 2015. At the time, band leader and founder Nikki Sixx said "There is no amount of money that would ever make me do it again because I have such pride in how we're ending it. If anybody ever would call any other band members and say, 'Hey it's been 10 years, let's just do 10 shows. A million a pop.' It could never happen unless all four band members agreed. And if we did agree, the way we've set it up - we'd have so much egg on our face. We have so much pride that that alone would stop it."
Well, that's a lot of egg.
Firstly Sixx, drummer Tommy Lee, vocalist Vince Neil, and guitarist Mick Mars couldn't even wait 10 years - they made it only four years. Also the latest reports have the band apparently demanding more than $3 million per future show. Now, after announcing a stadium tour with Poison and Def Leppard, you could say each band would get $1 million per show if that total gets split evenly.
In their press release announcing their "comeback" (they weren't really gone that long), the band says they have legions of new fans thanks to the Netflix biopic based off their story The Dirt. 

It's all about the Fans ... er Money

While it's great for new fans to get a chance to see the Crue live (they do put on a great live show despite Neil's brutal vocals), make no mistake, there's only one reason the band (which was in its prime 32 years ago) is back and that's money.
There's no love lost between Lee and Neil as documented in Lee's biography Tommyland and if it wasn't about the money, the aging Crue would at least put a new album out so they had something to tour behind, or a reason to go out on tour and break their contract.
Yes, it's all about money which they'll make hand over fist because there aren't a lot of big bands touring right now that can sell out stadiums. There certainly aren't a lot of new bands that can do so, anyways.
Motley Crue joins a long list of band that reunited after "ending" their touring careers including KISS, The Who, and Black Sabbath.
A lot of rock bands talk about integrity and such, but clearly Motley Crue has none.



Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Piece of Mind: Iron Maiden's Metal Masterpiece

With the success of 1982's Number of the Beast, one would think Iron Maiden would be hard pressed to follow it with an equal or better record, but they did just that with Piece of Mind.

Despite bringing in a new drummer in yet another personnel change, 1983's Piece of Mind turned out to be an amazing album and it defined Maiden's modern, mid-late 1980s sound.

The album was quickly recorded at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas from January to March, 1983, and is the first to feature drummer Nicko McBrain after former skin-basher Clive Burr was ousted from Maiden in December, 1982.

Coming off the phenomenal Beast album and tour, the band was getting comfortable with each other as singer Bruce Dickinson had time to get fully adjusted to the workings of Iron Maiden. Dickinson had more influence on the songwriting, composing "Revelations", while co-writing on "Flight of Icarus", "Die with your Boots On", and "Sun and Steel".

"I think on this album, because Bruce has been in a band awhile and was also very involved with the writing, he's more relaxed," said bassist Steve Harris in a 1983 interview with Kevin Thompson for Artist Magazine. "So the vocal performance is tremendous. He's so quick in the studio because his ear for pitch is so good - he just gets up there and bang, it retains a great live feel."

Most of the songs were written at Hotel le Chalet in New Jersey during the hotel’s off-season, then recorded down in Nassau.

Certainly, Piece of Mind sets the mark for the "new Maiden" in terms of personnel and how the band sounds on record. It's the first record of the great bunch that includes Powerslave, Somewhere in Time and Seventh Son of Seventh Son to have that clean, crisp, modern, Maiden metal sound.

"I think it's now becoming what Iron Maiden is all about, and we expect it's going to develop from there," said Harris at the time.

Sound of the Mind

The distinct sound of Piece of Mind is in no small part thanks to producer Martin "Black Night" Birch, who began working with the band on the Killers record. While Number of the Beast had a very doomy, dark feel to it (like it was recorded in a catacomb), Piece of Mind was very crisp and open.

"Martin has always added his expertise in the studio and his great ability at recording our sounds," noted Harris. "We've only just come to this point in our drum and guitar sounds, which are exceptional now - it's just a team growing up together."

The album came together very quickly, with Harris noting "Where Eagles Dare" was recorded in two takes.

"Revelations" was a Dickinson song that Harris feels comes off much better live than on the album. Same with "Flight of Icarus", which was the first single off the record (it hit No.12 on the Billboard Rock Chart). Harris prefers it better live because it's faster, and if he had his druthers, the band would have put more pace into it on the record, but Dickinson argued for a slower, more plodding beat.

Backwards Message on Piece of Mind

The backwards recording before "Still Life" was Maiden getting back at all the religious freaks who came down on the because of Number of the Beast. The recording is actually a drunken McBrain doing an impersonation of Idi Amin (leader of Uganda in the 1970s), so the accent is very thick. Played forwards its says: "What ho, said da t'ing wid da t'ree bonce. Don't meddle wit t'ings you don't understand."

McBrain said the band had enough of being labelled as Satanic: "We were sick and tired of being labelled as Devil worshippers and all this bollocks by these fucking morons in the States, so we thought, 'Right, you want to take the piss? We'll show you how to take the bleeding piss, my son!' And one of the boys taped me in the middle of this Idi Amin routine I used to do when I'd had a few drinks. I remember it distinctly ended with the words, 'Don't meddle wid t'ings yo don't understand.' We thought, if people were going to be stupid about this sort of thing, we might as well give them something to be really stupid about, you know?"

Another cool song on the album and very underrated, is "To Tame A Land", which was based on the "Dune" novels by Frank Herbert. Interestingly, back in 1983, Harris said it's the best song he's ever written up to that point.

With Piece of Mind, Iron Maiden really came into their own and began a string of phenomenal records that carried on until 1990, when Adrian Smith left the band while in pre-production for "No Prayer for the Dying".

Check out the five best Maiden songs with Paul Di'Anno