The Crüe’s first album, Too Fast For Love, gave the fans of West Hollywood what they were longing for: some cock rock to take home with them.
Their live performances were already mythical, with the band setting themselves on fire and spitting blood, but as adrenaline lovers they could only push it harder. The original cover of Shout At the Devil, wickedly featuring a pentagram, offered a gateway to a musical pleasuredome where street kids really did turn into rock stars, always ready to fight guys and score chicks.
Actually, the lyrics were basically the diary of bassist Nikki Sixx, who truly believed in loving and living fast. He would try anything, provided it seemed cool. Around the time of this album, Sixx was experimenting with black magic, so he planned to title the album Shout With The Devil — but some poltergeist in his flat made him change his mind. So be warned; as the album cover wryly cautions: “this record may contain backward messages.”
Considered by some American parent associations to be genuine devil-worshippers, and in their long-haired and tattooed Mad Max-meets-Warriors costumes, Mötley Crüe fulfilled rebellious teenagers’ fantasies. Statements like ”the more money I make, the more drugs I take” or “if someone has to take all the drugs and all the girls, who better than me?” were mottoes in a band full of posers, a band that critics of the old school considered a mere copy of established heroes Kiss, Aerosmith, and Van Halen.
Musically, Shout is their most cohesive and creative accomplishment — hard and courageous, direct as spit, and with the innocent passion of an unruly teenager. Financially, the album’s number 17 placement in Billboard gave the band all the drugs, cars, and girls they could dream of. This is one of the most representative and influential albums of the Crüe’s glam-metal era, a masterpiece inspired by “Foster’s Lager, Budweiser, Bombay Gin, lots of Jack Daniels, Kahlua and brandy, Quakers and Krell, and Wild Women.”
Mötley Crüe — Shout At The Devil: Track-by-track review
1. “In The Beginning”
A short spoken-word story about the subjects to be confronted on the album, and, contrary to what it seems, proof that the album is anti-Satan, as Sixx insisted in interviews, but no one believed.
There was a time when God was able to control the evil perpetrated by man, “but in time, the nations grew weak, and our cities fell to slums, while evil stood strong.” As a consequence, the devil ruled, but there is always renewed hope with each new generation of people. Sixx offers this defiant prophecy: “those who have the youth have the future.”
2. “Shout At The Devil”
Ozzy Osbourne, one of Mötley Crüe’s idols, and whom they supported on tour in 1984, had to explain time after time that his songs weren’t dedicated to the devil. The kings of tease as well as sleaze, the Crüe in their early twenties enjoyed any kind of promotion and provocation if it was free, and could be seen as utilizing evil for the sake of image.
“He’s the wolf screaming in the lonely night / he’s the bloodstain on stage / he’s the tear in your eye…” The lyrics of this song define where evil is, and it’s not related to the classic, simplistic Christian picture: evil can be everywhere, in every little thing.
3. “Looks That Kill”
Kiss released Lick It Up in 1983, and some wild girls were eager to lick up everything on offer. In the Crüe’s video to their own 1983 hit, “Looks That Kill”, wild girls were in a prison cell, whereas the guys watched them and kept them away with fire. The beleaguered men had to fight the queen and try to resist her deadly look.
As they were wearing more makeup than any porn starlet would, and since after all everyone doesn’t have the same artistic taste, one of the members of the technical unit commented that they looked like ‘faggots.’ In a rush, a sick Nikki Sixx approached him and warned: “Just because I am wearing fucking lipstick doesn’t mean I can’t kick your fucking ass.”
Sixx confessed in The Dirt by Neil Strauss, the famous, confessional official band biography, that his mother used to ask him if she was the one that had a look that killed.
Rumor has it that “Bastard” was dedicated to a previous manager, someone considered “the king of sleaze,” someone considered unlovable enough to be wished dead.
Out go the lights
In goes my knife
Pull out his life
Consider that bastard dead
No-holds-barred violence and anger.
5. “God Bless The Children Of The Beast”
This is a guitar-driven instrumental written by Mick Mars, which brings to mind the rock of the 70’s, full of Sabbath-like chord turns and spooky, inverted, quasi-religious melodies.
6. “Helter Skelter”
It is indeed a cover of the Beatles’ 1968 classic, but closer to the cover by Aerosmith than to the original. Years later, Steven Tyler wrote Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like A Lady” as an homage to Vince Neil and his girlish looks.
Do you, don’t you want me to love you?
I’m coming down fast but I’m miles above you.
Tell me tell me tell me
Come on tell me the answer
Well you may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer!
7. “Red Hot”
“Red Hot” refers to blood, the blood from a hot body that soon becomes a cold corpse. In a corrupted world, blood covers the streets.
Fight for the black shark
See what evil brings
Can’t you see we’re out for blood?
Love from a shotgun
License to kill
The strong drums of Tommy Lee sound stronger than ever, like an army of bullets all raining down in one shot.
8. “Too Young To Fall In Love”
If in 1981 things were going too fast to think about falling in love, here the problem was age: they were too young. By the time, Nikki Sixx was living with Lita Ford.
You say your love is like dynamite
Open your eyes
It’s like fire and ice
Why don’t you just set me free?
In Sixx’s songs, love is like a slap. As he confessed years later, for him, lying down with a girl was closer to mutual masturbation than anything else.
Their first performance in a video had been for their first single, “Live Wire,” where they were filmed playing their instruments as they would at any gig (there was no MTV). For this one, though, the video required a performance, so the gang was filmed rescuing a child from a Chinese lord, swashbuckling their way through the story.
9. “Knock ‘Em Dead, Kid”
Returning home one night, Sixx and his friends ran into some guys looking for trouble. They wouldn’t stop, and because Sixx was a kid raised on the street, there was trouble. The police intervened, and during the mini-riot the bassist struck an officer and was accused of assault.
In the song “Knock ‘Em Dead, Kid,” Sixx rises as the new lord of the streets; in reality, the police had to be bribed with the money from the next day’s performance to avoid prosecution.
In the heat of the night
You went and blackened my eyes
Well now I’m back and I’m coming your way
10. “Ten Seconds To Love”
About the last few seconds leading up to an orgasm. Some girls were wandering in the studio, and if you listen carefully, you can hear their moans. The song is unmistakable in its subject matter, with lines such as “touch my gun but don’t pull the trigger, let’s make history in the elevator” and “bring a girlfriend, or maybe bring two.”
Mötley Crüe used to pick up groupies and bring them to their bus. The only condition for a girl to join the guys was she had to be naked. After the job was done, they were driven home.
This is an unusual song for the band, dark and introspective.
All my best friends died
I lost my mind
It made me hate
I can’t escape
I can’t escape
In his autobiography, Heroin Diaries, Nikki Sixx confesses he hated himself because of drugs. However, he felt that taking drugs was better than being without them. At every show an ambulance waited backstage.
12. “Shout At The Devil” [demo]
This version sounds like shouting in an empty room; it’s too naked, and Vince’s voice too forced. Still, the singer’s last lines, where he seems possessed, have their charms.
13. “Looks That Kill” [demo]
There are not many differences between this demo and the final version, except again towards the end, where Vince plays with his vocals.
14. “Hotter Than Hell” [demo]
Nothing to do with the song by KISS. This was renamed and released as “Louder Than Hell” on Theatre of Pain (1985). As Nikki Sixx explains, it is about letting people do what they want, no matter what it is, which was one of his obsessions of the time.
15. “I Will Survive” [previously unreleased]
This bonus track was included on Shout when the album was remastered in 1999. Everyone can survive heartache, even a rocker:
Love’s not black and white
And I’m still alive
And I will survive
16. “Too Young To Fall In Love” [demo]
Vince Neil has confessed to disliking his performance here, because it feels unnatural, but to liking the originally released version.
Shout At The Devil by Mötley Crüe
“In The Beginning”
“Shout At The Devil”
“Looks That Kill”
“God Bless The Children Of The Beast”
“Too Young To Fall In Love”
“Knock ‘Em Dead, Kid”
“Ten Seconds To Love”
“Shout At The Devil” [demo]
“Looks That Kill” [demo]
“Hotter Than Hell” [demo]
“I Will Survive” [previously unreleased]
“Too Young To Fall In Love” [demo]