Theatre Of Pain
Elektra Records, 1985
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/30/1999
In one sense, Motley Crue's third album, Theatre Of Pain, is a miraculous release. Coming off of the car accident involving Vince Neil (which killed Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley), one would not have been surprised if Motley Crue faded out after the tragedy. Instead, Neil, guitarist Mick Mars, bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee forged ahead with this album.
But there is something missing from this release that was on their previous effort Shout At The Devil. Maybe it was that the Crue tried to stick with a formula that worked, maybe it was that the band (who were all suffering with their own personal demons) was getting tired. Whatever the case, the end result, while having its bright moments, is half-hearted.
The first single off the album, a cover of Brownsville Station's "Smokin' In The Boys' Room" - was an interesting choice that got overplayed - at least in the Chicago market - when it first came out. Now, 14 years after its release, it shows that it's held up pretty well with the passage of time, and has just the right amount of raunch in the playing that makes the song work for them.
I wish I could say the same about the song "Home Sweet Home". I'm sorry, but I have never been able to connect with this song, no matter how many times I listen to it. Okay, I'll give you the fact that Mars utilizes the acoustic guitar well on this track, but when you become known as a band with balls, it doesn't help your cause if you record a song that makes you go limp.
Now, if you're waiting for me to piss all over Theatre Of Pain like I did to Dr. Feelgood some time ago, take a number and have a seat, 'cause you're gonna have a long wait. Fact is, there are some performances on Theatre Of Pain that show the promise in this band that has been there all along. Tracks like "Keep Your Eye On The Money" and "Tonight (We Need A Lover)" work well for Motley Crue, and have held up well over the passage of time.
In other cases, though, their luck doesn't pan out. Tracks like "City Boy Blues" were good ideas, but they just didn't capitalize on their true potential like they could have. Other tracks, like "Fight For Your Rights" and "Raise Your Hands To Rock", tend to be more filler material than anything. The whole second half of this album was able to slip underneath my nose without me recognizing that five songs had played until it was too late. (This is why I listen to albums several times.)
Of course, Theatre Of Pain is always going to have its devotees, especially those who got sucked into the band thanks to "Home Sweet Home" and its omnipresence on MTV. And while most of the memorable moments have been captured on the greatest hits discs, this still isn't a bad album to check out if you want to discover Motley Crue past the singles. If only there had been more substance to this album, it would have been a timeless classic. Instead, it's a tale of undeveloped potential.