Tattoos & Tequila
Eleven Seven Music, 2010
REVIEW BY: Mark Millan
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/19/2010
When I discovered some weeks ago that Vince Neil had released his autobiography and a new album to coincide with the book, I admit I was instantly anxious to get my hands on both said items. I suppose it was because Motley Crue’s brilliant book of their own, The Dirt, was basically the Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx show, which was highly entertaining but featured little input from their notorious front man (Neil) and axe-man Mick Mars.
Eager to read Neil’s point of view on all things Crue, Vegas and er, the ladies, I was also keen to discover just how he pulled through the two biggest tragedies of his personal life: the death of his young daughter Skylar (following a short battle with an incredibly aggressive cancer) and the car accident that took the life of Hanoi Rocks’ drummer Razzle, which was the result of Neil’s foolish decision to drive while intoxicated.
Needless to say, the book was a fine read, but I’m still none the wiser as to just what type of guy Mr. Neil really is. My best determination is that he is all of the things he says he is: a shy and reserved man about town, a woman-hungry teenager that never grew up, and a bloody horrible drunk. Onstage, however, we all know what to expect from Vince Neil – lots of running about, f-bombs, and jokes about cats. He also possesses a voice that I can only describe as Barry Gibb on acid.
And after witnessing firs hand the Crue’s insane Carnival Of Sins show some years back, I came away not quite knowing why or how he had done it, but truly thinking that this dude is one of the best showmen I have ever seen. So the pleasing thing with his new album is that it plays to his strengths; there is nothing here that is remotely about anything other than having a good time.
Neil produced Tattoos & Tequila with Jack Blades, and although the idea was to do a covers album, there are two new songs thrown into the mix, one of which is the title track and its easily the weakest song here. It has a killer groove, but it’s let down by some very cliché lyrics, the kind that Neil has done so many time before. Much better, though, is a blistering cover of Cheap Trick’s “He’s A Whore” that is not only lyrically a perfect fit for Neil (because, let’s face it, he is) but he honestly has never sounded better.
Next up is an equally thrilling (and well-chosen) cover of the Sweet’s glitter rock classic “AC/DC,” which finds Neil working through his impressive bag of vocal tricks (if only he’d use them more frequently). A curious cut is the scorching take on Aerosmith’s “Nobody’s Fault,” which Neil handles quite well but there ain’t no way anyone can top Steven Tyler, period. “Another Bad Day” is the other new song, and although it’s a rather pleasant mid-tempo love song, I could think of several other covers I would have preferred instead.
A faithful, hair-rockified stomp through The Sex Pistol’s “No Feelings” pretty much sums up the ugly drunk in Neil that he just can’t seem to bury for good. More reason to praise this record comes with the one-two punch of The Hollies’ “Long Cool Woman” and the Scorpions’ “Another Piece Of Meat.” Both rock with unabashed swagger and Neil hits the top of his range on the latter.
Easily the three most surprising tracks all come at the end to close out the album with style. CCR’s “Who’ll Stop The Rain” is a great old song, and although this version doesn’t set the world on fire, it’s a solid attempt at a classic rock song. Next we have a smoking-hot blast through The King’s ass-shakin’, money-makin’ “Viva Las Vegas.” This one is all about attitude and Neil has more than most, so it’s a winner in my book. Lucky last is a power-pop version of Elton John’s “Bitch Is Back” that again is a good choice for Neil as it requires nothing more from him than his well-polished middle range.
Here, as with the rest of the record, he gets stellar support from his four-piece band and a few others in the studio that have made this record so enjoyable from top-to-bottom. Don’t get me wrong, Tattoos & Tequila is not a masterpiece, but it’s loads of fun and you can dance to it and sometimes, that’s all I care about.