Motley Crue, Theatre of Pain(ful?)


Time for a look at a record that birthed my interest in heavy metal and hard rock and roll. In third grade, a neighbour kid introduced me to the heavy glam metal music of Motley Crue. It opened the door for me to later discover other metal sub-genres.

Motley Crue was coming off of the heels of a heavy record, and a building reputation for heavy living when they started recording the follow-up to Shout at the Devil. Vince Neil’s arrest for impaired driving (details need not be repeated here) added further tension to a difficult time for the band. Bassist and group leader Nikki Sixx was in the midst of an out of control drug addiction.

The end result of these recording sessions was still a top-selling record with a few well-known hits as part of the band’s live repertoire. Their cover of Brownsville Station’s “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” remains a perennial classic rock radio favourite as well as the power ballad “Home Sweet Home”.

I’ve always viewed the album as containing the band’s most underrated track of all time. How “Raise Your Hands To Rock” did not become an anthem is still mystifying to me. It’s good time message of living and loving life was clearly lost on so many listeners and critics, and in my view is still lost on long-time fans of the band. It’s catchy acoustic guitar riff remains one of the best Mick Mars generated performances ever put to tape. Nikki Sixx deserves a significant salute for penning this masterpiece of a track.

There are a few obvious critiques of the record that are accurate and widely shared among many. It is very overproduced and moves significantly away from the heavy side of music the band was bringing up with their first two albums. They would eventually return to heavier sounds in later releases.

Despite the negative critical reception Theatre of Pain received from critics, historians and fans have rightfully given it due credit for its’ place in 1980’s glam metal.



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