Leave it to Mötley Crüe to go out with a bang. On the road for a final farewell tour, the band is celebrating its 30+ years of ear-splitting and death-defying rock with an all-new tribute album. As with anything Crüe-related, there definitely is an element of shock. The album, Nashville Outlaws: A Tribute to Mötley Crüe, features an all-star ensemble cast of country music artists.
When you compare the values heralded by your average modern country music star and those of Mötley Crüe, they’ve generally got about as much in common as do Gene Simmons and an ounce of dignity.
You read that right, an all-country music Mötley Crüe cover album. Take a moment if you need to let that concept sink in. I did a double take myself when I first read about this project about a year back. Let’s face it: When you compare the values heralded by your average modern country music star and those of Mötley Crüe, they’ve generally got about as much in common as do Gene Simmons and an ounce of dignity.
Since I am both a longtime Mötley fan and a longtime appreciator of GOOD (outlaw) country music, I’ve spent the better part of a year eagerly anticipating this release. First and foremost to see which artists could step outside of their comfort zones and pull this off, and second to ridicule the living hell out of the ones who cannot.
Fearing the worst, I decided to proverbially take one for the team and listen to this album in full so you don’t have to.
Now, my country tastes tend to lean more toward the kind of music that you basically start the night off listening to, knowing you’re going to end up needing bail money before it’s done. Classic guys like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams (Sr., Jr.), and Ricky Skaggs (don’t judge), and the newer generation of guys like Hank Williams III and Shooter Jennings (son of Waylon, whom I can’t recommend enough), to name a few. So, how did the lineup on this album fare? It mostly doesn’t suck.
“Kickstart My Heart” by Rascal Flatts: Possibly one of the smartest ideas was to start this album with this song. The opening riffs definitely do not disappoint. I’m pleased with this version. The vocals are fairly solid and the musical accompaniment is solid. If I were to purchase a ticket for a Rascal Flatts concert because you recommended them to me as a great Mötley Crüe cover band you once heard at the state fair, I would not be disappointed.
“If I Die Tomorrow” by Florida Georgia Line: The music starts rather metal-sounding. Then the vocals kick in and sound like a drunken metal singer is singing country music. It’s kind of confusing to listen to if you’re really paying attention to the singer, because it seems to flip back and forth between sounding metal and sounding country. Again, solid musical accompaniment. The lyrics remind you that Nikki Sixx is really talented at writing tormented love songs.
If you download this album, delete this track as soon as it hits your computer. You will get a venereal virus in your ears. Ear clap. You’ll get ear clap.
“Smoking in the Boys Room” by Leann Rimes: Reread that. “SMOKING IN THE BOYS ROOM” BY LEANN RIMES. We have a saying here in the South for when someone tries really hard and still screws something up. It’s “Bless her heart.” Just no. No. NO. She tries. She really, really tries. Someone on her payroll who is afraid of losing his job has failed miserably at stepping in and telling this woman not to do this song. Yeah. Skip this track. Just skip it. Don’t listen to it. In fact, if you download this album, delete this track as soon as it hits your computer. You will get a venereal virus in your ears. Ear clap. You’ll get ear clap. Especially when she sings the line “My buddy Mick, Vince, and Tom.” (Maybe she’s not that bad; the inner 13-year-old in me who dreamed of running away to join Mötley Crüe as a backup singer just can’t handle it.) This song feels like it goes on for an hour, and not in an Aerosmith “Dream On” good kind of way.
“Home Sweet Home” by Justin Moore and Vince Neil: Oh, fuck me sideways with a trailer hitch. Here’s the deal with “Home Sweet Home”: It is the quintessential Mötley Crüe song. It’s not only a classic; it’s iconic Crüe at its prime. I’ve literally listened to this song on repeat for hours and hours. No other song in the Crüe discography showcases Vince Neil’s range like this song. I don’t know who this Justin Moore is, but he sounds like he was discovered singing karaoke at a boot store. Vince Neil sings background vocals. The effect is akin to getting to have a three-way with a hot chick, but you end up fucking only her really fat friend while she sits in a chair and plays with her own tits. It’s just wrong, and you’ll never recover from the experience.
“The Animal in Me” by Cassadee Pope: If you like Flyleaf, you’ll like this track. I have nothing else to add. Yawn.
“Afraid” by Aaron Lewis: In case you didn’t know, Aaron Lewis is the supremely talented vocalist of the band Staind, who also sings country music on the side. If you’ve ever sat and enjoyed the woeful sound of George Strait and shed a tear over one of his amazingly written songs, then this song right here is right where your ears need to be as soon as possible. If I didn’t know this was a Mötley Crüe song, I would tell you this is one of the most beautifully written and sung country songs I have ever heard. The man is that damn good. Instantly an all-time favorite song, I kid you not. Check this one out as soon as you can.
The effect is akin to getting to have a three-way with a hot chick, but you end up fucking only her really fat friend while she sits in a chair and plays with her own tits. It’s just wrong, and you’ll never recover from the experience.
“Same Old Situation” by Big & Rich: This song sounds so country, it sounds like it was recorded in the bayou. I never would have guessed this song could be covered this well. This one has a Hank Williams Jr. “Devil Went Down to Georgia” vibe going in the background with the fiddle. Mötley Crüe songs with a fiddle. I’m shaking my head, but it works here.
“Without You” by Clare Bowen & Sam Palladio: This song was remade as a female/male duet, which would have been awesome had it been by the Civil Wars, but it’s not. It starts off with some decent harmonizing and ends up sounding like that couple at the Baptist church who get up each time there is a praise and worship service and sing whether you want them to or not. In other words, they sound like they are singing for Jesus. Of course, the phrase “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” only mentions joy and not refraining from singing when it sounds like you can’t take a deep breath.
“Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)” by Eli Young Band: This is a fun little cover even if the guy singing it doesn’t seem to have the ability to match any of Vince Neil’s range, which, let’s face it, wasn’t that damn spectacular, vocally speaking. It’s almost like he’s holding back because the girl he doesn’t want to go away mad is in the next room, and he doesn’t want her to know because she might get her feelings hurt, and he really doesn’t have any other pussy lined up.
“Looks That Kill” by Lauren Jenkins: Country music’s answer to Lana Del Ray? If this is the sort of thing you like, then you’ll really like this sort of thing.
“Live Wire” by The Cadillac Three: I am starting a playlist called “Songs to get drunk and fall off a porch to” solely because of this track. Where Aaron Lewis brings it in that mournful, gut-wrenching, emotional country style, this song brings it in that kick-ass “country meets good old Southern rock” style. I am pretty sure just listening to this song equals cheating on my husband. It’s that damn satisfying to listen to. I can’t fathom the loathsome things I would do to hear this band play this song live. Good to the last note. Worth the purchase just to discover this band.
Country music’s answer to Lana Del Ray? If this is the sort of thing you like, then you’ll really like this sort of thing.
“Dr. Feelgood” by The Mavericks: Who let their retarded brother pick this song? First off, if you ask me, “Dr. Feelgood” as a song (and album) SUCKS. No matter how you remake this song, it is going to suck to me, no matter what. So, when you recreate said song in a ’50s mariachi/swing style and add in what sounds like the theme song to James Bond randomly in the middle with some guitar solos, I:
- admire your creativity while wanting to break your face;
- don’t think the word “country” means what you think it means;
- am impressed by the effort you put in to raise this pile of shit of a song to a new level.
“Girls, Girls, Girls” by Brantley Gilbert: First of all, “Brantley Gilbert” sounds like a hipster baby name someone found on Pinterest. That said, this isn’t a bad cover. It starts with a revving motorcycle engine, and he even pronounces it “motorcycle” instead of “motorsickle” like Vince Neil did, and I kinda give points for that. Also, he seems to be holding back, like he’s afraid his mom will find out he went to a strip club.
“Wild Side” by Gretchen Wilson: Another track I take issue with, considering this album is touted as a “country” tribute. This song sounds nothing like country to me. I am guessing Gretchen Wilson owned a few Judas Priest records when she was a kid, because she seems to have practiced a respectable metal vocal style/raspy yelling/is sore from sucking down cartons of Pall Malls. Decent, but forgettable.
“Time for Change” by Darius Rucker: Hootie from the Blowfish is a country singer now. Did you know that???? He’s pretty good, too. He’s fantastic on this track. If you didn’t know better, you would swear he wrote this song himself. I’ve tried to find a way to make fun of this more, but it’s actually good enough that all I can come up with is the Hootie part, which I am not really all that proud of.
Overall, I’d give the album an 8.5 out of 10 for the musical arrangements, but 7 out of 10 for vocal styling, and a 3 out of 3,000,000 for that travesty disguised as a Leann Rimes song. Save for a few select tracks on this album, I think I am left a tad ambivalent about the entire thing. Maybe because I feel like a part of my childhood died when I heard some of these songs, maybe because the idea that bands like Mötley Crüe sign on to do an album like this opens the doors to the possibility they will eventually sell out to the extreme that Kiss has.
I fucking hate Kiss. Did I mention that? It’s totally not relevant to this article, but I had to share that anyway.