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Music Review: Mötley Crüe – Carnival of Sins

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After roughly 25 years, most bands fade into obscurity or play the theme park circuit, but the members of Mötley Crüe still fill large venues to capacity. Perhaps in celebration of this, the Crüe have released a live two-disc CD set (with an accompanying DVD) entitled, Carnival of Sins to commemorate the band's 2005 tour of the same name.

Carnival of Sins plays out like a live greatest hits album that kickstarts the hearts of fans with 1983's "Shout at the Devil." The intensity increases during "Ten Seconds to Love" with Mick Marrs' screeching guitar and Nikki Sixx's low-key, yet memorable bass line, but doesn't truly arrive until Neil totally wails in "Red Hot."

After riling up the crowd, the Crüe bring everything down with the still rocking, yet emotional, tune "On With the Show." Neil subdues his wail just enough to bring a tear to the eye while his band mates deftly rock out, making for an exquisite mixture of both worlds.

Lee opens with funky drumbeats in "Too Young to Fall in Love" that are soon replaced by rapid, heavy hits as Marrs changes the atmosphere in the guitar-driven tune. Neil also returns to form with his high-pitched, jagged wail that resonates nicely in your ears.

The crowd goes wild within the first few notes of the rockingly sexy, "Looks That Kill." Neil's voice, coupled with the seductive lyrics, creates the overwhelming desire to make out with whoever happens to be next to you.

The energy returns again in "Live Wire" with Marrs' loud and fast shredding guitar riffs and Lee's equally intense drumming. The song gets the crowd in such a frenzy that girls apparently begin removing their clothes. Lee is heard asking, "What happened to your clothes?" and the song is momentarily paused so he can satisfy his never-ending fascination with breasts by encouraging other girls to follow suit.

The band then gets into songs my 32-year-old self begins to recognize with "Girls, Girls, Girls," "Wild Side," and most of the songs from 1989's Dr. Feelgood. Having attended Mötley Crüe's Oklahoma City performance, as reserved as I am, I must admit that my body began to move as they played "Kickstart My Heart" and "Dr. Feelgood." But I digress.

The second disc opens with the listener friendly, "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)." Even Mötley Crüe is allowed one sappy love song every now and again. At least they have a plethora of other songs that totally rock to make up for it.

OK, make that four sappy love songs.

The band performs 1994's "Glitter" a mere two songs later that melds into "Without You," followed by "Home Sweet Home." Mick Marrs does play a rocking guitar solo on "Without You" that I don't recall from the album version, and Neil gives a humorous, yet out-of-place, cat-like screech at the end. With the exception of two covers, the rest of the album is primarily devoted to Dr. Feelgood.

Since cocaine is no longer as scandalous as it was in the `80s, the title track is a little hokey, but is still catchy enough to make the crowd sing along. In "Same Ol' Situation," Neil elicits a sing-a-long with the crowd that adds to an already fun song.

The highlight of the set, in my opinion, is "Kickstart My Heart." With the opening chords, you'll wish you were at the show as the music subconsciously conjures a mosh pit. The overwhelming combination of Neil's voice, Lee's insane drumming, and Marrs' psychotic guitar make you want to lose all inhibitions and just totally rock out.

The set should have ended with the intensity of "Kickstart My Heart," but the band continues with covers of The Beatles' "Helter Skelter" and The Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K." It seems to send the message that the band doesn't feel its material is worthy of a show closer. Besides, "Anarchy in the U.K." just isn't the same without Johnny Rotten's British snarl.

Needless to say, the set doesn't boast any new material, but that shouldn't be a problem for fans. Mötley Crüe has sealed its place in time by creating loud, energetic rock and roll, so all Neil, Sixx, Lee, and Marrs have to do is rely on that nostalgia to sell tickets and albums. Oh, and apparently reality shows don't hurt either.

Although the music is dated, Mötley Crüe primarily offers a refreshing reprieve from the whiny, tortured soul emo that saturates rock stations today. Stop taking music so seriously, roll down your windows and unabashedly belt out some classic Crüe.

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About David L. Miller