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Music Review: Sixx:A.M. – The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack

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The most annoying thing about people who’ve died and been revived is that they never, ever shut up about it. Nikki Sixx, reigning champion of the second shot at life, has in fact gone so far as to make a movie about his brush with death. Unfortunately for all of us, his virulent strain of narcissism can’t even be excused by the fact that he once reached the pinnacle of pop metal songwriting.

Maybe his songs are fantastic on this new album — the soundtrack to the story of how he died for five minutes in 1987 — and we’ll never doubt him again. Maybe he eschewed the tired, formulaic route that he took on Mötley Crüe’s most recent ventures, realized his forte was with fun, upbeat, bluesy shredding, and returned to his roots.


Oh, his prowess is still there. It comes out in fits and starts. It’s there just long enough to remind you what it sounded like, then it maddeningly burrows back down under murky layers of mediocrity.

Take “Pray For Me,” a potentially great song that starts out with a jazzy energy, but on the chorus dips into tired chord progressions and lyrics so melodramatic it’s literally unbelievable. How can he possibly think we’re going to take this seriously? Or “Heart Failure.” Now there’s a powerful title, but all the song has to drive it is a pretty-good-but-not-worth-what-I-paid-for-this-album solo.

Sixx made music that spoke for itself. It was how he proved himself to people who didn’t believe in him. It saved his life and made him something. Now that he’s telling the very story of how he would’ve been naught but a dead junkie if it weren’t for his musical talent — seemingly the most important thing in his life — he can barely pull enough old tricks out of his tattooed, needle-pocked ass to write one full good song, let alone string a bunch together to make a decent album.

The best thing about this album is the liner art, which is never a complimentary remark, but when it’s said about someone as formerly influential as Sixx, it just goes to show that he should’ve burned out during his heyday instead of trying to stretch his career this far. This album will make you wish those paramedics had never shown up.

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About McMayhem

  • You end a review with an offhand remark that it would have been “better” had Nikki not been revived by the paramedics and stayed dead? C’mon… if R Kelly is allowed to live after 96584 chapters of “In The Closet” – you can maybe ease up on Nikki.

    Just, mellow out and accept the the album for what it is – or maybe give it away and go listen to Too Fast For Love for a while. Anyways. I certainly don’t love the Heroin Diaries, especially as it seems like it was simply done to accompany the book and not because he had anything valid to say musically, but that’s okay.

    Considering his high points he’s allowed to hit some funky lows in his career, so it’ll all balance out.

  • Rose

    I certainly don’t condone R. Kelly being allowed into a recording studio either…but that’s irrelevant, as I’m not comparing Sixx to the state of general pop music; I’m comparing this effort to what he’s proven capable of in the past. If it were a matter of judging it relative to current pop standards, I’d move that it should be awarded Grammy upon Grammy…but that method of comparison is predicated on a skewed continuum that assumes all artists’ products can be similarly and accurately qualified.

    Being that such a process isn’t objectively possible, I’ll stick to comparing Nikki to Nikki…and keep Dr. Feelgood in the CD changer.

  • ForComments

    “This album will make you wish those paramedics had never shown up.”

    Have you read the book, Rose?

  • Rose

    I have.

  • Michelle

    First of all, If your a Motley fan you should be sad’n if anyone one would label Motley music pop by todays standards! PLUS,putting R. Kelly in the same sentence PLEASE! Second, You have to stop comparing Motley Crue of yesterday To Nikki Sixx today.Art is a varaity of tastes. If you don’t like it move on and Write about someone else.Third,I DO beleave he has told everyone processes would go to “RUNNING WILD in the Night Charity”. Think of it as adding to your Sicki Nikki collection and doing something good for someone else. I don’t know how old this write is that did this little story.BUT, I’m 36 and have everything he has ever done. And my 17 son, 15 daughter like the the new CD. If you want to hear music that goes with BOOK. GET YOUR DR.FEELGOOD CD OUT!!!!!That was then, this is now dude!

    TRUE Cruehead 4life,

  • Michelle

    I Guess what i was trying to say. In a nut shell, but in a way anyone can understand is. You can write crap and he can write crap. His will be the one a motley fan will Buy. Blogs are the last thing i think of when i’m out buy CD’s ,tickets books,t-shirts.
    Say what you want, this is the last time i read blogs. Nothing like people writting about things that they don’t have a clue about. Dressing in black and liking scary movies doesn’t make you a music Buff. Hope you don’t get paid for this. And if you do, shoot. My 15yr old Daughter is looking for a part time job.

  • Rose

    Well, well, well, my Michelle.

    You’re certainly a sweetheart, ain’tcha? Let me address a few things you’ve said here.

    First, I didn’t put Motley in the category of pop music, which I THINK is what you’re accusing me of doing. Actually, if you’ll reread the comment you’re referring to, comment, I stated clearly that I was NOT comparing Sixx to general pop music. I’ll just skip the part about R. Kelly, though, as it appears you fear seeing words too close together in sentences lest one taint the other somehow. Not sure how that works; maybe some weird text-based AIDS.

    Second, I will gladly move on and write about something else. However, I wouldn’t expect the next one to be a glowing review either, since it’s not my job to love everything I listen to (and yes, I do get paid for this. Millions and millions of dollars. I’m buying a private island next week). I’m just calling it as I hear it. A label sent me this album, I listened, I criticized. Big deal. This is what reviewers do, and it’s not always pretty. If you expect to see nothing but ass-kissing, check your definition of “criticism.”

    Third, I don’t care what your kids like. Hey, I know kids who like R. Kelly; does that mean he’s worth listening to? I think the one thing we can agree on here is that he’s not, so pointing out that 15 year olds like The Heroin Diaries doesn’t carry much weight.

    Thanks for spelling things out for me in that second comment, too- I really appreciate you saying things “in a way anyone can understand”- even a schmuck like me, right? Gracious of you. Anyway, I’m not concerned about competing with Sixx on “what a Motley fan will buy,” particularly not if a Motley fan is defined by someone who blindly follows Sixx’s career without stopping to think for themselves or critically evaluate his products. I don’t want their business. Loving everything he does, regardless of quality, does not make you a “TRUE Motley fan” any more than, as you mentioned, wearing black clothes makes me a music buff (which is a good thing, because I keep most of my smarts in my red shirt). It just makes you someone who lacks the ability to differentiate between what you like and what someone else dictates that you like. I’ll gladly take on your suggested title of poseur if it means that I’m able to stand behind my opinion without bending to the status quo (although oddly enough, that’s generally the opposite of its meaning); however, accusing me of not knowing what I’m talking about due to the fact that I did not sufficiently worship your own personal god is silly. There are facts and there are opinions; what we have here is my opinion. Please learn to separate the two. For a start: opinions, by definition, are subjective and therefore can’t be “wrong.”

    Lastly, please, if you don’t want to read blogs anymore, be my guest. I don’t remember dragging you to this one (although when I was out partying with Vince last night I got pretty wasted, so anything might’ve happened). I’m going to keep trashing on stuff that sucks whether you’re here or not…although before you called it quits, you stated definitively that you don’t turn to blogs for advice anyway, so it’s beyond me why you were here in the first place.

    Sorry I ragged on your King so much, but it’s not my fault he can’t write a halfway-good song anymore. I’m just the one who’s willing to admit it.

  • Corrie

    Rose –

    What I have found with this CD is it is personal. Which to me is the mark of a good CD, people either relate to the material and embrace it or they don’t and look for the anger filled riffs found on Dr Feelgood.

    It is without a doubt a departure from the sort of releases that are commonly associated with Nikki Sixx as most know him. But then having followed his career and his releases with Crue, side projects as well as material written for others, and knowing the work done of his partners with this release it is consistent with the deeper emotional level shown on those.

    This CD to me is very emotional, instrumental and does reflect a vaster array of music then what we consider to be “sixx” material. I personally like it, but I can understand completely why another may not see what I do in it. I see it from sharing a journey similar to his, the abuse and addiction causing the songs to have more meaning to me then Dr Feelgood.

    I appreciate all reviews because it is nice to see opposing opinions and see the rational behind it. I will not attempt to sway your view on this work because you either like it or you don’t. But I would ask if you have edit capabilities to correct one inaccuracy. you state it is a movie in the above material, when in fact it is a book and soundtrack.

    the great thing about music is there are so many choices out there that what can be one persons favorite will not be another’s. it also saves the fight for front row tickets from being a re-enactment of the great cabbage patch chase of the 80s.

    So thank you for your opinion and taking the time to write about it- who knows maybe some will agree with you while others may be interested in it based on your blog and agree with me. But in the end – music is heard and that is the battle. Not everyone needs to like it – they just need the ability to state freely what they think as you did.

  • Thanks for catching that error, Corrie- although it doesn’t appear I can edit it now. I’d heard there were talks to make this into a movie; that must’ve been where my mind was when I wrote that.

    Thanks are owed to you as well for approaching the review with an open mind and taking it for what it is. I much appreciate your ability to respectfully disagree.

  • Dave in LA

    I couldn’t disagree more. This album is both personal and original, and is delivered with a great sense of passion in music and voice.

    I’m not even a Sixx fan (until now) nor a big Crue fan. Just heard Life is Beautiful on the radio and sounded fresh and new…

    You are way off, and your closing comment is classless.

  • Michael Ebert

    Wow Rose, you couldn’t be farther away from the truth. All of the music on the album is amazing and very inspiring I feel bad for you in that you havent realized this. I can’t believe you would say something like you did in your last sentence, do you really not have a heart?

  • Michael

    Wow Rose, you couldn’t be farther away from the truth. All of the music on the album is amazing and very inspiring I feel bad for you in that you havent realized this. I can’t believe you would say something like you did in your last sentence, do you really not have a heart?

  • …you couldn’t be farther away from the truth.

    uhm…it’s an opinion?

    gees, you guys need to relax and go get your mullets trimmed.

  • I enjoyed the album and think it has a strong “Blizzard of Oz’ feel. Part of that is probably because both lead guitarists, DJ Ashba and Randy Rhoads, have a classical music background that just shines through in their musical compositions. It’s the classical influence that sets Ashba apart from the rest of the crowd. He is by far one of the most talented guitarists playing today.

    Don’t even get me started on the lead singer, James Michael. This man can sing. And not just in the recording studio… he belts it out live too. Amazing voice.

    Just so you know, I was never a big Crue fan (I wasn’t sure I could even spell it right so I looked it up) but the guys in Sixx AM are a great combination and all of them are extremely talented artists.

    The music is powerful, the beats get your blood pumping, and somewhere along the way I find myself turning up the volume in my little red beetle bug and singing at the top of my lungs.

    I am giving it a big thumbs up. It’s just simply the best album I have heard in a while, and it’s what I listen to when I need a great workout at the gym.

    Thanks for letting me chime in!

  • Jeremy

    I loved that whole album. So screw who ever thinks differently. Nikki is one of the rock gods. He is the perfect pic. of a rock star. He went through hell and wanted to tell people about it. So F*** you guys.

  • Ok on my part Nikki is one of my heroes ..Growing up in a family of metalheads you couldnt help but love crue. His book isnt him gloating at the fact that he got a second chance at life its just showing you that drugs are never the way to go. ( IM Straight Edge for life) so your pretty fucking retarded for even posting this blog. anyone feel the same add me on myspace

  • justin

    If you don’t like the album I understand so to say you don’t like it is fine. I think it is a cool album myself and I dig it. The part where you said “This album will make you wish those paramedics had never shown up” is kind of a Diiicckk thing to say don’t ya think??!