If this was June of 2006 and you told me that Vince Neil had a solo record out, honestly I wouldn’t have cared less. Although there were parts of Mötley Crüe’s 1997 release Generation Swine that I enjoyed, most of it was terrible and New Tattoo, which followed it three years later, was only slightly better. It seemed like the only time you heard about Tommy Lee was when he was putting his ginormous schlong in Pam Anderson, Vince was getting fat, Mick Mars was probably unable to get out of his chair and Nikki Sixx, well, at least it seemed like he was doing something, though I couldn’t tell you what. The Mötley Crüe I knew and loved growing up was gone, for all intents and purposes.

Then 2007 rolled around and something weird happened: the Crüe machine got plugged back in and started making money again. Give Nikki Sixx the credit here. It had been six years or so since their autobiography,  The Dirt, was released, and the gang hadn’t put out an album since 2000. However, in 2007 Sixx released his Sixx A.M. record, which became the soundtrack for his book The Heroin Diaries. The album was the freshest thing from that camp in ages and the book was a fabulous read (though it’s tough to match the quality of The Dirt). Then Mötley Crüe released Saints of Los Angeles in 2008 (which really could have been the soundtrack to the original book) and my interest piqued again.

So here we are in 2010, Tommy Lee is working on a new Methods of Mayhem record, Sixx A.M. will release their second album in September, Mick Mars is prepping his first solo disc and Vince Neil is about to drop his third studio album, which just happens to be the soundtrack to his book.  And other than T. Lee’s record, all of the rest are on Eleven Seven music – Nikki Sixx’s label. Spitting ‘em out while the gettin’s good, huh? (Let’s not forget The Dirt is being made into a movie too).

As for Vince’s album and book – both are titled Tattoos and Tequila, with the album arriving first. And let me get the bad out of the way before the good – there’s not one original thought on this disc. Usually, this would turn me off completely and I’d reject the record with barely a second though – but not this time. Granted, it’s hard to have too many original thoughts behind what is essentially a covers album so that’s a bit harsh (maybe). That said, it’s awfully enjoyable despite the flaws.

The title track and lead single is brand new for the record and sounds like it could have been an outtake from the SOLA sessions. (Did you know Vince had his own Tres Rios Tequila? I didn’t. Boy, Sammy Hagar has done a much better job at marketing Cabo Wabo.) Vince also throws one more “new” track in the mix called “Another Bad Day,” which he claims is the best ballad the Crüe ever recorded. But the rest of the band cut it at the last minute from New Tattoo, so Vince decided to use it here. With cliched lyrics like the chorus “it’s just another bad day/it’s gonna be alright/you know it doesn’t matter who’s wrong or who’s right/it’s just another bad day/it’s gonna be okay/you know wild horses couldn’t drag us away” it would seem that a year from now when the promotion for this album is done, Vince will rightfully go back to saying “Home Sweet Home” is the best ballad they ever recorded.

Although the excellent title track is what’s going to draw people to the album it’s the cover songs that are intriguing. Vince chose the songs because they influenced some part of his life and for the most part they aren’t the normal batch. Most of them are updated to sound very Crüe-ish as well, which isn’t a bad thing at all in this stage of the game. We’re not talking Vince Neil songbooks here.

There are three kick-ass covers on Tattoos and Tequila, the first being a nice rockin’ version of “He’s A Whore,” originally on Cheap Trick’s 1977 self-titled debut, and a cover of Sweet’s “AC/DC” that could have fit smack dab in the middle of Dr. Feelgood. But the best cover is of Elton John’s “The Bitch Is Back,” which closes the album. The song fits Vince’s voice perfectly and pretty much describes Vince’s antics over the years as well. Unfortunately, I wish it wasn’t buried after the only two weak cuts on the album – a pretty true version of “Who’ll Stop the Rain” by CCR and an awkward riff-oriented version of “Viva Las Vegas.” He does, however, do a fine job of interpreting both the Scorpions “Another Piece of Meat” and Aerosmith’s “Nobody’s Fault.”

Overall, it’s better than I could have expected for a covers album and certainly worth the time and money if you’re a Mötley Crüe fan. Better catch the money machine now before this second wave of Crüe mania comes to a screeching halt in a few years. Just keep cranking them out Nikki.

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