It’s thirty years ago that Shout was released unto the world. Although Crue Heads regard this record as a masterpiece of Pop Metal it was given some brutally negative reviews from the more respectable music press of the day. The issue was not that the Crue were too offensive & controversial but rather that they were derivative & untalented. Robert Christgau of Village Voice Magazine gives Shout & the Crue an absolute dismissive review (D) & assigns the album a special categorization: MUST TO AVOID.
MOTLEY CRUE: Shout at the Devil (Elektra) It's hardly news that this platinum product is utter dogshit even by heavy metal standards; under direct orders from editors who don't know Iron Maiden from Wynton Marsalis, my beleaguered colleagues on the dailies have been saying so all year, and every insult goes into the press kit. Still, I must mention Mick Mars's dork-fingered guitar before getting to the only truly remarkable thing about this record: a track called "Ten Seconds To Love" in which Vince Neil actually seems to boast about how fast he can ejaculate (or as the lyric sheet puts it, "cum"). And therein, I believe, lies the secret of their commercial appeal--if you don't got it, flaunt it. Follow-up: "Pinkie Prick." D
J. D. Considine reviewed Shout for Rolling Stone in February 1984. He wasn’t buying any notion that the Motley’s were the Bad Boys of Rock. To him, the songs on Shout At The Devil sounded like weaker versions of Kiss, Aerosmith & Judas Priest tunes.
Like most self-styled bad-boy bands, Motley Crue look meaner than they sound. With their layers of leather and carefully applied makeup, their look suggests all the implied violence required of teenybopper antiheroes. But the music the Crue use to back up that image is surprisingly mild-mannered. It's loud, sure, but that's about as close to dangerous as it gets; Motley Crue's version of rock & roll is such a careful distillation of Black Sabbath, Kiss and other arena giants that you'd almost think it was developed by MTV's marketing staff.
"In the Beginning," an eerie wheeze of electronics and studio gimmickry concocted by engineer Geoff Workman, gets the album off to a promising start, but after that, it's pretty much rock by rote. "Shout at the Devil" employs an Aerosmith-style boogie riff to animate its antisatanic lyric. "Bastard" is a fight song driven by a Judas Priest arrangement. "Too Young to Fall in Love" is built around the same beat Kiss turned to when they thought they might revive their flagging career through disco. And "God Bless the Children of the Beast" is a directionless instrumental extrapolated from the guitar break to "Hotel California."
In short, originality is not this group's long suit. But then, who expected it to be? The whole point of bands like Motley Crue is to provide cheap thrills to jaded teens, and that's where the album ultimately disappoints. Although "Ten Seconds to Love" boasts enough sexual innuendo to amuse the average thirteen-year-old boy until the next issue of Penthouse, Motley Crue's promise of sex, rowdiness and rock & roll falls short on at least two counts.
Below is a notice for the band that has the same dismissive tone as the Shout reviews above. One of the oft-repeated statements by the Motleys is that when they started out they were doing something that no one else even dared to do. But if you read reviews from the time, the Crue’s unoriginality is usually one of the main things brought up.
These reviews are almost a clue as to the real nature of our boys & their actual character in the post ‘70s, post-modern 1980s. I’ve come around more & more to see the Crue as almost an evil version of the Monkees! A post-modern Pop-Punk boy band. What makes Motley Crue so interesting is not necessarily that they are an authentic street band or Punk or Metal or Hair Band . . . they were a new thing altogether, a strange balance of the utmost of disposability & artifice on the one hand & sincerity & dogged half-talent on the other. The Crue were probably better than they were supposed to be.