Inspired by recently watching “The Dirt” and part of the 1983 Project, it’s time to take a look at Mötley Crüe’s second studio album, Shout at the Devil.
Shout at the Devil has already made an appearance on the blog as it was one of the “controversial” albums singled out by the PMRC. Also, the song “Bastard” which was one of the Filthy 15 is on this record. Four young rockers from Los Angeles, with make up and leather, singing about the devil. Of course it was going to get noticed.
Which is the entire point.
From the opening track, a spoken word called “In the Beginning”, the concept is laid down. Evil has won, the devil rules the world. It is now time for the “children of the beast” – the ones who were born during this time – to take the world back. For example, some young men from the city of angels. Men who in the 1980’s have seen drugs, the start of AIDS, racism, homophobia, millionaires getting away with crimes. But the youth, the counter cultures, the forgotten being blamed for everything. Sounds like these guys are heroes who want an end to those who are corrupt and in power.
“Shout at the Devil” comes next with a run down of all that the devil does to manipulate. How he absorbs the chaos in your life and tries to channel it for his own purposes.
He’s the tear in your eye
Been tempted by his lie
He’s the knife in your back, he’s rage
By no means would I call Mötley Crüe saints but there is a difference between their actions and the problems that they saw surrounding them at this time. While Mötley Crüe caused some damage in their near endless quest for a good time, what they were responding to was the consumption of wealth and power at the expense of anyone.
But in the seasons of wither
We’ll stand and deliver
Be strong and laugh and
Shout! Shout! Shout!
There is nothing more deflating and defeating than laughing in the face of someone trying to be intimidating. It immediately kicks the legs out of the one trying to hold the power and transfers some of it. By no means is this a knockout, but it can be the beginning of a turn.
Throughout the album, Mötley Crüe sings about all the obstacles thrown in the way of their shouting. Women in “Looks that Kill” and “Too Young to Fall in Love”, money grabbing agents in “Bastard”, even those who cast a shadow over the LA and Hollywood region years earlier that was still being felt during the recording of this record in their cover of “Helter Skelter”.
Concepts and themes aside, it’s an album that is a mix of everything happening in rock and metal in 1983 but not enough of any one subgenre to be classified within. There are elements of thrash metal, but as Metallica’s first album “Kill ’em All” came out the same year, thrash wasn’t yet a thing. Bands like Poison solidified what glam metal is but that was still a couple years away. This version of Mötley Crüe could have taken their music in either direction. If the two biggest songs of the next album were harder songs and not a ballad and a cover then Shout at the Devil might be seen as one of heavy metal’s early influences.
For me, I see the album as a great one to play on a road trip. Shout at the Devil was THE song on Guitar Hero and the streaming fret from the game reminds me of an empty country route road on a beautiful day. Where we can shout and scream and drive all day.