Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Appreciation: Motley Crue, "Too Fast for Love"

I plan to share brief impressions of some of my favorite metal albums. It's tough to find a place to start, but something propelled me to begin with Motley Crue's "Too Fast for Love." Not because it's a very early album or because it really started anything new, but I think it's an important album in sonic terms.

What I love most about it is how raw the recording is. The guitar is especially prominent in the mix, and it basically sounds like a mic in front of a Marshall. Nothing fancy, but very direct, balls to the wall. Recordings ever since the mid-90s have been trying to get farther and farther into the amplifier. Guitars sound more electronic or even digital now than they used to, like it's not a real thing but just a simulation.

With "Too Fast for Love," you get guitar -- right in the face. They made an important decision to not overdub the rhythm guitar tracks during the guitar solos, which means that the solos stick out that much more. And Mick Mars' solos are so emotionally powerful and melodically pure that they deserve the extra emphasis. (The music journalist Chuck Klostermann once observed that Dokken guitarist George Lynch was great, but he couldn't remember any of Lynch's solos; I don't think anyone would have that problem with the guitar solos on "Too Fast for Love).

And it's not just the guitar that has a full, raw, in-your-face sound. It's the same with the drums. Tommy Lee's playing, though not fantastic, is pure rock and has a great, raw sound. The ride cymbal sounds great, and, let's face it, you gotta love the cowbell. ("I got a fever, and the only prescription is MORE COWBELL").

I also love fact that the songs have almost no space between them. One song ends and the next starts after a millisecond pause. They must have had so little money that they couldn't afford the extra tape....

My favorite song on it is "Starry Eyes." All the "ballads" are particularly strong and memorable, but "Starry Eyes" takes it to the next level. That opening guitar chord is so rich and puzzling, I'm just blown away. And the guitar solos are so awesome. It's not how many notes you can squeeze in, but how much you can squeeze out of each note. And these solos are downright moving.

So while I'm not suggesting "Too Fast for Love" is the greatest metal album of all time or anything, I believe it is the album with perhaps the greatest metal purity. It sounds like you're in the garage listening to them play. So when you find yourself listening to new albums that all sound too full, too polished, and too bland, this album is a great antidote.

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