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Classic Rock Album Of The Week Club Review: Motley Crue - Shout At The Devil

Motley Crue’s second album, their platinum-selling breakthrough, was an all-out attack on America’s self-appointed moral majority

Motley Crue - Shout At The Devil

In The Beginning
Shout At The Devil
Looks That Kill
Bastard
God Bless The Children Of The Beast
Helter Skelter
Red Hot
Too Young To Fall In Love
Knock 'Em Dead, Kid
Ten Seconds To Love
Danger

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With its faux-Satanic imagery, a mischievous warning of “masked backwards messages” and a knowingly controversial cover of The Beatles’ Helter Skelter (a song inextricably linked to the 1969 Manson Family murders), Shout At The Devil was one of the definitive ‘80s glam metal albums.

“The first metal album I bought was The Number Of The Beast, by Iron Maiden," says Jackass star Steve-O. "Listening to that album taught me that I was a metalhead. It was that simple. About a year later I got my first Mötley Crüe album, which was Shout At The Devil, and pretty quickly I caught on to what they were all about. They were so candid about ‘sleaze,’ as they called it — that celebration of sex, drugs and rock and roll. So at age eleven, Mötley Crüe taught me why I was a metalhead."

Listen to Shout At The Devil.

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Background

Formed in 1981, Motley Crue were kings of the Hollywood hair metal scene and relished all the perks that came with that title. With an inexhaustible supply of booze, drugs and chicks, they partied so hard throughout the 80s it’s a miracle they all survived. 

Album number two, Shout At The Devil was their breakthrough. Arriving in the midst of the ‘Satanic Panic’ gripping America, this glam metal opus caused considerable controversy thanks to its devilish title and its original cover, which featured a simple black-on-black pentagram.

"There was a pentagram on the cover and this chick singer," remembers Bowling For Soup's Jaret Reddick, typical of the fans pulled in by the band. "I don’t know what the hell was happening with who I would later come to know as Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee. And then there was Mick Mars, who was the scariest looking person I had ever seen in my life. And they were all on the cover of this album along with this pentagram and a load of fire.

"When I first heard the song Shout at the Devil, everything changed for me. Now I can analyse it as a musician and an older guy, but as a kid it was like punk and metal, and all of these things rolled into one, with all these cool lyrics about angst and the government and life. It absolutely blew my mind."

Other albums released in September 1983

  • Saga - Heads Or Tales
  • Dokken - Breaking Up Chains
  • Kiss - Lick It Up
  • Alice Cooper - DaDa
  • Michael Schenker Group - Built To Destroy
  • Diamond Head - Canturbury
  • Y&T - Mean Streak
  • The Joe Perry Project - Once a Rocker, Always a Rocker
  • 10CC - Windows In The Jungle
  • X - More Fun in the New World
  • Tom Waits - Swordfishtrombones

They said...

"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." (Rolling Stone)

"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 one 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" (Robert Christgau)

"Shout at the Devil displays Mötley Crüe's sleazy and notorious (yet quite entertaining) metal at its best. When compared to its predecessor, Too Fast for Love, one can see that the band's musical range certainly widened over the course of its first two albums; the record features catchy, hard-rocking songs, but also includes an instrumental (God Bless the Children of the Beast) and a powerful cover of the Beatles' Helter Skelter." (AllMusic)

You said...

Dave Howarth: "I was like 19-20 at the time. Seemed really dangerous. It is what it is. Dead basic but enjoyable. I think you had to be there. They were innocent times. It’s their best by a long shot . Truth be known we’d all like to do what they’ve done."

Maxwell Martello: "I absolutely love this heavy metal monster! In my book, it’s a 10/10, But... somebody HAS to tell it straight. A lot of the riffs on the record were not exactly genuine. Knock em Dead really is Judas Priest’s Grinder under the verse. 10 Seconds To Love really is Krokus’s Burning Bones. It’s unclear who came up with the riff to Looks that Kill. Is it the Crüe or is it Ratt (Tell the World)?

"Anyway, this record screams 1982/1983-era Sunset Strip proper metal. Favorite pick... undoubtedly the double bass speed metal attack of side 2 opener Red Hot. And watch out for Mick Mars’ Lambada-referencing lead guitar solo! Great stuff!

Jim Kanavy: "Looks That Kill was one of my favorite tunes in highschool. Such a chugging Rock song with a simple meat and potatoes riff and big background vocals that sounds like ragged ass drinkers joining in instead of the slick, polished Bon Jovi style vocals."

Chris Weir: "Not a big fan of this band, mostly because Vince Neil is such a dick. Can't stand him, or his non singing voice, but this album does rock, no denying that."

Steven Robinson: "Did we learn nothing from Kiss or any of the other shenanigans in the 1970s? No. Suckered again... It's a contrived, manufactured attempt to sell something that is both contrived and manufactured. And the money keeps rolling in." 

Iain Macaulay: "'When did Motley Crue become classic rock?’ said Bowling for Soup in their song 1985. A good question. Initially I would have said this is definitely off it’s time but with a certain naive charm, and quite a bit of style over substance. But, listening to it again tonight after a long time, it still seems to stand up. It’s certainly dated much better than Girls, which is rubbish, by being dirtier and rawer."

Neil Wilson: "SATD is Motley Crue's best ever, most consistent album of their long career! Every song is a winner, although most have ideas/riffs borrowed (cough cough) from other bands but they've done that since they started - listen to Live Wire (AC/DC's Let There Be Rock riff speed up!). Regardless, there's plenty of cool songs - Shout At The Devil, Looks That Kill, 10 Seconds To Love, Red Hot, Too Young To Fall In Love and new management, lots of $$$ spent on videos and Tom Werman's production - all combined to make it succeed. The rock/metal magazines of the time played their part in featuring the band constantly, to this day it's still Motley Crue's peak!"

John Edgar: "I'm a fan of a lot of 80s rock, but to me this album was a waste of vinyl. It's poorly produced and about as basic as Kiss/Kiss, but released far too many years later to be acceptable. I'm also NOT a fan of the singer. At the same time, I know it was popular, so it obviously resonated with someone. I was working at a music store when this was released. While a lot of 80s rock sold to a wide age range, this was pretty much selling to 14-16 year old boys."

Brian Seeley: "It's a great album! Motley Crue's first big step towards the big time. It's a hard, heavy, dark and aggressive album. So many great songs from start to finish. I can't think of one song I want to skip to go on to the next. To me it stands above most of the 80's glam metal albums."

Greg Pitts: "I did like this album. A lot. But I was 15 also. Now all these years later I still like to hear these songs. Is Vince a good singer. No. Not close. Is tommy drummer of the year. Nope. But of them all. Mick is way under rated. Way under rated."

Pete Mineau: "Not a fan of this album. It seems very derivative of other bands of it's time. This was the era of MTV, and it seems like more emphasis was put on cultivating a "look/image", with the sound and quality of the music taking a backseat for a lot of bands, Mötley Crüe included. After re-listening to Shout At The Devil today, I'd rate it 1.5 out of 5. Nothing I'd go out of my way to hear.

James Utvandraren: The songs themselves, especially Knock’em Dead Kid, Looks that Kill and 10 Seconds to Love are utterly unoriginal, and, in retrospect, not terribly well played, but they all fit like a glove on that album. The better songs – the appropriate anthem of my youth Too Young to Fall in Love, the ambiguously titled Shout at the Devil and the street tough glam metal-crooner Danger – were the soundtrack of the summer of 1984. It was an awesome year, loaded with so much different metal, as I was playing catchup all across the field, but Shout at the Devil was always close at hand in my Sony Walkman (carried in a shoulder strap, because… 1984). It was the full package. 

"Much like most self-respecting metal albums, Shout at the Devil also had an instrumental of sorts; the dissonant instrumental ditty God Bless the Children of the Beast. This particular one lead into the cover of Helter Skelter, which I had NO idea, back then, was originally recorded by The Beatles, and it quickly became a favourite. Songs like Bastard and Red Hot sparked my interest in drums and Tommy Lee became an early idol for me (until I got into King Diamond and learned what real metal drummers do when they drum). The production was powerful, with Mick Mars’s murky guitar riffs sounding raw and strong, riding on top of Nikki Sixx’s big booming bass. I never could make out Vince’s lyrics, but thank God (and the children of the beast), the sleeve had them printed so I could follow along. 

"Now, at the mature age of however the fuck old I am, I can look back at the rather silly Shout at the Devil with a fond smile, and shake my head at the follies and naivetes of youth, reflecting on all the things I learned along the way. How different I am today; so wise and balanced. How more refined I am, sitting here by my desk, sipping Merlot and enjoying Miles Davis spelling out Blue in Green. How I have grown…

"Nah, fuck that. I am going to go take my beige Chrysler Pacifica for a spin around my residential community, blast this fucking album at max level and holler obscenities at the soccer moms, throwing horns to the heavens. Shout at the devil, bitches!"

Lee Jackson: "This appealed to me as a kid. I’d just started out on the heavy metal path and this just ticked the boxes without even listening to it. Blacker than black cover, pentagrams and a sweary song title. Plus it’s a great album, not as good as the first but way better than the later outpourings."

Chris Herdman: "As I went through I started to find it a bit less engaging than when I started. While it's by no means outstanding, it's decent and kept me entertained enough throughout. I'm not bursting to listen again, or look up more Crüe albums, but I'd recommend it if someone asked about it, I think. 5/10."

Jim Kanavy: "Because of this thread I listened to it this morning and enjoyed the Hell out of it. It reminded me that you could pack a punch in a 35-40 minute album. I still don't know why the children of the beast were shouting at the Devil. Probably just for fun."

Guillaume Petetin: "I guess Crüe, like Kiss, is one of those things that you had to experience in a certain place at a certain time. I can imagine why it would strike a nerve, it has an sort of an edge on more innocuous hair "metal" of the era, but honestly this record combines just about everything I despise about 80s rock records : generic riffing, nondescript melodies and poor hooks, fast sloppy noodly solos, tiny tinny guitars, fake crowd choruses, a mediocre singer, drums that always seem a tad behind instead of driving, and sooo much misplaced reverb. 

"Also, I'm told there's a bass in there somewhere? I suppose they had a live energy that I can't for the life of me feel there, this sounds like studio tracks put together, not a band. It makes me fell like the production tried to be slick - and maybe it was sort of, at the time - but fails, when they should have aimed for rawness and urgency."

Jameel Nadour: "Complete garbage."

Johnathon Hoskins: "Not my favourite Crue album by any means. Way too much look at me and excess for the sake of excess. My vote goes out to Dr Feelgood where Bob Rock showed them how to write and produce proper songs. That's the only Crue album I can listen to from beginning to end. For the rest I'm going to stick to my greatest hits CD. Sorry guys I really can't weigh in on this one."

Lee Jones: "Mediocre. The attempts at shocking the listener seem very silly 35 years later. (Wow, dude there a song called 'Bastard'!) Good drumming though."

Robert Carty: "Wasn't really my thing but it was recommended by a friend so I got it. Found it to be basic, pedestrian and tedious. Sounds even worse 30+ years later."

Olav Martin Bjørnsen: "It is easy to understand why this album was the meteoric success it was back in the day. Many other bands at the time had similar qualities, many were better, but Mötley Crüe had the best manager and the band, the manager and their label all profited from that. It is an album that have faded badly with time though, and the at times horrible lead vocals most of all. Looks That Kill is still a gem though, and for those who encountered this album in their formative years this will no doubt still be a treasured production."

Ken Dunckley: "Shout At the Devil is a classic. Its Crue's overall strongest work that manages to find common ground among 70s glam rock, nascent thrash, Hair metal melodicism, and NWOBHM bombast. It is easy to take this record for granted considering how far short the Crue's subsequent albums were but for a brief period between David Lee Roth leaving Van Halen and Guns n Roses' debut, Motley were the most provocative hard rock outfit going."

Brian Hart: "This is the album that really turned me on to music. The Crue are who they are. It’s not rocket science but it rocks hard and they were at the forefront of introducing the 80s music movement. Shout is a very solid album. IMO, Red Hot and Too Young To Fall In Love are the stand out tracks. Tommy Lee’s drum sound is gigantic. It was loud and dangerous!"

Andre Luiz Oliveira: "I'll admit it: I've never been a huge Mötley Crüe fan. Not because I think they suck as a band, just because I've never took the time to REALLY listen to their albums (I know the hit songs, though). So, listening to Shout At The Devil on its entirety was, in a way, a brand new experience for me. And a pleasant one also."

Brian Carr: "Motley Crue is going to have a hard time coming up in a conversation about artistic merit. I look at them like a burger from McDonald’s: they’re cheap, probably bad for you & will make you fat, but are damned satisfying. Who says all music has to be meaningful high art?"  

Final Score: 6.85⁄10 (332 votes cast, with a total score of 2274)

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