"A full-scale solo stormer: a 90s grunge record made by a marauding horde of evil mutants": Mick Mars has made a would-be classic with The Other Side Of Mars

Former Mötley Crüe man Mick Mars' debut solo album The Other Side Of Mars is as dangerous as a black mamba in your pants

Mick Mars - The Other Side Of Mars cover art
(Image: © 1313 LLC)

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Ex-Mötley Crüe guitarist Mick Mars says the title of his album refers to the two sides of his playing style: the Mötley side and the Mars side. Which begs the question: why have we waited so damn long to hear the Mars side? Unencumbered by the Crüe's kooky cabaret, the man born Robert Alan Deal has magicked up a full-scale solo stormer: a 90s grunge record made by a marauding horde of evil mutants.

One suspected Mick was up to something special when he released a teaser, Loyal To The Lie, on Halloween last year. It sounded vicious, vituperative, vengeful. The accompanying video resembled a Hammer Horror film directed by a serial killer, Mick lunging out scarily from the screen: be-cloaked, cadaverous, white-faced, skin like parchment. A YouTube comment hit the nail squarely on the head: "Mars just beat the Crüe's output over the last several decades with one song."

So to the album proper. Ten supercharged tracks, each – apart from makeweight instrumental LA Noir – a classic in the making, Highlights are Right Side Of Wrong, a venomous headbanger full of brooding menace, and bolstered by a sneering-but-melodious chorus à la Alice In Chains. Ain't Going Back Again, with its clanking, industrial vibe and creepy robotic vocals. Memories, a bleak, piano-led ballad. 

There's more: The senses-shattering Broken On The Inside, a powerful and poignant reminder of the guitarist's spine-fusing bone disease ankylosing spondylitis. More poignancy in the lyrics of the apocalyptic Ready To Roll: "Time is running out... Hey, yeah, I can feel it." (The 72-year-old Mars has admitted he spends a lot of time thinking about his own death.) The emotion-charged Alone, a bittersweet reflection on an enforced departure from the Crüe: "Never thought that things would ever be this way, but it's all over now." 

Michael Wagener's production boggles the mind as well as the ears. We've come full circle here, as the sonic Kaiser mixed the Crüe's debut album Too Fast For Love. The vocals, mostly by relative unknown Jacob Bunton (he also sang in former GN'R drummer Steven Adler's band), are full of tortured passion. And of course Mars's riffage is as dangerous as a black mamba in your boxer shorts. What's not to love?

To end on a parental advisory note (and to paraphrase Sir Elton of John): The Other Side Of Mars ain't the kind of album to play to your kids. In fact it's cold as hell.

Geoff Barton

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.