Released: 2009, Chronicle Books
Neil Zlozower is one of the most well known, Rock/Metal photographers of the past four decades. He has shot them all. Even if you don’t pay attention to those types of details, and you even opened a Rock/Metal magazine since 1980 have seen his work. MOTLEY CRUE: A VISUAL HISTORY 1983-2005 is one of his five books to date.
Chronicle Books has done a very nice job putting together this hard cover, coffee table book. Under the dust jacket there is a really nice, glossy embossed cover featuring an upside pentagram, just like the original cover of SHOUT AT THE DEVIL. I t is a nice touch. MOTLEY CRUE runs 232 pages on nice glossy paper and loads of colour. There are also some extra, short essays or commentaries from the various people connected to the band (ex-managers and so on) and the band themselves. Their participation gives the book a bit more legitimacy and literary weight than just a collection of photos. My favourite section was the official ‘bloody’ photo shoot from about 1984 when Nikki was going through his ‘I want to be Blackie Lawless’ phase. This is understandable because Lawless and Sixx used to be in a band together and Blackie taught Nikki everything he knew about shock rock. Judging from the amount of blood in the photo shoot, I’d say Nikki took those lessons to heart and it reminds us of how ‘Metal’ they once were, how frightening and dangerous a band they truly were before the pink scarves and polka dot spandex pants came out of Vince’s girlfriends closet. I used to have some of those posters of Nikki with the bloody knife on my wall at home when I was a kid so it was especially good to see lots of shots from that photo-shoot from the SHOUT AT THE DEVIL era. The 250+ photos are served up chronologically and Zlozower did not get his reputation by taking bad photos; all of them are great shots, some live, some staged, some candid.
One the negative side there could be more coverage of all eras of the Crue. I don’t think there were any photos of ex-members John Corabi, Randy Castillo or Samantha Maloney. The subtitle says 1983-2005 but really the vast majority of photos are from the ‘glory’ age of 1983-1990. If you wanted to be a cynic or critic, there is not much substance to this book; it’s a big, pretty picture book and a pretty big band (that is big and pretty) but they say a picture is worth a thousand words.
Oddly enough I bought this book on January 9th, 2014, the day Motley Crue announced they were retiring. My quite favourable review may be slightly tinted by a hint of nostalgia and sadness knowing that the king-clowns of LA sleaze, dirt-bag, party-Metal will no longer be making new records, and that is our loss. This book takes on even more sentimental value to me now and you may want to grab a copy too.