Motley Crue had a lot riding on their 2008 reunion album, Saints of Los Angeles, and they kicked things off on a high note with its raucous, anthemic title track.
Saints of Los Angeles marked the first album to feature the original Motley lineup — singer Vince Neil, guitarist Mick Mars, bassist Nikki Sixx and Drummer Tommy Lee — since 1997’s Generation Swine, and the first one they had started recording together since 1989’s chart-topping Dr. Feelgood. (They began working on Generation Swine with Neil’s replacement, John Corabi, before giving him the boot and launching their first reunion.)
The album is loosely inspired by the glam metal veterans’ scandalous 2001 memoir The Dirt, chronicling Motley Crue’s journey from hard-rocking gutter rats to world-conquering rock stars, with plenty of professional pitfalls and personal hang-ups along the way. The title track revisits a pivotal moment in Motley Crue’s career: when they agreed to their first contract.
“The ‘Saints of Los Angeles’ is about us signing our record deal with Elektra,” Mars told Ultimate Guitar in 2008, “and it’s kinda like, the words, ‘It doesn’t matter what you say / I’m gonna do it anyway.'”
Watch Motley Crue’s Video for ‘Saints of Los Angeles’
The Elektra partnership soured as the band’s album sales dwindled in the ’90s, and the label eventually agreed to give the band back their catalog masters when their contract expired in 1998. Motley Crue released all subsequent albums, including Saints of Los Angeles, on their own Motley Records.
Given its subject matter, “Saints of Los Angeles” has an appropriately retro feel. The original “gang vocal” version opens with Neil reciting the Lord’s Prayer, then explodes into a choppy, percussive riff reminiscent of the group’s 1987 hit “Wild Side.”
Neil spins a debauched yarn about hazy nights in a “two-room slum” and prowling the Sunset Strip, where there’s “girls passed out, naked in the back lounge” of the Troubadour nightclub and “everybody’s gonna score.” Propelled by Lee’s monstrous drum fills, the song climaxes with an epic solo from Mars that carries over into the song’s final, arena-sized chorus.
Released on April 11, 2008, “Saints of Los Angeles” peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance, though it lost to the Mars Volta’s “Wax Simulacra.” The track marked a return to form for Motley Crue after the lukewarmly received New Tattoo, and the patron saints of sleaze once again rewarded the faith of their devout fans.
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