Review Summary: An example of better living through chemistry.
Sometime in the 80s, I was a wide-eyed optimist – a kid in a candy store at any record-selling establishment. My ‘music collection’ consisted of about five TDK cassettes filled with radio hits, maybe an Ozzy and AC/DC album which I would sneak onto my parent’s decaying stereo. Being in a flashy mall record store like Listening Booth or Sam Goody was the highlight of my month. After thumbing through every record and cassette in the rock sections, some long-haired dude with red pants and a dangly feather earring took notice of me and asked if he could help me find something. I told him I wanted something heavy, really liked a lot of the metal stuff I was hearing lately. Like an all-knowing sage, he dutifully flipped to a section I had already checked twice and put an LP in my hand. “Buy this. It sounds like a cross between Black Sabbath and Black Flag!
” Those magic words released the iron-like grasp I had on the rumpled $10 bill in my pocket, and he went back to stocking Duran Duran records while I went to the food court to find my parents.
The record was Mötley Crüe – Too Fast For Love.
That’s right – this was the 80s, and good advice was hard to find.
Maybe in a perfect world he would have reached for this iconic black-and-white cover, if you look at it hard enough, move it around (having consumed the right substances), there’s an optical illusion that the kids are actually jumping rope. Considering it was the band’s first recording in a fancy Sausalito CA studio with future Mudhoney slacker Matt Lukin on bass, GPT was a fully developed sonic document, Buzzo’s roaring, quivering low-end and Dale Crover’s visceral crashes already mind-numbingly heavy for any period. Most of the songs are under the 3-minute mark, typically consisting of a wounded, string-flapping eruption that the band massages for a couple of minutes while Buzzo recites draconian verses that could be about the apocalypse, or his cat.
There’s no attempt at hooks or snappy verses, exercises like the groaning “Bitten into Sympathy” taking the dirge-art of Black Flag’s “Damaged I”, Flipper’s “Earthworm” and splicing it with Iommi’s foundation-shaking low end. It doesn’t all move at sloth-speed, some of the faster numbers like “Flex with You” and the mesmerizing title track show off the formidable talents of a young Dale Crover. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the nightmarish squalls of “Heaviness of the Load”, essentially the same melody as “Happy Birthday” played at a crippled staggering pace, Buzzo booming “Take the right to unleash!” as those fuzzy harmonics kill brain cells. The band still opens up shows with “Eyeflys”, a sort of slo-building national anthem for the art of noise they would help perfect with 107 more records over the coming years.
Still a challenging listen for the uninitiated, but seeing the band perform these tracks live - particularly Buzzo wrestling subsonic single-note drones into 10-minute performance art – goes a long way to help understand the appeal of this beautifully ugly record. Soon, they’d hardly be able to hear themselves above the clatter of the clone-bands.
Of course, it’s no “Too Fast for Love”, but that goes without saying.