A few of my favorite albums from back in the day are having anniversaries this year.
Let’s start with the Vince Neil release, Exposed. As a massive Motley Crue fan, let’s say that I wasn’t impressed with the ousting of Vince Neil. For some reason, I always took Vince’s story as the source of truth.
Back in 1992, it was hard to get current information. So I hear that Vince was fired from Motley, and next I am seeing his Exposed album in Utopia in April 1993. Without question I purchased it, took it home and put it on the CD player. Before I pressed play, I took out the booklet and I see that Phil Soussan is credited with writing quite a few songs. This got me even more interested.
For those that don’t know, Phil Soussan was responsible for writing Shot In The Dark when he was in Ozzy’s band. Shot In The Dark appeared on the Ultimate Sin album, released in a time where Hard Rock and Metal was starting to hit its commercial peak. To give some back story to Shot In The Dark, Soussan had this song written years before he joined Ozzy’s band. It was inspired by the Pink Panther movies. Ozzy loved the lyrics, but wanted Soussan to make the song darker, while trying to keep with the original idea.
Then Jake E. Lee left the band. Soussan and his best friend Randy Castillo (RIP) who was also the drummer in Ozzy’s band, started to hold auditions to find a new guitarist, while Ozzy went out to promote the Tribute album. That is where a young Zachary Weilandt came into the picture based on a recommendation from Mark Weiss (this is the guy who photographs everything to do with rock n roll). That is how Zakk Wylde was born.
Phil Soussan was just another talented musician and songwriter that had to leave a band he wanted to be in because of business disagreements with Sharon Osbourne regarding future publishing arrangements. I am sure Jake E. Lee was also forced out in this way.
To get back on track, I am a fan of Phil Soussan. So I find out that many of the songs that he had written for Ozzy’s next album, ended up on Exposed.
I then find out that it was Soussan that was responsible for putting together the Vince Neil band. The original band line up was Vince Neil on vocals, Phil Soussan on bass, Adrian Vandenberg (from Whitesnake) on guitar, Vik Foxx (Enuff Z’Nuff) on drums and Robbie Crane on guitar.
Soussan and Neil also put the Warner Bros deal together along with Vince’s manager Bruce Bird who passed away in 1993.
Then it all went sour when Steve Stevens (Billy Idol and Atomic Playboys) was asked to replace Vandenberg. Stevens already had a personal issue with not having written the songs and it looks like Stevens held a grudge against Soussan for working with Billy Idol, who was Stevens former employer. So all hell broke loose after the death of Bruce Bird.
Soussan started to be on the outer, especially when Stevens wanted to play bass and eventually Soussan had no option but to leave again. Imagine his dismay, when his manager showed him a draft sleeve of the album where Stevens had tried to put his name as the songwriter and remove Phil Soussan’s credit from his own songs. Songs that Soussan wrote all the original demos and titles from back in the Ozzy days.
The matter was addressed and legally resolved, in favor of Soussan. So much drama and the album hasn’t even come out. Isn’t that just the nature of Rock N Roll.
Look in Her Eyes is the opener and it is listed as being written by Vince Neil, Steve Stevens and Phil Soussan. Other songs written by this combination are The Edge, Gettin’ Hard and Forever.
Look In Her Eyes is a classic. The intro riff has that Euro Metal vibe, the verse has that Dr Feelgood vibe and the Chorus is melodic and catchy as hell. You can hear that Phil wrote this song with Ozzy’s style in mind. Steven Stevens contribution to this song, was to make the lead break a centerpiece and it goes for well over a minute and a half.
An ocean of temptation
With every drop of wine
Shadows meeting face to face
The tentacles entwine
One look from the jezebel
Now you see the wanderer
Frozen in the corridors of time
For some reason I love the way that second verse is written. Maybe it is the Medusa reference, done in such a rock n roll way. That is why the song has that big epic classic rock feel. Men are creatures of temptation, from the Garden of Eden to now.
The Edge is another uptempo riff fest of a song. From its flamenco intro, to its pedal point driven verses and its climbing arpeggio choruses. This song is a dead set classic. It reminds me of Red Hot from the Crue for some reason. It reminds of Deep Purple. It reminds me of Scorpions. The lead break is pure class, breaking down into the acoustic flamenco passages again, before building up again, with the orchestra strings in tow into a wah shred fest of a lead break.
There is no tomorrow i live my life today
Luck is my religion to the lady i will pray
I fail to see the black in every tinsel town
They can try and take my pride
But they can never take my crown
Listen to the phrasing of the vocal line. It’s done the same way Ozzy sings. It was meant for Ozzy. Of course Vince has a totally different voice, so it sounds unique. It’s totally different to what Vince did in Motley. Living your life on the edge of time, is what the song is saying.
Fine, Fine Wine is written by Vince Neil and Phil Soussan. This song would fit perfectly on Dr Feelgood. It is classic Motley Crue. The lyrics, the riffs, the sex and the sleaze. Vince is in his element here.
Baby’s long and tall man she’s got it all she’s alright
Hips have got a sway shakin’ it my way it alright
Full bodied curves with her legs she serves oh yeah
Lips that say it all turn and hear her call oh yeah
Ain’t no cheap and nasty liquor dripping down her vine
Taste of golden honey sweet as candy money
Bottle it up and make her mine
Give me a taste of your fine fine wine
The bass line just rolls the song along, keeping it low and dirty. Steven Stevens delivers another great solo on this song. Even though he was a dick to Soussan, he still played his arse off on this album.
Sister of Pain and You’re Invited (But Your Friend Can’t Come) was written by the Vince Neil, Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw combination. It is steeped in the blues hard rock vibe that Damn Yankees brought back to the charts. The same blues hard rock vibe made famous by Free, Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, Ted Nugent and many others. Again both songs would not be out-of-place on a Motley Crue album.
Can’t Change Me is a Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw composition, very similar to Damn Yankees, the super group project they had with Ted Nugent.
Can’t Have Your Cake and Living Is A Luxury is written by Vince Neil and Steve Stevens. I don’t really rate these two songs.
Finally there was a Sweet cover in Set Me Free, that is written by Andrew Scott.
The album was produced by Ron Nevison. That is why it has that AOR feel, very radio friendly, arena rock feel and the performances are top-notch.
Ron was coming off multi platinum success with Heart, Survivor, Bad English, Europe and Ozzy’s The Ultimate Sin. Actually Ron played a part in getting Phil Soussan to depart, as he started to support Steve Stevens in the decision-making.
1993 was a year of big change in the music business. Vince Neil delivered an album that didn’t get the promotion it deserved. The only way I could have purchased the album was from Utopia Records, which was a hard rock/heavy metal record store. Utopia records is located in the Sydney CBD and back then they where on Clarence Street. I had to take a 90 minute train ride from my country town to the Sydney CBD.
The usual major stores back then didn’t even stock it. Makes it hard to compete if the fans can’t find it. It can be found today, by everyone.