Life Gets You Dirty (SPV)
by Scott Hefflon
“He’s huge in Japan!” Claims to “fame” like that usually spell loser, but in this case, perhaps them rock’n’rorrers are onta what we haven’t yet figgured out (well, not all of us). Michael Monroe rules, even if ya gotta take some of his Hanoi Rocks catalog with a grain of salt (and a few shots of tequila). I’ll quote a little history (backwards, so y’all’ll stay with me): This is Michael Monroe’s third solo record (if this is released in the states, it’ll be the second, the other being 19-fuckin’-89’s Not Fakin’ It, and last year the Finnish pretty boy (man, actually – the guy’s looking like a slightly-aged Ziggy Bowie, which ain’t bad seeing as the fucker ran with Johnny Thunders and Dead Boy Stiv Bators and pre-dated – and was iconized by – L.A. glamsters like Axl, Slash, and any other fop sober enough to remember music that existed before AquaNet killed their braincells and the ozone) helped out Backyard Babies (used in the same sentence as Hellacopters, but with more melody and less gonzo soloing) on a few of Total 13’s tracks (esp. the bonus “Rocker” which follows a cover of Fast Pussycat’s “Babylon” with The Wildheart’s Ginger kickin’ in some vox), and prior to that, worked with ex-Billy Idol guitarist Steve Steven in a band called Demolition 23, G’N’R (Use Your Illusion and Spaghetti Incident), and shit, a whole lotta others who do and don’t deserve mention. Point being the SOB’s been workin’ since Not Fakin’ It, and just cuz neither I nor anyone else I know really noticed, Mike’s done his thing and his new record, Life Gets You Dirty, shows a wizened, tightened, crafty Monroe. To put it not-so-gently, the guy’s learned to hit a lot more right notes, often a perk in a singer, and his songcraft has always been rock’n’roll’s essence (aka borderline cheese, but usually pulling it off so yer usually laughing with him when self-conscious, or rockin’ out and not realizing that yer belting out trite rebel slogans with conviction). Why “the masses” (from what I hear, I don’t hang with their crowd) still fawn over the aging bad-boys of Aerosmith and their formulaic three-song rewrites and criminally few even know who Michael Monroe fuckin’ is, hell, I’ve never understood.
Simply put, despite being a pretty motherfucker, Michael Monroe still plays trashy, sexy bluesy rock’n’roll the way it was pre-glam (what, you thought they invented it? Most of those chumps could barely rip each other off well!), and Life Gets You Dirty is rock’n’roll without copping a feel from “new rock” like Buckcherry, New American Shame, or any of the harder Motörhead-via-AC/DC bands (who I usually like for vastly different reasons), and without sounding archaic. At least I don’t think it sounds poorly-aged, and this is my goddamn review… I admittedly have a soft-spot for the first Crüe (and Dr. Feelgood) and various other semi-glamfag embarrassments, but songwriting is songwriting, and believing in a certain slab of sleaze is the Great Divide between rock and schlock. (Poison = pop songwriting that’s pretty yet with little heart, guts or soul and early Aerosmith = the wounded stagger after being thrown down a flight of stairs by your girlfriend for coming home absolutely plowed with lipstick on your cheek and so wasted you can’t even come up with a decent excuse – see the difference, kids?)
K, enuff z’nuff… Life Gets You Dirty tastes of well-flavored cheese, salty blood on your knuckles, and whisky thrown in yer face cuz some uptight ’00 chick doesn’t like to be called a chick… That and more. If you think Mike’s an aging has-been or never-was trying to make a comeback like so many of his “peers,” well, fuck you.