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Neil, Vince - 1993 Exposed

ARTIST: Neil, Vince
ALBUM: Exposed
LABEL: Warner Bros
SERIAL: 9 45260-2
YEAR: 1993
CD REISSUE: 1997, Warner Bros (Japan), WPCR-1175 * 2001, Teichiku (Japan), TECI-20052


LINEUP: Vince Neil - vocals * Steve Stevens - guitars, bass * Dave Marshall - guitars * Vik Foxx - drums and percussion * Robbie Crane - bass * Robbie Buchanan - keyboards * Timothy B Schmidt, Donna McDaniel, Christina Nichols - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Look In Her Eyes * 02 Sister Of Pain * 03 Can't Have Your Cake * 04 Fine, Fine Wine * 05 The Edge * 06 Can't Change Me * 07 Set Me Free * 08 Living Is A Luxury * 09 You're Invited (But Your Friend Can't Come) * 10 Getting' Hard * 11 Forever


Vince Neil's career and life in general has been a helter skelter (!) of extreme highs and lows. His involvement in the destiny of Razzle from Hanoi Rocks and the loss of his young daughter are two episodes that I would imagine he would swap all the highs in a single breath. Vince Neil was never awash with natural talent, but he certainly is an individual with drive and ambition and making the best out of what you are blessed with. Personally I have always followed his career, starting off way back in 1983, when I can still remember the night before planning a record buyer journey to pick up Motley Crue's ' Shout At The Devil' and Y&T's excellent 'Mean Streak'. A point in my life that signified to me walking over the threshold and being serious about rock music, previously to that it was the usual, Saxon, Iron Maiden and Gillan, but that Monday afternoon was a point in my life that I have never looked back on. Why is it, that vocalists seem to be so quick to jump or be pushed from a major selling rock band? David Lee Roth, Bruce Dickinson, then only to return years later, tail between their legs , even though all three can be credited with a moderate measure of success. So this was Vince Neil's shot at freedom, was it good? Yes, did he manage to do better with subsequent releases, then no. In short this album had most bases covered, for instance a film soundtrack number, a cover version, ballad and a couple of songs that would fill anyone's bright, glittery socks, being the explosive 'The Edge' and the divine 'Living Is A Luxury'. The only problem was, I don't think anyone firstly believed he was capable and if he was a success I don't think it was the fashion to admit it, but I will, and hopefully open this album to more ears and not to be lost, and by the way, I nearly let it slip me by after forgetting how good some of tracks where.

The group itself, I say that in the broadest of terms, maybe musicians is a better description (maybe an accusation without credence, as they toured heavily as a unit), is a mix of experience and new (rather than old). Famous from his stint with Billy Idol, we have the larger than life Steve Stevens, Vik (please note, not Vikki) Foxx on drums, obviously had enough of trying to make ends meet with natural talent, at Enuff Znuff and went for corporate talent (who can blame him), plus two unknowns to me at least, Robbie Crane (who went on to have a long tenure with Ratt) and Dave Marshall who had straddled his time with Fiona before and Slaughter after, plus a tight bunch of writers, Phil Soussan (he's worth a shot in the dark, surely), and the duo of Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw, and the ball point pen was always given of course to Steve Stevens at critical times. So the songs, what are they like? Well at this point of my working, I realise I had spent so much time analysing the group, cover, the idea and forgetting about the songs, I could go on and be clever and say 'so did Vince!', but fortunately I am glad to say that's not the case, so after more scribbling and listening I got to grips with the album, so here goes.

The Songs
'Look In Her Eyes' is a mighty way to start, all the typical Vinceism and Crueism are present, a marriage of 'Wild Side' and 'Kick Start My Heart' perhaps?. A blitzkrieg fire guitar riff, the thrill, the kill, the atomic space invaders infecting the solo, it's all there, no disguise, no surprise its infectious strains meant this really should had gone viral.

Playing this blind you could have sworn that 'Sister Of Pain' was lifted from any of the previous two Crue albums, although it doesn't mean it is excellent, because I'll admit it's a song that I am a bit up and down on. Nothing essentially wrong, in fact the pre-chorus is golden, it just has a pretty bland chorus, which if I was too be highly critical something that its writers own groups, Night Ranger and Damn Yankees could also be guilty off at points on previous and present effects. It is saved by some nice keyboards rattling and with a climbing guitar solo that would finally have the clap-o-meter pointer moving up the scale.

Culinary skills are to the fore with 'Can't Have Your Cake' and 'Fine Fine Wine'. Ok consider the first course, take a sniff, a taste, well it can be best summarised as something like much of the lower end of the NWOBHM, of 'eads down see you at the end', which may be overly critical of NWOBHM, but the style displayed here is more too do with what can be found on any LA Strip album from this time and earlier, to put it in real time context and genre. Ok, this style is prevalent and thoroughly enjoyed by many, but it's never going to be discussed in depth during an Arts program discussing life changing genres of music. The liquid accompaniment (would call it an aperitif but it's in the wrong order) is probably on offer at your local supermarket, or maybe appearing on a poor Kiss album, because the lyrical content here would have made Gene Simmons feel this being in the class of Charles Dickens, while really it's just a to z standard of a child's Janet and John book. Chorus is ridiculous catchy, that's the point.. it's ridiculous. Again very much standard fare for the time and place I'm afraid, but that's not to say there was no market for this kind of stuff. It's harmless, it's still playable.

So, as Barclay James Harvest would say, here is the 'Turn Of The Tide'. We start innocently enough with some spanish guitar and soon building towards the magnificent 'The Edge'. This is the type of song that Vince was born for, punching the rock punch bag into submission. This still stands up to today, an element of AOR in the chorus, plus red hot (!)melodic nonsense, add some classical guitar and strings to the mid-point, here we are talking high grade Warrant. I'll skip onto the other tour de force being 'Living Is A Luxury' which none to my surprise (or yours either) has a Billy Idol feel, this opens new horizons for Vince musically. It is a high grade butcher of a song, it moves from a more darker Motley Crue (an avenue they went down a year later of course) to a more, even Westcoast duration during the verses. It still manages to swallow up the guitar hysterics of Stevens (up there with Vinnie Vincent in terms of reaching the outer reaches of the guitar universe), just the fine melodic phasing of the verses of 'if you turn around' like a smooth operator in the shadows, with a Humphrey Bogart mac and hat.

Vince's latest release was 'Tattoos And Tequila' which got critically accessed by Dangerzone in these hallowed pages, I avoided this album, because to me covers album (like acoustic) are a bit like my drinking habits, the first two are great, I'm happy, I'm relaxed, lets add a wine (or a cover of a ballad), still ok, maybe getting a bit jaded at the edges, but anymore then I'm in trouble. Swaying, food cravings, head ache in the morning, so being just that bit older, I tend to stop before I get into trouble, so whole cover albums, I never make it to the daylight. So has Vince ever recorded a cover song that is worthy, well I can quote two instances, one can be found here, with The Sweet's 'Set Me Free', this has seen more action(!) on my player than Def Leppard's attempt at producing anything so sweet! At this moment I'll break off for competition time, what has Def Leppard, The Sweet and Steve Stevens got in common? Answer at the end of this article. Back to the action (ha! Ha!), this is a great version, it sounds fresh and a worthy tribute to one of the most misunderstood and underrated British bands. Taking a sideways step, I have a promo copy of Vince's follow up, the very difficult 'Carved In Stone', a track not included on that album but only on the promo is Chicago's '25 or 6 to 4', and it's worth tracking down to listen to that, yes it's a great track anyway, but I'll wager that Vince outshines any tunes here than on the Tatt's album.

Probably the most remembered track from this was 'You're Invited (But Your Friend Can't Come)' and not because I have probably been in the position of the 'friend' numerous times, but because it was spawned from that classic piece of American film history being 'California Man', seriously I like that film, but with this track and the excellent T-Ride it was worth it for the music. This song, it's not serious but fun, so why doesn't Motley Crue perform this live, instead of the awful 'Same Ol Situation'; just try it Mr Sixx, it's just so well suited. So you can see what farm it came out of, because really anyone like Damn Yankees or Night Ranger but definitely not Styx, could have recorded it. Does it sound a tad dated, yes probably, but so are my shirts.

I noticed when I pulled out the 12 inch picture disc (?2.99 from David's bookshop, Letchworth, still a fine establishment, where I brought the Riggs album) from my shelves that it was dated 1992, so like the chicken and egg, what came first, the song or the album, which also mentions that not only Blades and Shaw played on the song, but fellow Yankees and current Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer, Michael Cartellone.

Of course we have the ballad in the shape of 'Can't Change Me' not as cheesy as 'Home Sweet Home' but not as good as 'You'll All I Need' or even 'Without You', it occasionally exceeds the normal speed limit for such songs, and crosses into 70's The Faces at some points.

The album closers with what in cricketing terms could be classed as a king pair (i.e. out for zero with the first ball in both innings, please check out Wisdom for more explanations). 'Getting Hard' is far too ordinary and one of those tracks that seem to be used as fillers on more than one of Crue albums over the years. Much the same can be said for 'Forever', again a semi- ballad, acoustic playing, but maybe with the added orchestral makes it into a credible song and it scrambles a run, in true Monty Panesar style.

In Summary
Overall a surprising consistent album which is hardly mentioned. What is questionable is how much Vince had a hand in all the songs, I don't know, bearing in mind his input previously with the songwriting with Crue was very minimal, maybe I am doing him a disservice, as Sixx always took a large influence although in recent years I feel that Sixx has kept all the good songs for his Sixx Am project. Vince finally returned to the brotherhood in 1997, and spent the next 15 years with Crue who seemed to release more compilations and live albums than studio works. Touring like many so bands seem to be the big earner, and followers seem to just be interested in past memories rather than making new ones. Crue are not alone in this merry go round, look at Kiss, Def Leppard, Aerosmith, all to varying degrees, so be thankful we still have Rush. Yes I understand that many people will see this has a hopeless case and favour the 1994 self-titled Motley Crue which saw the introduction of John Corabi, but really treat both album's individually, it was obvious Neil was far happier peddling what he knew best while the other guys were looking to stretch themselves, so looking back the listener got the best of both worlds, whether they wanted it or not. This album has no torn edges, is a make-up artist dream, look at the back cover, image and looks are an essential element to this. I didn't even recognize Vince, so he either spent ages on the treadmill or was he airbrushed, exposed? More like covered up. OK, earlier I posed a question and as time is nearly up and while the buzzer sounds, I have started so I will finish. The answer to the connection of Steve Stevens and Def Leppard is that at one time or another they both covered The Sweet's , 'Action', with it appearing on Steve Stevens Atomic Playboys, hardly taxing I agree. That leaves me so say well done Vince you have scored 7 great tracks and 4 passes.

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#1 | AOR Lee on March 30 2013 05:10:27
Entertaining and informative as usual Chris, well written piece. Loved the BJH reference too! Remember selling quite a few copies of this while working at Rhythm City cd store at Greenacres (Port Elizabeth). Vince may have a limited vocal range but still managed to produce a strong record here
#2 | gdazegod on March 30 2013 06:00:36
I'm interested.. purely from the Steve Stevens point of view..
#3 | reyno-roxx on March 30 2013 14:38:53
This was a good album. The follow up not so because Vince was swayed by so many other influences (musical and otherwise) by then.
#4 | spawn71 on March 30 2013 16:28:31
I still love this record, especially for the excellent guitar work of mr. Steve Stevens! This is probably one of the last, great examples of 'Hair Metal' from the Golden Age, but the timing was clearly wrong: in 1993 the grunge trend was everywhere!

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