GODDAMN! Thats Glam!
Vince Neil - Exposed (1993), #13 Billboard Album Chart
Vince Neil - Lead and backing vocals
Steve Stevens - all guitars & Bass
Vikki Foxx - Drums
Writers: Vince Neil, Steve Stevens (Billy Idol), Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees), Tommy Shaw (Styx, Damn Yankees), Phil Soussan (Ozzy Osbourne)
Producer: Rod Nevison (Ozzy Osbourne, Damn Yankees, KISS, Heart among others)
I have been tossing around ideas in my head to start a blog that is focused on music for quite some time. I took a brief stab at it last year writing three articles for the Place To Be Nation (placetobe.com) on various artists such as Taylor Swift, Whitesnake and Guns N Roses under the title "Vivid Technicolor Radio", but then I was finding it hard to make time to keep writing. Well, COVID-19 sure has given me plenty of time. About two months ago, I started a spreadsheet of all the major hard rock and heavy metal albums of the Golden Age of 1978-1991 (Van Halen I to Nirvana's Nevermind). I have amassed a list of 350 albums that I want to give a listen and have been using a random number generator to keep me on my toes. I could not decide what I wanted to do with the project whether it would be for my own amusement or if I would start writing about music. Then last night, I threw on one of my all-time favorites, Vince Neil's solo endeavor, Exposed and I was like GODDAMN! That's Glam! :p So I knew I needed to write and specifically I need to write about under-the-radar, obscure glam/hair/sleaze/pop metal that has been lost to the sands of time.
Funnily enough this blog (ridingspacemountain.blogspot.com) started as a music blog as I counted down the Top 31 Glam Metal albums of all time during the Rocktober of 2011. I never finished and I really should revise the list. I 100% knew about this album and how badass it is and somehow I didnt list it. Also, I didnt put Tigertailz's Bezerk or Babylon AD's Eponymous debut on the list, but I did put cult classic Vain's No Respect on so it was not bashful about choosing oddball picks. Vince Neil's Exposed definitely would make my Top 31 glam metal albums of all time.
So some background, the shit hit the fan really hard in 1991-1992 for the heavy metal scene. Now on one hand, you have the rise of grunge with the big four Seattle band, but on the other you had a ton of massive breakups. Motley Crue, Guns N Roses, Poison, and Whitesnake all had major personnel problems that led them to not producing albums after 1991 either at all or without key members. In the case of Motley Crue, it was that the temperamental Vince Neil had gotten too big for his britches and decided to fly solo. Motley Crue would record one album with John Corabi in 1994, which I have never heard. I am a huge Cruehead and I could never bring myself to listen it even though it has gotten rave reviews so I really should listen to it. However, the story of Vince Neil going solo is only half the story.
You see the real key to this album being so shockingly amazing is that it was also a solo album for guitarist, Steve Stevens. Stevens was the guitarist for Billy Idol and was stuck playing pop punk/new wave dance guitar and he did a phenomenal job at that, but it is not necessarily a genre you can just go balls out and shred. Steve Stevens absolutely lets it fucking rip on this album. This is just one long extended 52 minute orgasm on guitar. If you love 80s metal-style guitar, you need to listen to this album pronto. There are a ton of guitar tracks on each song and all of sudden when you least expect it another one will come out of nowhere and kick you in the ass. The production and arrangement of every song is impeccable and it is all owed to Stevens. Go listen to the single version of Youre Invited, But Your Friend Cant Come and then go listen to the album version. It is night and day. The album version smokes the single version. The difference is that Stevens was not in the band when the promotional single was released and he insisted it be re-recorded with him for the album. Every blistering solo leaves your face totally melted. Every riff is a monster (Look In Her Eyes, Living Is A Luxury) and wicked catchy (Fine, Fine Wine & Edge). This is a guitar album through and through. It may say Vince Neil - Exposed on the marquee, but it should read Steve Stevens - Shreds.
There are two reasons this album reminds me of Ozzy Osbourne album. Every good Ozzy album is really a guitar album. Randy, Jake E and Zakk are all monsters on the axe and Ozzy really lets them shine. Typically when a solo album is released the solo artist is way too high up in the mix. A lot of guitarist solo albums, the singer and vocals are afterthoughts buried in the mix. When a singer goes out on his own more often than not he wants to front and center and the guitar gets buried in the mix. Ozzy & Sharon were both smart enough to understand the music landscape of the 80s and that the guitar was king so it was mixed equitably. This album is also mixed equitably. The vocals and guitar coalesce and work together to make the song great. It is song-oriented production rather than instrument-oriented. The other reason it reminds me of an Ozzy album because Steve Stevens is giving Zakk Wylde a run for his money on guitar. This sounds like the follow-up to No More Tears. It is not all hooks, there are some serious chops and it is a similar shred style on display here. This brings me to my last overarching point about this album is that this a significant departure from Motley Crue.
To the layperson, the sound of this album and a Motley Crue album and pretty much any 80s heavy metal album is probably indistinguishable. To someone who lives and breather glam/hair/sleaze/pop metal, this sounds radically different. The songs are way longer and way more complex. I love Mick Mars; he is one of my favorite guitarists and is the highlight of seeing Motley Crue live. He is simple, but he is so raw, nasty, dirty, noisy and trashy. Mars is not there is compete with Van Halen, he is there to capture sleaze aesthetic of the 80s Sunset Strip. So when I say the songs are more complex thats not a diss but just an observation. The music found on Vince Neil's album is closer to Scorpions or Ozzy Osbourne than it is with Motley Crue's mixture of Sweet, Sex Pistols and Aerosmith. Coincidentally, Vince Neil does cover a Sweet song ("Set Me Free", that harmonized solo is fucking amazing and the best one on the album of a ton of great solos), which is so badass and love that he pays homage to one of his key influences. That's the thing that really made Motley Crue so unique is they actually are a GLAM metal in the truest sense of the word in that the band members (besides maybe Mick) really loved 70s glam rock. This albums strips away the glam and just leaves a real metal sheen that is more similar to Van Halen, Scorpions or Ozzy Osbourne.
I will leave you with some commentary on the individual songs. "Look In Her Eyes" is such an insane song. It sounds like a maelstrom of sex & violence, the choppy riff, the Aldo Nova part, the blaring lead. Vince Neil sounds really inspired on this album. He is more full-throated here compared to when he was shrieking like a banshee on Shout At The Devil. He keeps up well with the complexity of Stevens, which is is surprising because these are not simple vocal melodies. He is being asked to sing through the music rather than with it. I currently have the song in my ear and the way Neil is singing it reminds me a lot of Dio. It is a very cool song and it is a real statement song. We are here to rock your balls off, melt your face and we are NOT Motley Fucking Crue. The solo in this song is a tornado of notes and effects that you just have to listen to appreciate.
Skipping over "Sister of Pain" it has never done much for me, we go to another single "Cant Have Your Cake". I love how speedy this song is. It is typical metal riff, but it is one of those riffs you just love to rock out to. Stevens throws in a ton of fills and lead tracks from out of nowhere to keep you interested. Vince Neil does a great job on vocals. He is fun and you enjoy listening to him. Here's my one complaint on this album is that chorus are way too fucking long. "Cant Have Your Cake And Eat It Too" or the more painful "Youre Invited, But Your Friend Cant Come", who is chanting that? Nikki would have murdered him for having such bad choruses. All the songs sound really fun or badass, but the choruses are lacking. They do a great job making the choruses feel big and Vince is multi-tracked and harmonized well, but the words are so lame that it robs the song of some of its exuberance.
I love "Fine, Fine Wine" that riff is just so good. I love how Vince launches into the song full force. The lyrics about describing each part of this woman's anatomy being a total knock out is great. I also think this is their best chorus. It is the most glammy, it short, sweet and sexual. The solo is so fucking awesome and comes back to multi-tracked Vince with no music singing the chorus. The arrangements on this album are so killer. This is a really strong glam metal album cut.
I really enjoy the ballad "You Cant Change Me" you can tell Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw had their hands on this one because this is right in their wheelhouse. It is fun and you really want to sing along with it. This is not one of those heavy power ballads about love lost. It is a song of defiance and independence. "You Cant Change Me" absolutely crushes the banal, trite power ballad at the end, "Forever".
There are two songs on this album that Motley Crue and no 80s heavy metal band would ever play those are "Edge" and "Living Is A Luxury". These are the songs that really make this album stand out more than a really, really great party album. On the "Edge", Steve Steven goes fucking crazy, there are Spanish Guitars, classical guitar, a MONSTER riff then this wild lead that plays over the riff. Vince sings this song about "glory" and "demons" which he would never sing in Crue. There are so many crazy fills and guitar tracks. The solo is insane it goes from beautiful Flamenco guitars to blistering solo because Steve Stevens is a genius. "Living Is A Luxury" is also a wild song it sort of this fun, jazzy, dare I say Broadway number. I actually think this could be Vince Neil's best vocal performance since Theatre of Pain. He actually had to show some emotion and create a character with a little bit of sass on this song. The loud-soft dynamics are great and the addition of the horns in the middle song are exactly perfect for that part. The softness of the verses where Neil is allowed to shine and explain how dangerous it is out there and then they kick it in with big metal riff is great. The solo is my second favorite after the one on "Set Me Free" as it sounds like a harmonized Megadeth solo from the Rust In Peace era.
There is a lot of reasons why this album is forgotten and why it should have sucked. It came out in 1993 and was already outdated and passe. It is the solo album by the second most famous member of Motley Crue. It is Vince Neil who is a drunk asshole and seems like he is about as dumb as a fucking rock. This album should have been a disaster, but instead it is fucking amazing. Vince gives a great performance on every single song, really putting his all into it and also working with some really challenging material. The real reason this album is a wild success is because of Steve Stevens. He did an excellent job arranging the music and really providing some unique sounds. Ultimately, this was a chance for Stevens to go balls to the wall and he delivers with a guitar-album that just smokes. If you love 1980s metal, you owe it to yourself to give this album a spin, you wont regret it.