Publisher: Regan Books / Harper Collins
For me, it went like this. I’m a younger generation than those who were there when Mötley Crüe made their name. My first acquaintance with the Crüe, aside of the obvious home video, was the debut Methods Of Mayhem album, a single off which I heard on a compilation CD accompanying an issue of Metal Hammer. The first proper Mötley release I heard was “Generation Swine”. You might already assume that I didn’t instantly become a fan. I’m not that big of a fan even today, when I know all there is to know about them, not least thanks to this particular volume. Much of what they’ve done doesn’t impress me at all, though the other part easily “Kickstarts My Heart”. To make matters even more complicated, in my opinion, their best was published on “New Tattoo” and “Saints of Los Angeles”.
I’m a weird animal anyway.
Over two decades since this book’s original publication, I found it a flea market section of Belgrade book fair. I got it at a bargain price. First edition, hard cover, dust jacket and all, not in a bad condition. Best of all, the person selling it tried to convince me to buy it by claiming it was an extremely comprehensive and widely grasping history of whiskey. Well, it does have a wink at Jack Daniel’s on the cover. And I guess there could be a section in some illustrated tome on whiskey dedicated to Mötley Crüe. If any band did their fair share to promote it, it would be them.
So, I bought it. Having seen the movie first, I must say, the book is better. Not that much of a surprise, right? However, the book is not all that good either.
First of all, this is a book about a musical entity. Sure, the entity in question is responsible for some of the most prolific scandals, misdemeanors and acts of pure stupidity known to rock ‘n’ roll, but still a musical entity. But they are not treated as such. Clear intention was to spill all the dirt out in the open. Music, in this case, serves as not much more than a thin veil that barely holds all the tabloid worthy material together.
All the albums, hits, tours, feats of creative genius, they all get honorable mentions while the tales of sex, drugs, alcohol, with all their natural consequences, have the lead. A much-needed balance was lost at the very beginning and no effort was made to restore it. Even at a point where the band is young and focus is usually on their long hard road to success. Judging by the storyline of “The Dirt”, for Mötley Crüe it happened in the background, while they were binging on whatever addiction was besieging them at the time.
Thus, the book turns into a never-ending cascade of scandalous behaviour. However, it’s not all that bad. There’s actually much to learn from the Mötley Crüe experience. Looking at it from a different perspective, they’ve done it all and emerged victorious from a very deadly escapade. The members hold nothing back, but give out in plenty of lessons. It’s like a summary, because every band biography brings a portion of delinquency, but this one gathers it all between its covers.
Against all odds, the boys display quite a good memory of events of the past. But what surprises the most is that, as real grownups, the Crüe are no strangers to reflection and deliberation of the reasons for their behaviour. Naturally, it all comes in retrospect, for there are very few situations in which any of them show an ounce of aforethought. Basically, the psychology behind these words is the biggest asset of “The Dirt”. You get to learn how these bigger-than-life rock stars deal with life. With addiction, romance, anger, resentment, death, incarceration… You name it, they’ve been through it. And even more importantly, they’ve gotten through somehow, leaving a trace in this here biography with possible solution to all who read it.
With all that mentioned, one can somehow swallow the fact that there’s hardly any music business in the book or that it mostly consists of tabloid worthy stories. Still, there are further positives to “The Dirt”. Nicely done layout, of course, with a whole lot of pictures, is something that is a must to any serious (auto)biography. But there’s also a paragraph opening each chapter, which tends to be a funny “editorial remark” on the episode to come. Real gems are to be found within those.
In the “acknowledgements” portion of the book, there’s talk of a sequel. Given that this “volume one” encapsulates the first two decades of Mötley Crüe, and there’s been more than that since this book saw the light of day, I have every reason to believe “number two” is close to completion. “The Dirt” will compel me to read the next part, that’s for sure. And not just because it would be weird not to follow the story to its completion, but because I’m also a grownup and feel I could benefit from further knowledge on overcoming some of the harshest realities of life.