Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy, aka the Joyful Gadfly! Musician, podcaster, writer, historian ... here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album is unique in some way. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Vince Neil ~ Exposed

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: hard rock
Label: Beyond Records
Year: 1993
Home: Los Angeles, California

Members: Vince Neil ~ vocals
Steve Stevens ~ guitars/bass
Vik Foxx ~ drums


Guitarist Steve Stevens of Billy Idol & Atomic Playground should be an immediately recognizable name in the legions of guitar slingers ... should is the key word. If Exposed was his debut solo album ... he would be, undoubtedly. Sadly, it's former Motley Crue frontman VN's first solo album & all the focus lands in the wrong place & the album ends up sinking when it should ride the waves & shine in the sun. It may have VN's name on it, but with Stevens on all but drums & layering powerful guitars over guitars, amazingly intricate riffs & rhythms that he composed & not VN, this is essentially a Steve Stevens solo album with VN as guest vocalist, as any simple listen will show. Anyone could have been the vocalist of the moment for this outing, as the vocals are almost lost in the mix & there's no non-cliche 80's lyrical message worth hearing more than casually. It's no dig into VN's voice, as if one likes his sound & style there's no not liking this, but it's like vocals on a Satriani or Malmsteen album - that's not what you're there to hear. But, here, being a VN solo album you're supposed to be listening to the vocals & there's nothing there & the boat sinks. It also doesn't help matters that the songs themselves are basically all cliche 80's L.A. hair metal trying to imitate Motley Crue with hopeless abandon. The glimmers of something different are too few as Stevens doesn't strong enough material to work off of, though when he flies he challenges any guitarist out there. At the time people might have said check out the guitarist on VN's new album, but as time progressed it's the name on the cover that attracts new listeners ... or doesn't, while whispers of who else is on the album are lost to time. It doesn't help the fact that Billy Idol isn't a name that brings attention & Atomic Playground is another lost band. Upon its release it got some modest attention because of VN's reputation, obviously. In the long run few are are going to want to dig into his solo career so the gold in the mine, aka Steve Stevens, isn't getting found like it should be. The essential problem is one that plagues many solo albums - we all expected something better from VN other than an imitation of the band he'd just been dismissed from. We turn to an artist's solo career for a new offering, a different offering, to see a new side of their personality, a contrasting side of their personality. It's always interesting to hear how much musicians change when they go solo & in turn one gets a feeling of how much they contributed to their band. Exposed only exposes the fact that VN seems to have no other side to show. It takes the ears a few tracks into the album to get beyond VN & pick up on Stevens amazing guitar prowess & that's when the album flies home, though at the same time the disappointment sets in that the best VN has done is rely on someone else, which he did in Motley Crue via Nikki Sixx's songwriting. If VN's name wasn't on the project it could have risen so much farther & we'd have another great guitarist to add to the popular arsenal ... even given the fact that it hit the shelves during the 90's alt rock revolution. For a show of the greatness the tracks "The Edge", "Can't Change Me" & "Set Me Free" show off Stevens guitar playing to the max with intricate spanish guitar openings that lead into some heavy shredding & rhythmic prowess out of the Satriani/Vai school. "Living Is A Luxory" goes a step further with a complete jazz solo. They are the true hits of the record & show just how weak a character VN is in his own project ... which is probably why they come in the middle of the album when many folks have already determined whether they like an album or not. There's a lot of hair metal bands that would love to produce a guitar album like this. But, then there's VN's foolish idea to end the album with an anti-climactic & unnecessary take of the Ramones' three chord "I Wanna Be Sedated" which knocks the air out of the album & is far below Stevens, almost like VN has to end the album on the note that we're supposed to be listening to him if we'd forgotten. This solo album, the first of three studio albums & a live album, followed VN's dismissal from Motley Crue following the tour for their masterpiece Dr. Feelgood. When the band's follow-up without VN failed to bring continued success VN rejoined & his solo career was essentially over. When he went to record a second solo album Stevens was absent & in his place electronica beats. It's not a bad follow-up, though incredibly different & his dreams of a magical solo career essentially dead. As for Stevens ... go look up his work with Billy Idol & his own project Atomic Playground cause this is a guitarist who needs to be rediscovered & not be another Motley Crue casualty.



5 comments:

  1. wow Aaron...been quite sometime since i have heard this album...VN is VN...and he does have a trademark voice..i give him credit for that...plus great musicians to back the play of the songs....thanx for sharing your review

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  2. Thanks my man, Charlie Z (of the great metal band the Militants, previously reviewed here!)

    Yeah, I'm sure it has a been a long time since you listened to Vince's Exposed. That's the problem because this album deserves more listening time! I LOVE Motley Crue & I love Vince's voice (when I saw them in concert I was crying to "Home Sweet Home") ... but hearing Stevens behind him blasting away & being wow'd by him just spun the perspective all haywire for me. It's ashame. Thanks for reading.

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  3. Vince Neil is Vince Neil. I couldn't have said it better.

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  4. And Stevens is Stevens...and it's a damn shame he never really received his credit due back then. Vince told him to "do whatever he wanted to" on this project - and it shows! A wonderful diverse showcase of his talent.

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    1. I saw just yesterday on FB he's going back into the studio with Billy Idol. But, here's two folks nobody is paying attention to. Sadly.

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