Never a Dull Moment
Can you separate an artist’s personal life from their work? That question was on my mind when I loaded Never a Dull Moment into my CD player. Sure, every entertainer deserves their privacy, but some of them practically scream out for attention. And aren’t all artistic works a product of an individual’s inner private self? Conversely, don’t these works deserved to be judged based on their own merit, not filtered through the tabloid lens? I thought about all of that as I sat down to listen to the newest effort from Tommy Lee.
Longtime drummer Tommy Lee branches out to guitar and vocals for this album, to mixed results. The opening track, “Afterglow,” tries too hard to be hard. The music sounds disjointed, as if the rhythm line was never really integrated with the melody. The next track and first single, “Hold Me Down,” seems forced, as if someone had been listening to the popular alternative radio stations these days, and decided, “I’m going to write a hit song.” It sounds like any number of generic, bland radio-ready singles that you would hear from Nickleback or Creed these days. All in all, this is not a promising way to begin an album.
Things improve with “Fame 02,” an interestingly re-mixed update/cover of David Bowie’s hit. Lee shows some creative insight here, keeping Bowie’s vocals while mixing in his own, in something that will probably never get airplay. “Body Architects” gets a nice groove early on and keeps you interested with a nice hook, until middle of the song is weighed down with chants of “Who rocks the party? We rock the party!” Things rock hard with “Face To Face” and don’t let up. Would that more tracks were like this. “People So Strange” sounds like Smashmouth crossed with Saliva. I liked it, but it is a obvious example of Tommy’s limited vocal range.
The Enhanced CD features the video for “Hold Me Down,” which adds to my previous thought that they were looking for a “hit” with this single. It’s very stylized and MTV friendly, but lacking any real depth. (Yes, I realize that MTV friendly and lacking any real depth are redundant.) Also included is a video of interview snippets with Tommy, inter-cut with clips from the recording studio. While Tommy says some interesting stuff, I would have liked to see a single sit-down interview rather than the rapid-fire cutting that was used. Still, it looks like they were having fun recording this album.
In the end, I found that I was, in fact, considering Tommy Lee’s personal life when I reviewed this CD, but I was influenced in the opposite direction than I thought I would be. I had assumed I would listen to this and say, “I could really enjoy this if I wasn’t thinking about all of the family and legal trouble Tommy has had.” Instead, I was thinking, “You know, this isn’t bad, considering everything Tommy has been through. I mean, if this were anyone else I didn’t know anything about, I would probably think this album was a lame, disjointed mess. As it is, I think he did the best he could with the shape he is in. At least he has something that keeps him out of trouble.” Unfortunately, there are dull moments in Never a Dull Moment, but there are also exciting, bright moments. It is, at best, a mixed bag. It seems like sometimes they didn’t really cut loose enough, perhaps in an attempt to get airplay. Maybe next time, Tommy. Give it a listen before you decide whether or not to buy it. Tommy Lee is on tour throughout the summer.
Tommy Lee: http://www.joysmayhem.com