Sin Is Good 

Mötley Crüe has built a 24-year career on it. And cover band Crucial Crüe is hot on its heels.

"Sin is good, sin is great, sin is back!" screams the banner headline on Mötley Crüe's official Web site. And so echoes the battle cry of die-hard fans everywhere, quickly snatching up tickets for the band's much anticipated reunion tour, "Red, White and Crüe 2005 ... Better Live than Dead," which makes its pit stop at the Oakland Arena this Saturday. Miraculously, all four original members -- Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, and Tommy Lee -- are still alive and kicking like the bad boys of their reputation, after 24 years of recording, breaking up, making up, and occasional incarceration. Since going their separate ways in 1999, reportedly precipitated by contentious relations between Neil and Lee, the Crüe has agreed to bite the bullet and get back to business for a fifty-date tour on the heels of its greatest hits release, also titled Red, White and Crüe, which includes three new tracks. "If I Die Tomorrow," the first single off the album, has already climbed into the top five on rock radio, giving hope to Crüeheads everywhere that maybe it's a sign of things to come, a restoration of the kings of raunch to their high throne between the strippers' pole and the beer tap.

All teasing aside (that goes for the hair, too), the Los Angeles-based quartet may still be badass in the music department but they are, after all, older, wiser and, according to reason, a tad less inebriated. Therefore, the Red, White and Crüe show has exchanged some of the band's trademark production elements for a little Fellini-style theatrics. The publicity promises fire-breathing midgets, aerial displays, assorted circus freaks, and contortionists that aim to bend your mind -- while of course keeping it suitable for all ages. Walking the line between dubious and respectable is a tricky endeavor, one that the band seems to be attempting with appearances both on Howard Stern and at the New York Stock Exchange in the same week. Inside this blizzard of buzz, it's as if the Crüe is having its own retro moment. Perhaps younger fans experiencing MC for the first time will find the music just as relevant today as the heshers of the '80s and '90s did. Then again, when has hedonism ever been out of fashion?

Just ask local cover band Crucial Crüe, which apparently hits just the right notes with its tongue-in-cheek look and uncanny sound. Cofounder and drummer Jason Eldredge says, "It's not an impersonation as much as a celebration of the band and the music." Oh, all right. He attributes the original Crüe's success to "the combination of great melodies with a pure raw sexual energy and a well-executed theatrical stage show." That's a combination many have tried to master but few have captured quite as well.

Perhaps the days of omnipotent rock gods roaming the earth are over, but you don't have to wait forever to get your nostalgia on. Catch a ride on the reunion tour, or check out the Crucial Crüe from 6 to 8 p.m. in the arena parking lot. For more info on Crucial Crüe, e-mail BayAreaTributes@yahoo.com

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