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ENTERTAINMENT OR DEATH: Through the years with Motley Crue

I can’t remember when I was first introduced to the music of Motley Crue. I believe it was during the tail end of the “Shout At The Devil” years because that was the first cassette that I ever bought. It was the image that pulled me in. I remember picking up a magazine and seeing a picture of Nikki Sixx wearing a pentagram necklace. When I finally found a store that sold ’em, I picked one up for myself and so many people got bent out of shape because they thought I was possessed by the devil. For the record, it was all those people who tried to save the soul that introduced me to the concept of death, hell, and Satan. These people knew more about the devil than Motley Crue did. These were the same people who told me that you can hear satanic messages when you play your records backward. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? After that whole experience, I welcomed the rock ‘n’ roll attitude into my life with open arms. With the music of Motley Crue to keep me company, I began my education in rebellion and, as Nikki Sixx once said, “I mastered the art of being a bastard!” Now, I’ve been writing about rock ‘n’ roll music for about nine years now. But, I never had the pleasure of writing about Motley Crue. So, I decided to take a trip down memory lane in order to write this article. So, for what it’s worth, take a walk with me as we go through the years with Motley Crue.


TOO FAST FOR LOVE

This is the album of Motley Crue’s youth and it’s a release that can never be duplicated. No matter how hard they try, Motley Crue will never be able to capture this vibe again. It’s got that “magic” that you always hear people talking about. It’s loud, rude, aggressive, in your face, take no prisoners rock ‘n’ roll with a punk attitude and a slight taste for the brighter side of pop music. As soon as “Live Wire” kicks in, you know you’re about to hear something special. This was a release that went for the throat from the word go. Even when they pulled back a bit to give you a little breathing room with tunes like “Merry Go Round,” “Starry Eyes” and “On With The Show,” the music doesn’t lose that raw edge. Twenty years later and “Too Fast For Love” still holds up rather well…even without the bonus tracks on the re-release.


SHOUT AT THE DEVIL

This is, without a doubt, the strongest album the band has ever done. The title track, complete with “In The Begining,” is a classic that will forever stand the test of time. One has to wonder why people were so worried about what the band might be saying when you play this record backward. I believe they were pretty forward with their message, especially with songs like “Bastard” and “Ten Seconds To Love” on the album. Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll…that’s what it was all about. I’m sure some of you were amazed that Mick Mars could pull off an instrumental like “God Bless The Children Of The Beast” in the middle of an album like “Shout At The Devil.” We can’t forget about “Looks That Kill” or “Too Young To Fall In Love,” especially since both tunes got the video treatment. While I enjoy the bulk of what Motley Crue gave to the world of music, “Shout At The Devil” remains my favorite album. They didn’t simply carry the torch for rock ‘n’ roll with this release. They set the world on fire with it.


THEATRE OF PAIN

After those first two albums, I’m sure this release came as quite a shock to people, especially since they went over the top with the whole glam image. When it came to the music, I thought they delivered another fine album. Maybe it wasn’t as heavy as their previous material. But, I don’t think they lost sight of what they were. “Louder Than Hell,” which is my favorite track on the album, could’ve worked on “Shout At The Devil.” “Save Our Souls” and “Tonight (We Need A Lover)” had a heavy feel to them. I thought “Use It Or Lose It” could’ve been compared to “Bastard.” “Keep Your Eye On The Money” was a cool song and you can’t forget about their version of “Smokin’ In The Boys Room.” But, we all know it was “Home Sweet Home” that made this album. In the age of the rock ‘n’ roll ballad, Motley Crue came up with a winner. The demo version of “Home Sweet Home” was included on the re-release and, for me, it just didn’t cut it. Actually, I thought the album held up rather well without the five bonus tracks. But, it’s always better to get more for your money.


GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS

When Motley Crue decided to stop wearing mommy’s stuff, they went with a street look with this release, which was a good idea because it fit the whole vibe of the album. Motley Crue went back to the gutter and it was all about sleaze once again. “Wild Side” was the “Live Wire” on this release and the rest of the album, well, it’s pretty much all about sex in one form or another. The title track is obvious. “Bad Boy Boogie” was about getting laid on tour,” “All In The Name Of” is about sex with young women, and “Sumthin’ For Nuthin'” is about sex with a much older woman. “You’re All I Need” is a love song about obsession and murder…and where there’s love, there’s sex. Okay, maybe I’m stretching that one a bit. “Nona” was the tender moment on the album and “Jailhouse Rock” was interesting because it was done live and I remember Nikki saying something about never doing anything live. Yeah…and Metallica said they would never do a video. All in all, this was another fine release in the Motley Crue collection and the re-release was worth picking up for the unreleased track, “Rodeo.”


DR. FEELGOOD

This was a rather interesting album and it would finally bring Motley Crue the respect they deserve. The title track, much like the rest of the album, kicks ass, plain and simple. “She Goes Down” was, in my opinion, the best sex song they ever recorded. There was a double flashback to the “Theatre Of Pain” album here. “Time For Change” was the song with a message, much like “Fight For Your Rights” and, since they had a winner with “Home Sweet Home,” I think “Without You” was an attempt to see if lighting could strike the same place twice. “Kickstart My Heart” was the tune they wanted to kick you in the balls with and “Same Ol’ Situation” was the sex tune they could make a video for since “She Goes Down” was way too suggestive even if they performed it live. Lesbian love is okay but a blow job is out of the question…go figure. Many people consider this to be the best album the band has ever done. It’s an exceptional release, I won’t argue with that. But, “Shout At The Devil” still does it for me.


DECADE OF DECADENCE

What can be said about this release…it’s a fifteen-song celebration of what Motley Crue was all about. I could have lived without the remixed version of “Live Wire,” “Piece Of Your Action” and “Home Sweet Home.” When you remix a good song and you try to make it better, it comes off sounding like a second-rate copy. The magic is in the original tunes and that’s where it will forever remain. The main reason to purchase this release was for “Teaser,” “Rock ‘N’ Roll Junkie,” “Primal Scream,” “Angela,” which happens to be a very cool song, and “Anarchy In The U.K.” The live version of “Kickstart My Heart” was also a worthy addition to this collection.


MOTLEY CRUE

This album was shit, plain and simple. The only reason I own a copy of this release is because it was given to me by someone else who thought it was a piece of shit. I heard “Hooligan’s Holiday” on the radio and I thought it was a cool song. When I heard the rest of the album, I was totally disappointed. It was horrible. I have nothing against John Corabi. I just don’t think his vocal style was right for Motley Crue. This came off about as well as the Extreme version of Van Halen, which blew more than the wind. I gave this album a chance. I tried to listen to it a number of times because I figured it might grown on me, kinda like Poison’s “Native Tongue,” which I couldn’t stomach at first. Well, here we are, eight years later and I still can’t listen to this release. I throw it in every now and then to listen to “Hooligan’s Holiday.” But, that’s about all I can stand. I think the biggest mistake the band made was releasing this as a Motley Crue album. If it was released under a different name, it might have done something. But, as a Motley Crue record, all it did was earn a one way ticket to the “this is the shit we can’t sell” bin. This was Motley Crue trying to be something they weren’t. You know that old saying…the bigger they are, the harder they fall….well, they fell hard with this release.


EXPOSED

This, of course, was the debut solo release by Vince Neil and it was everything I expected it to be. This is what Motley Crue should have done after “Dr. Feelgood.” It was a good rock ‘n’ roll album with a nice variety of material to sink your teeth into. “Sister Of Pain” and “Your Invited (But Your Friend Can’t Come)” were the best of the bunch. I also think working with Steve Stevens brought a lot of creative energy to this project. You’ve gotta admit, his style is a lot different than Mick Mars and I think that difference brought out something else in Vince Neil. Yes, there was life after Motley Crue and Billy Idol.


CARVED IN STONE

One good album does not make a solo career and the second solo release from Vince Neil proved that. This release was a total disappointment. The only stand-out track on the album was “Skylar’s Song,” which was about his daughter. It’s a beautiful song and it’s the only reason why I still own a copy of this release. I thought “Breakin’ In The Gun” was rather cool to a certain degree. But, everything after that pretty much sounded the same. I have no idea what Vince was trying to do here. Whatever it was, it didn’t work.


GENERATION SWINE

It was only a matter of time before Vince Neil and Motley Crue became one again and this was the end result. I have mixed emotions about this album. In my opinion, it’s a very confusing release. “Find Myself” was a nasty return to all that is sleazy about Motley Crue. But, with the rest of the album, you really have to sort through it track by track because each song brought something new to the table. The title track and “Anybody Out There” seemed to seem to dwell in the punk area. “Afraid” is one of the better tunes on this disc and “Beauty” has a nice groove to it. “Brandon” gave us another side of Tommy Lee and it was a rather cool little tune. Some of the lyrics could’ve been a bit stronger though. “Shout At The Devil ’97” was horrible. They tried to rework a classic and they came up short.


LIVE: ENTERTAINMENT OR DEATH

A double live album with a total of twenty-one songs. There’s nothing special on this album…meaning songs that you wouldn’t expect or additional studio tracks…no John Corabi material to be found here either, which is cool. This is the original Motley Crue the way we expect them to be…loud, rude, and aggressive. They cover most of their musical history here, from the first album right up to “Decade Of Decadence.” It’s a worthy addition to your Motley Crue collection and that’s all there is to it.


SUPERSONIC AND DEMONIC RELICS

An interesting release. Not exactly something that was well thought out though. All the songs that made “Decade Of Decadence” worth picking up are featured here once again. Tunes from the “Quaternary” album are featured here as well, which is a release I never bothered to pick up due to my disgust with the “Motley Crue” album. The one decent song they did with John Corabi, “Hooligan’s Holiday,” was turned into an industrial piece of garbage by Skinny Puppy. The reason to purchase this disc is for “Sinners & Saints,” “Say Yeah,” “So Good, So Bad” and “Mood Ring.” I’m quite sure that Motley Crue could’ve given us a better rarities album than this one. They have to have a wealth of material that no one has ever heard before, give us some of that stuff. How about a live album with John Corabi…that would be interesting to hear. The bottom line…it’s pretty much an album for the die-hard fan who will shell out more money because it’s a Motley Crue release that they don’t have. Honestly, if I would have heard this album before I bought it, I would have held off for a bit…at least long enough to find it at a much cheaper price.


NEW TATTOO

After a lot of garbage, it seemed like Motley Crue was ready to go back to what they did best…rock ‘n’ roll. I thought some of the lyrics were rather weak, especially “Porno Star” and “1st Band On The Moon.” The better material was stuff like “Hell On High Heels,” “Treat Me Like The Dog I Am,” “She Needs Rock ‘N’ Roll” and “Punched In The Teeth By Love.” The late Randy Castillo was a fantastic drummer. If there’s any doubt in your mind about that, check out Ozzy Osbourne’s “Live And Loud” video. That was, in my opinion, his ultimate performance. As far as being a member of Motley Crue, I thought he did a good job on the album. But, Motley Crue is a band that needs the original lineup in order to amount to anything. I mean, come on, you knew it wasn’t Tommy Lee who was sitting behind the drum kit on this release. Motley Crue will always be Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil, Tommy Lee, and Mick Mars. If you remove any of them from the big picture, it’s just not gonna work. If you wanna go off and do solo material, that’s a good thing. I’ll buy those albums. But, when it comes to a Motley Crue record, if it’s not the original lineup, it’s gonna be less than what you expect it to be. It’s as simple as that.


INDULGENCE, INC.

I thought I would end this article by mentioning this release. It’s a tribute album that was released in 1999 on Dwell Records. Needulhed does a rather cool version of “Wild Side” and Tuuli does their take on “Girls, Girls, Girls.” These two tracks alone make this album worth checking out. Revlon Red does a version of “Stick To Your Guns,” which is a rare treat and Rewind does an excellent version of “Dr. Feelgood.” The “Theatre Of Pain” album is completely ignored here, which was a major disappointment. But, when it comes to a tribute album, well, they’re never really complete, are they? There was contact information for all the bands featured on this release, which is something a lot of tribute albums seem to lack these days. This is a cool release that every Motley Crue fan should have in their collection. There’s a lot more to Motley Crue than what I covered in this article. The stuff that was ignored was left out because I haven’t added it to my collection yet and, in all honesty, I’m in no hurry to pick it up. When it comes to the music of Motley Crue, I have enough to feed my addiction and that’s good enough for me. I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who, even after all this time, are discovering Motley Crue for the very first time and I hope this article will encourage you to take a ride on the wild side and pick up a few of these albums.

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