JOHN CORABI – One Night in Nashville (2018 RatPak)
John Corabi needs no introduction in these pages. We have ranted and raved about the awesome 1994 Motley Crue album and the complimentary Quaternary EP. We’ve broken down the details of his departure from Motley Crue and the chaos that followed. We’ve also gone on record loving the Union project with Bruce Kulick. In short, John Corabi can’t really do much wrong in our books.
One Night in Nashville is John’s live run-through of the entire Motley Crue album with his ace band, including his son Ian on drums. Many of these songs have never been played live, and never in sequence like this. Veteran producer Michael Wagener ensured a kickass sound.
Ian Corabi has no problem duplicating Tommy Lee’s hard hitting style on opener “Power to the Music”. John’s voice is still more than capable of shredding these songs two decades later. His rasp and power have barely ebbed. Compare this to Motley Crue’s final live album The End and…actually, no don’t compare. Corabi buries The End.
As fellow rock reviewer Mr. Deke has stated, “Uncle Jack” is one of the most pounding tracks on this CD. It was a departure for Motley Crue, a deadly serious track, and John nails every scream. The guitarist also duplicates Mick Mars’ underrated solo, note for note. Yes, underrated. Mars is rarely given the credit he deserves for creating his own style, and thereby defining the sound of the Crue.
If you know the album then you know these songs; if you don’t then buckle the fuck up.
Through the single “Hooligan’s Holiday”, Corabi and Co. breath life into songs we only know from the album. “Everybody wants a piece of the pie” — at least in this Nashville crowd they do, soaking up every riff and blistering scream. Even the complicated “Misunderstood” burns it down. Guitars instead of keyboards, backing band instead of Glenn Hughes, and it’s full speed ahead. Once again the solo is note for note, but there’s a brand new outro where it once faded.
“Loveshine” is a bit of a respite, a nice little acoustic jam a-la Zeppelin III. These last two songs are so far above and beyond what Motley Crue were capable of when Vince Neil was in the band. Corabi opened up entire new soundscapes for them to explore, and “Loveshine” is cool on the psychedelic side. Back to the rock, “Poison Apples” is a tribute to glam rock and what Motley Crue are about. “Took a Greyhound bus down to Heartattack and Vine, with a fist full o’ dreams n’ dimes…” Of all the tracks on Motley Crue, “Poison Apples” was the closest to the original Motley sound, and John owns it.
This is where you’d flip sides on the original album, so it’s the perfect spot for telling a story: track 7, “John Joins the Band”. He got the call before it was even announced that Vince had left the band, and he couldn’t say a word to anybody. One of the first songs they wrote together was “Hammered”, an old riff that John brought to the band. Even darker is “Til Death Do Us Part” which was actually supposed to be the title of the album at one point. It’s one of many long bombers, but things lighten up a bit on “Welcome to the Numb”. Dig that slide guitar riff, another very Zep aspect to this batch of songs. By John’s intro, it sounds like a ball-baster of a song to play live. He says they didn’t think they were going to be able to do it! But they killed it, and John says that’s due to the hard work of guitarist Jeremy Asbrock.
Your head receives a good solid smack with “Smoke the Sky”, a waste-laying blitzkrieg of a smokeshow. Corabi touts the health benefits of rolling a joint. “Home grown version complements the senses, opens up my mind.” Perhaps Peter Tosh put it better, when he sang “Birds eat it,” and “It’s good for the flu, it’s good for the asthma.” Regardless of who said it best, “Smoke the Sky” is a flat-out mosh.
“Droppin’ Like Flies” continues the ass-kicking, but at a more sensible pace, trading speed for mass. And although in theory it shouldn’t work, after this fairly relentless assault, the album always closes on a ballad called “Driftaway”. After a sentimental version for the Nashville crowd, there’s a bonus track. This is another ballad, “10,000 Miles Away” from the Japanese Quaternary EP, live for the first time. Icing, meet cake.
This Corabi live album is far stronger than any of the three Motley Crue live albums. In terms of performance, John’s band just kills Motley Crue. Of course, they had a brilliant set to work with. Finally hearing these songs live, and in album context, is a long fulfilled wish. John Corabi has long been respected by the rock community and this CD is a testament to why.