bob rock

#942: My Brushes With Metallica

RECORD STORE TALES #942: My Brushes With Metallica

I don’t mind admitting that my first Metallica was Load.  Yeah, I was one of them.  Hate on if you gotta.

Like many my age, the first exposure came in 1988 via their first music video:  “One”.  To say the visuals were disturbing would be accurate.  Although I did enjoy the song, I didn’t feel the need to hit “record” on my VCR when it come on.  Other kids at school sure liked it, and copies of Johnny Got His Gun were claimed to have been read by some of them.  I figured I could continue to live without Metallica.

The Black album was released in 1991.  I was watching live when Lars Ulrich called in to the Pepsi Power Hour to debut the new music video for “Enter Sandman”.  The new, streamlined and uber-produced Metallica looked and sounded good to me.  I loved when James said “BOOM!” and thought that hooking up with Bob Rock had worked out brilliantly.  The sonics were outstanding.  While I enjoyed the singles Metallica released through the next couple years, I never took a dive and bought the album.  Why?

Three main reasons.  The key one was that I knew, even before I knew I had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, that I would feel compelled to collect all the Metallica singles that I had missed over the years.  That was, as yet, a bridge too far.  Second reason was that I satisfied my craving for that style of Metallica in 1992 when Testament came out with The Ritual.  It had a track like “Sandman” called “Electric Crown”.  It had a song like “Sad But True” called “So Many Lies”.  It was perfect for my needs.  Thirdly, for whatever reason I didn’t think I was going to enjoy “old” Metallica, which again, I would feel compelled to collect.

When I started working at the Record Store in 1994, I had the night shifts alone.  I could play whatever I wanted and sometimes I gave Metallica a spin.  I can remember “Enter Sandman” coming on while I was cleaning, and saying to a customer, “Man I love this song!”  He nodded awkwardly and wondered why I was telling him.

A bit later I was hanging out with this guy Chris.  He was extolling the virtues of thrash metal, and put on Kill ‘Em All.  I was astonished when “Blitzkrieg” came on.  “I know this song!  I love this song!”  I exclaimed as I jumped up.  Air guitar in hand, I started bangin’ to the riff.  “This is a song by Blitzkrieg,” I explained to Chris.  “It’s on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal CD that Lars Ulrich produced.  I didn’t know he covered it.”

This is the point at which I like to say I became a Metallica fan.  Collecting the older stuff was still daunting, and a lot of it was expensive because it was out of print.  Which is really why it took Load for me to finally buy a Metallica CD.

1996 was a glorious but so stressing summer!  I was managing my own Record Store for the first time.  The weather was gorgeous.  The stock we had was incredible.  The stress came from staff, which turned over faster than a dog begging for belly rubs!  There was “Sally” who was caught paying herself excessive amounts of cash for the used CDs she was selling to the store.  There was The Boy Who Killed Pink Floyd who came to work hungover and worse.  And, most trying of all, music sucked for people like me who missed the great rock of the 70s and 80s.

On June 4, Metallica released Load to great anticipation.  Their new short-haired look (a Lars and Kirk innovation) turned heads and it was said that Metallica had abandoned metal and gone alternative.  Of course this was stretching the truth a tad.  Metallica had certainly abandoned thrash metal on Load, and arguably earlier.  Alternative?  Only in appearance (particularly Kirk Hammett with eye makeup and new labret piercing).

Load was the kind of rock I liked.  The kind of rock I missed through the recent alterna-years.  I had been buying Oasis CDs just to get some kind of new rock in my ears.  Finally here comes Metallica, with the exact kind of music that I liked, and at the exact time I needed it.

And yes, I did immediately start collecting the rarities and back catalogue.  Garage Days and Kill ‘Em All (with “Blitzkrieg” and “Am I Evil?”) were both out of print at that time.  I snapped up the first copies I could get my hands on, when they came in used inventory.  We were selling them for $25 each, no discount.  I later found a copy of a “Sad But True” single featuring the coveted “So What” at Encore Records for $20.  The new Load singles were added to my collection upon release.  The truth is, I picked the best possible time to get into Metallica collecting:  when I was managing my own used CD store!  I soon had the “Creeping Death” / “Jump In the Fire” CD.  A Japanese import “One” CD single only cemented what a lucky bastard I was to be working there.

Because Metallica came to me relatively later in life, today they never provoke the kind of golden memories that Kiss or Iron Maiden do.  However the summer of ’96 was defined by Metallica.  Driving the car, buddy T-Rev next to me, playing drums on his lap.  His hands and thighs got sore from playing car-drums so hard.  Load was our album of the summer and it sounded brilliant in the car.  Hate if you hafta, but that’s the way it went down for this guy in the dreary 90s.

 

Mike Fraser takes us inside the recording studio on an epic LeBrain Train

“What happened to the guitars? Well put them back the way they were!” – Jimmy Page

A huge, huge, huge thanks to Mike Fraser for hanging out on a Friday night!  Growing up a young rock fan in Canada, we heard legend of Little Mountain studios in Vancouver.  Tonight, Superdekes and I got to ask the questions we wanted to know for over 30 years.  And Mike delivered!

Krokus.  Loverboy.  Honeymoon Suite.  AC/DC.  Aerosmith.  Bryan Adams.  The Cult.  Coverdale-Page.  So much more!  We tackled some of our favourite albums and a few cult classics.  From the Stone Gods to Canadian folksters The Rankin Family, we tried to explore the slightly obscure corners of Mike’s discography.  And we had a blast!  We took a few viewer questions, and if Mike comes back to the show again in the future, then maybe we can ask him the rest.

As I often do, I started early with an unboxing.  Start the video from the beginning if you want to catch that.  If you’re only interested in Mike (couldn’t blame you) then skip to 0:08:00 of the stream.

Make sure you watch all the way to the end to catch the brand new music video by T-Bone Erickson:  “Balls of Steel”.  This song is a tribute to Superdekes, who hooked us up with Mike Fraser for this show.  Thank you Deke, and thank you T-Bone for this awesome premiere video!

Feedback has been saying that this was the best LeBrain Train yet.  Do you agree?

REVIEW: Motley Crue – “Dr. Feelgood” (1989 cassette single)

MOTLEY CRUE – “Dr. Feelgood” (1989 Elektra cassette single)

I have a long history with collecting singles.  Record Store Tales Part 4: A Word About B-Sides was all about the discovery of exclusive songs, at the Zellers store in Stanley Park Mall.  The whole point in buying singles, to me, has always been acquiring rare tracks or rare versions of tracks.  Still, if you bought a single and the B-side ended up being on the album anyway, as long as it’s a good song, I don’t complain too much.

Back in 1989 we were all eagerly awaiting the release of Motley Crue’s forthcoming opus, Dr. Feelgood, their first “sober” album and first under the guidance of Bob Rock.  The first single was the title track, and on the little speakers of my radio, it crushed.  In Getting More Tale #656: The One They Call Dr. Feelgood, I had this to say:

“I tried to catch ‘Feelgood’ on the radio and record it, but failed. Instead I bought the cassette single at the local Zellers store. Considering how many tracks the band worked up for Dr. Feelgood, I hoped they would be releasing non-album B-sides. They did not. Instead, ‘Feelgood’ was backed by “Sticky Sweet”, probably the weakest album track.”

This single, bought at the very same Zellers store in the very same mall, is still fun to hit ‘play’ on.  The old familiar cassette test tone precedes the song, a fun nostalgic reminder of the old days.  Then the riff caves in your skull, with no “Terror ‘n Tinseltown” intro.  I suppose if you were a stickler, you could say this version of “Feelgood” without “T.n.T.” was exclusive to the single.  It was pretty easy to separate the two on CD though.

Although certainly overplayed today, I can remember what we all liked about “Feelgood”.  The heavy groove was refreshing and quite unlike other bands getting airplay that summer:  Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Aerosmith.  Then there’s Mick Mars’ solo and talkbox bit, still enjoyable.  I’ve probably heard it 1000 times, but “Dr. Feelgood” still plays good on air guitar.

Flipping the tape, the B-side “Sticky Sweet” perpetually sucks.  Motley Crue had a couple unreleased tracks to choose from that would have been better than “Sticky Sweet”, such as “Rodeo”.  But as revealed in an old issue of Hit Parader, some of those tracks were initially earmarked for a followup album called Motley Crue: The Ballads.  Regardless of the rationale, “Sticky Sweet” stinks like a poo stuck to the bottom of your shoe after you’ve already tracked it into the house.  In its favour, it does have a neat funky instrumental section in the middle, but that can’t save a shitty song.  And the thing is, even if an unreleased B-side was never in consideration, why couldn’t they have just picked a better album track, like “Slice of Your Pie” or “She Goes Down”?  Maybe they knew they were sitting on an album with five singles so they started by rolling out the shittiest B-sides?

Whatever!  The A-side may be timeless but the score must account for the atrocious B-side.

3/5 stars

 

VHS Archives #88: Motley Crue’s Vince Neil – Back in Vancouver again with TDM (1990)

It’s a clean, sober and healthy looking Vince Neil!  Once again, MuchMusic had Terry David Mulligan with all the hot questions.  This chat includes a surprise announcement of Motley’s next album Decade of Decadence.

TDM raises the following subjects:

  • What does Bob Rock bring to the Crue?
  • How will the Crue celebrate its 10th anniversary?
  • Thoughts on the next 10 years
  • Music of the 80s
  • “In 18 months there won’t be 20 teenagers left in America that would be caught dead listening to Motley Crue.” – Creem magazine
  • French women

Check it out!

REVIEW: The Tragically Hip – We Are the Same (2009)

THE TRAGICALLY HIP – We Are the Same (2009

“Later” records by bands are often overlooked in favour of a handful of classics, usually released early in a band’s first decade.  Here is one that should not be ignored:  We Are the Same, The Tragically Hip’s mellow 2009 offering.  Sure, the Hip had plenty of late career highlights.  But something about We Are the Same just connects.  It’s like plugging your soul into the great wide Canadian open, autumn-coloured maple leaves tossing in a cold breeze.  The rustling is accented by a softly wafting smell of coffee.

We Are the Same sounds (for a largely acoustic album anyway) absolutely massive.  Thank you, Bob Rock.  Perhaps there’s even a concept to this Gord Downie-driven album: it opens with a song called “Morning Moon” and ends with “Country Day”.  From the beginning, the chords of the Canadian prairies jangle on acoustic guitars.  Familiar hints of Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot fill the room, while Downie sings of a golden Labour Day.

You’ll hear lush string and piano accompaniment all over We Are the Same (piano by Barenaked Ladies‘ Kevin Hearn).  Take second track “Honey, Please” which is as pop as the Hip were ever likely to get.  Johnny Fay’s snare drum splashes are the only recall from the old days.  Then, one of the most luxurious tracks.  It’s also one of the best: album highlight “The Last Recluse”.  It delivers strange melodies wrapped in lonely imagery.  “Who are you? The last Canada goose”.

Geoff over at 1001albumsin10years says “I  have argued it is the best side 1 in the catalogue.”  I wouldn’t dare disagree.

“Coffee Girl” with its loop-like drums and trumpet solo is one of the more unusual, but also most successful compositions.  Downie had a miraculous way with words.

Your favourite mixed tape,
You popped it into the deck,
Don’t care if it’s out of date,
Old Cat Power and classic Beck.

The first big rock chords come crashing down on “Now the Struggle Has a Name”, also adorned with regal strings.  As great as it is, it’s just preamble to a Hip epic:  “The Depression Suite”, a multi-parted masterpiece.  It sparkles and growls, brilliantly and eloquently through a maze of quintessential Gord travelogue lyrics.

Peaking with a track like “The Depression Suite” only means the second half of the album has much to live up to.  An Aerosmith-like “The Exact Feeling” (can’t you just hear “Jaded”?) is the first song that feels like a drop.  But then “Queen of the Furrows” is a gentle acoustic song with delightful picking.  Until an explosive chorus kicks in, drawing your attention again.  Cool noisy guitar solo to boot!

The final four tracks are consistent, with “Frozen in My Tracks” being the strangest and heaviest, and “Love is a First” the strongest.  Its’ beat poetry and sharp bassline are the main hooks, but the chorus is a blast.  Yet it’s still clearly a case of the final few songs living in the shadow of the first.

An album this brilliant needs to be enjoyed over time, but do be sure to add it to your collection.  [See below for our recommended edition.]

4.5/5 stars

…Since you’re going to need this album one way or another, our recommended version if you can find it, is the “Kollector’s Krate”.  Kool Krate’s were an inconvenient way to store discs, but here’s one with a Tragically Hip logo on it.  Stuffed inside: a We Are the Same T-shirt, and a rare live bonus CD.  Whether Live From the Vault Vol. 4 is worth over $300 or not, that’s between you and Discogs.  (And that’s just the CD, without the Krate or T-shirt!)

 

 

REVIEW: Little Caesar – Little Caesar (1990 cassette)

LITTLE CÆSAR – Little Cæsar (1990 DGC cassette)

I missed their first EP, Name Your Poison.  None of the local record stores knew who Little Caesar were, but rock magazines like Hit Parader were already tootin’ their horn.  When their major label debut Little Caesar hit the shelves, it was none other than Bob Rock in the producer’s chair.  “Chain of Fools” was selected for the lead single/video, which was probably a mistep.  It did show off Little Caesar’s knack for crossing Skynyrd’s southern rock innards with soul, but a more mainstream rocker like “Down-N-Dirty” would have been less of a shock to the uncultured longhairs of 1990.

Soulful blues rock was all the rage in 1990, with the likes of the Black Crowes and The London Quireboys hitting the charts.  Was Little Caesar just one too many bands?  They didn’t have the impact of the other two, though they certainly stacked up in the quality department.  Lead howler Ron Young’s lungs are enviable, with a southern gritty drawl and authenticity to go.*  The rock continues through “Hard Times”, which puts out a killer street rock vibe, able to tangle with any Hollywood competition.  “Chain of Fools” serves to show off Young’s limitless talents, but as a hard rock adaptation, falls shy of their original.

Diversity points are earned for a stellar ballad called “In Your Arms”, delivering on a solid soul vibe.  Young’s voice is the focus, revealing depth track after track.  There’s a darker turn on “From the Start”, foreboding but with anthemic chorus.  The first side’s closer puts you in a “Rock and Roll State of Mind” with a harmonica-inflected blues burner.

Gotta big monkey and he’s on my back,
It’s warmer than China, it’s better than crack,
It’s burnin’ like fire, it’s takin’ my soul, yeah,
So damn addicted to rock ‘n’ roll.

You may as well call this one my theme song.  The history of rock is delivered in under five minutes.

White boys stole it back in ’55,
Turned in to disco in ’75,
Said it all started with “Blue Suede Shoes”, yeah,
For years brothers called it just rhythm and blues.

Tell it how it is, brother!

Money can’t buy it ’cause it can’t be sold,
If you say it’s too loud, then you’re too fuckin’ old.

Flip the tape.  “Drive it Home” takes the car/sex metaphors to a dirtier level.  On, Ron, I bet you’d like to drive it home!  Another dusky ballad called “Midtown” changes the mood and the groove.  A ballad with balls and a banjo?  Then, “Cajun Panther” is its own descriptive, but the slippery guitar will hook you right in.  Greasy slidey goodness from Creedence county.  The next song, “Wrong Side of the Tracks” is actually closer to the mainstream and doesn’t stand out amongst more unique material.  Unique like “I Wish It Would Rain”.  It may be another ballad but its southern flavouring make it clearly different from anything on the radio in 1990.  “Little Queenie” nails the soul-rock vibe one last time, going out in style, but also with a song that doesn’t really sound like a closer.  Perhaps a little song shuffling would have put “Little Queenie” in a better spot to showcase its strengths.

Sonically, since this is a Bob Rock production, you already know what it sounds like.  It’s a big sounding album that captures the band in top shape and presents them in an appropriately dressed frame.  It’s a 12 track album and although that was becoming the norm, Little Caesar would have been a more effective debut if it were 10 songs, focusing on the ones that made it unique.

3.5/5 stars

 


* Tragically, Ron Young was killed in 1991 by a time-travelling Arnold Schwarzenegger, in Terminator 2: Judgement Day. **
** Fake News.  But he was in the movie and did get his ass kicked.

REVIEW: Mötley Crüe – The Dirt Soundtrack (2019)

MÖTLEY CRÜE – The Dirt Soundtrack (2019 EM7)

Netflix scored another huge hit with The Dirt.  It’s a phenomenon with old fans basking in nostalgia, while youngsters hear the band for the first time.  It has been praised, debated, and nit-picked while a surge in Motley sales at the record stores boomed.

The movie soundtrack is an 18 track collection, spanning just a sliver of Motley history:  1981-1989.  All the glory, none of the ugliness or genre-jumping later.  To hype it further the band reconvened in the studio with producer Bob Rock and cranked out three new songs with one really calamitous cover.

Disclaimer:  I haven’t seen The Dirt, and am in no rush either.  I already have The Real Dirt in my VHS Archives.  I don’t need to see the cock-chopper from Game of Thrones doing an American accent pretending to be Mick Mars.  If the songs chosen for this soundtrack have anything to do with the scenes in the movie, I wouldn’t know.

Proceed.

 

Let’s get the greatest hits out of the way first.  Considering that Motley Crue had umpteen (five) compilations already, how does The Dirt hold up?

Remarkably well.

There are a few notable omissions you’ll have to acquire elsewhere.  “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room” and “Wild Side” are missing, but there are better things included instead.  You won’t miss those songs too much since you get early album classics like “Merry-Go-Round”, “Piece of Your Action”,  “Red Hot” and “On With the Show” instead.   The album is also wisely light on ballads.  “Home Sweet Home” is obviously a compulsory inclusion, but you won’t find any second-tier ballads like “Without You” here.

There’s something interesting about the new recordings, and that’s the identity of Nikki’s new writing partner.  John5 is credited on them (along with a host of other names).  For those keeping score, this is the fourth fucking time Motley Crue have recorded a handful of new songs for a hits compilation.  (You could make a 13 track compilation album just from those songs now.)  But this particular batch of new songs is like finding a few rotten spoiled eggs in your carton.

When bands like Motley Crue start incorporating rap into their tunes, it reeks of desperation and that’s “The Dirt (Est. 1981)”.  Machine Gun Kelly is the rapper who portrays Tommy Lee in the film (and does a smashing job of it, say the reviews).  It’s not rap music that is the problem, it’s the fact that Motley have never been that band.  From a certain point of view it’s cool that they gave Kelly a part in the song, acknowledging his role in the movie.  Also, Mick Mars’ solo is brilliant: a six-string stunner, proving the axeman just… keeps… getting… better!  But the song is an over produced mishmash of modernity that is starkly at odds with the old material.

What do others think?  We reached out to Superdekes over at Arena Rock.

“I liked that Crue album,” he said. “Go figure.”

Even the new songs?  “Yeah I do,” continued Deke.  The rap too?  “Well, the rap as its more of a speed thing…”

And that’s a good point.  Check out a rapper like Logic for some amazing speed rapping.  That’s an artform and it sounds good.

It’s just not Motley Crue.  Next!

“Ride With the Devil” suffers from the same kind of overproduction.  What’s cool about it is this cool soul-metal hybrid sound it has going on.  Then Vince Neil starts rapping.  Yes, it’s true that in 1995, Vince Neil made a solo album that combined hip-hop and metal, and of course Tommy Lee has his Methods of Mayhem.  That’s why those were solo projects!

“Crash and Burn” is an appropriate title for this point of the soundtrack, but fortunately the songs is the best of the trio.  The groove is mechanical but Mars is right there laying his electric wizardry on top.

What is perhaps most indefensible is Motley Crue’s putrid cover of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”.

In 1984, when “Like a Virgin” was getting regular television and radio rotation, we used Motley Crue to drown that shit right out.  To hear Motley Crue now singing that actual shit is alternate-universe level mindfucking.

What did Deke have to say about “Like a Virgin”?

“I thought they did it well.  I really like how they twisted the music.”

(We understand that “Like a Virgin” has been getting regular dancefloor action over at the newly refurbished Deke’s Palace up in Thunder Bay.  “Asses are shaking” to the song, said our anonymous source.)

Ending this review on a positive note, what’s good is seeing Motley Crue back in the top of the charts again.  People are talking about the band again.  They’re having debates, like the good-intentioned ribbing here.  Fans are loving the movie and demanding a sequel to fill in the gaps and finish the story.

Have we heard the last of Motley Crue?   Not by a long shot.

3/5 stars

 

 

 

 

VHS Archives #64: Kingdom Come interview (1989)

Michael Williams hosted the Pepsi Power Hour this time and got to interview Lenny Wolf and James Kottak of Kingdom Come.  He asks them about working with Bob Rock, their upcoming tour, the Zeppelin comparisons and all the stuff you want to know about.  Lenny also brings up Stone Fury.  Includes “The Making of the Making of” the video for “Do You Like It”.

Check out Lenny and James with Michael Williams on MuchMusic.

#656: The One They Call Dr. Feelgood

GETTING MORE TALE #656: The One They Call Dr. Feelgood

Hard rock peaked in the summer of 1989 with Dr. Feelgood. The charts were already filled with hard rock acts. Warrant were picking up steam. White Lion and Winger were getting airplay. Bon Jovi and Def Leppard were still raking it in with their last albums, New Jersey and Hysteria. Aerosmith were back. All we needed was the return of Motley Crue.

The Crue were not exactly laying low, but they did have problems to resolve. Nikki Sixx “died” of a heroin overdose on December 23 1987, but was revived with a shot of adrenaline right to the heart. Then he had to deal with a lawsuit from an imposter named Matthew Trippe, who claimed he took over the role of “Nikki Sixx” in 1983 and was owed royalties. Both these incidents inspired new songs. “Kickstart My Heart” was about by the overdose and subsequent recovery. “Say Yeah” took a shot at Matthew Trippe and that whole strange situation.

Fearing the band would end up dead if he did nothing, manager Doc McGhee sent the band into rehab (except for Mick Mars who quit drinking on his own accord). Then, a clean Motley Crue headed up to Little Mountain Sound in Vancouver to work with Bob Rock for the first time.

Bob Rock was on a roll. He finished up the soon-to-be-mega-successful Sonic Temple for The Cult and was recognized for the sound he was able to capture, particularly on the drums. He was also excellent at playing babysitter with musicians who were notoriously hard to work with. To minimize infighting, Rock split Motley up and had them all record separately. And because Aerosmith were in town recording Pump, Steven Tyler dropped by. He offered support for the newly clean band, and vocals on a new track called “Slice of Your Pie”.

The Crue’s first gig clean and sober was the Moscow Music Peace Festival in August of 1989. Although they had finished a new album, they played no new songs, saving them for proper release and promotion. Instead they played oldies from Girls, Girls, Girls, Theater of Pain, Shout at the Devil and Too Fast For Love. It was anything but peaceful. The gig, organized by McGhee, had been pitched to the bands involved as an equal opportunity. Bon Jovi, who McGhee also managed, were arguably the best known in Russia, as they were the only one with an official release there. They were booked to play last, but McGhee stressed there was no “headliner”. There was already friction between bands, because Ozzy Osbourne felt he should have been the headliner. Black Sabbath were massively popular with Russian rock fans, although they had to scour bootleg markets to find any.

Vince Neil live at the Moscow Music Peace Festival 08/12/1989 – Robert D. Tonsing/AP

Things came to a head when Bon Jovi featured pyro in their set, which none of the other bands had. Motley Crue interpreted this as favouritism towards Bon Jovi. Tommy Lee responded by ripping the shirt off Doc McGhee’s back. Motley Crue fired him and headed home on their own.

This drama did nothing to defuse Motley Crue’s momentum. Their new album Dr. Feelgood was released on September 1 1989, eventually going #1 and spawning five hit singles.

Meanwhile back in Canada, I was following all the Motley news with great anticipation. A Hit Parader magazine interview implied that Dr. Feelgood was so ambitious, it might even turn into a concept album. In fact the band had so many new songs that a second album, called Motley Crue: The Ballads was considered for 1990 release. The concept at that point was to do a new Motley Crue studio album that was all-heavy, no ballads. The softer songs would be saved for the second LP. Ultimately they got cold feet and realised putting out an album with no ballads in 1989 was commercially stupid, and so Dr. Feelgood was released with a mixture of tracks – the best 10 songs and one intro.

“Dr. Feelgood” was the first single, and it dominated airwaves just as summer holidays were ending. It, and “Love in an Elevator” by Aerosmith were absolutely everywhere. “Feelgood” had the edge with me, due to its massive drum sound and serious vibe. Bob Rock captured what might have been the biggest drum sound since Zeppelin, or Creatures of the Night by Kiss. Either way, Motley and Aerosmith really put Little Mountain Sound on the map as the studio to beat.

I tried to catch “Feelgood” on the radio and record it, but failed. Instead I bought the cassette single at the local Zellers store. Considering how many tracks the band worked up for Feelgood, I hoped they would be releasing non-album B-sides. They did not. Instead, “Feelgood” was backed by “Sticky Sweet”, probably the weakest album track.

I wondered what happened to all those unreleased songs that Hit Parader mentioned. “Say Yeah” was not on the album or singles. Neither were “Get It For Free” or “Rodeo”.  (We’d have to wait another 10 years for them to be issued on the “Crucial Crue” remastered series.)  A CD could hold almost 80 minutes of music, but Dr. Feelgood was the standard 45 minutes long. Since CDs were so expensive at the time, some fans argued “You have room, so put all the tracks on there and give us the value for our money.” Of course, this attitude changed later on, when listeners realised that albums with lots of extra filler were not as much fun to listen to. And, sadly, the unreleased Motley songs were pretty much filler. The stuff that went on Dr. Feelgood was as good as they had.

Dr. Feelgood was one of the first CDs I ever got, on Christmas Day 1989, along with my first CD player. The sonics of the album were everything they were hyped to be, but what really impressed me were the silences of compact disc. I was used to tape hiss. As “Time For Change” slowly faded out to nothing, I cranked the volume to 10. It was amazing to hear the fadeout clearly, without the tape hiss that had become part and parcel of music listening.

The album earned some great reviews for its sound, songs and even some of the lyrics. “Time For Change” revealed a new more mature direction. “Kickstart My Heart” took a serious subject and made it inspiring without wimping out. “When I get high, I get high on speed, top fuel funnycar’s a drug for me.” Some called it Motley’s best album, and still hold it as such.

As the album rocketed up the charts, Motley embarked on an 11 month tour. Most of the new album received live attention, with five songs being part of the regular set. One person who was paying attention to this was Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. Lars fell hard for the Motley drum sound, and sought out Bob Rock to produce their next album too. The rest is history. Like Motley before them, Bob Rock helped push Metallica into the upper echelons.

On Monday June 18 1990, Motley Crue headlined at the SkyDome in Toronto. The following day, June 19, the highschool halls were flooded with Motley Crue T-shirts. Where were all these “fans” last year when I seemed to be about one of two people in school who liked Motley Crue? It was always so bizarre to see concert shirts on people who never expressed interest in the band.  All those girls who always seemed to say, “I hate Montley Crue”!

What goes up, must come down. Motley relapsed after partying too hard with the Skid Row guys. Infighting ramped up. As the band were set and poised to top Dr. Feelgood with something truly special, they fired Vince Neil. It was as if they were handed the keys to the kingdom, to promptly throw them off the mountain. Although their 1994 album with John Corabi is a monster (and possibly their all-time best), as a commercial entity, Dr. Feelgood was never surpassed.  It eventually sold over six million copies.

We’ll have to see how Motley portray it in their movie The Dirt, but the truth is that Dr. Feelgood was a one-off mega-success story they’d never repeat.

REVIEW: Bon Jovi – “Please Come Home for Christmas” (1994 single)

BON JOVI “Please Come Home for Christmas” (1994 Mercury single)

Christmas of ’94 was a good one for Bon Jovi.  Their first greatest hits record Cross Road was a smash, returning Bon Jovi to the charts.   It spawned two hit singles:  “Always” and later on, “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night”.  With all that going on, it is understandable if you missed another Bon Jovi single that was just under the radar.

“Please Come Home for Christmas” is billed as a Bon Jovi single, but in actuality it’s a Jon Bon Jovi solo track.  It was first released exclusively to the album A Very Special Christmas 2 (1992), billed to Jon Bon Jovi and not performed with the band.  By ’94, “solo” and “band” Bon Jovi were becoming blurred.  Jon’s solo track “Blaze of Glory” was on Cross Road even though it’s from Jon’s first solo album.  Nowhere on the “Please Come Home for Christmas” single is it indicated that this is a Bon Jovi solo recording, further blurring the lines.

None of that really matters; Bon Jovi is Jon’s band and this single gathers together his first three Christmas recordings in one place.  It’s actually a great value.

The old Charles Brown seasonal classic has been covered over and over, notably by the Eagles.  Jon’s version isn’t bad either.  You either like Bon Jovi or you don’t.  If you like Bon Jovi then this will probably be right up your alley.

Next up, one of the B-sides from Keep the Faith and an original song too:  “I Wish Everyday Could Be Like Christmas”.  This has the vibe of Keep the Faith, with full production by Bob Rock.  Why can’t everybody be kind to each other every day like they are on Christmas?  It ain’t easy to write an original Christmas song, and Jon did an excellent job on this one.  I’ve always preferred it to “Please Come Home for Christmas”.

Finally, from the first Very Special Christmas album (1987), it’s a live take of “Back Door Santa” (Clarence Carter).  That means it’s from the Slippery When Wet tour.  Vintage Bon Jovi with cheesy keyboards right out “Social Disease”.  It’s not good but it’s here!  Meaning, Bon Jovi fans don’t have to look for A Very Special Christmas to complete their collections.

Two for three decent songs isn’t bad.  All are non-album tracks, so that’ll make this single worth it to you.

3/5 stars