MOTLEY CRUE – Greate$t Hit$ (1998 Motley/BMG), Greate$t Hit$ (2009 Motley/Masters)
Most fans will agree that Motley Crue’s 1997 reunion album Generation Swine was, at best, disappointing. The Crue tried to right the ship by returning to producer Bob Rock. Together they came up with two new songs, “Bitter Pill” and “Enslaved” that recalled better days. We discussed the wherefores and origins of 1998’s Greate$t Hit$ album in Getting More Tale #611: Afraid, on which the two new songs were released. As you’ll read here, the 1998 issue of Greate$t Hit$ is better than its 2009 update.
Both “Bitter Pill” and “Enslaved” bring Motley’s sonics back to their previous setpoint with Vince Neil, Decade of Decadence. The combo of Motley plus Bob Rock produces the kind of results you expect: punchy, heavy rock tunes with hooks. Neither is as memorable as “Primal Scream”, but serve their function. If this lineup had stayed together perhaps they could have taken it further, to the next stage of evolution. Tensions between Vince and Tommy Lee eventually erupted. Tommy left the band to pursue his own sanity and a side project called Methods of Mayhem.
The ’98 Greate$t Hit$ also offered up one other cool bonus: a previously unreleased remix of “Glitter”. It’s softer and more electronically processed, but a very cool alternate version. Dropped into this running order, Greate$t Hit$ turns out to be a remarkably fun and consistent listen. It would be a highly recommended way to get a broad assortment of great Motley and some rarities too.
Then, as part of the promotional cycle for a later, better reunion album (2008’s Saints of Los Angeles), Greate$t Hit$ was updated and reissued. Including its previous incarnation, the 2009 Greate$t Hit$ became the fifth Motley Crue best-of compilation (not counting box sets and rarities compilations).
So what’s the difference?
13 tracks overlap between the two: “Too Fast For Love”, “Looks That Kill”, “Smokin’ In The Boys Room”, “Home Sweet Home”, “Wild Side”, “Girls, Girls, Girls”, “Dr. Feelgood”, “Kickstart My Heart”, “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)”, “Without You”, “Primal Scream”, and “Afraid”. The 13th track is “Shout At The Devil”. In 2009 they used the original version, where on the old CD it was “Shout At The Devil ’97” (a re-recording from Generation Swine).
Three tracks were previously released as “new” songs on other greatest hits CDs: “Primal Scream” (Decade of Decadence), “Sick Love Song” and “If I Die Tomorrow” (Red, White & Crue).
Two tracks were from the newest Motley platter, Saints Of Los Angeles: The title track, and a brand-new remix of “The Animal In Me” featuring more keyboards.
There are 19 songs total included, which is a beef-up from the 1998 version, which had 17 songs. “Bitter Pill” and “Enslaved” were excluded, but both are available on Red, White & Crue (2005). The remix of “Glitter” from the 1998 version is not and is now deleted.
The songs on the update, unlike the 1998 version, are mostly in chronological order. The exception is “Afraid” which is shuffled out of place with “Sick Love Song” for reasons unknown. The flow of the album is OK, with the kickass “Too Fast For Love” starting the proceedings. The mixture of rockers to ballads is engineered for high octane, and the ballads only kick in when needed. The album only runs out of gas towards the end: “Sick Love Song” isn’t very good didn’t require a second look here. “Bitter Pill” should have been kept instead. The final track “The Animal In Me” is just too slow for a closing song. “Saints Of Los Angeles” would have been more appropriate to close this set.
Even though the 2009 update has 19 songs compared to 17, the ’98 version wins due to the inclusion of “Bitter Pill” and “Enslaved”. It’s more enjoyable listen from start to finish, with better flow and song order. The ’09 Greate$t Hit$ smacks of an obvious cash grab. Check out the liner notes. They haven’t even been updated. The essays are 10 years out of date, the notes refer to the “two new songs” (which aren’t there), and the back cover artwork still reflects “Bitter Pill”. Essentially, the only changes to the packaging are the colours with a new slipcase added, displaying a newer band photo from the Saints sessions.
Greate$t Hit$ 1998: 4/5 stars
Greate$t Hit$ 2009: 2/5 stars