mick mars

Motley Crue – Greate$t Hit$ (1998, 2009 versions)

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.

Zero tracks from the albums Motley Crue or New Tattoo are included (neither album had all four original members).

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

 

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#611: Afraid

GETTING MORE TALE #611: Afraid

1989: A clean and sober Motley Crue take over the world. Dr. Feelgood climbs to #1 and the band rivals Bon Jovi and Def Leppard in the popularity stakes.

1990: Motley continue to tour and rock them all, while announcing their next album will be a “greatest hits”.

1991: Decade of Decadence is released, keeping Motley on the charts. The new single “Primal Scream” is well received.

1992: In a shock announcement, Vince Neil is fired from the band. Unfortunately Motley are not the only rock band to lose their singer at the beginning of the 90s.

1993:  Vince Neil’s solo debut Exposed is greeted by warm reviews.  Motley continue to toil in the studio with new singer John Corabi.

1994: Five years after Dr. Feelgood, the re-imagined Motley finally return with the self-titled Motley Crue.  Corabi blows ’em away, but the album fails to sell. Motley is forced to do a scaled down tour while the CD dropped off the charts.

This was the state of the Crue in the mid 90s.  They had released an incredible album.  Today, many fans rate it in the top three, or even at the #1 spot.   My near-legendary Record Store cohort T-Rev agrees.  “To me, they sounded more like a hard rock band than a hair metal band, because of that album.”

Absolutely true.  They stepped far beyond the preconceived notions of Motley Crue.  Guitars were detuned, lyrics were topical or personal.  Tracks like “Smoke the Sky” might have passed for Soundgarden.  On the other side of the coin, “Misunderstood” was an epic power ballad featuring an orchestra and Glenn fucking Hughes.  There wasn’t a weak track in the bunch, but plenty of variety.

Most fans didn’t embrace it at the time, and instead moved on to current bands.  Back then, nobody was interested.  No Vince, no Motley?  No way.  Corabi was absolutely the right guy at the right time.  Motley added his rhythm guitars and songwriting abilities, not to mention far more aggressive singing.  The band had only gotten better.  But by recording an uncompromising album with an unknown singer, they were indeed taking a chance.  It didn’t pay off.  When I was working at the Record Store, there was a giant pile of unsold Motley Crue CDs taking up space.  They sat next to an equally tall pile of David Lee Roth’s Your Filthy Little Mouth.  All the kings seemed to have been usurped.

At the Record Store, I first befriended the aforementioned T-Rev.  The fact that both of us loved the Motley album didn’t hurt.  T-Rev was the only person I knew who appreciated what they did.  He loved that huge overproduced drum sound.  Back in 1989, everybody had a Motley Crue T-shirt in the highschool halls.  In 1994, we couldn’t get anyone to listen.

Through 1995 and 1996, magazines reported that Motley were back in the studio, working on a followup with Corabi.  Bob Rock was back in the producer’s chair and the band wrote new songs such as “Personality #9”, “Let Us Prey”, “La Dolce Vita” and “The Year I Lived In A Day”.  Things seemed to be going well, but record company pressure was intense.  Bob Rock’s style was now passé and he was fired.  Engineer Scott Humphrey was promoted to producer, and electronics began to dominate.

The pressure was not only on Motley Crue, but focused directly on John Corabi.  Elektra records were eager to get Vince Neil back, a true “star”.  John was getting frustrated in the studio while this was going on.  Nothing he sang seemed to be good enough for Motley Crue anymore.  He was asked to sing like Oasis or the Sisters of Mercy.  John suggested that he just play rhythm guitar while they get Vince Neil to sing.  Somehow, this made its way into the rumour mill.  Before John Corabi was eventually fired, T-Rev and I had heard that Motley were considering this very same five-piece lineup.  What a glorious sounding thing that could have been.

Ultimately the band fired John and got Vince back.  They attempted to piece together the album that they’d been recording and re-recording and re-re-recording again.  Mick Mars was frustrated as well, as his guitar parts kept getting rejected and remixed.  In particular, Mars did not function well with Scott Humphrey.

Personally speaking, I lay these problems at the hands of Scott Humphrey.  I read the book The Dirt, and that’s certainly where the band lay most of the blame.  Have a look at Humphrey’s credits though.  Lots of records loaded with electronics, like Rob Zombie’s Hellbilly Deluxe and Tommy Lee’s solo stuff.  Humphrey started out as a keyboard player and programmer, and I think that high-tech style does not work with Motley Crue.  That’s my personal opinion, never having met Scott Humphrey.  I did, however, have a customer at the Record Store who knew Scott Humphrey, who is actually from Kitchener Ontario.*  “Motley Crue were the problem,” he told me.  “They were messed up on drugs.”  They were also unfocused musically.

On January 27 1997, the reunited original Motley Crue performed on the American Music Awards.  Mere months after being teased by a similar Van Halen reunion on the MTV Awards, I was relieved that Motley were playing a song rather than just standing there.  But what the hell song was it?!  Some strange, techno-y version of “Shout at the Devil”?  It was strange, unexpected and underwhelming.  Hey, cool, it was a fresh spin on an old classic.  But…why?

We soon found out.  The album Generation Swine came out on June 24 1997.  As usual, T-Rev and I got it a few days in advance.  “It sucks!” he warned me.  Of the first single “Afraid”, he said “It sounds more like Def Leppard than Motley Crue.”

“Afraid” is the best song on the album, which does frankly suck.  In a single stroke Motley went from one of their best albums, to one of their very worst.  It was astounding how desperate they sounded, trying to incorporate these influences that have nothing to do with Motley Crue.  The loops and samples and effects ruined many of the songs, but some just weren’t that good to begin with.  This considered, it was an even bigger surprise that Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee were singing lead vocals too.  Sixx’s silly opener “Find Myself” was a nauseating faux-punk novelty song.  Generation Swine was also unfocused in the extreme, and the muddying effects didn’t help.  The electronic treatments on the drums rendered them limp, compared to the massive sound of 94’s Motley Crue.    Absolutely everything on Generation Swine was inferior to Motley Crue.

Three CD singles were released for “Afraid”, which was remixed so many times trying to get it right, that they used some of the various versions as bonus tracks.  The album version is fine enough, and in this one instance, the electronics enhance the song.  I’d rather hear “Afraid” with the effects than without.

What did other fans think?  When Generation Swine was new, one of my customers wanted to hear it before buying.  “I saw that Vince Neil is back.  Have you heard it?” he asked me, and I told him the truth.  He was sceptical of my review, but changed his mind upon hearing it.  “It doesn’t sound like them,” he said, and he’s right.  I then cajoled him into listening to the 1994 album.  He didn’t want to, because it didn’t have Vince Neil, but agreed to give it a shot.

Guess which album he bought?  Motley ’94.

At least there’s some redemption, if only temporarily.  During the Christmas season of 1998, T-Rev once again called me up to tell me about Motley Crue.  There was a new compilation out, called Greate$t Hit$ [review coming tomorrow].   This time, there were two new songs:  “Enslaved” and “Bitter Pill”.  Both were produced by Bob Rock.

“The new songs aren’t bad,” said T-Rev.  “A lot better than Generation Swine.  Not as good as ‘Primal Scream'”

Right again, T-Rev.  Not bad.  An improvement, but not as good as what they did the first time out.  That was enough for me to buy the CD.  Not for Trevor, though.

I think Motley Crue were on the right track with “Enslaved” and “Bitter Pill” after the failure of Generation Swine.  They obviously knew that album didn’t work, so they went back to the last thing that did.  Both songs are growers, and still raise a smile to hear.  Unfortunately Motley Crue blew it again.  Tommy Lee and Vince Neil had a dust-up at an airport, and Lee split.  He was replaced by former Ozzy Osbourne drummer, Randy Castillo.**

Fans like T-Rev and myself always supported the 1994 album, and today we’ve been justified.  More and more fans have realised the quality of that CD, and increasingly hold it in high esteem.  There’s something about that CD, and I’m afraid that Motley Crue never came close to touching it since.

Tommy Lee, John Corabi, Nikki Sixx & Mick Mars

* Fun fact! T-Rev’s mom dated Scott Humphrey!

** In a very sad turn of events, Castillo never got to tour with Motley Crue.  He became ill and died of cancer on March 26, 2002 at age 51.  His replacement, Hole’s Samantha Maloney, did the tour and resultant live video.

#532: If You Have Ghosts…

GETTING MORE TALE #532: If You Have Ghosts…

Many rock stars claim to have seen ghosts, or had supernatural experiences.  Geezer Butler from Black Sabbath and Mick Mars from Motley Crue are notable examples.  A black shape that Butler saw scared him “shitless”.  Ke$ha even claims she has had sex with a ghost, though that seems a little outlandish.  Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek of the Doors think they may have been contacted by the spirit of Jim Morrison.  Sting thinks there is one in his house.  Ace Frehley claims a ghost threw a book at him, though substance abuse may have been a factor.

Tales of spirits and hauntings go back thousands of years.  As old as civilization itself are tales of the supernatural.  Yet over all this time, nobody has ever captured any tangible evidence that would satisfy science that ghosts exist.  This certainly does not mean ghosts do not exist.  Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.  We are still learning much about the universe.  Skeptics have good reasons to be skeptical, while others have decided to go ghost hunting for themselves.  Ritchie Blackmore was well known for performing seances in his Deep Purple days and over the decades.  He stated that he has contacted many spirits, and “ghosts are very real, but not in the physical sense.”

blackmore seance

Artist’s probably very accurate impression of an actual Blackmore seance

The only experience that I simply cannot explain I have had happened when I was in grade 9 or 10.  I was sleeping, it was the middle of the night.  I was awaken by a shocked feeling that someone has just hit me hard in the face with an object like a pillow.  Like if you wanted to prank your brother or sister awake and smacked them in the face with a pillow as hard you can in the middle of the night.  I woke up with a start and there was nobody in the room, nor any object that would have hit me in the face.  My pillow was under my head the whole time.  Was it a ghost?  All I know is that I can’t explain it.

This reminds me of an experience Mick Mars wrote of in Motley Crue’s The Dirt.  Something (a ghost or an alien) seemed to shake his bed regularly.  He could physically feel it, just like I could feel the pillow smacking me in the face.

One night 10 years ago, I have the opportunity to try a little ghost hunting myself.  I wrote an email about it to a friend, so here are the fresh details from that night:


12-09-07_1628

We were in Mississauga at a party.  These two guys lived in the house and somehow the conversation got to weird stuff they’d seen.  Including:
 
  • A man standing at the top of the staircase, looking down into the basement.
  • A child wandering around the house.
  • A pale woman at the front door.
 
All these figures were solid, not transparent, seen by more than one person, and more than once.
 
They also:
Heard yelling, the sounds of people falling down stairs, and someone banging on the dryer in the basement even when the house was otherwise empty.
 
And they saw:
  • Coins on the floor where there were none before.
  • The dryer was known to move a few feet even when unplugged, blocking a doorway in the basement.
 So we turned off all the lights and went down to the basement to shoot some video on my cameraphone.  We shot ten minutes of video.  In the first minute, Alex dropped the camera because he was startled by seeing a face in front of him.  The face was not on camera but we ran our asses off out of there.  In the last minute, upon replay, we got a very strange light on camera.  I can’t explain it as the room was pitch, pitch dark.  Yet you can see a tiny pinpoint of light on camera, bright and distinct.  And that creeped me the fuck out!
 
I still have it on video and can’t explain it.
 

I can explain it now.  I reviewed that video many times.  It was disappointing to reason out that there was still one obvious light source in that pitch black room.  The screen of the camera phone itself had a slightly blue colour.  Same colour as that pinpoint of light.  It was just the reflection of the screen on the glass window of the dryer.  A mundane but simple explanation.  I’m sure most are.
 
*All due respect and inspirational credit to 1537 for regularly using Lego in his artwork.  I am but a mere ghost of your talent, sir.

 

REVIEW: Mötley Crüe – Girls, Girls, Girls (2003 remastered edition)

girlsMÖTLEY CRÜE – Girls, Girls, Girls (originally 1987, 2003 remaster)

The Tom Werman-produced Girls, Girls, Girls album is a bit underrated.  Its weaknesses are fairly obvious, but its strengths are less appreciated.  The Crue were coming off a bit of a stinker (Theater of Pain), so some changes were in order.  The band dropped the makeup and spandex in favour of a tougher street-ready look.  The intended direction this time was a bit of a combo of the first three Crue album.  They wanted the rawness of Too Fast For Love, the heaviness of Shout at the Devil, and the sleaze of Theater.  There was no reinvention of the wheel, nor was anybody in the band capable of that.  Nikki Sixx was deep into a heroin problem at this time, barely focused on the music at all.  This has been documented in his graphic book The Heroin Diaries.  Much of his time was spent hiding in a closet with a gun, afraid of imaginary intruders.

As an audience in 1987, we really did not suspect that things were such a shambles behind the scenes.  The band looked good, and sounded like they had rediscovered the skills of writing memorable songs.  Case in point:  opening track (and second single) “Wild Side”.  Boasting the kind of rock groove that Motley made their trademark, “Wild Side” rocked.  They even threw in a time change on the bridge.  “Wild Side” was augmented with a cool music video, showcasing the Motley stage show in 1987.  This included a spinning, upside down Tommy Lee drum kit.  “Girls, Girls, Girls” was a video too, but it never saw airplay up in Canada. Too risqué for the frozen tundra of the north?  It too was a hit, played live in concert right to Motley’s final show (opening number, in fact).

The album was rounded out by a number of cool, sleazy rock tracks and a couple ballads.  “Dancing On Glass” kicks; it’s pretty much an autobiographical track about living in the fast lane.  This is something the Crue were well acquainted with.

“Silver spoon and needle,
Witchy tombstone smile,
I’m no puppet, 
I engrave my veins with style.”

Since the cassette didn’t come with a lyric sheet, kids of the 80’s (or at least the parents of the 80’s) probably had no idea what Vince was singing about.  The song is given some traditional rock cred with soulful female backing vocals and boogie piano.

“Bad Boy Boogie” continued the theme, this time with some tasty Mick Mars slide guitar instead of piano.  “Better lock up your daughters when the Motleys hit the road.”  The song is a series of sexual innuendos, cleverness put to the side in favour of blunt sleaze.  “Got my finger in the pie, my hand in the cookie jar.”  Aerosmith leaks through the grooves on “Bad Boy Boogie” which wears its influence on its sleeve.  The good times continue to bounce on “Five Years Dead”, loaded with more of Mick’s greasy slide.  It’s a similar song to “Sumthin’ for Nuthin'”, which is even more fun.  This time Vince is a gigolo, getting paid for pleasure (sumthin’ for nuthin’)!  “Leave the money where it’s easy to see,” he sings with glee.  It’s brilliant Motley filth just the way you like it.  Best of all is the smokin’ “All in the Name Of…”, which pours high octane fuel in the tank and opens ‘er up wide.  It’s sleazier than sleazy:  “She’s only 15, she’s the reason, the reason I can’t sleep.  You say illegal, I say legal’s never been my scene.”  Probably a true story….

There are only two ballads, one of which is just 1:26 of filler (“Nona”).  The other is the very entertaining “You’re All I Need”, which sounds inspired by Alice Cooper.  It is a delicate piano based murder ballad, like the Coop has done so well.  “You’re All I Need” isn’t Coop quality, but on the Motley scale it’s one of their better ballads.  It has an anthemic quality, a pompous melancholy.  The lyrics doomed it to semi-obscurity, which is too bad, since on the whole it’s a stronger song than the better known “Without You”.

Unfortunately for this album, “Nona” was not the only filler.  An excruciating (and live?!) cover of “Jailhouse Rock” ends the album on a pretty putrid note.  It’s not good at all, and reeks of weakness.  Why would you end your new album with a cover, and a live cover at that?  Only because you didn’t have enough quality tunes to make the cut.

The 2003 remastered edition of Girls, Girls, Girls came with bonus tracks, like all the albums in the Crucial Crue collection.  Three of them are instrumental versions, bordering on filler material.  Motley Crue are not Rainbow or Marillion — you don’t get much out of an instrumental version.  “Nona” did once have a rock section in its longer demo form.  More entertaining than the demos is the band and Tom Werman intro. Funny stuff.  Then there is a long sought ballad “Rodeo”.  This song was first mentioned in band interviews in 1989, when it was mentioned for possible inclusion on a never-released album called Motley Crue: The Ballads.  The demo here is not very well fleshed out, but you can hear that it had a cool chorus ready to go.  Finally there is a live version for “All in the Name Of…” from Moscow in 1989.  Fans may recall that Motley played at the infamous Moscow Music Peace Festival…shortly before Tommy attacked Jon Bon Jovi and ripped the shirt off his back.  Peace and love, man!

Although the Crue were only firing on a couple cylinders at the time, they managed to piece together a worthwhile album.  There are only two mis-steps, which are “Nona” and “Jailhouse Rock”.  The remastered edition adds a couple more worthwhile bonus tracks to extend your listening experience.  Go for that one if you find it first.

3.5/5 stars

Side one
1. “Wild Side” 4:40
2. “Girls, Girls, Girls” 4:30
3. “Dancing on Glass” 4:18
4. “Bad Boy Boogie” 3:27
5. “Nona” 1:27

Side two
6. “Five Years Dead” 3:50
7. “All in the Name Of…” 3:39
8. “Sumthin’ for Nuthin'” 4:41
9. “You’re All I Need” 4:43
10. “Jailhouse Rock” (live) 4:39

2003 Remastered Edition bonus tracks
11. “Girls, Girls, Girls” (Tom Werman & band intro, rough mix of instrumental track) 5:38
12. “Wild Side” (rough mix of instrumental track) 4:06
13. “Rodeo” (unreleased track) 4:14
14. “Nona” (instrumental demo idea) 2:42
15. “All in the Name Of…” (live in Moscow) 5:02

REVIEW: Motley Crue – Quaternary (1994 Japanese EP)

MOTLEY CRUE – Quaternary (1994 Elektra Japanese EP)

For me, undoubtedly the most heavily anticipated new album of 1994 was the new Motley Crue.  Originally titled ‘Til Death Do Us Part, the self-titled ’94 Crue disc was their first with new singer/guitarist John Corabi.  They holed up with producer Bob Rock and knuckled down, creating what could have been the most important album of their careers.  The long wait (five years between studio albums) and cryptic remarks from the studio indicated that this would be the heaviest Motley album ever, and their most ambitious.  The new, serious Motley for the 90’s had, as always, written plenty of extra material too.

In addition, producer Bob Rock had an idea for getting creative juices flowing.  He asked each of the four members of Motley Crue to write and record a solo track with no input from the other members.  This was slightly historic:  the first time Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, Tommy Lee or John Corabi had done anything solo.  With all the numerous outtakes recorded for the Motley Crue LP, there was now plenty of extra material to put out as a bonus EP.

Scan_20160612A mail-away coupon inside the Motley Crue CD alerted fans that five more tracks were available by mail order only.  20,000 copies of the original EP were pressed.  They included all four solo tracks and a new Motley Crue song called “Babykills”, featuring fifth Beatle Billy Preston on clavinet!

Still, the lucky fans in Japan didn’t have to mail away for anything.  They were able to buy Quaternary right on their store shelves, and because it’s Japan, they also got bonus tracks.  The Japanese version of Quaternary was not a five song EP, but more like a nine-song mini-album.  I had no idea such a thing existed until finding one at Sam the Record Man in Toronto in the summer of 1996.   It still has the price tag:  I paid $49.99, for a total of three songs that I did not have before.

Today, every one of these songs can be found on the box set Music to Crash Your Car To: Volume II, along with even more bonus mixes.

Quaternary commences with industrial noises and studio dialogue:

Tommy Lee:  “I can’t play with fuckin’ clothes on man, this is bullshit.”
Bob Rock: “Play naked.”
Tommy Lee: “Fuckin’ jeans on, a fuckin’ shirt…what up with that?”
Bob Rock: “What, do you work in a bank?”

The industro-rap metal of Tommy Lee’s “Planet Boom” is a track he had been working on for years. An early version made its debut in the background on the 1992 home video release Decade of Decadence. Even though the words “industro-rap” and “Tommy Lee” don’t really sound good together, “Planet Boom” kicks ass. Tommy played all the instruments, utilising a simple, detuned Sabbathy riff and a relentless drum loop. The strength of his vocal came as a surprise, as did the song in general. A few years later it was remixed for Pamela Anderson’s movie Barb Wire. (Stick with this original.)

After a brief studio discussion with Mick Mars about hemorrhoids (?), his blues instrumental “Bittersuite” blows your ears off. Motley fans know that Mick Mars is the most musically talented member, considered an underrated and under appreciated rock god. The blues-rock of “Bittersuite” isn’t as satisfying as I imagine a pure blues offering to be, but there is no doubting Mick’s talent here. Both as a writer and a player, Mick hit it out of the park (Chris Taylor played drums). Mick’s goal was to pay tribute to rock-blues greats like Beck, Hendrix and Blackmore. Mission accomplished. His guitar tone is beautiful and so are his emotive licks.

Nikki Sixx goes third, with another industrial-metal cross. “Father” is one angry fucked up track. It’s heavy and direct, on-trend for 1994, and very abrasive. The riff and song are simple, but Nikki’s anger leaks through. “Father — where were you?” Backwards guitars, electronics and loops on top — you can tell Nikki and Tommy were listening to the same kinds of music at the time!

New kid John Corabi goes last, and in the liner notes he says that “Friends” is his first piano song. He meant to go acoustic, but “Friends” just came out of him. It’s a pretty Queen-like ballad with lovely harmonies in the middle. Although Mick Mars’ song is probably a greater technical achievement, “Friends” is my favourite of the solo tracks. When a guy like Corabi gets going on a ballad, it’s usually going to be amazing anyway. Throw in the Queen elements, and I’m just a sucker for it! It’s really a shame that Motley did not continue with John beyond this. The potential for greatness was always there.

After more studio chatter, we break into “Babykills”, the Billy Preston collaboration. “Babykills” is fun and funky hard rock, probably the heaviest thing Preston ever played on. Unfortunately his part is little more than an added topping. Great tune though; probably far too good to lie hidden away on an obscure mail-order EP.

An impromptu jam that seems to be called “I Just Wanna Fuck You (In the Ass)” ends the original EP on a jokey note.  “What the fuck do you want, for fuck all?”

Scan_20160612 (3)

As mentioned, the Japanese had bonus tracks.   These are tracks that did not make the finished Motley Crue album, since they had recorded so much extra material.  “10,000 Miles Away” is a cool blues ballad, showing off more of Mick’s fine fingerwork.  It was obviously too much of a standard sounding song to fit in with the experimental Motley Crue album.  Not that the album stood a chance in hell after grunge cleared the decks, but you do wonder if it would have been better received if some of these more digestible songs were included on it.

The one track on the Japanese release that is easy to skip is the Skinny Puppy remix of “Hooligan’s Holiday”.  This track was already available on the “Hooligan’s Holiday” single and it’s since been re-released in other places too.  It’s long — over 11 minutes.  Dave “Rave” Ogilvie remixed it with Dwayne Goettel and cEvin Key, so it is of possible interest to Skinny Puppy collectors.  The thing that bugs me about it is that it strikes me as lazy.  The song is pretty much the same as always for the first three minutes, and then the remixing begins.  The whacked out and frankly boring remixed part goes on for almost seven more minutes, before transitioning back to the standard song.  In other words, what Skinny Puppy did here was edit out the middle section and guitar solo of the song, drop in seven minutes of remixed barf, and then put the ending back on.

Two demos round out the CD:  “Hammered” (which did make the album) and “Livin’ in the No” (which did not).  The “Hammered” demo is structurally the same as the album version, no radical departures.  It sounds like much of it is live in the studio, and it’s clear that Motley were focusing on grooves.  It’s all about the four guys being locked in.  Finally “Livin’ in the No” is in the standard hard rock mold.  Again, a track like this fits in less well with the unorthodox LP, but might have made it more accessible for fans.  Even so, a guy like Vince Neil would never have been able to sing “Livin’ in the No” and make it sound good.

There is little question that the Motley Crue album deserves its 5/5 star rating.  This being a collection of outtakes, the same cannot be expected.  Still, it does deserve a very respectable:

4/5 stars

Get the complete EP including all Japanese bonus tracks on Music to Crash Your Car To: Volume II. That set also contains more remixes originally from single B-sides of the era: “Misunderstood” (Guitar Solo/Scream Version), “Hooligan’s Holiday” (Derelict Version), “Misunderstood” (Successful Format Version), “Hooligan’s Holiday” (Brown Nose Edit).

Scan_20160612 (5)

REVIEW: Motley Crue – 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection

MOTLEY CRUE – 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection (2003 Universal)

As a change of pace, this review focuses not on what is on the album, but what was left off.  This 20th Century Masters is more than a little shoddy, as this series can often be.  So let’s talk about what it is not.

  • Too Fast For Love

“Piece of Your Action” is a great little ditty from the debut record Too Fast For Love. What you’re missing though: the speedy single “Live Wire”!  It makes little sense to have this one without “Live Wire”.

“Shout at the Devil” and “Too Young to Fall in Love”: Great choices. Both are classic 80’s metal. What you’re missing is hit single “Looks that Kill”.  But as Meat Loaf says, two out of three ain’t bad.

“Home Sweet Home” is Motley’s biggest hit ballad ever, but where is the Brownsville Station cover “Smokin’ in the Boys Room”?  Can you believe it’s not on here?  And it’s not because it’s a cover, because, well, we’ll get there.

  • Girls, Girls, Girls

The title track makes good sense to include, but why is “All in the Name Of…” on here instead of “Wild Side”? Also missing, but understandably so, is the ballad “You’re All I Need” which never made much impact.  “Wild Side” though remained a concert staple to the end, so that’s one you’ll need to find elsewhere.

  • Dr. Feelgood

There were five singles on this album, and of course you can’t include them all on a 20th Century Masters CD. What you do need are the title track and lead single “Dr. Feelgood”, and obviously “Kickstart My Heart”.  “Kickstart” was an explosive statement by the band, proving they were as mighty as ever without the drugs.  Those two songs embodied the album, but there’s no “Feelgood” here. Inexplicable!  Certainly one of the biggest oversights on this disc.


Great song!  Not on this CD!

  • Decade of Decadence

For reasons that are unexplained and perhaps best left that way, instead of including any of the above better known songs, 20th Century Masters has the far less famed “Rock ‘N’ Roll Junkie”, and Sex Pistols cover “Anarchy in the UK”. “Junkie” is a Feelgood outtake, original released on The Adventures of Ford Fairlane soundtrack in 1990. “Anarchy” was recorded for Motley’s first greatest hits, Decade of Decadence. Neither song is essential, and both are on Decade. Why are they here? “Primal Scream”, which was a powerful single, is a must have. But it’s not here.  Yet another song you’d still have to get elsewhere, because it’s awesome and important.

No complaints here.  “Hooligan’s Holiday” is included from 1994’s self-titled album with John Corabi on vocals. Nice to see this single represented instead of ignored.

At this point, for a compilation like 20th Century Masters, I don’t think you need to explore the 90’s. But, from 1997’s dreadful Generation Swine comes the title track. Not the minor hit single “Afraid” mind you, but the title track which did nothing and went nowhere.  Baffling!

Ending the album with “Hell on High Heels” brought the compilation up to date for its 2003 release date. Unfortunately, there was nothing on New Tattoo worth bringing to the table. Tommy Lee had left and there was a serious dip in quality, even after Generation Swine.  Although it was the only Motley album featuring late drummer Randy Castillo, New Tattoo is simply a turd with no songs that are up to snuff. Crappy way to close a pretty crap compilation, though.  Motley Crue’s instalment of 20th Century Masters sounds as if it’s a single disc from a double CD compilation, and the other CD’s been lost.  Sorry Motley, this CD gets the dreaded Flaming Turd.

1/5 stars

REVIEW: Motley Crue – Saints of Los Angeles (Japanese version)

MOTLEY CRUE – Saints of Los Angeles (2008 Motley Records, Japan)

Man, if there was one band due for a comeback, it was the Crue. I mean, seriously! They went from the top of their game in 1991, coming off of Feelgood and Decade, only to have their lead singer abruptly leave. Then of course the awesome new album with the new singer flopped, because he wasn’t the old singer.  Vince came back, Tommy left, and the band released the mediocre New Tattoo.  After a hiatus, Tommy Lee returned again for a big successful reunion tour, and the Crue finally managed to put out an album.  Saints of Los Angeles was better than expected, and did hearken back to the good old days.

You hear that a lot; “hearkens back to the old days”. Aside from the overly glossy production, this album sounds like the natural followup to Dr. Feelgood and “Primal Scream”. Of course, it was contrived that way. Nikki talks about this being a concept album following the the storyline of their book The Dirt, but really that is just an excuse to revisit the old (successful) Motley sound.  Sure, why not?  I’ll buy that.

CRUE SAINTS_0005Despite all odds, this album does succeed. From the opener “LA.M.F.” (which is an obvious homage to “In The Beginning” from the Shout album and “T.N.T.” from Feelgood) to the final track “Going Out Swinging”, there’s hardly any filler here. Just about every song kicks. No ballads, unless you want to count “The Animal In Me” (which I don’t). Hey, and think of it: Sharp fans will recall that Feelgood itself was originally conceived as a concept album with no ballads. Interesting.*

Guitar riffs are kicking, Vince is singing as good as you could hope, and all the songs shine. There’s even the odd female backing vocal, recalling the Nasty Habits. Only the production drags this down to a lower level, I simply find it too processed and glossy. Bob Rock would have added more thud, but that’s just my opinion. Song wise, winners include the title track and first single. Other highlights are the glam “Down At The Whiskey”, “Face Down In The Dirt” (see, The Dirt is in the title!),  the swaggering “What’s It Gonna Take”, and the chugging “Just Another Psycho”.  Those would be my favourites on an album of consistent song quality.  All but “Welcome To The Machine”, which sounds like a transparent ripoff of Ace Frehley’s “Shot Full Of Rock”. I can’t believe I seem to be the only one pointing this out.

I was disappointed by one thing: look at those writing credits. Mick Mars has just one co-write, ditto Tommy Lee. Vince Neil: No writing credits at all. Instead, the album was mostly written by Nikki and his Sixx AM cohorts James Michael and DJ Ashba along with hired songsmith Marti Frederiksen. So, is this a Crue album or another Nikki Sixx solo album featuring Motley Crue? You decide. It sounds like Motley, but c’mon. Both Mick and Tommy were cornerstones of this band’s songwriting. It feels like Nikki just got his buds to write like Mick and Tommy.

CRUE SAINTS_0006There’s one item I’d still like to get, related to this album.  I want to track down the CD single for “Saints of Los Angeles”, which lacks the CrueFest nobodies’ “gang vocal”. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think that a bunch of nobodies from Trapt or Papa Roach need to be on a Crue album.  So I’d like to hear that one.

Other than these minor complaints, Saints wins. When you’re listening you’ll forget who wrote the songs, and you’ll just dig the fact that Tommy is back on drums and Mick is playing better than ever.  God bless Mick Mars — that man is a rock and roll machine.  He is the MVP on Saints of Los Angeles.

OH!  And the Japanese bonus tracks, let’s not forget those.  The liner notes tell us nothing about where or when they were recorded, but they are obviously more recent.  “Kickstart My Heart” is the first, and Vince Neil sings with that annoying habit of singing every other word.  He lets the audience take lines when he can’t.  “Saints” slams, though.

4/5 stars. Crue fans will love it.

*It’s true.  According to a 1989 Hit Parader interview, not only were the band considering a concept album, but Nikki Sixx stated that he wanted Feelgood to be all hard rock, no ballads.  The ballads they had collected such as “Rodeo” and the newer “Without You” were to be included on a second new album to be released in 1990 called Motley Crue: The Ballads.  Bob Rock reportedly talked them out of the “no ballads” concept.  Then the concept was recycled for what would become Motley Crue (1994).  Before Vince bailed/was fired, Nikki said there were to be no ballads on the next Crue album.

REVIEW: Alice Cooper – Hey Stoopid (1991)

First of an Alice Cooper double shot!  Tomorrow, The Last Temptation!

ACHS_0002ALICE COOPER – Hey Stoopid (1991 Sony)

When Hey Stoopid first came out in ’91, fans were still reeling from the disappointment (but commercial success) that was the Trash CD. Fans wanted Alice to get heavier and drop the cheese, and Hey Stoopid was a step in the right direction, to be fully realized on his next album The Last Temptation.

It was the era of the virtuoso, and Cooper certainly knows a good musician when he hears one. To me it was a stroke of genius to have Steve Vai and Joe Satriani record a guitar solo together for the first time, and on a song called “Feed My Frankenstein” no less! Guest shots by Ozzy (barely audible, though), Nikki Sixx, Vinnie Moore, and Slash provided enough hype for the fans to salivate.

Songwriting-wise, Hey Stoopid was a step up from Trash. The title track with its lyrical warnings of drug abuse was a fun catchy rocker with a tasty Satriani solo. The solos on this album are all too brief. Still the players being as good as they are create solos that enhance each track. Other standouts include the mindblowing “Might As Well Be On Mars”, an epic Desmond Child song that just aches before it explodes on the choruses. “Die For You”, written by Alice with Motley Crue’s Sixx & Mars, as well as Jim Vallance, has a chorus that bores its way into your brain and stays there like a parasite.

There’s still a lot of filler, something that plagues almost Alice album from Goes To Hell through to Hey Stoopid. “Snakebite”, “Hurricane Years”, “Little By Little” and “Dirty Dreams” are all songs that Alice will never play live in concert, and for good reason.

Yet there are still lots of hidden gems on this CD, all the way through to the final track “Wind-Up Toy”. A song about insanity, as only Alice can do, it is something that really hearkens back to Welcome To My Nightmare. What’s this about “Steven”?

There are also a couple lesser known tracks that aren’t on the domestic CD that are worth tracking down: “It Rained All Night” is a slowy, groovy track that was a B-side but better than some of the ballads on the actual album. “Fire” was a Jimi Hendrix cover with some fiery (pun intended) guitar playing.

The most disappointing thing about Hey Stoopid is the production by the normally excellent Peter Collins. Yes, Trash was too glossy, and yes, Hey Stoopid toughens the sound with more guitars. However the background vocals in particular are so dense, so saccharine, that even Def Leppard would blush. They are credited to different groups of people, and clearly there are a lot of voices here creating this gigantic mush of sound. It’s too much. I much preferred when Alice stripped it down on Dirty Diamonds, an album that deserves much praise. In 1991, production values just seemed to go to this extreme — witness Europe’s Prisoners In Paradise CD for a similar sounding album.

Hey Stoopid was Alice attempting to find his footing again, and while it stumbled, it did pave the way for Last Temptation. If grunge didn’t wipe out hard rock later that year, maybe Hey Stoopid would be regarded more fondly.

3/5 stars. Not great, but certainly not a failure.

Promotional "Hey Stoopid" memo

Promotional “Hey Stoopid” memo

REVIEW: Motley Crue – New Tattoo (2000 European, 2 CD editions)

MOTLEY CRUE – New Tattoo (2000 Motley records, EU edition with bonus track and 2 CD edition)

The worst Crue album? Could be Theater of Pain, Generation Swine, or 2000’s New Tattoo. I don’t like speaking ill of the dead, but Randy Castillo was not a suitable replacement for Tommy Lee. Tommy Lee isn’t a great technical drummer by any stretch, but he has bombast and his songwriting is crucial to the Motley sound. Here, the songwriting void is filled by future Sixx A.M. collaborator James Michael.

The drum sound is flat and lifeless, the guitar is dry, and there is simply no fire here. The songs drone from soundalike to soundalike, and you will forget which is which. This is the Crue on cruise control if not pure autopilot. Of course, the band hyped this as a “return to the roots” album, which it is not. The Crue’s roots are bombastic loud chrome plated sleezy metal with loads of attitude and aggression. This is dull, pointless, meandering rock that goes nowhere. Without Tommy, I am inclined to say there is no Crue. Compare this to the Vince-less self titled 1994 album, a 5/5 star release all the way. Who is more crucial to the band’s energy?

Not one, I repeat, not one great song here, but plenty of mediocre ones. “Hell On High Heels” isn’t too bad, but it’s certainly not up to the standards of Motley Crue singles past.  Also half decent is “Punched In the Teeth By Love”, a title which dates back to 1991’s Decade of Decadence.  Unfortunately the majority of New Tattoo is clogged up with dreck like “She Needs Rock N’ Roll”, “Hollywood Ending” and the title track.  Nothing stands out after numerous listens.

MVP:  Mick Mars, who always seems to nail a tasty solo when needed.

The saving grace to this particular release is the live disc with Samantha Maloney (ex-Hole) on drums. It is more fun and entertaining than the album itself, but maybe that’s because the live disc is 66.6% oldies. The two demos included are no better than the album versions, but collectors should be aware that Europe got a version with a different bonus track called “Time Bomb”.  On top of that, Japan got an exclusive song called “American Zero”. It’s too bad it was relegated to Japan alone, because it might be the only track that actually hearkens back to the good old days.

Avoid. A bore and a chore to listen to. Pick up 1994’s self-titled release instead.

1.5/5 stars

Part 264: Garbage Removal Machine / REVIEW: Motley Crue – Lewd, Crued & Tattooed – Live

First the tale, then the review.  I would like to dedicate this one to DEKE, Thunder Bay’s hardest rocker, who titled this story for me.  And to Jason C, who just yesterday won tickets to the Toronto show on the Final Tour with Alice Cooper!  Lucky…!

RECORD STORE TALES Part 264:  Garbage Removal Machine

The year was 2004.  I had always been an active on various “social media” but back then the place to be was called IAM.  Iam.bmezine was the full name, but it was where I spent most of my time, and where some of the journals that appear here today originated.

I had joined an IAM book exchange group and specified that I was interested in collecting Stephen King.  Someone sent me The Stand and I was hooked, so I wanted to get more into the mythos.  This girl from Thunder Bay, Ontario sent me a few more as well.  A little bit later, she moved to Waterloo for school.  We met at William’s coffee pub to exchange some more stuff.  She was wearing a Motley Crue – Girls, Girls, Girls T-shirt.

One thing led to another and we ended up going out.  She came over to my place and we watched a couple rock movies.  She was into all things “retro”, so I decided to give her all my old cassettes.  Everything that was duplicated on CD, I gave to her.  All my Iron Maiden, all my Judas Priest, Motley Crue, Van Halen…everything that I had on disc.  She gladly took them, and I gladly took back my storage closet.

In return, she gave me her copy of Motley Crue’s DVD Lewd, Crued & Tattooed – Live.  “It sucks,” she said.  “Vince Neil sucks now.  I was so disappointed.”  I didn’t have the DVD, and it wasn’t especially high on my radar because yes, the Crue had been sucking as of late.  However the presence of Samantha Maloney on drums (filling in for the terminally ill Randy Castillo) meant that it was the kind of one-off that I enjoy owning.

One of the better performances

A couple of weeks went by with Thunder Bay Girl, but my guard was up; my spider senses were tingling.  I felt like she was obsessing a bit.  A bit later she told me that the reason she sent me the Stephen King books in the first place was just to contact me; she went out to a used bookstore, bought a couple Kings and sent them to me.  I know, not exactly So I Married An Axe Murderer behaviour, but there were other factors that made me start to feel uncomfortable.  When she asked me what I wanted for my birthday that year, I decided to pull the plug before it got too far.

I did the manly thing, and dumped her by email.  I know, I know.  All I can say in my defense is that I was right.  My spider senses detected something alright.  Although it didn’t happen immediately, she eventually exploded like a powder keg.  We chose to “remain friends” (not a good idea) but friendship soon turned to a hateful obsession.  She exploded on me one day — something about a ferret?  Eventually she moved back to Thunder Bay, and I never heard from her again.  I like to think that she took my tapes with her, and dumped them in a Thunder Bay landfill out of pure spite.  Although I wish I had kept some of those cassettes, I’ve decided to maintain a safe distance from Thunder Bay at all times.  It’s the only way to be sure.

MOTLEY SUCK_0001MOTLEY CRUE – Lewd, Crued & Tattooed – Live (2001 Motley Records DVD)

Here’s Uncle LeBrain with a dose of reality: This DVD sucks. Truly. It sucks. The New Tattoo album wasn’t great to start with, but this is awful. The awfulness can be boiled down to one factor: Vince Neil, the laziest singer in rock. Here, a breathless Neil does his thing: lets the crowd sing half the song, skips every other word, and weasels his way out of the tough notes.  Set-list wise, this relies heavily on the Motley hits with very little deviation. Which is good, can Vince even remember the lyrics to obscure tunes?

So embarrassing is Vince Neil’s performance on this DVD that I have only managed to watch the whole thing twice.  The main reason to own it is Samantha Maloney. Diehard Crue-heads will remember that drummer Randy Castillo had replaced Tommy Lee, but himself had to sit out the tour due to the cancer that eventually killed him. Ex-Hole drummer Samantha Maloney, the first and only girl to be in The Crue, took his place and did admirably well.  It all came to an end when she hooked up with Nikki Sixx.  You knew these guys just could not be in a band with a girl.

A second reason for me to keep this in my collection is “Nobody Knows What It’s Like To Be Lonely”.  This is an audio-only track, and also the first-ever official release of one of the earliest Motley songs.  To date, the only official release.  It was recorded in May 1981 at the same session that yielded Motley’s first single “Toast of the Town” / “Stick To Your Guns”.  I believe the song used to be known as “I Got the Power” and was written by Nikki Sixx for his old band, London.  It does piss me off that this audio track is only on a DVD, not a CD, but I’m sure those more tech-savvy than me can rip it to an mp3 file.

2/5 stars