nikki sixx

REVIEW: Motley Crue – Swine Sampler (1997 promo)

MOTLEY CRUE – Swine Sampler (1997 Elektra promo EP)

Promo CDs are a funny thing.  Any promotional CD that you have ever seen or owned was free at some point in its life.  Since promos were intended to be play copies, or giveaways, selling them was highly frowned upon.  When I say “frowned upon” I mean illegal though not heavily enforced.  So it is funny that this 23 year old Motley Crue promo has “STOLEN FROM CKWR” (the very station that hosts Rob Daniels’ Visions In Sound), written on the disc in black marker.  I did my duty and reported it to CKWR just now, but weirdly enough they could care less!

The real crime here is the “clean” version of a Motley Crue song from Generation Swine, and it is an absolute hatchet job.  Unlistenable.

Why would you even bother with a “clean version” of “Find Myself”?  The very second line in the song is “I gotta find myself some BEEP”!  (The word was “drugs”!)  The first line of the chorus is “I’m a sick mother BEEP er!”  Utterly ridiculous.  You’d think someone would have played it once and said “this is unreleasable”.  I counted seven beeps in under three minutes.

If you prefer, the “dirty” version of “Find Myself” is on the CD too.  Why was the record company Elektra pushing that song so hard?  It’s a weird punky track with Nikki Sixx on vocals for the verses, with the returning Vince Neil handling the choruses.  Not the kind of thing you’d really think to push at fans all excited about Vince coming back, right?  But here it is, twice.  Though the chorus is good, I’m not going out on a limb by calling this song “shitty”.  Or BEEP-y!

Much, much, much better are the album tracks “Let Us Prey” and “Shout at the Devil ’97”.   First, “Let Us Prey”.  This is the only track that sounds like a progression from the ’94 self-titled album with John Corabi.  Crabby even has a writing credit on it, and who knows, maybe that’s him screaming “Let us hunt!”  Tommy Lee did that, according to Tommy Lee, but I think it sounds like John.  It was certainly written for John to sing.  “Shout ’97” is a cool remake of a song that didn’t need remaking, but it was 1997 so what’re ya gonna do?  Added samples and a dance-y beat made it pretty irresistible.  Mick Mars threw down some cool new licks here, although the droning guitars are very dated.  Still, passing grade for “Shout ’97”.

Even though this CD has two good tunes out of four tracks, the “clean” one is such an atrocity that this gets:

0/5 stars

and the dreaded Flaming Turd.

 

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 #94: Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx’s Decade of Decadence – double shot!

“…Give us some time to work on what we wanna do now. Which is…so different, that it’s gonna take time. You can’t just go ‘we’re gonna do something different’ and just crank it out. I mean you gotta experiment and it’s going to take a lot of songwriting and trial and tribulations. So it’ll be four years between albums for us at least.” — Nikki Sixx

These are two of the interviews that made me really, really excited for the future of Motley Crue.  Nikki and Mick did a pair of MuchMusic interviews in the same day that aired on different programs.  Mars and Sixx were engaged and enjoying themselves.  I’ve edited the two interviews together here for you.  The first is a live session with Steve Anthony.  They take live questions in front of that big glass MuchMusic window with a legion of fans outside.   The second is a brief one in the basement with Teresa Roncon from the Power 30.

Subjects broached:

  • Best shows
  • Duluth
  • Glue
  • Parents still hating them
  • “Black Widow”
  • Decade
  • The next LP

NEWS: When ‘The End’ is Not the End – The Return of Motley Crue

2014

Tommy:  “Hey guys, how do we sell this farewell tour to our fans?”

Mick:  “Let’s call it The End so everybody knows this is the last one.”

Tommy:  “Good idea, but that isn’t what I meant.  How do we sell it so that they believe it?  We don’t want to be accused of doing this for the money, like Ozzy, Kiss and the Who.”

Nikki:  “How about…how about we sign contracts stating that we’ll never tour as Motley Crue ever again?  We’ll do it publicly; it’ll be great for the tour.”

Vince:  “Do I have to sing?”

2019

Motley Crue: “Let’s not just rip the contract up, let’s blow it up.  CA-CHING!  For the fans!”

 

Motley Crue will return to the stage (and your credit card statements) with Poison and Def Leppard.  Excited?  Disappointed?  Indifferent?  Let us know in the comments.

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 #62: The “Real” Dirt – MOTLEY CRUE – MuchMusic special “Decade of Decadence” (1990)

Already seen The Dirt? Watch this then.

Back in 1990, before Motley Crue released their own Decade of Decadence video, MuchMusic made one themselves. And it’s pretty good. They were already gearing up for the ill-fated Motley ’94 album. “No ballads,” says Nikki Sixx. It was a good time to be a Crue-head.

Youtube would not allow the music videos that were a part of this documentary.  They have been edited out.

VHS Archives #53: Motley Crue interviews from Much Spotlight (1984-90)

You wanted the Dirt? We got the Dirt. The real Dirt, right from the horse’s mouth, not some actor who used to play Ramsay Bolton on Game of Thrones.

Image result for ramsay bolton gif

These clips were recorded from the Motley Crue Spotlight on MuchMusic in late 1990 and has three parts:

1. 1984 interview with Nikki Sixx and Vince Neil
2. 1985 interview with Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee
3. 1990 interview with Vince Neil

Subjects discussed include Motley Crue as the “good guys”, touring and drinking with Y&T, and Vancouver.

VHS Archives #26: Motley Crue spill the dirt on Vince Neil’s car crash (1985)

You’re right Tommy; that car accident was a “misfortune”.

Rest in peace Razzle Dingley.

#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.

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