vince neil

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.

REVIEW: Make A Difference Foundation – Stairway to Heaven/Highway to Hell (1989)

Make A Difference Foundation – Stairway to Heaven/Highway to Hell (1989 Polygram)

In 1989, I proudly sported my Moscow Music Peace Festival T-shirt in the highschool halls.  It was cool to see the rock bands on the forefront of heavy metal bringing music to the Soviet Union.  Scorpions, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Cinderella, Ozzy Osbourne and Skid Row joined Russian metal band Gorky Park in the name of peace and being drug free.

Drug free?  Ozzy?  It’s true that this was a little strange, but Motley were at least clean for the first time in their lives.  The Scorpions had played behind the Iron Curtain before, and Sabbath were huge in Russia.  Meanwhile Bon Jovi were one of the few bands to legally release an album in the USSR, and in return they brought Gorky Park to the US.  I was lucky enough to have a girlfriend who recorded the televised part of the concert off MTV and sent me a copy.  It was a pretty mindblowing video.  Those Russians were going absolutely nuts, seeing their idols on stage.

Later on, the bands each contributed a song to a compilation album called Stairway to Heaven/Highway to Hell, each covering an artist who had been touched by substance abuse.  The CD was produced by the biggest name at the time, Bruce Fairbairn himself.  The proceeds went to an anti-drug charity, for all the good “just saying no” does.  The album itself was a pretty great compilation of mostly exclusive music.  Though almost all of it is now available elsewhere, that wasn’t the case in 1989, making this a tempting buy.

Gorky Park, the up and comers, started off with “My Generation”.  Some find it too putrid to stomach.  It’s virtually an original song with only the lyrics recognizable.  The riffs and melodies seem otherwise new.  So give Gorky Park some credit for at least not attempting a carbon copy, but then you gotta take off some points for turning “My Generation” into a Bon Motley song.  Unfortunately for Gorky Park, their momentum halted when singer Nikolai Noskov quit in 1990.

Skid Row surprised the hell out of everyone with the Pistols’ “Holidays in the Sun”.  It was the first indication that Skid Row had punk roots.  “Holidays” was very much a look ahead to where they would go on Slave to the Grind.  They were on the punk bandwagon a full two years before Motley decided to cover the Sex Pistols.  It’s always strange to hear flashy metal guitar solos on a Pistols song, but it’s sheer joy to hear Sebastian spitting and screaming up a storm.

Scorpions had a new compilation out called Best of Rockers ‘n’ Ballads.  Another Who song, “I Can’t Explain” was taken from it to be used on this CD.  It is by far the better of the Who covers, as Scorpions really made it their own.  Next, Ozzy’s track is quite interesting.  It’s the only studio recording of the lineup including Zakk Wylde, Randy Castillo, and Geezer Butler.  Geezer quit the band shortly after, and this incredible lineup never recorded anything else.  I consider it the strongest band that Ozzy had after Randy Rhoads.  The quartet did a live sounding cover of “Purple Haze”, unfortunately not the greatest version.  It is at least a showcase for Zakk Wylde to go nuts on the wah-wah pedal.

I will argue that the best track on this album came from the band that was riding a brand new high:  Motley Crue.  Clean and mean, they were incredibly strong in 1989.  They the balls to choose an obscure Tommy Bolin (Deep Purple) solo tune:  “Teaser”.  Motley put on that Dr. Feelgood groove, and Mick Mars laid waste to the land with his slidey guitar goodness.  It’s no surprise that “Teaser” has reappeared on Motley compilations several times since.  It has balls as big as a bus!

Another strong contender is Bon Jovi’s take on Thin Lizzy.  “The Boys are Back in Town” fits seamlessly with that small town New Jersey vibe that Bon Jovi used to have.  Lynott must have had some influence on a young Jon Bon, because all his old tunes are about the boys – back in town!  Dino’s bar and grill could be in Sayreville NJ.  Of course, Bon Jovi are a competent enough band to be able to cover Thin Lizzy and do it well.

Another surprise:  Cinderella doing Janis Joplin.  Singer Tom Keifer suited Joplin, though you don’t immediately associate the two!  “Move Over” takes advantage of that Keifer shriek that isn’t too far removed from Janis.  From there on though, it’s filler.  Jason Bonham, Tico Torres and Mickey Curry do a pretty boring “Moby Dick”.  It’s funny how John Bonham sounds bigger on the original, than three drummers on this remake.  Then it’s a bunch of live jams from the Moscow concert:  “Hound Dog”, “Long Tall Sally”, “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Rock and Roll” (Bonham on drums again for the latter).  Vince Neil is hopelessly out-screamed by Sebastian Bach on the Zep tune.  All the singers participated, but Sebastian Bach and Tom Keifer blew ’em all away.

This disc has been out of print a while, but isn’t too hard to find.  80s rockers need to have it for its historical value.

3/5 stars

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

#499: Top Five Most Heinous Rock Criminals

Welcome back to the week of Getting More Getting More Tale.  This one is…not funny.

GETTING MORE TALE #499: Top Five Most Heinous Rock Criminals

Who are the biggest dicks in rock? People who have committed crimes so atrocious, so heinous, that forgiveness is all but impossible? Here is a list of some of the most well known examples of extreme douchebaggery in rock and roll.

SID5. Sid Vicious (Sex Pistols)

Not everybody gets to have Gary Oldman play them in a movie. In order to attain this dubious distinction, you have to be the bassist for the most notorious punk band in the world, stab your girlfriend (Nancy Spungeon) to death, and then die of an overdose before the case can go to trial. The unanswered questions will remain so forever.

PHIL4. Phil Spector

The genius producer extraordinaire may have been most well known for his “wall of sound” in the 1960’s, but today people remember him showing up in an array of outrageous wigs for his murder trial. On February 3 2003, actress Lana Clarkson was killed by a gunshot to the head at Spector’s mansion. Spector was found guilty on April 13 2009, and has been in jail ever since. His bald mugshot was a stark contrast to the huge wigs he was known for.

VARG3. Varg Vikernes (Burzum)

This bizarre tale cannot be summed up in a paragraph. Varg did 21 years in jail for stabbing Mayhem guitarist Euronymous (Øystein Aarseth) to death. Vikernes has explained and justified the events of August 10 1993 many times, but every interview just makes the situation more bizarre and surreal. Vikernes is a free man today, continually working on and releasing new music with his solo project Burzum.

VINCE2. Vince Neil (Motley Crue)

Drinking and driving is a crime that no-one should ever take lightly. When it involves injury and death, that goes double. On December 8 1984, a drunk Vince hopped into his Pantera with Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle Dingley to pick up some more booze. Neil hit an oncoming car, seriously injuring its passengers, and killing Dingley. Neil spent 15 days in jail. To make matters even worse, this was not Neil’s last instance of drinking and driving. He faced charges in 2007 and again in 2010. This is an example of a man who is old enough to know better, but will never learn.

WATKINS1. Ian Watkins (Lostprophets)

Ian Watkins is in jail right now, and hopefully will remain there for a very long time. His crime? According to investigators, Watkins is a “committed, organized paedophile” and “potentially the most dangerous sex offender” they had ever seen. His lack of any sort of remorse has made his crimes that much more disgusting.

REVIEW: The Adventures of Ford Fairlane – Original Soundtrack (1990)

MOVIE SOUNDTRACK WEEK
Scan_20160604THE ADVENTURES OF FORD FAIRLANE – Original Soundtrack Recording (1990 Elektra)

This movie stunk.  Somebody had the idea:  “Hey, let’s get Andrew Dice Clay to headline a raunchy comedy movie, and get a hard rock soundtrack!  The kids will love it.”  The movie and soundtrack were loaded with famous names:  Wayne Newton, Sheila E., Vince Neil, Priscilla Presley, Robert England and so on.  It didn’t help; the movie tanked and its resultant soundtrack was a hodge-podge of music that no one listener would like all the way through.

There is plenty to dislike on this CD.

A past-his-prime Dion remade “Sea Cruise” with Don Was, rendering it limp like a stunted child of the 1980’s.  Skip the unbelievably terrible Sheila E. track.  The Teddy Pendergrass song is also pretty awful, in a nondescript 80’s fashion. Tone Lōc dropped a turd with “Can’t Get Enough”, despite a phat Hammond organ riff that must have been sampled from something much better. Finally, Andrew Dice Clay taints both the band Yello and the song “I Ain’t Got You” with his voice. The Yello track is just synth music with movie dialogue on top. Then “I Ain’t Got You” is less than two minutes long, so at least it’s relatively painless. I don’t know if somebody had the idea to launch Dice as a rock star next, but if they did, it failed miserably.

There are a few songs that could be considered keepers.

Billy Idol was experiencing a comeback at the time, with the classic-tinged “Cradle of Love”. It combined new wave production values with rock and roll stylings of the 1950’s. Striking while the iron Idol was hot, the song is included on this soundtrack as the opening number. It was Idol’s first single, post-Steve Stevens. It featured his new guitarist Mark Younger-Smith, and ex-Ozzy bassist Phil Soussan who briefly appeared in the movie as one of Vince Neil’s bandmates. (He later became one of Vince’s bandmates in real life.)

Speaking of Vince, Motley Crue contributed the Dr. Feelgood outtake “Rock ‘n Roll Junkie”, well before it was released on Decade of Decadence.  This mix is slightly different than the one commonly released on Motley albums.  Vince sings an audible “Uh!” sound at the 30 second mark on the usual versions.  That is absent on the Ford Fairlane mix.  There is also a stronger flanging effect on the bass during the intro of the common version.  So, for Motley diehards, this CD presents one mix that you don’t own elsewhere in your collection.

I have no idea how Queensryche got involved with this soundtrack; they were even on a different record label. “Last Time in Paris” was an accessible rock track; an outtake from the sessions for the forthcoming Empire.  It would not have been one of the best Empire tracks, but it’s good enough for fans of vintage ‘Ryche.  Chris DeGarmo employs a slide on his guitar solo, and Geoff Tate throws down a sassy lead vocal.

The final track was also an outtake from a forthcoming release:  Richie Sambora’s Stranger in this Town solo debut.  Sambora recorded a classy cover of Hendrix’s “The Wind Cries Mary”.  Sambora was displaying previously unseen depth and blues chops.  “The Wind Cries Mary” was later included on a deluxe edition of Stranger in this Town, but by and large most Bon Jovi fans have not heard it.  With this track, Richie had the best tune on the soundtrack.

The verdict on this “rock and roll detective” movie sountrack?  It gets the dreaded Flaming Turd.

1.5/5 stars

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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: Vince Neil – Exposed (1993)


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VINCE NEIL – Exposed (1993 Warner)

When Vince Neil finally unleashed his first solo album Exposed in 1993, it looked like he was the early winner in the great battle:  Vince vs. Motley.

As is par for a volatile band like Motley Crue, the acrimony behind the split was intense and overshadowed any music either party was about to come out with.  Even after reading Motley’s book The Dirt, it’s not really clear what happened.  Vince was complaining that he wasn’t into the new Motley music they were working on.  “Like 4th rate Physical Graffiti outtakes” he once commented in Metal Edge, with too much emphasis on keyboards and backing singers.  Crue, meanwhile, felt the lack of dedication coming from the singer.  He had missed a few rehearsals.  After driving through a torrential rainstorm making him late at the studio, he was confronted.  “We’re thinking about having new lead singer auditions again,” said Nikki Sixx to Vince Neil.  The band put out a bogus statement saying Neil was diverting his focus to race cars, and Vince was battling from the bottom again.

After working on one tune with the Damn Yankees (three out of four anyway, minus Ted Nugent) called “You’re Invited (But Your Friend Can’t Come)” for the opening song of the Encino Man soundtrack, it was time to put together a new band.  An early lineup consisted of ex-Ozzy Osbourne bassist Phil Soussan, but that didn’t last.  When Soussan left, newcomer Robbie “Ichabod” Crane (a nickname he pretty much stopped using immediately) switched from rhythm guitar to bass, while the legendary Steve Stevens of Billy Idol fame was the main shredder.  Vik Foxx from Enuff Z’nuff was hired on drums, and another newcomer named Dave Marshall took over the vacant rhythm guitar spot.  Vince wanted two guitars, unlike Motley’s one.

With the ex-Billy Idol axeman by his side, Vince Neil already had everything he needed to make an incredible album.  The help of Stevens, Soussan, and Tommy Shaw & Jack Blades from Damn Yankee meant he had a songwriting dream team.  Fired up and motivated to prove everybody in the music business wrong, Vince was in the zone, and the chemistry was working.  He also beat Motley to the punch by 11 months.

The last thing I expected from a new Vince Neil song would have been a six minute epic with more guitar action than Motley Crue had packed into six albums.  Vince was in great voice at this time, and his singing on this album is exemplary.  On every track, he sounds like he means it.  Crisply captured by producer Ron Nevison, the song is driven forth by the relentless Vik Foxx (sounding like he’s doing his best Rush impression) and the space-age technique of Steve Stevens.  It’s an exotic metal groove, with flash and tricks like you have never heard before.  I don’t know how Stevens does some of the things he does, but that’s why he’s the guitar hero and not me.  If record labels weren’t scared shitless of releasing a six minute single, then this should have been the single.

Instead “Sister of Pain” was the single, a song that does not make as strong an impression.  It’s a hard boned sleezy cock rocker in the Motley fashion, which is probably what they were going for.  Vince felt that since Motley were changing styles, it was up to him to keep the old Crue sound alive.  That’s “Sister of Pain”, a catchy and satisfactory rock single, although still five minutes due to the intense soloing. This is one of the tunes that Vince wrote with Shaw and Blades.

“Can’t Have Your Cake” has a neat slippery riff, and it too was used as a single.  This fits the niche of the “fast Motley rocker”, like (say) “Kickstart My Heart”, though it’s not as heavy.  Thankfully it’s a song to its own, thanks to Stevens’ creative licks.  I like “Fine, Fine Wine” better.  Vince is as dirty as ever, proving he doesn’t need Nikki Sixx to write a sleezy rock lyric.  It’s just a kicking groovy guitar song, perfect for playing air instruments to.

Stevens fans know his flamenco work is incredible.  He gets to show it off for the first 30 seconds of “The Edge”, finally a song about Vince’s supposed true passion — racing!  Not an instantaneous song in any way, “The Edge” has a lot going on but it’s worth the challenge.  This kind of technical rock was beyond Motley Crue before, but with guys like Steve Stevens, Vince was able to show them up a bit.  There’s more of Stevens’ incredible classical guitar on the ballad “Can’t Change Me”, a sentiment I have always identified with.  This is the kind of pop ballad that would have made Vince the king of radio only two years earlier.  Not surprisingly it’s a Tommy Shaw co-write, because that’s exactly who it sounds like.

Scan_20160216 (2)Nothing like a cover to kick off side two, and “Set Me Free” by the Sweet is basically the original “Kickstart my Heart”.  May as well go back to the original and amp it up a bit with some slippery Steve Stevens fretwork.  It’s a heavy, layered presentation of guitars and ass kicking drums, and we can certainly forgive Vince for putting a cover on his album.  Besides, the next track “Living is a Luxury” has a nocturnal, smoky vibe that makes it one of the most interesting cuts.  The jazzy guitar is like nothing on any Motley Crue album.

Then we’re down to a remake of “You’re Invited (But Your Friend Can’t Come)” from Encino Man.  Damn Yankees played on the original, and sonically and vocally, that is the one I prefer.  The album version of course has more guitars.  It’s too bad they couldn’t add that one in as a CD bonus track, but the Encino Man soundtrack was on Hollywood, not Warner.  Regardless of which version we’re listening to, this is still a dynamite blast of adrenaline that seems over way too soon.  I used to play the soundtrack version on repeat in the car.  Rewind and go again.

“Gettin’ Hard” is a great mid-paced rock tune, but what’s odd is that the lyrics in the booklet are nothing like the actual song, except for the choruses.  It’s as if they changed the words at the last minute but forgot to tell the people who print the CD sleeves!  A strange little oddity to go with a grooving cool song.  Out come the acoustics again for the last track, “Forever”, a really sweetly made ballad.  The layers of shimmery guitars make it a class above most ballads of this ilk.  It ends the album on a glowing nostalgic note.

Unfortunately for Vince, he was unable to follow this album with anything decent.  We realistically knew that Steve Stevens wasn’t going to hang around long, but what hurt Vince most was his ill-advised attempt to cross over, getting the Dust Brothers to produce.  1995’s Carved in Stone failed to make any impression whatsoever.  Meanwhile, his former cohorts in Motley Crue quietly cooked up a beast of an album with Bob Rock.  1994’s Motley Crue was about the only thing that could have topped Exposed.

4.5/5 stars

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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.

Part 313: Not Allowed Lending!

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RECORD STORE TALES Part 313: Not Allowed Lending!

By popular request, here’s a story about loaning your CDs out to people who don’t appreciate or take care of them properly.

Really, I should have learned my lesson in Grade 12. I loaned my brand spanking new cassette copy of Van Halen I out to this kid at school, Jamie. He was a nice kid, so I didn’t have a problem with it. What I did have a problem with was the condition in which he returned it: without the cover! How could he possibly have lost it? He did eventually find it and return it to me, but he didn’t seem to understand why it mattered. Who does that? Lots of people, I’m afraid.

At the Record Store, I befriended a customer named Len, who I actually went to highschool with, but didn’t know until after. We had the same group of friends who were all into the same music. I turned Len onto Marillion and he began borrowing my Marillion discs to burn. What upset me was when I loaned him my limited edition copy of Anoraknophobia. Remember how Marillion put out limited edition digipack versions with bonus discs? If you pre-ordered, your name would make it into the CD. My name is there inside Anoraknophobia, and the followup Marbles as well.

img_20140805_180021Len returned my copy of Anoraknophobia – a sold-out limited edition – with a crease in the spine. Probably from trying to photocopy the booklet. I wasn’t happy and I told Len I wasn’t loaning out my CDs anymore. He was sorry he had done it, and understood that I was upset, but that didn’t take the crease out.

Later on, I bought a condo. I moved into the same building as a friend of ours, somebody we all had met via the original record store location. Her nickname was “San Franciscy” – a long story that involves my dad and his inability to pronounce things correctly. She was a nice girl most of the time, but very pushy. I have issues with people who try to persistently try to push me around, so I had begun to distance myself by the time I moved in.

A few weeks after I moved in, she came down to my unit. She was having a party upstairs. She needed some music.

“Do you have any Beatles?” she asked me.

“Yup, I have the Red and Blue albums. They’re excellent. The Red one probably has all the songs you’d want for a party.”

VH 194_0001She asked me about a couple more CDs.  Van Halen was one. I got them out of my CD tower.

“You’re going to take care of these, right? And you’ll return them tomorrow morning?” I asked pointedly.

“It might not be tomorrow morning but I’ll bring them back, of course.”

I knew how this girl took care of her own CDs. I had bought enough used discs from her at the store. She always bitched when I told her the discs were scratched up. She never put them back in the case, and left them out all the time.  Knowing her ways of handling discs, I added additional instructions.

“I want you to be careful with these discs, and put them back in the cases when you’re done. I also want you to make sure nobody else touches my CDs. Only you.  I want them back exactly as they are.”

She gave me this flabbergasted expression. What she said next was the sentence that ended what was left of our “friendship”:

“What do you care if they get scratched?! You work at the store!”

That was it. I told her I wouldn’t loan her the CDs if that was her attitude. She went upstairs in an angry huff, and we never socialized again. I ran into her now and then, and she was always bitchy.  The friendship was over.

I really had no regrets about that. One thing about me is that if you want to be my friend, you have to accept me as-is, quirks and all. You don’t have to understand them, but you have to accept them. Nobody can change me.  The only person who will ever change me is myself, and taking care of my property is one thing that doesn’t need changing!