What can you say about the Crue outside of their music? They are 4 very interesting guys who have racked up some major headlines and infamy throughout the years. If you have not yet read The Dirt it is definitely a must-read! Here are a few highlights from Nikki, Tommy, Vince and Mick although it would require another book or two to cover all of their stories!
Read Part 1 Here
While the scandals, marriages, crimes and drama surrounding Motley Crue are definitely newsworthy we’re gonna tackle that ball of yarn later in the week. For today let’s look at the discography that has made the Crue one of metal’s most loved bands. There are several live and compilation albums that have been released, but the following are the individual studio albums released by the band.
Too Fast For Love as mentioned in the previous post was the guys’ first release both on Leathur and Elektra records in 1981 and 82.
The next release was the epic Shout at the Devil album. The one that introduced a young me to the Crue and started a lifelong obsession. There is no denying that while many of the Sunset Strip bands were getting noticed in those years the Crue had something unique and really stood out from the crowd. Lodged firmly between Quiet Riot and the next big bands Guns n Roses and Poison the Crue put their mark all over the mid-80s. Shout at the Devil was released in 1983 and featured a cover of The Beatles’ hit Helter Skelter as well as 10 other tracks written by Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil and Mick Mars.
In what appeared to be a major change up the Crue guys went from leather and spikes to fishnet and spandex in a more glam look for their next release. Theatre of Pain was released in 1985 and came out swinging with a Smokin’ in the Boys Room cover and the iconic ballad Home Sweet Home. Motley Crue became more of a household name with this “friendlier” release. Despite what may have been going on behind the scenes Theatre of Pain was a solid album, albeit different from what fans of Shout at the Devil may have been expecting.
The year 1987 brought about yet another change with the guys going for a sleazy leather look and a more bluesy and gritty sound for their Girls Girls Girls release. The title track and video took the airwaves and MTV by storm. But there was more to this album than just debauchery. Fans found a cover of Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock, the simple and heartbreaking Nona in tribute to Nikki’s grandmother and a great mix of hard rockers and the necessary ballad.
As the lifestyle was taking its toll on the Crue they all worked toward sobriety before recording their next release. Dr. Feelgood was released in 1989 and had been eagerly awaited by fans. Would the boys be as amazing when sober? To answer that question critics claimed that the Dr. Feelgood album was the best work the guys have done. The music itself as always thanks to Nikki’s songwriting told stories of the things they guys had been through and for the first time did not include a cover song. The title track and Don'tGo Away Mad became MTV staples and the Crue’s fandom grew even more.
The first “Greatest Hits” album release by the Crue was Decade of Decadence in 1991. As always the guys don’t play by the rules and included not only their greatest hits but also remixes, covers, and new songs.
The next release was in 1994, and was an album with a lot of changes. Instead of a title and concept this album was self titled, simply Motley Crue. Instead of Vince on vocals the group now included Nikki, Tommy, Mick and John Corabi. While the music and songs were still great, for a fan like me it just wasn’t the Crue without Vince up front. The music and voice were harder and not the Crue sound that fans were used to. That is not to say that Corabi isn’t an amazing musician and vocalist. I love his work with other bands, but I just couldn’t accept the Crue without Vince. The major difference was that the songs had a different source as Corabi and Sixx handled the songwriting as a team.
After releasing the self titled album and working with Corabi to write songs for the next album that were very different from anything the Crue had released before Vince was brought back in for vocals. Just as Corabi’s voice didn’t go with the traditional Crue sound, Vince was not the voice for the songs Nikki and John had co-written. The album released in 1997, Generation Swine featured a lot more electronica and alternative sounds and in my opinion was probably even worse than the self titled album. This album ended the Crue’s long recording history with Elektra and was the last album Tommy Lee would play with the Crue for a long time.
In the year 2000 the Crue guys released the album New Tattoo on Motley Records and Eleven Seven Music. While missing Tommy Lee, the Crue sound was back and in full force with Nikki writing the songs, Randy Castillo on drums, and Vince in front where he belongs. Critics had moved past the “glam” “hair metal” sound, it was the new millennium and the album didn’t exactly get rave reviews but fans like me loved the return to the way the Crue was supposed to sound. They even went back to featuring a cover song on this album and did a helluva job on The Tubes’ White Punks on Dope.
In 2008 the Crue released Saints of Los Angeles. The return of Tommy Lee and songwriting help from Nikki’s friends from the Sixx A.M. band helped make the next release Saints of Los Angeles a great album. The tracks on the album go along with parts of the book The Dirt which tells the story of Motley Crue. Having all 4 original members back in the group after various and sundry reasons kept them separated for way too long is part of what made Vince tell That Metal Show that Saints is his favorite Crue album. Many fans feel the same way.
I'll be back later in the week with more Motley Crue!!!
I wanted a band that would be like David Bowie and the Sex Pistols thrown in a blender with Black Sabbath.—Nikki Sixx
Let’s go all the way back to “In the Beginning”!
In early 1981 bassist Nikki Sixx decided to leave the band London. He then started rehearsing with vocalist Greg Leon and drummer Tommy Lee who had both previously been in Suite 19. Greg Leon went another direction leaving Nikki and Tommy to seek band members. The guys answered a person ad that read: “Loud, rude and aggressive guitar player available.” Guitarist Mick Mars was auditioned and hired into the band. As for a vocalist, there was another frontman auditioned but in the end they guys went with Rock Candy vocalist Vince Neil who had attended high school with Tommy Lee and had been in previous bands with the charismatic drummer. Vince refused to leave Rock Candy at first but as the members of Rock Candy began moving toward other projects Neil was ready when Tommy asked once more. As of April 1981 the band was complete, but lacked a name.
After the guys shot down Nikki’s idea of calling the band Christmas Mick recalled that when he was with a band called White Horse one of the members called them “a motley looking crew”. It caught his attention and he’d written it down as "Mottley Cru". The guys did a bit of modifying and eventually settled on Motley Crue with metal umlauts over the o and u.
Since 1981 this quartet has made history, headlines and amazing music together. Other than between 1992 to 1997 and 1999 to 2004 the lineup has always been…. Vince Neil, Tommy Lee, Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars.
We’ll discuss those two periods of different lineups later.
For now let's check out the first Motley Crue album Too Fast for Love!
This album has a very well known cover with a leather clad crotch. Not only is it eye-catching the music contained is absolutely a shot to the groin. Rough, gritty, and different from anything we were listening to in those days the Crue began to make a name for themselves even before the Shout at the Devil album. Too Fast for Love was released on both Leathur Records and Elektra records. The Elektra version has become the accepted first album with only 900 Leathur Records albums released. There was a bit of remixing and track list changes on the Elektra version.
I'll be back with the next chapter of Motley history later this week! Until then...