Tidal Catalog #36: Six Degrees of Motley Crue

Introduction: For those of you that have stumbled across this website and are interested in reading about my trek through the universe of the Tidal streaming service, let me tell you a bit about what I did. Back in 2016 I thought it would be kind of cool to listen to an artist’s catalog from start to finish and rank them from best to worst. After all, who doesn’t like a good list? I thought I might do a few of them and see what happened, hoping it would introduce me to records that were foreign to me in the arsenal of an artist I was familiar with. I also thought that it would be pretty cool to get out of the “one off” mode of listening to a new record, years after the previous one, in order to get a true sense of how the artist matured over time. Fast forward to June of 2019 and 250 catalogs later, I ended the trek. I posted these all on Facebook over the years as they were completed but I’m going to move them all over here, starting with #1, in order to expand them out a bit more. Facebook doesn’t exactly allow for too many details.

As with all my catalogs, to be considered in the ranking, an album has to meet certain criteria:

  • The artist must actually perform on 80% of the tracks (soundtrack and rap provision)
  • No compilations of previous released material will be included.
  • However, compilations of previously recorded material will be included if they are remixes, bonus tracks, outtakes… mostly music that hasn’t been part of a main release before.
  • The album must have been released officially and within the realm of the label that the artist would have been on at the time or official releases posthumously (normally applies to a slew of live records)
  • Any EPs must contain new new music and be relevant to the catalog, not be more like a single with a b-side or two.

Editors Note: When I originally posted this on Facebook, it was just the discography of Motley Crue as a band but for this post, I decided to expand it to include the other bands of the four core members (Mick Mars didn’t have any, so it comes down to Vince Neil, Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx). I chose not to expand it to John Corabi as that would have added 20 some albums to this list and not only didn’t I want to listen to them but it seemed excessive for a guy that virtually no one ever thinks about when they talk about Motley Crue.

Entrance Point: I am a Crue fan, so I had heard all of their stuff, the first couple Sixx A.M. albums, two Vince Neil solo records and some of the early Tommy Lee stuff.

Included:

  • Motley Crue
  • 58 (Nikki Sixx)
  • Brides of Destruction (Sixx)
  • Sixx: AM (Sixx)
  • Vince Neil Solo records
  • Tommy Lee Solo records
  • Methods of Mayhem (Lee)
  • Rock Star Supernova (Lee)

Not Included: The Dirt Soundtrack (a few new songs but more like a greatest hits); The Crue’s Quaternary EP since the songs are included on the Supersonic and Demonic Relics B-sides disc

All albums ranked on a 10 scale:

  • Motley Crue – Dr. Feelgood (9.5)

If you ever doubt what Bob Rock brings to a band as a producer, you really don’t need to look any further than Dr. Feelgood. Sure, Rock got the full superstar status by producing Metallica’s Black Album two years after this and this isn’t the first record he worked on but it’s light years ahead of anything the Crue had done up until this point. There’s always going to be that camp that thinks that Bob Rock takes the rawness out of everything and thus makes it worse and if that’s your take, I can’t argue with at least the former part of that statement. Rock is a taskmaster, down to every last note and Dr. Feelgood is as clean as the band has ever sounded. Of course that could also be because the whole band went to rehab before recording this. But whatever that took, this album is likely the pinnacle of 80s Glam/Hair metal. Mick Mars is playing guitar like he found a little life in him, Vince’s vocals never sounded better (and I’m sure that’s a lot of studio work) and this is a GD fierce, top open, driving down the highway at 90 type record, led by “Kickstart My Heart.” If you’re a fan of the genre, it’s hard to argue with how great the title track is either and even the ballads are right on the mark (“Without You” and “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away).” But the key part of this disc is that for the first time, the non-singles don’t sound like filler tunes. Motley Crue has always been a bit of a singles band but this is an album that’s great, front-to-back.

  • Methods of Mayhem – Methods of Mayhem (8)

Okay, so nothing is more surprising to me than the fact that Methods of Mayhem is this high in the list. I remember buying this album in 1999 off the ridiculous first single, “Get Naked” with the classic Lil Kim line, “ride the cock, ’til it hits the spot.” And the fact that it’s a rap-rock record from Tommy Lee, meant it was inevitably horrible. But. It’s. Not. Tommy Lee pairs with some rapper named TiLo and created what goes down as one of the heaviest of the rap-rock records that exist. The riffs on tracks like “Who the Hell Cares” and “Hypocritical” are really good, the rapping is solid and the songwriting is on point for what this is. And a lot of guests on the record likely helps quite a bit. Phil X, Ken Andrews and Danny Lohner on guitars helps bring the riffs, then Snoop Dogg, Fred Durst, Kid Rock and George Clinton lending their vocals as well as Scott Kirkland from the Chemical Brothers turning two tracks at the end into a techno-rock show lend credibility to this disc. And I suppose I need to take it seriously as it seems like a joke, but it really wasn’t considering that Tommy had a lot of rap on future records as well. Either way, it’s kind of fun.

  • Vince Neil – Exposed (8)

I distinctly remember Vince Neil’s first solo record in 1993 sucking big time but wait – it doesn’t? I remember listening to it when it came out but I don’t remember why I hated it. It’s really the Motley Crue follow up record that should have been. Vince pulled in Steve Stevens (of Billy Idol’s band) and he’s a really good guitarist that kind of created a very similar sound to what Vince was used to but maybe with even more energy. He also teamed up with Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw to write some songs and that probably helped as well. But overall, it’s a very listenable Motley Crue-ish record.

  • Sixx A.M. – Prayers for the Damned, Vol. 1 (8)

After the variety shown on Modern Vintage, Sixx A.M. went back to a full blown straightforward 2010’s rock album and decided to make it a double record. Double records from already average groups are never a good thing but in this case, Vol. 1 turned out nicely. This was part 1 of a staggered double disc, released in April of 2016 and containing their most solid material to date. It’s a rock ‘n’ roll record from start to finish and while nothing unique, the songwriting partnership of Sixx and DJ Ashba took a major step forward with this disc.

  • Sixx A.M. – Prayers for the Blessed (7.5)

The second part of the Prayers double disc came out in November of 2016 and is slightly different than the previous record. The first half of the disc is similar but has a bit of nu-metal tendencies to it and the second half is mostly mid-tempo epic, heartwrenchers. It’s a pretty solid album, not as good as the first but does contain a surprisingly good cover of Badfinger’s “Without You.”

  • Sixx A.M. – 7 (7.5)

The 7 EP from Sixx A.M. is a seven track, mostly acoustic record of songs from their first two albums and really is a hidden gem from the band. Despite being acoustic, the arrangements are mostly the same with the addition of extra keyboards and thus the songs still maintain their rock edge while being acoustic (I say mostly, because “Life is Beautiful” has some electric guitar on it). I don’t know if it’s a little sad that the stripped down versions of these songs are actually better than the originals or if that means they are quality songs but I’d rather hear more like this from Sixx A.M. than what they continue to put out.

  • Motley Crue – Girls, Girls, Girls (7)

It took four albums but to me this is where Motley Crue started making really solid music. My biggest issue on the first three albums was tempo. Mick Mars sounded asleep on most songs but on here, he shines and with him playing guitar like he’s alive, the pace of the songs picked up, making them rock harder than any of the first three albums. It helped that the production got better and Nikki Sixx’s songwriting grew as well and while it’s still got a great record, it’s hard to deny that “Wild Side” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” aren’t great songs if you like Glam Metal.

  • Sixx A.M. – Modern Vintage (7)

In this catalog, Modern Vintage is one of the more unique records. It’s clearly influenced by 70s glam, Queen, Elton John, ELO etc… making the title of the album pretty accurate. This is the first album where it seems like Nikki Sixx just wrote good tunes instead of tying to fit them into some particular rock checkbox that he had and it shows with some great tunes like “Get Ya Some.”

  • Sixx A.M. – The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack (7)

This is really the first album outside of the Crue that actually sounded like anyone gave a damn. Nikki recruited James Michael to sing and play keys and drums, which DJ Ashba played guitar and formed a decent group here. It’s the soundtrack to his book, which I’ve read and is very good. And Sixx does do a lot of spoken word on the album, which I don’t know if they are direct passages or not. But the somewhat symphonic, over-the-top nature of these rock tunes do definitely sound like they belong together and while I’ve never thought Sixx’s songwriting was all that great, I guess when you’re writing about your own life, it becomes slightly easier. As most of these records, it’s real good at points and dull in others though but it showed some life left in these fuckers.

  • Motley Crue – Motley Crue (7)

As I’ve stated many times in these catalogs, I do my best to review records based on the songs contained within and block out all the other factors. It doesn’t always end up that cleanly but I think this is a perfect example of where it does. Granted, a 7/10 really isn’t that great in the end but the vast majority of critics hate this record and the public barely recognizes that it exists. But it’s not a terrible record at all. The problem is that taken alone, you’d likely have no idea it’s a Motley Crue record. This is the only record with John Corabi as the singer and really, looking back, Motley Crue isn’t the Crue without Vince Neil. The glam rock is gone, there’s nothing at all that sounds like anything from Dr. Feelgood and this has a darker alt rock vibe instead (it was 1994 after all and that’s what was on the radio). The songs themselves, led by single “Hooligan’s Holiday” aren’t really that bad. Musically, it’s good and Corabi is undoubtedly a better singer than Vince but he’s got a completely different style that makes this understandably jolting. But cover up the band name on the record and it’s listenable and maybe even pretty decent.

  • Motley Crue – Theatre of Pain (6.5)

I go a different direction than most critics and even the band on what records are the quality ones. The general feeling is that the first two are really good and then Theatre of Pain is a piece of shit. Nikki Sixx has gone so far to declare it a piece of shit himself, as he was too strung out to write songs but my ears don’t hear that. I mean, it’s not a great album at all but it’s far better than the debut and I think Mick Mars’ guitar work is better on the vast majority of the album. “Fight For Your Rights” is the key song on this disc where I believe it all came together. There’s still my problem that I have with the tempo on some of the songs just not being fast enough to allow for some hard rock crunch but “Home Sweet Home” is actually a pretty great song and their cover of “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” is stellar. It’s really not as bad as most people make it out to be.

  • Motley Crue – Saints of Los Angeles (6.5)

Eight years after New Tattoo was released, this is the album that I believe was the actual “return to form” that critics said happened on the previous album. It’s a pretty rockin’ Crue record from start to finish and easily their best work with the core four members since Dr. Feelgood but in typical Motley Crue fashion, it’s still missing something that puts it over the top. It’s got some pretty great songs like “Face Down in the Dirt” and the title track and then cheesy shit like “Chicks = Trouble” and “White Trash Circus.” So like all Crue records, an EP worth of really good material and an EP worth of average tunes.

  • Motley Crue – Shout at the Devil (6)

Loads better than the debut record, but still not very good, Shout at the Devil at least had slightly better production and songs that didn’t sound amateur-ish on them. The title track is still the most well known song on the disc and though it’s stood the test of time, I wish the tempo was faster. It’s simply played too slow, which takes away from some of the power. Mick Mars is a good guitarist but he still sounds pretty basic outside of the guitar solos on this. The other singles are decent though – their cover of “Helter Skelter” and “Looks That Kill” and “Too Young To Fall In Love” show that they have some life in them.

  • Sixx A.M. – This is Gonna Hurt (6)

I had assumed Sixx A.M. was a one-off project to create music for his book but then he wrote a second book and put out a second sort-of soundtrack to it. I also read this book and unlike the one, I don’t remember a damn thing about it, but I do remember at least two pretty solid rock songs in “Lies of the Beautiful People” and the title track. There’s no spoken word on this one and most of the symphonic elements are gone, so This is Gonna Hurt is more a straight rock album and since DJ Ashba shared the writing credits, it also doesn’t sound like a Crue record. But Ashba, while a talented guitarist, doesn’t really write anything out of the ordinary. So when you listen to a song like “Are You With Me,” it’s not much different from listening to say… a Nickelback song and who the fuck wants to hear Nikki Sixx making Nickelback songs. So it ends up playing out as any typical 2011 rock album.

  • Brides of Destruction – Here Come the Brides (6)

Brides of Destruction were a short lived “supergroup” and I put that in quotes because I really don’t know how much a group with Tracii Guns and Nikki Sixx can really be called that but it was at least a few recognizable stars. Brides had two albums, this one in 2004 and a follow up in 2005 that Sixx wasn’t on because it seems like no one could get along with Tracii Guns. Personnel wise, Here Come the Brides is interesting too because John Corabi played guitar on the record, so it was a L.A. Guns meets Motley Crue type situation with the sound being somewhat inbetween. It’s a alt-rock record with a bit of a grunge feel too it and while decent enough for a listen, nothing really stands out. And the unknown singer, London LeGrand is a screamer rather than a singer and I don’t mean in a screamo type vein. He just sang at top volume all the time, no finesse anywhere on the disc – just simply a below average vocalist, which hurts an already average album.

  • Vince Neil – Tattoos & Tequila (6)

The third and final studio record from Vince Neil is a covers record, with two new songs on it (which I feel is a kind of weird thing to include on a covers album) and at least back to the rock ‘n’ roll sound that Vince was known for, after the previous abomination. Of the two new songs, the title track is very good – very Motley Crue-like and a clear indication that Vince still had some life in him. The covers are a bit hit-or-miss, as I don’t think he pulls off Sweet’s “AC/DC” very well nor does “No Feelings” by the Sex Pistols really work for his voice. But his covers of Cheap Trick’s “He’s a Whore” and Elton John’s “The Bitch Is Back” really rock. I do like that not all of them are the standard covers, so bonus points there but it’s really a one-off fun listen and nothing more than that.

  • Motley Crue – Generation Swine (5.5)

No one is going to say that Generation Swine is a great record but it’s not the total turd that most people make it out to be. After the one album experimentation with John Corabi, Vince Neil returned to the fold to make this album which was at least a little closer to a Crue sound than the self-titled record. They did experiment musically this time around with some guitar effects and then some vocal effects on Neil that really add a bit of an industrial feel now and again but a lot of people say this is “electronica” which is by no means true. It’s a decent, grinding rock record from a rock band. I know that I like it a lot more than most people and I could still only give it a 5.5 though. I do like the first half of the album a lot more than the second half, so if you can stand it at all, it’s definitely front loaded. And then of course there’s the final track, “Brandon” which is the first track Tommy Lee sang on and is a song written for his son with Pamela Anderson. It also could be the worst track a major band ever put on an album – I took off 2 points for this song alone. It’s the type of song you write on the side and then you take it home and you play it for your son and wife on the side, have a good family moment, then tuck away. You do not add it to your new record in any way, shape or form.

  • Motley Crue – Supersonic and Demonic Relics (5)

This is a B-side record and since many of the Crue tunes that made the albums weren’t very good to begin with, a B-side record isn’t the best use of your time. However, it does include the tracks from the Quaternary EP and “Primal Scream” which I think is the best song the Crue ever recorded but you can also get that on the Greatest Hits disc, Decade of Decadence, which is a better choice to go with here.

  • Motley Crue – Live: Entertainment or Death (5)
  • Motley Crue – The End: Live in Los Angeles (5)
  • Motley Crue – Carnival of Sins Live (4.5)
  • Motley Crue – Too Fast For Love (4)

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, the debut album from Motley Crue, sucks. There’s certainly a legion of fans that love the raw sound before they went all slick and radio friendly and critics love this record as well – but it’s demo quality at best from guys that sound like they don’t know how to play their instruments and a singer that hadn’t yet found his voice. I hear very little of what made the Crue good in this album. “Live Wire” was admittedly a great lead track and “Piece of Your Action” has its moments but otherwise, you’ve got riffs from Mick Mars that sound like a 12-year old kid practicing on his bed, you have terrible lyrics and Vince Neil’s pretty awful vocal performance including my most hated Crue moment, “Too Fast For Love” on which his sped up vocals sound like a whiny girl singing. I’m not sure that if I was an A&R rep back in 1981 that I would have remotely saw the promise in these guys.

  • Rock Star Supernova – Rock Star Supernova (3)

The second season of my favorite reality show ever – Rock Star – yielded this record. If you don’t remember this show, the first season was the band INXS auditioning for a new single and the resulting album was actually decent. The second season and final season of the show was a bit different, with a new band being formed with Gilby Clarke on guitars, Tommy Lee on drums and Jason Newsted on bass, with the winner of the contest fronting the band. The winner ended up being an arrogant dude named Lukas Rossi, a Canadian nobody before and no better off today. The resulting album was a fucking dull mess of songs that went absolutely nowhere. It also completely derailed the entire series.

  • Motley Crue – New Tattoo (3)

New Tattoo is the album I can’t stand. Billed as a return to form after the odd Generation Swine, this record does have the sleazy glam rock elements to it again, making it sound a lot like what you’d expect from Motley Crue. “Punched in the Teeth By Love” is a great example of this type of tune. But the whole album feels like an uninspired been-there-done-that record rather than an exciting back-to-basics Crue album.

  • Methods of Mayhem – A Public Disservice Announcement (2)

Eleven years after the debut Methods of Mayhem record, Tommy Lee reforms the band – or rather gathers a new set of dudes together and puts out a second disc that sounds nothing like the first. This record was written by random people through some sort of crowdsourcing. People we’re asked to submit snippets of tunes and Tommy Lee took them and created full songs out of them or something like that. And it’s 11 tracks that have almost nothing in common with each other from hip-hop, to rock, to pop, rap-rock and whatever else they throw at the wall.

  • Vince Neil – Carved in Stone (2)

I had never heard this record before this write up and I suppose it’s because I remembered hating the debut record so I never bothered with the follow up and it seems I was fine for that. Yikes. Instead of going with a rock producer, The Dust Brothers say behind the board on this one and while their brand of music worked well on The Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique and really well on Beck’s Odelay, this is not a pairing that should have happened. I read that Vince thinks Carved in Stone is a blend of rock and hip-hop that the world wasn’t ready for yet in 1995. Or maybe Vince is deaf? This isn’t a rap-rock record at all. It’s a mix of grunge and electronics the likes of which clearly wasn’t made for Vince Neil to perform (or frankly, anyone).

  • Tommy Lee – Never A Dull Moment (1)

The first Tommy Lee solo record has a lot of characteristics of the first Methods of Mayhem record for half the album at least. But here, Tommy Lee’s doing the rapping (and singing) and he’s not really made to do either one of them. And there’s zero flow to the record as the rap-rock flip-flops with dull alt-rock, literally every other track. An abomination.

  • Tommy Lee – Tommyland: The Ride (1)
  • Vince Neil – Live at the Whisky: One Night Only (.5)

You want to hear something fun? Try Vince Neil performing the classic Motley Crue hits with a band that’s not Motley Crue and at the point in his career where he was so out of shape that he couldn’t get half the words out and even when he could, he sounded fucking terrible. I don’t even know why I gave it a half a point. Maybe for nostalgia purposes. I simply don’t know how any artist could listen back to this recording and say “yes, let’s release this!”

  • 58 – Diet For A New America (0)

As I mentioned in the entrance point, I followed the Crue my whole life and I knew what the guys were up to musically outside of the band but I had no idea this record existed until right now. And there’s good reason for that as you can tell by my zero ranking (editors note: Technically, for those reading here for the first time, this is the first 0 given in the 36 catalogs so far but this record also wasn’t in my initial Motley Crue post on Facebook so it wasn’t originally the first 0 of the series). So how’s this for a group – Nikki Sixx on bass, Barry Gibb’s son Steve on guitar and Sixx’s father-in-law on vocals. This is like a rock, funk metal, hip-hop hybrid with terrible songwriting and a guy who simply shouldn’t be singing fronting the band (that singer was Dave Darling, an established producer at the time, singer of the Boxing Ghandis and more…). Supposedly the recording was just sort of willy-nilly made up on the spot type of stuff and it shows.

Summary:

  • Overall30 albums, average 5.1
  • Motley Crue13 albums, Average 5.7
  • Nikki Sixx 8 albums, average 6.1
  • Tommy Lee5 albums, average 3.0
  • Vince Neil 4 albums, average 4.1

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