The Theater Of Pain era brings back so many memories for this Cruehead. I remember sitting in class & hearing some kid, probably skipping school, walking through the school yard with a stereo blasting ‘Smoking In the Boys Room’ in about 1985. The Crue hit the big time with this record. ‘Smokin’’ & ‘Home Sweet Home’ were tunes that appealed to a broader audience & Hard Rock/Heavy Metal music was a more popular genre after all the pioneer work of bands like the Crue, Quiet Riot, Twisted Sister, Iron Maiden & Ozzy Osbourne.
But Theater is mostly regarded as a misstep nowadays, with Nikki leading the pack in calling out the records’ weaknesses. It’s hard to disagree. Songs like ‘Fight For Your Rights’, ‘Raise Your Hands To Rock’, ‘Tonight (We Need A Lover)’ do sound like filler (& certainly touched with the dated Twisted Sister anthemic, mid ‘80s production value).
For those of us who grew up with the Crue in the ‘80s, Theatre Of Pain is the bastard fuck-up that you love as much for its highlights as its lowlights. Opinions vary but I’ve always loved the ‘filler’ tunes on the record. The opening track, ‘City Boy Blues’ introduces the world to the Crue of the next two records with their more mainstream, bluesy, Aerosmith-influenced hard rock. It’s a groovy tune with a great lyric . . . Nikki sets the urban scene in an almost poetic intro.
Fireflies . . . & dog fights . . . Running hot in the heat . . . Street noise . . . another bribe . . . things too hard to believe, so head out!
My heart’s in the country, my feet in the city with you . . . Well my friends were eating sushi talking bad about you-know-who-who-who . . . My tongue was talking riddles but I just can’t seem to find the clue . . . So I take a swig of whiskey & I jump into the saddle with you-you-you . . . & I just can’t seem to break the shackles of the City Boy Blues . . .
Another verse & then a nice breakdown before the solo with some particularly choice words from the Sixxster:
Don’t look to Jesus to change your seasons, it’s the American Dream . . . Sold out gypsies, roads of stone . . . can’t seem to find no peace, so head out!
Vince’s car accident in 1984 that resulted in the death of Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicolas ‘Razzle’ Dingley cast a pall over Motley operations & spirit in these years. After the controversies of Shout At the Devil, Theater represents a creative revision that also reflects where the band was heading musically. Too Fast & Shout are the odd men out as far Crue’s ‘80s sound . . . Too Fast with its power pop punk & proto-Sunset Strip Rock N’ Roll & Shout with it’s Heavy Metal/Satanic/Violent/Gang/S&M overtones. Theater has most in common with Dr. Feelgood, to my ears. Both are obvious attempts at garnering more of the generic hard rock audience of the times.
It’s a turn to more hard rockin’ sounds but the Metal flavour is still there in some of the songs.
While Shout At the Devil lives on & has become a classic album that still wins fans, Theater Of Pain remains a record truly of its time. A product of sudden & overwhelming success & overkill . . . & the effects of indulgence. 1985!
September 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of Motley Crue’s seminal record Shout At The Devil. I was only 7 years old when this album was released but when I heard it for the first time in about 1984, not only did my taste in music change immediately (bye bye Michael Jackson, Thriller doesn’t seem so edgy anymore!) but my life changed as well: Music became my religion, my life’s passion & my connection with the universe.
Shout is one of the most important records of the 1980s. It was a catalyst for so much more Hard Rock & Metal music to be made & appreciated in those years & it was a highly creative effort that melded Metal with Pop & Punk & introduced the Crue to the world at large.
The Sleaze Patrol Files will be celebrating what we think of as Motley’s greatest moment throughout 2013 & we invite you to stick around, be strong & SHOUT AT THE DEVIL!!!
Motley went through an odd phase in 1988-1989. The loss of all those chemicals & alcohol vapors musta set them off because they flirted with rap music.
Nikki interviews from the time had him dropping titles to songs they were demoing & even song lyrics to some of the tunes [Go HERE to read more]. There was an air of experimentation in the days leading up to Dr. Feelgood & some of the demos survive.
‘Say Yeah’ is a rocker with a Rap-like verse & a breakdown in which we get to hear Tommy Lee, for the first time, show his hip-hop heart & Rap
‘Get out, out of my face
Get the fuck out of my face
Get out, outta my face
I’ll call you on your game’
Dr. Feelgood was almost called ‘Monstrous’ & there survives a short demo of the song which features lines rapped by Nikki & Vince!
Nikki: ‘People in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks’
Vince: ‘People marked ‘Stupid’ shouldn’t talk’
Nikki: ‘And People in a maze, you’re always lost’
Vince: ‘I get sick at the state of Rock!’
Wow, that’s some bad Hip-Hop. Luckily, this was just a phase Nikki was going through & none of this stuff made it to Feelgood. Tommy’s affair with Rap & techno would strike up big time in the 1990s & continues to this day.
The song ‘Dr. Feelgood’ has a groove & a lyric that naturally lends itself to a Hip-Hop interpretation (see just that with Mr. Mick Mars on guitar HERE) & somehow, Motley seems to have hooked up with then-infamous Rap band 2 Live Crew. Both bands were sleazy, sexist & the Crew/Crue connection proved too obvious & the Rap band recorded a version of ‘Dr. Feelgood’ ( titled “Crew To Crue”) with Vince singing a new chorus. This was the lead-off tune on a 2 Live Crew compilation. I first heard of this unlikely collaboration back in the day when my local TV Guide listed that Motley & Crew were the musical guests on an episode of the Arsenio Hall show. That meeting never happened & I was always mystified by the pairing & didn’t hear this track until almost 20 years later. It wasn’t quite worth the wait but it adds another dimension to the truly motley career of these chaps. Warning: this one gets a little vulgar.
From the All Music Review by Bradley Torreano:
. . . This showcases songs that were either on movie soundtracks or recorded to be on movie soundtracks. This explains the hilarious "Crew to Crüe," a duet with Motley Crue that was meant to capitalize on both groups' media exposure during 1989/1990. Slated for inclusion on the Juice soundtrack, the tensions between the two groups led to its disappearance. Hearing Vince Neil sing "Hanging with the homeboys/We're gonna have some fun tonight" is priceless, making for a wonderful camp moment to kick off the disc.
(left click images to enlarge & READ)
There may be no way to find out if the above story from a now-unknown-to-me magazine is completely factual but it was an early gossip piece item about an infamous chapter in the Motley biography. Paul Miles at Chronological Crue gives us more details:
Mötley presents the award for Best Heavy Metal Album at the MTV Music Video Awards at the Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California. While the rest of the Crüe waits in limos outside the event, Vince waits backstage while Guns N’ Roses plays with Tom Petty. Vince then decks guitarist Izzy Stradlin’ with a punch in the face as he comes off stage, as payback for recently hitting on then kicking his wife at the Cathouse. Mötley’s security chief drags Vince away and as they are about to leave the building, Axl Rose tells Vince he is going to kill him. When Vince encourages him to bring it on, Axl walks away.
This is the start of a feud between the two bands. Axl Rose starts to say in the press that Vince sucker-punched Izzy and he has been insulting Guns N’ Roses for years. Vince feels betrayed after showing Axl vocal tricks to help him out, while they supported Mötley on the Girls, Girls, Girls tour. Axl challenges Vince by sending at least six messages to fight at places like Tower Records in Los Angeles, or on the boardwalk at Venice Beach, but Axl never shows up. Meanwhile Izzy calls Vince and apologizes for his behaviour.
Still angry at the incident and the way Axl has handled it via the press, Vince responds on MTV, telling Axl to name the place and time. He proposes a Monday night fight at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles. Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar from Van Halen say they’ll put up the money to stage the fight at New York’s Madison Square Gardens. No fight eventuates and Vince’s offer still stands to this day.
I think Paul’s version of the story is greatly informed by how the incident is described in the Crue’s bio ‘The Dirt’ & paints a mostly Vince-friendly picture. Of course, the world would find out in the oncoming years how big of a douche Axl Rose could be (just ask his former Guns N’ Roses band mates) & I think that Vince was in the right on this one. If Izzy actually did that to Sharise, he deserved a punch in the face & more!
The Hard Rock & mainstream media had a field day with this story & both Vince & Axl spoke to the folks at Powerline magazine about the beef they had with each other.
Vince can’t help mention Motley’s other enemy of 1989: Bon Jovi! Vince sounds pretty reasonable here. Now read what Axl has to say about the event . . . & about his fight with David Bowie . . . & how big of a dick Mick Jagger is . . . hmmm, I see a pattern here. The extent to which he is violently threatening fighting/killing Vince & how he then subsequently handled it are very telling of the kind of person Axl Rose was.
Here’s a few videos that feature interview clips with Axl in 1990 & then Vince in 1991. Axl mouths off about fighting Vince & then Vince uses an MTV interview about the Crue to challenge Axl to a fight! I’m biased but I don’t agree that Axl would have beat our Vinnie. Axl proved to be all fire & no flame.