When Mötley Crüe first burst on the hair metal scene in the early ‘80s, they were the kind of guys fathers told their daughters to stay away from. Notorious drinkers, drug users, and womanizers, Mötley Crüe became the template for bad boy rock ‘n rollers that countless other acts would follow. Too Fast for Love, Shout at the Devil, and Theatre of Pain have all become touchstones of ‘80s hair metal. In 1987, Mötley Crüe released Girls, Girls, Girls only to find another Los Angeles, California band come along and steal their thunder. That same year, Guns ‘N Roses released their debut album Appetite for Destruction. The album was a success both on the charts and with critics, and their lurid, graphic account of life on the fringes of society rendered the teased hair, girl-crazy antics of acts like Mötley Crüe irrelevant. Guns ‘N Roses came across as the real deal, too busy avoiding the cops to worry about make up, clothing, and how much hairspray they could put in their hair.
Mötley Crüe continued to rock on, coming back with Dr. Feelgood in 1989. Though the group would continue to release records throughout the ‘90s, the musical climate had changed significantly, and the band faded away except with diehard fans.
2003 has found Mötley Crüe reissuing deluxe editions of all their albums, as well as an unfortunately named boxset, Music to Crash Your Car To, and a greatest hits CD. To round out the year, Hip-O has decided to give Mötley Crüe 20th Century Master status (which band doesn’t get one of these albums?), collecting twelve tracks spanning their entire career, from their debut to the ill-received New Tattoo released in 2000.
Like a lot of the 20th Century Masters series, trying to keep the cost down has come at the detriment of the tracklisting. While casual and hardcore Crue fans will be delighted to see tracks such as “Shout at the Devil”, “Home Sweet Home”, and “Kickstart My Heart”, more notable are the tracks that remain absent.
“Looks That Kill”, from their seminal Shout at the Devil, “Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room”, a worthy competitor to Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” as the ultimate high school metal song, and “Dr. Feelgood”, their clean and sober return to the charts, are glaring omissions.
A comical cover of “Anarchy in the U.K.”, along with “Generation Swine” and “Hell on High Heels” from their last two studio albums, are unnecessary inclusions in this collection and are hardly tracks that Mötley Crüe will be remembered for.
While the RIAA continues to crack down on piracy and the industry as a whole bemoans downloading as a primary source loss for revenue loss, it’s time the record labels began looking at the own practices as the source of some of their shrinking profits. Earlier this year, Hip-O released a Greatest Hits album that includes all of the missing tracks I have mentioned, but failed to include key tracks that are on the 20th Century Masters collection, including “Piece of Your Action” and the original “Shout at the Devil” (the Greatest Hits CD includes a sub-par 1997 re-recorded version).
Rather than upsetting fans (as the numerous Amazon customer reviews for both discs can attest to) and pouring money into releasing two sub-par discs, Hip-O could have released one stellar greatest hits collection. As it stands, Mötley Crüe devotees are forced to choose, and the previously released Greatest Hits album delivers most of the tracks fans are looking for, rather than the paltry offerings on the 20th Century Masters collection.