All Crüe 'd Up . . .
After two decades of mayhem, self-destruction and debauchery, the best and worst of Mötley Crüe ‘s topsy-turvy career has been distilled into a pair of repackaged CDs and a DVD. As the group’s efforts have been erratic and sporadic over that 20-plus year period, it is not surprising that this trio of Crüe products is defined by inconsistencies.
The most value is found in Greatest Hits, a 17-track retrospective of the Crüe’s catalog. Song selection runs the gambit, ranging from the title cut of Too Fast for Love to newer offerings “Enslaved” and “Bitter Pill” (newer when originally released in 1998). A full five tracks are included from the album Dr. Feelgood, evidence of how that effort stands hair and heels above the rest of Mötley’s recordings. The hallmark of this collection however lies in the quality of its sound; every Mick Mars chord, Nikki Sixx bass run, Vince Neil shriek, and Tommy Lee drum crash can be felt as well as heard. Kudos to the engineering team who put this compilation together. The most powerful statement comes by way of the classic “Looks That Kill”, the personification of hard rock brutality. If there is one song that defines the sheer meanness of vintage Crüe , and specifically Lee’s drumming, this is it. Although the album has its weaker moments, (“Without You” could have easily been replaced by a cover of “Anarchy in the UK”), overall it is a solid “Best of” collection and a must have for Crüe and metal fans alike.
Advertised as “Mötley Crüe ‘s First Ever LIVE Album”, Entertainment or Death is a twin CD bit of illusion and trickery. Live? Certainly, but all culled from various gigs between 1982 and 1999. While the tracks are masterfully spliced together to resemble a single show, make no mistake, this is not a traditional live album, but rather a collection of live performances. Sound quality is for the most part acceptable, and there are several diamonds in the rough included in the set list. Early renditions of “Public Enemy #1”, “Merry-Go-Round”, “Piece of Your Action”, and a cover of the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” provide listeners with a visit back to raw ‘82 Crüe , and are an interesting contrast to the more mature and polished Crüe versions of “Primal Scream” and “Kickstart My Heart” circa 1998/99. While some purists may yell “Fake!”, most fans will be satisfied as the Crüe concert energy resonates from all 21 songs. An additional bonus is that the newly enhanced CD contains the video for “Wild Side”.
Having determined that Greatest Hits is quite good, and Entertainment or Death is a step or two below that, we now must address the Mötley DVD, Lewd Crüed & Tattooed. Teasing prospective buyers with offerings of “never before seen footage” and “75 minutes of full frontal Crüe,” (recorded live in Salt Lake City, 5 July 2000), the disc demonstrates that life does imitate art as our heroes have become a Spinal Tapish cliché, resembling nothing close to their peak years of excess and success. Forget that Sixx, Neil and Mars look lethargic and moderately interested; forget that the Hollywood Boulevard set is tacky and overdone; forget that the two silicone mannequins bumping and grinding on stage are a bore; forget that the interviews and bonus clips are uninspiring; forget that the animated video “Hell on High Heels” will leave viewers slack jawed and scratching their heads in confusion; forget all those things and focus on one aspect of this DVD: Tommy Lee has left the building.
That is correct, Crüe fans are forced to watch a tepid live performance with none other than Hole drummer Samantha Maloney behind the kit. With all due respect to Maloney, donning a black tank top and leather cowboy hat may make her look the part, but she is not even a poor man’s copy of Lee. For that matter, the rest of the band are not even poor man’s copies of their former selves. Neil seems ready for his reality TV career, Mars appears poised to head home, and Sixx is cartoonish in his Flying Ace attire. Where is the passion? The danger? The bombast? Obviously it all went out the door with Tommy. If this ruse is not insulting enough to true fans, then the horrifically bad sound quality of this DVD will make everyone hit “STOP—EJECT” almost immediately. What’s the problem you ask? There is simply no bass in the mix, that’s what. No bass guitar, no bass drum, no bass nothing. For a band that relied so much on a bludgeoning rhythm section for its trademark sound, this is the proverbial kiss of death, as viewers are treated to over an hour’s worth of trebly sludge. Simply put, this DVD is a sham and a shame, and the curious among you should heed the adage “caveat emptor”.
The moral of this musical marketing tale? As the future for the band is uncertain, spend your Crüe dollars wisely. Although the entire catalogue has been remastered and re-released, complete with attractive packaging and lofty promises of quality material, not all of it is worth the time. Feel free to indulge, but don’t get sCrüe ‘d in the process . . .