MÖTLEY CRÜE - Dr Feelgood (Deluxe Edition)
Don’t let on to the guys, but me and The Crue go way back. Hard to believe I know but it wasn’t always Ian Curtis overcoats and Velvet’s shades for me, no, back in the mid 80s meat may have been murder but Twisted Sister were where it was at; and the redoubtable Motley Crue of course. Discounting Dollar at the Radio 2 roadshow, my fist gig was Motley Crue on the Theatre of Pain tour. They were so impossibly glamorous and represented an escape route from the grey and drab reality of life in South Wales. I entered the gig an innocent child in my pristine school uniform and left it a dishevelled wreck of a man with a battered Tommy Lee drumstick in one hand and a gelatinous sheep’s eyeball stuck to my good jumper. Things would never be the same.
What we didn’t know as we left the show, of course, was that Nikki Sixx had, just days before, been found technically dead in a London skip and that the band were already on the slide. I bought the first copy in Cardiff of next album Girls, Girls, Girls, I know this because this was pre-Amazon days and I had to nick off school to go and get it. A lot had changed, the sound was chunkier and the theatricality and spandex had been ditched in favour of denim and leather. I still dug it, but on the horizon I could spy the more edgy, gothic glamour of Guns n Roses and Jane’s Addiction and, after the Crue cancelled their next tour, that was ultimately where I headed. This review is for the 20th anniversary of Dr Feelgood and, as I never bought it back in the day I figured I owed it to the guys to give it a proper chance this time around.
What immediately strikes me, 20 years on, is that the subtle nuances in style and sound between pre and post Feelgood Crue, which seemed so important and massive at the time, are now virtually imperceptible. Like those before it, it is a dumbass rock n roll album with some great songs and some excruciatingly embarrassing lyrics, the only real difference being that this time around they snared the midas touch of producer Bob Rock in the hope that he could deliver them a genuine worldwide smash hit album. He certainly did that.
Possibly the most immediately (cardiac) arresting song on the album is the incendiary Kickstart My Heart which Nikki Sixx penned in the aftermath of the aforementioned skip death incident. Which proves that every cloud has a silver lining I guess. Looking back over the years I can see that I was a little rash in dismissing this album as passé as it undoubtedly features a handful of genuine trash rock classics such as the pounding title track and the 70s glam stomp of Same Ol’ Situation, while the chucklesome Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away) is like something from the best of The Faces and as good a rock n roll song as you are ever likely to hear. Vince’s Without You deserves its status as the archetypal rock ballad, featuring as it does a career defining vocal performance from the starcrossed singer. High fives all round then, but it would prove to be a relatively shortlived success, with closing track Time For Change, which bizarrely treads all over the toes of No Woman No Cry, proving to be painfully prophetic. Within a few short months of Dr Feelgood carving them a niche in metal’s Valhalla the bubble was already bursting with the arrival of some scruffy urchins from the miserable, wet city of Seattle. Sniff, sniff…smells like teen spirit.
So, that’s Dr Feelgood, but what of the ‘Deluxe’ extras? I hear you holler. Well, there’s nothing earth shattering here, no long lost, unreleased gems like Black Widow coming out of the woodwork. The demo versions of the album tracks are worth a listen or two and there’s always space on my cd shelf for another live version of Red Hot but ultimately this album reissue is most valuable as a big, fuck-off line in the sand. You don’t believe in miracles? Well, the Crue are still here 20 years on and making records, hell, the inaugural Crue-Fest was last year’s most sought after US festival ticket. Raise a glass of Jack Daniels in their honour, they did it all and against all the odds they survived. So come now children of the beast, be strong and Shout at the Devil.