Sadly, we now live in a world where music is consumed as tracks rather than albums. Thus, it’s a necessity for any legacy act to keep their catalog fresh with newer generations of listeners via compilations. Of all the ’80s glam acts, Motley Crue has proved to be the most canny when it comes to this technique: they’ve had their entire catalog reissued a few times since the CD era began alongside many best-of albums. If you count box sets, they’ve got more compilations than they have albums.
This final installment of Glam Phase for the Crue devotes itself to a tour through the Crue’s long string of compilations, picking out three noteworthy examples. As a bonus, this entry also includes a look at Quaternary, the E.P. that Motley Crue released between their self-titled 1994 opus with John Corabi and the reunion album Generation Swine.
DECADE OF DECADENCE ’81-’91 (1991): the original Crue comp doesn’t capture the full scope of the classic era in its title – some noteworthy Dr. Feelgood hits are skipped – but shapes up as a fun listen nonetheless. “Live Wire” and “Piece Of Your Action” get remixes that toughen up their soundscapes to match their respective energy and sleaze-rock elements while a grand retooling on “Home Sweet Home,” complete with light orchestral sweetening, gives it a grandeur the original version lacked. That said, the real value comes in some non-album tracks and originals that flesh out the album’s back half. For example, a cover of Tommy Bolin’s “Teaser” done for a charity album is rich with vibe and soundtrack donation “Rock N’ Roll Junkie” rivals their album cuts. The first two new cuts have become classics – “Primal Scream” delivers hooks a-plenty with hard rock swagger while “Angela” is a rocked-up love song – and the band’s take on “Anarchy In The U.K.” is such a cocky, hubris-driven cover choice that it’s oddly charming.
QUATERNARY (1994): this E.P. was an interesting experiment from the John Corabi era, collecting four solo tunes by each member of the group and a non-album band original. The between tracks “studio chatter” is a bit cornball in its posturing but the music is worthwhile. One half of the band plugs into the mid-’90s zeigeist: Lee’s “Planet Boom” is a rap/rave/hard rock whatsit bursting with textures and energy while Sixx’s “Father” goes for a techno-aggro Nine Inch Nails vibe and ends up anticipating emo. The other two stick to traditionalist stylings: Mars’ “Bittersuite” is a classy guitar-driven instrumental with an emotive, bluesy touch and Corabi’s “Friends” is an unexpected piano ballad with a Beatle-esque melody and Queen vocal harmonies. The group track, “Babykills,” offers the same mixture of classic rock moves, pop hooks and heavy riffs, all suffused with a touch of alt-rock, that defined their self-titled 1994 album. A fun quickie that will make you wish the Corabi era of Motley Crue had been given another album or two to develop its promise.
SUPERSONIC AND DEMONIC RELICS (1999): This stands out from the compilation pack because it’s the band’s lone odds-and-sods album. That said, it doesn’t offer much new material: five non-album tracks from Decade Of Decadence are repeated here and three tracks from Quaternary. There’s also an 11-minute techno remix of “Hooligan’s Holiday” masterminded by a Skinny Puppy member that should’ve been left on the shelf. That said, the retreads are all rock solid stuff and, aside from that remix, it hangs together as an album-styled experience. The novel inclusions here lie in an E.P.’s worth of vintage outtakes unearthed for this set: none of them rise to “lost classic” status but “Say Yeah” is a fun experiment in groove-driven hard rock that flirts with funk and hip-hop and the rowdy “Sinners & Saints” is better than many of the album fillers on Theater Of Pain or Girls Girls Girls. The end result is ultimately for the Crue completist but with a little creative track reprogramming, you could retool this into a solid playlist of non-album tracks.
RED WHITE AND CRUE (2005): Schlockmania’s preferred Crue comp. Even thought it arrived too early to include material from Saints Of Los Angeles, it’s got a thoughtful and well-curated set of highlights from Too Fast For Love through New Tattoo. There’s a solid rarity in “Black Widow,” a gothic-tinged riffer from the Shout At The Devil era that would’ve made a substantial album track, and some unique edits/mixes of different singles, including both versions of “Home Sweet Home.” However, what really completes this set is a collection of strong non-album tunes, two recorded for a 1998 greatest hits set and three waxed for this collection. The 1998 tracks, “Bitter Pill” and “Enslaved,” do a better job of mixing Crue’s glammy strengths with alt-rock mood than Generation Swine did (both have smooth, ear-catching choruses that jump out at you). “If I Die Tomorrow” and “Sick Love Song” follow similar lines, bringing in up to date sonics and moods without shortchanging the catchy hard rock element, and the cover of “Street Fighting Man” is both creative and fun.