It’s October, 2013 and as I am writing this, I am listening to Motley Crue’s eponymous sixth studio album nodding my head along to the opening song “Power to the Music.” As I do so I can’t help but wonder why this didn’t catch on? The 2nd song “Uncle Jack” just came on and once again I found myself nodding my head only to have the nodding up and down turn to shaking my head back and forth in disbelief. What happened? Why did this not catch on? Why was this not embraced? Let’s go back in time little bit.
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was 1992, I had just graduated high school, and word on the street was that Vince Neil had quit Motley Crue. Then it was also word on the street that Nikki Sixx had fired him. Either way, Vince Neal was no longer the singer for Motley Crue. Now I was a pretty big Motley Crue fan as a kid but at this point I was pretty much over them. I was discovering bands that were much more superior in musical and songwriting ability and the fact is that Motley Crue just kinda sounded silly to me. Don’t get me wrong, they had their moments of greatness with songs like “Live Wire”, “Dr. Feelgood”, “Wild Side”, etc but for the most part they were just all show and very little substance. My thought when I heard that Neil was ousted/quit the band was that maybe Motley Crue was going to move into a new direction and low and behold I was right.
My friends and I pondered over who the band would pick to replace the pitchy, sing every other word Vince Neil but I can tell you now that former Scream vocalist John Corabi wasn’t even on the long standby list that we had come up with. I was already a fan of The Scream and John Corabi but the styles of The Scream and Motley Crue were so far on opposite sides of the field that I was immediately colored curious and equally as excited to hear the end result.
When the album was released on March 15, 1994 I was at the record store before it opened to pick up my copy of the CD. I had already seen the video for “Hooligan’s Holiday” and while I didn’t hate it I was totally on the fence with it as it was so different from what I was expecting to hear. The minute I put the CD in my car stereo and “Power to the Music” kicked in I was floored. Everything about this album was massive sounding and I had a hard time wrapping my head around it. The playing was so good, the bass and guitar tone was so massive and in your face, the vocals were raw, gritty, and soulful and the drums were absolutely bombastic. Matter of fact, I would’ve never believed that this was even Motley Crue if I didn’t have the actual CD in my hand.
Song after song I was just floored. My mouth was hung open and in an extremely rare moment was left totally speechless. The songs were heavy, dark, and groove laden and the lyrics were absolute outstanding. This was a completely new band with a new sound and in my opinion; this was a much better, grown up band. With lyrics touching on social commentary, current events and even poking a bit of fun at the over the top lifestyle they were famous for (Poison Apples), Motley Crue delivered an album that in my mind was an instant classic. I couldn’t wait to see these guys pull off the songs live.
Motley Crue toured behind this new masterpiece but right away I realized something wasn’t right. Why was this once arena filling band now playing at the Roxy here in Atlanta and it’s not even sold out? The show was absolutely amazing and better than any show I had ever seen with Vince Neil on the vocals. Corabi’s grit and soul on songs like “Home Sweet Home”, “Dr. Feelgood”, and “Wildside” took these songs to a whole new level and the band sounded so heavy and full of oomph. Why were people not getting this?
The album received really good reviews from critics but the Crue fans were screaming for Vince. “WE WANT VINCE! WE WANT VINCE!” No! Speak for yourselves dumbasses. I want THIS! Why did people not embrace this new Motley Crue? Why could they not hear how much of a better band they were? Why could they not hear that the quality of the performances? Why could they not hear that the songwriting was better than anything Motley Crue had done to this point? Well, I pondered this question for years and I finally settled on this answer: Fans didn’t embrace this because the Crue fans that wanted Vince back didn’t know shit about good music. Matter of fact, they wouldn’t know a great song if it bent them over a road case and fucked them dry.
The fans that cried and screamed “We want Vince” could care less about the quality of the music. They missed the spectacle. They missed the idea of what Motley Crue was. They didn’t care about the songs. I mean, ok, so maybe they did like the songs but the quality of these performances and even the songwriting didn’t matter to them. They wanted the party. They wanted the titties. They wanted the memories of their youth. They wanted nostalgia. They didn’t want a new and improved band. They were more than content with Vince Neil’s fat, winded ass running around only singing every 3rd word and singing it 2 keys below and above what it was supposed to be. Crue fans will probably blast me for this but it’s the truth. Go to YouTube or hell, go to an actual Crue show and you tell me that Vince Neil is a great or even decent singer. If you say yes then I know you don’t know your head from your ass.
Motley Crue with John Corabi is one of the biggest “what if” scenarios I can think of in hard rock/metal music. What if that sound, that line up, and that album had been embraced by Motley Crue fans? What if the fans would have embraced the substantial songwriting and delivery over the glitz and glamor of the blonde pretty boy who couldn’t carry a tune if it was put in a backpack and sewn to his shirt? The world will never know and this Motley Crue fan decided to side with the band that put out not only the best Motley Crue album of their career but one of my all-time favorite hard rock/metal albums.