The Best Motley Crue Song From Every Decade
Motley Crue soared to dizzying heights during their first decade together, selling tens of millions of albums and blazing the trail for the glam-metal zeitgeist. Then they crashed back down to Earth and spent the next several decades picking up the pieces.
The band's first five albums — from 1981's Too Fast for Love through 1989's Dr. Feelgood — typified the excess of the Sunset Strip hard-rock explosion and raced to multiplatinum status. But their fortunes were too good to last, and Motley Crue's career took a nosedive in the mid-'90s with the arrival of new singer John Corabi and the advent of grunge.
Sensing their fans had no desire for them to reinvent the wheel — and craving the massive paychecks of yesteryear — Motley Crue reunited with Vince Neil in the late '90s. But the derided Generation Swine cut their honeymoon short, and Motley Crue shifted to a primarily touring entity as a new millennium dawned.
While their most recent studio albums, 2000's New Tattoo and 2008's Saints of Los Angeles, certainly won't eclipse their '80s work, they both contain flashes of classic Crue. As the band supposedly readies new music with longtime producer Bob Rock, UCR looks back at the best Motley Crue song — and top runners-up — from every decade.
'80s: "Live Wire," Too Fast for Love (1981)
Motley Crue came out of the gate swinging with the first song off their first album, setting a template that countless bands would copy over the following decade. "Live Wire" boils down the band's punk, metal and glam-rock affinities into a primordial stew of steely riffs and cocksure swagger. Bloody raw and teeming with adolescent aggression, it's miles away from slick, big-budget radio hits like "Girls, Girls, Girls" and "Kickstart My Heart" — but it also shows Motley Crue at their loudest, rudest and hungriest.
'90s: "Primal Scream," Decade of Decadence (1991)
If Motley Crue hadn't sabotaged themselves by firing Vince Neil and taking five years to follow up the chart-topping Dr. Feelgood with an ill-fated grunge excursion, they probably could have weathered the '90s alt-rock revolution. The proof is in “Primal Scream,” a super-sized party-metal anthem full of ironclad hooks, thunderous grooves and a delicious slide-guitar solo. As catchy as "Girls, Girls, Girls" and "Kickstart My Heart" but far tougher and more musically sophisticated, “Primal Scream” predicts a world in which Motley Crue conquered the '90s like their hard-rock brethren in Aerosmith and Van Halen, rather than crashing and burning like Warrant and Poison.
2. "Hooligan's Holiday," Motley Crue (1994)
3. "Smoke the Sky," Motley Crue
'00s: "Hell on High Heels," New Tattoo (2000)
After the ill-conceived industrial and alt-metal excursions of 1997's Generation Swine, it was relieving to hear Motley Crue get back to their hard-rock roots on 2000's New Tattoo. While the album doesn't reach the heights of the band's '80s heyday (due in part to Tommy Lee's absence), it's got several minor gems, chiefly "Hell on High Heels." Mick Mars' thunderous guitar tone can still level a building, and Vince Neil sings the inane hooks with gusto. You won't mistake "Hell on High Heels" for an '80s Crue song, but it'll at least remind you of one, and that's a start.
2. "Saints of Los Angeles," Saints of Los Angeles (2008)
3. "Face Down in the Dirt," Saints of Los Angeles
'10s: "The Dirt (Est. 1981)," The Dirt Soundtrack (1981)
Is "The Dirt (Est. 1981)" a classic Motley Crue song? Absolutely not. Is it a good Motley Crue song? That depends on your tolerance for guest verses by fifth-rate rappers. Ghastly Machine Gun Kelly cameo aside, "The Dirt" is a moderately catchy romp that chronicles Motley Crue's rise from the gutters of Los Angeles to the top of the hard-rock heap. They'd already done it better and more extensively on Saints of Los Angeles, but as far as Netflix tie-ins go, "The Dirt" is a serviceable title track for the biopic and soundtrack — and the only halfway listenable new track of the four they recorded for the project.