For the majority of the eighties, the world belonged to Motley Crue, and they did their best to rock it. They also did their best to all but do themselves in. Behind all the drug OD’s, celebrity girlfriends, car crashes and head-on’s with the law, Motley Crue never lost sight of one thing. They were a rock and roll party band and the party, as long as they were holding it, was always going to be loud and crazy.
“Motley Crue: Greatest Hits” rises above the tabloid fodder and argues eloquently — then again, maybe eloquent is not a Motley Crue term — that the Crue were every bit as important as Guns and Roses during the rock wars of the eighties. These were songs written for strip joints and home grown debauchery. “Girls Girls Girls” slides by on a greasy guitar hook that just screams pole dancing, and the notorious video backed that image up to the hilt. “Shout At The Devil” shoves a middle finger at any authority figure to stand in its way, and who else but Motley Crue could turn a near death experience into a song as incredible as “Kickstart My Heart?”
Crue tunes stole shamelessly and brilliantly. “Kickstart” could have popped out from a Sweet or Slade book of riffs, and there are times when Vince Neil shows a debt to Robin Zander of Cheap Trick (especially on “Same Old Situation” and the underrated “Glitter”). They spotted a party tune (“Smoking In The Boys Room”) from years away and turned it into their breakout hit. And like all perpetual adolescents, they maintained a boy’s club mentality that fostered songs like “Wild Side” and “Don’t Go Away.”
They also had their hearts on the leather jacketed sleeve side as well. “Home Sweet Home” was the Crue’s “Senior Prom” moment. This song and video became so insanely popular that MTV had to forcibly shelve it from the request shows. Like Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” it breathed life into the oft spun notion that every bad boy has his soft spot.
If you can look at the other dimensions of Motley Crue, you’ll see that the band was more than just tabloid gossip with big hair, even if the band did little to stop that reputation. This group of highschool misfits (listen to how plain biologically young they sound in “Too Fast For Love”!) forged a bond that all the fights and girl problems couldn’t mar. “Greatest Hits” proves there is a lot to be said about chemistry, and I’m not talking about the kind you find in a hypo. BTW: If you want a good read about rock as an asylum built for four, grab “The Dirt,” the Motley Crue story.