Mötley Crüe originally released a Crücial Crüe selection of individual CDs some years ago complete with bonus tracks, which was cool, but for those of you who know, there’s nothing like listening to this kind of stuff on vinyl. And for those of you still to experience it – here’s your chance to do so in style.

Each disc comes in a limited edition splatter colour combination – and looks the business. It also comes in a great looking box.

What you get here is what many consider the essential Mötley albums – the first five – and while there have been many good moments over subsequent albums – these are indeed the standouts.

Disclosure: I’ve been a Motley fan since I first spotted them in Sounds magazine in a tiny article and pic that made mention of the fact that they covered a Beatles tune in their live set. I loved that. And I’d never seen a metal band that had so fully taken on the late ‘seventies -early eighties UK underground goth look that I’d always loved: Sex Gang Children, Bauhaus, Siouxsie Sioux… and mated it with the sonics and attitude of New York Dolls, Alice Cooper and Kiss. Mötley always seemed to have an element other bands didn’t have that I found more appealing. I never saw it in Poison, Bon Jovi or any of the bands that followed. I always felt they came from somewhere else. Which made them unique. Anyway, so off I went… down to Utopia Records in Sydney and grabbed myself an import copy of Too Fast for Love. And loved it. Which is where we’ll begin with this box set.

Too Fast for Love: Originally released as a self-funded independent album in 1981, it quickly became a collector’s item and sold so well it prompted a deal with Elektra Records, who then had the band hastily refine and remix the record with Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, The Cars) and then re-release the album which then eventually hit #77 on the Billboard Top 100. Featuring killer cuts such as Livewire, On with The Show and Take Me to The Top, TFFL’s lack-of-budget-let’s get-it-done-quick production style is more than made up for by the energy and song writing ability on show here. Probably the closest thing to a genuine ‘glam-punk’ album you’ll ever hear. Often imitated by so many bands (even today) but never equalled. A cool cover shot of vocalist Vince Neil’s leathered and studded hips and crotch (a punk take on the StonesSticky Fingers) tells you what to expect. And it delivers.

Shout at The Devil is what the Mötleys came up with next, in 1983. And it’s bleedin’ obvious that the eighteen months they spent touring had a positive effect on the band. Their first pairing with producer Tom Werman (Cheap Trick, Ted Nugent), the performances are assured and confident, the album’s production absolutely hammers away at you – it’s a heavier, altogether more powerful sound and the material is top notch. Shout at The Devil, Looks That Kill, Red Hot, Bastard… every track is killer. Yes, the punk energy is still there, only a little more focussed now. This one debuted at #17 on The Billboard Top 200 and was accompanied by the single/videos Looks That Kill and Too Young to Fall in Love, both top twenty hits. The original cover was pretty eye catching too: matte black with a gloss black pentagram and an inner gatefold glossy sleeve showing the band’s gloriously OTT “Mad Max meets Kiss” outfits. This album, for me and I would guess many others, cemented the Mötley Crüe sound and look firmly in place.

That is, until 1985.

And following some well documented dramas surrounding them (see The Dirt book) – Theatre of Pain is released and debuts at #6 on the Billboard Top 200. Once again produced by Tom Werman, this album is perhaps best known for its initial hit, the old Brownsville Station seventies cover Smokin’ in the Boys Room and later for its most enduring and much-loved hit, the evergreen Home Sweet Home, which is possibly the song that kicked off the whole eighties/nineties ‘Radio Friendly Power Ballad’ thing. But don’t hold that against them. This album, though perhaps not thought of as highly now, and lacking some of the energy of its predecessors, nonetheless shows a band stretching some, from the opening sleazy slide driven riff of City Boy Blues to the aforementioned piano infused Home Sweet Home, and also lyrically with Nikki Sixx’ s first real message song, Fight for Your Rights. Elsewhere there’s Save Our Souls and Louder Than Hell, both satisfyingly heavy. There may be a couple of misfires, but overall, a Theater pretty satisfying record. And just when you thought you knew what they were all about came a pretty surprising change of look; gone were the leathers and studs of previous years, to be replaced with an altogether more glamorous, colourful look, as well as a redesigned logo, and that’s when I realised these guys were determined to stay a step ahead of the pack. Many new bands had latched onto the Crüe’ s previous look, and this would again prove true with the new look.

Owing to more of those ‘dramas’ (see: Nikki Sixx: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star) I guess, there was no record in 1986, but in 1987 Mötley re-emerged with their most successful release to date, Girls Girls Girls. Debuting at #2 on the Billboard 200 (only kept off the #1 spot by the radio drenching Whitney Houston), this album, their third with Tom Werman, this time featured a cleaner, leaner sound. It also finds the band playing it fairly straight with the material but as the tiny, pretty Nona – which closes side one – shows, there are still signs of a willingness to experiment, making you wonder where they could go next. Album opener Wild Side is a standout, as is the title track, and also worth noting is You’re All I Need, an overlooked gem in my opinion, but on the whole it’s a pretty straight forward affair, with the remaining material seeming just a little ordinary.
And where would they go next?

The answer to that was the chart assaulting (#1 Billboard 200) mega selling (six million plus) Dr Feelgood.

Teaming up with new mega producer Bob Rock, along with a concerted ‘clean up’ campaign that saw the band giving up drink and drugs, and getting fit and focussed finally saw Mötley Crüe make the album that would firmly ensconce them in the big leagues. Which was possibly a double-edged sword. Because while Dr Feelgood was a powerful, sharp album with an abundance of hit songs and an absolutely slammingly huge sound, it was also the first Mötley album that didn’t quite sound like Mötley Crüe. While Dr. Feelgood rocketed them into the same space occupied by big radio friendly bands like Aerosmith and Bon Jovi – which of course was nothing to sniff at – there was a sense that they were now a very different beast (“I like their early stuff, man”). Of course, that would be a common gripe of any fan but you’d be kidding yourself if you didn’t admit that Dr Feelgood is a great rock record. The title track itself with its chugging Killing Joke style intro is a ripper with Sixx turning in a great storytelling lyric. Kickstart My Heart ranks as one the Crüe’ s best songs ever, and then you have Same Old Situation, Don’t Go Away Mad and…well… Without You… which we’ll let pass. On the whole the grooves are large and the swagger is there, as are the many elements that make this album one of the best examples of that decade.

Truth is, this vinyl album box set is a great way to hear how good these records sound and is also a great way to get reacquainted with how great these albums really are. And as I stated earlier…the splatter vinyl looks way cool!
Dig in folks!

Crücial Crüe: The Studio Albums 1981-1989 releases on February 17th.