The 10 best Mötley Crüe songs, by Jaret Reddick
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It’s important to note the time when Mötley Crüe came up. I was in about the sixth grade at the time, and things that were huge back then were big movies and big pop stars – and everything was kind of over the top.
My best friend was a girl called Becky, and her sister was about five years older than us. We were at her house after school one day, and I remember seeing her sister’s copy of Shout at the Devil. There was a pentagram on the cover and this chick singer. I don’t know what the hell was happening with who I would later come to know as Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee. And then there was Mick Mars, who was the scariest looking person I had ever seen in my life. And they were all on the cover of this album along with this pentagram and a load of fire.
When I first heard the song Shout at the Devil, everything changed for me. Now I can analyse it as a musician and an older guy, but as a kid it was like punk and metal, and all of these things rolled into one, with all these cool lyrics about angst and the government and life. It absolutely blew my mind.
Those first two Mötley Crüe albums [Too Fast for Love and Shout at the Devil] were like a revolution for me. I felt like I was being controversial, liking this music that nobody else was going to like. And then of course the next album [Theatre of Pain] comes out, and they become the biggest band in the world.
For me, they were the ‘80s equivalent to what hip-hop became in the ‘90s, with all the booze, girls, motorcycles, Jacuzzis, limos, and bigger houses than you could ever imagine. They were living this insane dream, and they were the first ones – at least to me in my lifetime – to really do that. We didn’t really have rock ‘n’ roll characters until them. There was Kiss, of course, but they were more like a comic book. Mötley Crüe were just these dudes, who happened to be in a band that was larger than life. It was very easy to get sucked in and be along for that ride.
One of the things I didn’t realise growing up listening to Mötley Crüe was how punk rock the lyrics were. It was such a cool thing to discover that later in life, and I think the whole reason I loved them so much was because I was destined to be in a punk rock band that had that kind of identity – mine just happened to be fart jokes.
Bowling For Soup 100% has the world record for Mötley Crüe mentions in songs as well. On our last album *Lunch. Drunk. Love *we actually mention them twice. And we dressed up as them for the music video to 1985. So we are 100% the premier band in the world for mentioning Mötley Crüe in songs – and these are their 10 best songs…
**LIVE WIRE **(Too Fast for Love, 1981)
Mötley Crüe’s first single. There’s a really cool story about the music video to Live Wire, and if you look closely you can see it. Apparently as they were all getting their outfits together, Nikki felt like he needed another accessory to complete his look, so he just ripped the phone chord out of the wall and wrapped it around his leg. Back in those days you’d pin anything on yourself if it added any sort of texture to your outfit. And I remember Vince’s bleached blond hair and the red leather that he’s wearing so clearly. It’s all about that cowbell at the end of the song as well. I used to listen to that part over and over again. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. He was probably just kidding when he did it the first time, and someone was like, ‘That’s actually really cool.’ But it became such an iconic drum pattern that all of us worked on. We all went and bought cowbells, just so we could play this song and *Shake Me *by Cinderella.
**ON WITH THE SHOW **(Too Fast for Love, 1981)
On With the Show *was *the *song for me off *Too Fast for Love. I absolutely love it, because I love the story. I also like it because it was sort of ballad-y, and at the time there weren’t really a lot of ballads coming out of these sorts of bands. This was before the whole ‘80s power ballad movement, and later on we’ll talk about a song that I think would be the king of that genre, but I just love the realness to On With the Show. There’s an emotion to the lyrics and the vocal performance that was so different to anything I’d ever heard before. It was cool to hear a different side to the band, and this is still one of those songs that I sing all the time.
**SHOUT AT THE DEVIL **(Shout at the Devil, 1983)
In the Beginning *is the first song on *Shout at the Devil, and it’s essentially this lyrical poem that feels like it’s coming from Satan. When you hear something like that when you’re 11/12 years old, and you’ve never heard anything like that before, it’s mind blowing. Then the riff to Shout at the Devil *comes on, and it’s just *so heavy. There are loads of heavy riffs out there now, obviously. Slayer and Slipknot have insanely heavy riffs. But at that time, the opening riff and drum beat to Shout at the Devil was so enormous, it sent chills down my spine. I’ll never forget it. Back then, of course, we didn’t have the Internet, and I remember trying to decipher the lyrics and getting them really wrong. They were so wrong, in fact, that they almost became a parody of what was going on in the song. But to bring it all full circle, the band that I was in before Bowling for Soup was called coolfork!, and we covered *Shout at the Devil *at our first gig. It had been out for so long at that point, because this was around ‘91/’92, that it was a whole different generation of kids, and we shocked the shit out of them with the same song that first shocked the shit out of me many years before.
**TOO YOUNG TO FALL IN LOVE **(Shout at the Devil, 1983)
Too Young to Fall in Love is my favourite song on Shout at the Devil, and I’ll never forget coming home to find my brother had installed this big new stereo system in one of our rooms. This was when hi-def stereo equipment and TVs were coming out, and the only thing you could watch that would look and sound anything close to cool back then was Top Gun. But I remember seeing the video for Too Young to Fall in Love when it debuted, and hearing it on that stereo, and it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen in my life. Now, of course, I look back on it and it’s all pretty hilarious. They’re in this restaurant and Tommy Lee takes a bit of the rice and he doesn’t enjoy it, so he just throws it back at them. It’s so silly. Ha ha! But you can tell that at that time they were really getting into their characters. And I absolutely love this song. It starts with this simple drumbeat, and then that riff comes in, and it’s another one of those songs that I could never ever get sick of.
RED HOT (Shout at the Devil, 1983)
Red Hot, man. It’s the kick-drum beat with this one. That double bass rocks. I was a drummer first, and there I was this little kid learning to play the drums. By the time I was 14/15 I was pretty good, and the standard amongst older kids who had been playing for a long time was whether or not you could do Red Hot. And if you could play Red Hot by Mötley Crüe then your next one was Tom Sawyer by Rush. I had to retrain my legs to do the triplets instead of the chord notes, and all of a sudden I was the kid who could play it. So I’ve gotta thank Tommy Lee for a lot. There’s so many things that he does on songs that just makes them great. He’s such a big celebrity for so many reasons now, but a lot of people don’t realise how great a drummer he is, and what he adds to those songs. Of course he’s on a rollercoaster and he flips upside down and does all this stuff, but his stamp – especially on the early stuff – is what makes the songs what they are. Just like with Bowling Soup, Mötley Crüe is the sum of its parts. Without any one of us, we wouldn’t be the same band, and I feel like that’s especially true of Mötley Crüe.
HOME SWEET HOME (Theatre of Pain, 1985)
My feelings on Theatre of Pain are mixed, but I guess they’re supposed to be. I like the album though. I’d waited and waited for it to come out, and then Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room came on. Now, here one of the genius aspects of Mötley Crüe shines itself upon us, because they had this amazing ability – like The Beatles, really – to be able to change their style and sound from album to album. And not only did they do it - they did it really well. I remember seeing Nikki Sixx come out of the mirror in the Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room video and thinking, ‘Holy crap! That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.’ But I didn’t pick that song because it’s a cover, even though it is done really well. I picked Home Sweet Home. When that song came out everybody started losing their shit because they realised Tommy Lee could play piano. I even tried to incorporate a piano into my drum kit at that time, for no other reason than that Tommy Lee played piano too. It came from out of nowhere, and it became such a huge institution. You still hear it constantly. And I think it really sets the bar for the power ballad, which would become such a huge part of the late ‘80s music scene, and a huge catapult for so many bands. I wouldn’t say Home Sweet Home was the start of that, but it was 100% where the bar was set.
GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS (Girls, Girls, Girls, 1987)
It sucks that they were as unhappy with Theatre of Pain as they were, but I guess there was a lot going on in the band at that time, and they felt as though they shit the album out. But if you are going to reinvent yourself, this is the way to do it. They came out with Girls, Girls, Girls, and they’re on motorcycles with leather on, and they’re covered in sleeve tattoos. This was back when people did not have sleeve tattoos – it wasn’t a thing back then. The great thing about this song as well, and I didn’t realise this until later on, but the lyrics are basically about strip clubs all over the country. One day that kind of sunk in, and fast forward to me being in Bowling For Soup and having travelled the country many times – I’ve now been to every single one of them. We made both Drunk Enough to Dance and A Hangover You Don’t Deserve in Atlanta, and Tattletales was our favourite place to go. It’s this seedy, terrible strip club right in the middle of just where you shouldn’t be, but we absolutely loved it. So it was cool to tie that back to this song by Mötley Crüe.
**WILD SIDE **(Girls, Girls, Girls, 1987)
There were two things that struck me about Wild Side. It’s when Vince Neil’s vocal style started to change a little bit, and it was less like the high squeal screaming and more just pure attitude. The production changed into that sort of attitude world as well. And again I have to go to Tommy Lee and the freakin’ drum part. It’s such a big part of that chorus and the hook. It absolutely makes the song. The lyrics are great too. Nikki Sixx had a bit of a mark against him because Mötley Crüe were a glam band, but he was coming from the same place that a punk rock lyricist would come from. He had a Tim Armstrong thing going on, but he was in this metal band that wore make up, and his lyrics would get translated as cheesy. But if you really look at them, they were absolutely brilliant.
**DR. FEELGOOD **(Dr. Feelgood, 1989)
I remember I stayed up late to watch the Dr. Feelgood *video for the first time. It was a concert video, and they were 100% a world-class arena band by this point. I love this album, but this was around the time I was growing out of absolutely worshipping everything that they did. So I selectively listened to songs a lot off this album, and CDs were around at this point as well, so you could skip around and listen to individual tracks easier. I absolutely loved the song *Dr. Feelgood, and I really like the story in the lyrics. It got me hook, line and sinker.
SAME OL’ SITUATION (S.O.S.) (Dr. Feelgood, 1989)
I knew that I had to either pick this or Kickstart My Heart as my last song, but I never really liked Kickstart My Heart. I love *Same Ol’ Situation *though. This is what I call poppy Mötley Crüe. This is where they were on the level of writing huge pop singles. Dr. Feelgood really wasn’t that, because it was so obviously about drugs, but songs like this and Without You were massive radio songs that everybody in the world could relate to. And again, I can’t say enough how amazingly able the band were to reinvent themselves on every single album cycle, whilst still staying true to the Mötley Crüe sound. They began to go a little more commercial over time, sure, but that’s to be expected because that’s what you do – you write songs that people want to hear. They just figured it out as they went, and it must’ve been an amazing ride. The four of them came together and made absolute magic as far as I’m concerned, and I like that they’re riding off into the sunset on a high note. They’re signing it in blood, and going out on a sold out tour. It’s awesome!
Jaret Reddick was talking to Matt Stocks. Bowling For Soup tour the UK in February 2016. Click here for details.