Mick Mars recently stated that he almost left Motley Crue during the “Generation Swine” sessions and that still to this day, he hates that album.
“Generation Swine” had two major things. The return of Vince Neil and the move to an industrial electronic sound. It was meant to be called “Personality #9” with John Corabi on vocals. Record label pressure won out in the end and Vince Neil was back in. From a record label perspective, the $3 million cost/loss of the self titled album was still fresh on their profit and loss statements.
The Crue started working on the follow-up to the self-titled album in 1995. In an interview from March 1995 Nikki Sixx mentioned that as the songs are written, they will be road tested at smaller venues under different band names. It was a back to the seventies approach, when bands used to debut new songs on the road before committing them to tape in a studio. That is why so many songs from the seventies worked well in a live setting.
I have seen Motley Crue perform a few songs from live from “Generation Swine”. “Afraid” goes down really well. “Glitter” not so much.
“A Rat Like Me” and “Let Us Prey” went down great. The funny thing about that is, “A Rat Like Me” and “Let Us Prey” were recorded live by the band during the sessions. Songs that are easy to record and write, do end up as great live songs.
The biggest Achilles heel to Generation Swine is the lack of the hit song for the genre that Motley Crue are in. When I say hit, I don’t mean number 1 on the Billboard Charts. I mean a song that the fans of the genre can latch onto. Like the song “Kick Start My Heart”. It wasn’t a hit on the Billboard Charts, however in rock circles it was a song that all the rock heads and the metal heads could latch onto. The same for “Dr Feelgood”. Moving into the self-titled album, the songs that should have led the way didn’t. “Hammered” and “Till Death Do Us Part” should have been the war cry instead of “Hooligans Holiday” and “Smoke The Sky”.
The sad thing about the state of the recording business in the Nineties was the need for bands to deliver that “genre hit song” that could crossover into the mainstream. The seventies bands didn’t think about these kinds of things. That is why they all built a career and still to this day, they can rock and roll. When the Seventies bands rolled into a studio, they didn’t need blockbuster style budgets. They didn’t need to write songs in the studio. They recorded what they played live already.
Deep Purple played “Highway Star” for at least 12 months before recording it. Same as Ted Nugent and “Stranglehold”. The list goes on, however today’s rock star doesn’t need to pay their dues on the live circuit. It’s a different approach. The band “Heartist” built their following online before they even played their first sold out concert that had record labels and managers in attendance.
Selling recordings is a high-risk business. Even the RIAA has stated that approximately 90% of the records that are released by major recording labels fail to make a profit. Profit meaning large advances less creative accounting when it comes to recouping royalties.
Regardless of the accounting employed, selling albums is a high risk game. And that is something that the record labels are not telling people about. Instead the RIAA screams PIRACY. Instead the RIAA screams ENFORCEMENT.
In the end, this quote was something that Nikki Sixx had to say about the album during its release cycle;
“We never played the game. In fact, we believe if it’s working, it should be broken.”
A truer saying I haven’t heard. Something that a lot of artists today have forgotten.