Dr Feelgood had to be number 1. It was a million dollar blockbuster and the mythology around Motley Crue by 1989 supported and underpinned this blockbuster movie. The drug overdoses, the return from death, the crashed cars, the women, the drugs, the partying, the clashes with the law and the eventual “sobriety”.
You see when I was young, Dee Snider was the leader who told us to not take the crap of institutions. But it was Motley Crue that told me to smoke in the boy’s room. It was the Crue that told me to take my fists and break down the walls. It was the Crue that told me to shout at the devil and at the time “the devil” was the teachers and institutions that wanted to control me.
I would argue black and blue that “Dr Feelgood” was the greatest album ever recorded. But the truth is it was one of the better records from 1989.
It is their first album with Bob Rock, who Nikki found via Ian Astbury from “The Cult”. Remember that music is a relationship business. That is how we are meant to roll. It was recorded in Canada at Little Mountain Studios at the same time that Aerosmith was recording “Pump”. Both of the biggest party bands had committed to a healthy lifestyle, going on jogs together.
Every fan of the band could relate to “Kick Start My Heart”. Hell, every fan of music could relate to that song, and when you add the true story of Nikki’s heroin overdose to it, the mythology behind the song just keeps on growing and you get a timeless classic. A blockbuster of a song.
And Nikki Sixx has a great knack for doing tongue in cheek break up songs.
“Same Ol Situation” is about losing your girl to another girl. What a classic twist.
“Don’t Go Away Mad, Just Go Away” is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a Nikki Sixx composition where the Chorus acts as the crescendo. Hell, the Chorus doesn’t even come in until the 2 minute mark.
Then you have the usual “Sticky Sweet”, “She Goes Down”, “Slice Of Your Pie” and “Rattlesnake Shake”. We all know what the message is that the Crue wanted to put out on those songs. But what about all of the progress is derivative influences.
“Sticky Sweet” has a main riff that is reminiscent to “The Wanton Song” by Led Zeppelin. “Rattlesnake Shake” makes a nod to “Rock N Roll Hoochie Koo” from Rick Derringer in the verses and “Funk #49” from The James Gang in the Chorus. While “Slice Of Your Pie” has a big nod to “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” from The Beatles.
“Without You” was written about Tommy Lee and Heather Locklear’s relationship from the point of view that Tommy Lee could not live without Heather. Well, I guess that song know has a different view-point and a real tacky clip to boot.
“Time For Change” is the Crue attempting to address social norms. Listen and you will hear the melody from Mott The Hoople’s “All The Young Dudes” near the end of Mick Mars solo.
But the piece de resistance is “Dr Feelgood”. Musically, it is a Mick Mars composition, that he had completely mapped out on his own. He had to take the song to the band a few times before they started to pay attention to it and it was the song that started the ball rolling with Bob Rock, after the band sent him a demo.
Sonically, its heavy and pleasing on the ear drums. Hell, there is a lot of guitar happening throughout the album. And what about the groove. When you add lyrics that deal with a drug boss called Dr Feelgood, you more or less have the basis to create a comic book character from the song lyrics. Descriptive all the way down to the type of car with primed flames.
Can you imagine Vince Neil singing for a whole day and only having one line of a lyric that was deemed usable. Yep, that was the standard set by Bob Rock. Of course a million dollar budget didn’t hurt. And didn’t they come a long way from the seven days recording session for “Too Fast For Love”. Yep, album number five left no loose ends.
“Dr Feelgood” set a new standard for hard rock and a lot of the bands like Dokken, Great White, Firehouse, Poison, Ratt and so many others just didn’t take that next step. And of course, shortly after the album was released, Metallica went to Bob Rock and said that they want their own “Dr Feelgood”. We all know how that turned out.