California’s notoriously raucous glam metal days can be summed up with the era’s poster boys Motley Crue and their album ‘Dr. Feelgood’. Now, 30 years on it is getting a re-release, but is it the re-release we need?
Long gone are the days of Los Angeles’ cocaine-dusted Sunset Strip, no matter how much The Rainbow Bar and Grill want you to know that Lemmy hung out there. 2019 is not 1989, and for the most part that’s not a bad thing. Modern bands heavily influenced by this era of glam are rarely taken seriously and those that do manage to gather a bit of a following are often laughing along with their fans (one would hope).
Queue the remastered and reissued ‘Dr. Feelgood’. Is this something to laugh at? Well, kind of. It’s campy, outrageous and undeniably ostentatious, but most of all, it’s fun.
Demo recordings tacked onto the end of the album for this edition show an interesting evolution. ‘Dr. Feelgood’ is sung in the first person. “I’m the one they call Dr. Feelgood” this version claims before the final version directed the song to an outward character, and ‘Kickstart My Heart’ is missing the iconic whammy-bar motorbike sound from Mick Mars.
In one sense, Motley Crue were from another planet. Their looks, antics, and sounds were so far from the lives of ordinary suburban kids around the world. They provided a release from the humdrum existence of ordinary humans and inspired people to let a bit of themselves hang loose – to wear an earring to work or get a tattoo. In another, very real sense, they were as ordinary as one can be. Not known for their academic talents, the members of the band were ordinary folk given an extraordinary opportunity. People could imagine themselves living this outlandish lifestyle if only the same series of dumb-luck-events happened to them.
In 1989 literally hundreds of thousands of kids around the world pulled out their air guitars in their bedrooms to play along to the firey ‘Kickstart My Heart’ and the catchy ‘Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)’. But this is 2019. We’re blessed and cursed with an overwhelming abundance of information.
Allegations of sexual assault are hard to ignore when the band’s entire image is centered around fucking as many girls as they can. It doesn’t take much time on the ol’ Google to find accusation after accusation, including some things the band documented themselves in their book and subsequent Netflix biopic ‘The Dirt’. Nikki Sixx told a story in that book about the woman he “pretty much raped” – a story he has since backtracked on. Tommy Lee is depicted punching his fiancee in the face on their tour bus in the movie. These are stories the band signed off on!
I’m not here to tell you to throw out all of your Motley Crue albums. Pull out your dusty old air guitar and let her rip! But when you do, don’t yearn for the return of 1989. Listen to this album from 2019 with the benefit of all the world’s knowledge at your fingertips. That’s what I’ll be doing with this seminal album of its genre over the next few days. Then I’ll put it away for another 30 years. To be honest, I’ll be pretty interested to see how this holds up in 2049.