The 1980s were coming to an end; the age of bleached hair, neon earrings and leggings was fading, but the music that illustrated the decade was far from over. Glam metal dominated the radio waves and the work of Mötley Crüe aided in the genre’s popularity. The Crüe excelled in demonstrating the “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” demeanor, and with their fifth studio album Dr. Feelgood (1989), those themes remained a focal point.
The unruly bunch got their start in Los Angeles, where the doors of fame opened. From the band’s birth, there remained chemistry for years that proved they worked well together. This groundbreaking album is a good representation of what made the Crüe popular. With Tommy Lee’s restlessness on the drum set, Vince Neil’s high-pitched vocals, Mick Mars’s fret board mastery and the rebellious bass skills of Nikki Sixx, the band seemed virtually unstoppable. They were a crew that provided a talent for music and song compilation, but they also created a unique aspect in the glam metal scene that made them appealing and their sound heavier.
The track “Dr. Feelgood”, which was one of the album’s singles and probably one of the most memorable songs in the band’s history (aside from “Girls, Girls, Girls”, “Shout at the Devil” and “Wild Side”), expels massive cavernous tones and harps on the drug theme they repeatedly revisit. The lyrics yell, “Jigsaw Jimmy he’s runnin’ a gang, But I hear he’s doin’ o.k., Got a cozy little job, sells the Mexican mob, Packages of candycaine.” The song deliberately spells an emphasis on the 1980s drug scene and after its release it reached #6 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
Mötley Crüe achieved four singles on Dr. Feelgood, two songs about drugs. Their second single “Kickstart My Heart” not only demonstrated the guitar royalty of Mick Mars but the band infused a musical enthusiasm to an extent where the drug theme secretly lies under the tar mat of the song. The introduction of the song single handedly builds up the adrenaline in the listener and moves fast pace continuously leaving the audience energized and excited at the finish.
The Crüe was a group of anarchistic youths craving a taste of rebellion, sensation and adrenaline. There’s no wonder why the album title impressively states the message the band achieved with every song on this anthology. In addition to the drug themes, the band also revolved many songs around sex and female appeals. The songs “Slice of Your Pie”, “Rattlesnake Shake”, “Sticky Sweet” and “She Goes Down” do not leave much room for the audience’s curiosity – the titles alone spell S-E-X.
Of course we cannot forget the sappy yet memorable ballads that spawned from 1980s glam metal. The gang notoriously known for their quarrelsome behavior also had a soft side and they expelled their feelings in “Without You,” which (not surprisingly) was another single off of Dr. Feelgood. The lyrics read, “Without you in my life, I’d slowly wilt and die, But with you by my side, You’re the reason I’m alive.”
Mötley Crüe created an album blunt enough to describe the rock and roll lifestyle but that also inadvertently outlined them as individuals seeking a unique enjoyment out of life itself. Dr. Feelgood is a remarkable anthology of the talents that simmered in Los Angeles during the 1980s and because of its musical quality, attitude and message that easily reflected the decade, it is an album that will continue to remain a huge part of music history.
After the band joined in 1980, Mötley Crüe became an instant hit with their first album Too Fast for Love (1981). However, when Dr. Feelgood was released, their fame continued to rise fast. Not only did the album demonstrate the group’s musical talent, including Vince Neil’s remarkable ability to sing at such a high octave, but it also flowed well and produced five singles. “Dr. Feelgood” provided a heavier tone that most glam metal bands didn’t achieve and the musical quality is exponential. The incorporation of a heavy bass line and ear splitting drum sequences only added to the lyrics delivered by Vince Neil. With not only this single, but also the entire 45-minute collection, Mötley Crüe paved their way in music history with the help of a dedicated audience and the influence of MTV.
This is an album that truly illustrates the band’s nature and outlook on life. The cover art alone expresses turbulence and danger (a characteristic the band continued to incorporate into their personal lives). Not only did they have a great sound, but they even incorporated demos of their songs on this album, which gave the audience an opportunity to view the band without studio tweaking. Collectively, the Crüe’s talents gelled and the outcome of their teamwork was outstanding. The Crüe’s Dr. Feelgood snatched the #1 spot on Billboard’s 200 in 1989 and was also a six-time platinum record in the U.S, two spectacular achievements for the incorrigible mob.
Mötley Crüe only released four more studio albums, one of which, Mötley Crüe (1994) did not feature Vince Neil on vocals. The band struggled with cocaine and heroin addiction, alcoholism and dysfunction throughout their career but continued to perform.
In 2006, Mötley Crüe created their unforgettable Carnival of Sins tour, which featured Nikki Sixx with power tools, Tommy Lee on a suspended drum set, motorcycles and girls, girls, girls (a mind-blowing performance to say the least!)
The band released their most recent album Saints of Los Angeles in 2008 and is currently working on one more album before retirement. However, the Crüe’s Dr. Feelgood will continue to be a source of rebellion, along with their singles that embedded themselves in the minds of the unruly youths of the 1980s.
Reviewer: Lauren Vinyard
IRC: Bill Pulice
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