Ask any average metal fan what their favorite Motley Crue song is and you’ll likely receive a wide range of answers, ranging from early, pre-Elektra Records picks like “Live Wire” or “Too Fast For Love,” breakthrough-era selections such as “Shout At The Devil” or “Looks That Kill,” and consequent, post-rehab tunes like “Kickstart My Heart” or “Dr. Feelgood.”
Often overlooked are songs created during a brief, Vince Neil-less, period in the band’s history, dating back nearly a quarter-century.
Motley Crue, the group’s eponymous sixth studio record, had one glaring difference from its predecessors; its lead vocalist. Neil, either fired or departing voluntarily depending on which source one chooses to believe, became an ex-member in 1992. And it wasn’t until two years later that the band’s first (and sadly, only) full-length album without their beloved original singer was released.
Enter John Corabi, at that point fresh off of a stint with the short-lived Los Angeles outfit The Scream, but a virtual unknown to the mainstream rock audience. The new frontman had big shoes to fill. While Neil never had particularly strong range and wasn’t much of a songwriter, his charisma and glam-style of singing made up for his lack of vocal chops. But with Corabi, the Crue gained something they never had in a vocalist before – a bona fide musician. He had the solid vocals, and even his guitar playing seamlessly complemented lead ax man Mick Mars. And he could write. Both his lyrical and music contributions to the album were something that lead writer Nikki Sixx never experienced before. The resulting twelve tracks saw the quartet tackle subject matter that they previously hadn’t touched on. Themes such as sex, partying, and rebellion were replaced with motifs on the recent Los Angeles riots (“Droppin’ Like Flies“), censorship in music (“Power To The Music“), and child abuse (“Uncle Jack”).
But unfortunately, with the newfound sense of maturity came a drop in commercial popularity. It wasn’t the Crue that fans had grown accustomed to. And even in an era defined by grunge acts like Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots, the new, darker, grittier tone of their music proved to be a sonic turn-off for the majority of Crue-heads.
Ironically, Motley Crue was a critic darling, an accolade the band rarely received for their more well-known albums. And although they embarked on a tour to support it, it ultimately ended prematurely as a result of poor ticket sales, a harsh reality even worse than it sounds considering the venues booked were much smaller than the arenas of past jaunts.
Fortunately, for the plethora of fans that didn’t get the opportunity to hear any of the tunes in person, Corabi (currently a member of The Dead Daisies) has dropped a gem of a live recording, Live 94 (One Night In Nashville), through Rat Pak Records. It’s the first ever solo live album for the artist and what makes it unique is the fact that Corabi performs the entire record from start to finish, maintaining the raw qualities from the original while simultaneously adding a fresh spark with the aid of his tight supporting band including multiple guitarists Jeremy Asbrock, Phil Shouse, and Tommy Daley, along with a rhythm section featuring bassist Topher Nolen and Corabi’s son Ian on drums.
From the pulsating opening guitar chords of “Power To The Music,” to the powerful, throaty vocals of “Hooligan’s Holiday,” all the way to the beautifully reflective ode “Driftaway,” this collection is a roller coaster of thrills that packs as pure of a punch as possible. As an added gift, listeners are treated to the sublime, obscure “10,000 Miles Away,” originally released as a bonus track on the Japanese version of the Crue’s rare Quarternary EP.
A brief recollection of how Corabi originally landed the desirable frontman gig rounds out the impressive set, recorded in 2015 during a stop on his Motley 94 tour in Nashville, Tennessee, hence the title.
When the history of Motley Crue is written, the John Corabi-era will likely be one of its shortest chapters. But don’t mistake quantity with quality. Like the album that induced it, Live 94 (One Night In Nashville) is not to be missed.
Live 94 (One Night In Nashville) track listing:
- Power To The Music
- Uncle Jack
- Hooligan’s Holiday
- Poison Apples
- “John joins the band”
- Til Death Do Us Part
- Welcome To The Numb
- Smoke The Sky
- “Band introductions”
- Droppin’ Like Flies
- 10,000 Miles Away
Click here for John Corabi’s tour dates.
Click here for The Dead Daisies’ tour dates.