If you want to really live vicariously, put on a Mötley Crüe song. Experience all the drugs, sex, stardom and violence you want (albeit secondhand), and when you've had enough, simply lift the phonograph needle or press pause. No rehab, penicillin shots or lawyers necessary.
On Nov. 25 (but available now for pre-order), Mötley Crüe will release a new box set, The End, built around the legendary Los Angeles glam-rock band’s first five albums and final studio LP on vinyl and CD, along with a DVD and CD of their final shows ever, which took place at Staples Center Dec. 30 and 31, 2015. The End also includes a hardcover book, four exclusive lithograph photo prints of the band, Mick Mars guitar picks and a Final Tour laminate pass. It’s all housed in packaging designed to look like a tombstone.
Singer Vince Neil, guitarist Mick Mars, bassist (and primary songwriter) Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee experienced seismic ups and downs during the band’s 35-year run. Having seen The Final Tour, I can tell you they were an electric live act until the end. But all the pyro, dancing strippers and upside-down drums wouldn’t mean a thing without songs. Listening back to the group’s catalog, particularly their first five albums — Too Fast For Love, Shout at the Devil, Theatre of Pain, Girls, Girls, Girls and Dr. Feelgood — makes you appreciate Mötley’s gift for making raising hell sound so much fun.
To celebrate the release of The End box set, we ranked all of the songs in Mötley Crüe’s studio output. We left out instrumental tracks (such as“God Save the Children of the Beast”), short intros to albums (like “In the Beginning”), remakes (“Shout at the Devil '97″) and transitional snippets (“Nona”). We also did not include songs from the self-titled 1994 LP the band made with John Corabi as their singer instead of Neil. That’s a solid album, but make no mistake: Mötley Crüe is Vince, Nikki, Tommy (except on 2000's New Tattoo) and Mick.
90. “Going Down Swinging,” Saints of Los Angeles (2008)
For the closing song on Mötley Crüe’s last studio LP, the band returns to being “local gutter rats on the streets of gold/Crashing stolen cars and selling souls.” Welcome back to 1981, boys.
89. “Treat Me Like the Dog I Am,” New Tattoo (2000)
Tag, Stooges' “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” you’re it.
88. “A Rat Like Me,” Generation Swine (1997)
If the universe has any sense of right, fellow '80s Sunset Strip vets Ratt will eventually cover this song.
87. “What’s It Gonna Take,” Saints of Los Angeles (2008)
The chorus hook bucks like a mechanical bull. But why are rock bands so reluctant to use question marks in their song titles?
86. “The Animal in Me,” Saints of Los Angeles (2008)
If Def Leppard's “Love Bites” had mullet-removal surgery.
85. “Just Another Psycho,” Saints of Los Angeles (2008)
The diary of a mad band, fed through Marshall stacks.
84. “She Needs Rock n' Roll,” New Tattoo (2000)
A she-devil finds sanctuary in power-chords, radios and sweaty shows.
83. “Welcome to the Machine,” Saints of Los Angeles (2008)
Record labels didn't want anything to do with Mötley Crüe when the band started. Then they became one of the biggest bands in the world, until they became persona non grata again, until they picked up the pieces and became a huge touring act again. Damn right, this band has a few ideas about the record business, as outlined in this song.
82. “This Ain’t a Love Song,” Saints of Los Angeles (2008)
If the nightlife adventures described in “This Ain’t a Love Song” happened to most of us, it would be the craziest night of our lives, by far. For the Mötley Crüe dudes, it’s an average Tuesday.
81. “Brandon,” Generation Swine (1997)
Instead of just penning a liner notes shout out, Tommy Lee wrote a sweet orchestral-rock ode to his son Brandon.
80. “Porno Star,” New Tattoo (2000)
Don’t fall in love with the hottie on your laptop screen — so sayeth the Crüe.
79. “Sex,” single (2012)
Direct-to-video film music supervisors take note: Here’s a song for the next tawdry hook-up scene that arrives in your queue.
78. “Find Myself,” Generation Swine (1997)
A demented central riff and art-rock spoken passages alternate with jangly self-loathing.
77. “Punched in the Teeth by Love,” New Tattoo (2000)
Early-Crüe type snarl polished like a new Ferrari.
76. “Let Us Prey,” Generation Swine (1997)
Most of the track sounds like a steel-cage wrestling match between Pantera and Nine Inch Nails before Soundgarden breaks the fight up during the coda.
75. “White Trash Circus,” Saints of Los Angeles (2008)
A swaggering, staggering Mötley biopic in the form of a three-minute rock track.
74. “Beauty,” Generation Swine (1997)
The Crüe splices rubbery modern R&B touches into their Hollywood sex-rock.
73. “1st Band on The Moon,” New Tattoo (2000)
The rumbling intro and opening riffs to supergroup Velvet Revolver’s debut single “Slither,” released four years later, bear a striking resemblance to those here.
72. “Dragstrip Superstar,” New Tattoo (2000)
Convincing grunge-pop, propelled by late drummer Randy Castillo, who stood in for Tommy Lee on the New Tattoo LP.
71. “Chicks = Trouble,” Saints of Los Angeles (2008)
Given the band who recorded it and their back history, if this title doesn’t make you smile or laugh you need to lighten up. Plus, the band stomps furiously on the track.
70. “Glitter,” Generation Swine (1997)
Always wanted to hear Vince Neil croon an atmospheric synth-pop ballad? Here’s your chance.
69. “Mutherfucker of the Year,” Saints of Los Angeles (2008)
Lee, Mars and Sixx rain down savage, post-industrial hard-rock. Meanwhile, Neil does some nice vowel-stretching during that “Here I am again” part in the chorus.
68. “White Punks on Dope,” New Tattoo (2000)
This 1975 Tubes tune was destined to be Crüe-ed. Mötley’s version ups the glam and slam and evokes “Fox on the Run” faves Sweet.
67. “Generation Swine,” Generation Swine (1997)
The skittering guitars and Scott Weiland-ish verse melody proved 15 years after their major label debut LP, Mötley could still find new scars to pick at.
66. “Rodeo,” Girls, Girls, Girls (reissues 1999 and on)
For Mötley Crüe, “Rodeo” plays like a Saturday Night Live sketch skewering Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.” For some hunky young Nashville fella, this “Girls, Girls, Girls” outtake would likely be a country chart-topper.
65. “Fight for Your Rights,” Theatre of Pain (1985)
Come for the bludgeoning rhythm track, ideally suited for getting wasted to and crushing beer cans on the side of your head. Stay for surprisingly socially conscious lyrics like, “Martin Luther brought the truth/The color of our blood's the same/So break the chains and solve the pains/And we all become one race.”
64. “Confessions,” Generation Swine (1997)
Somewhere between Alanis Morissette and “Werewolves of London.”
63. “Tonight (We Need a Lover),” Theatre of Pain (1985)
Pollution-distortion guitar bordering on thrash.
62. “If I Die Tomorrow,” Red, White & Crue (2005)
The nu-metal production feels like it was test-marketed to determine the best way to get Mötley on 21st century radio. Well, it succeeded. “If I Die Tomorrow” penetrated the mainstream rock chart’s upper regions.
61. “Afraid,” Generation Swine (1997)
The sonic equivalent of the band dressing up as Smashing Pumpkins for Halloween.
60. “Rocketship,” Generation Swine (1997)
A rare lead vocal from Nikki Sixx. “Rocketship” seemed to draw equally from Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and Marc Bolan’s freak-folk. A stylistic departure that was no doubt a struggle for Crüe fans weaned on “Dr. Feelgood” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” to process.
59. “Down at the Whisky,” Saints of Los Angeles (2008)
Mötley summons up some of that “Same Old Situation”-style sugar-crunch.
58. “Keep Your Eye on the Money,” Theatre of Pain (1985)
Mötley Crüe was regularly compared to Kiss early in their career. You can certainly hear a few “Strutter” guitar licks here.
57. “Jailhouse Rock,” Girls, Girls, Girls (1987)
Mötley Crüe is no stranger to incarceration. And this amphetamine-paced Elvis cover, the closing track on Girls, Girls, Girls, had appeared in their set lists dating back to their earliest shows.
56. “Fake,” New Tattoo (2000)
Self-referencing rock songs are typically more palatable when they’re detailing a scrappy new band’s travails, instead of a veteran act crowing about the millions of records they’ve sold. But this music-biz kiss-off makes it work, with venomous chug and an anthemic chorus
55. “Anybody Out There?”, Generation Swine (1997)
One of the band’s shortest fully realized songs on record, the punkish and very effective “Anybody Out There?” makes you pine for an entire album of Mötley tracks like this.
54. “Save Our Souls,” Theatre of Pain (1985)
More than one person has slagged Theatre of Pain for having only two good songs on it. But there are plenty of mid-'80s glam-rock bands that would love for their mediocre tracks to be this fierce.
53. “Saints of Los Angeles,” Saints of Los Angeles (2008)
A silver-sleek update on signature Mötley Crüe sleaze.
52. “Flush,” Generation Swine (1997)
Probably the most successful of Generation Swine’s alt-rock carpetbaggers.
51. “She Goes Down,” Dr. Feelgood (1989)
Even on the throwaway Dr. Feelgood cuts — all four are right in a row, here on our list — the larger-than-life guitars and drums and Velcro hooks are undeniable. But unless you’re a horny teenager, the oversexed lyrics make it difficult to get through the entire track.
50. “Sticky Sweet,” Dr. Feelgood (1989)
Music fans love to hate on Bob Rock’s gleaming production, but who else could make empty-calorie party-rock sound this good?
49. “Rattlesnake Shake,” Dr. Feelgood (1989)
Shaking rattlesnakes was big in 1989. Skid Row’s self-titled LP from that year also contained a song titled “Rattlesnake Shake.”
48. “Slice of Your Pie,” Dr. Feelgood (1989)
This is fun and all, but I'm calling a 15-yard penalty for nicking that “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” part.
47. “Red Hot,” Shout at the Devil (1983)
Drums like a fugitive’s heartbeat and guitar like an AK-47.
46. “Piece of Your Action,” Too Fast for Love (1982)
Hallmark greeting cards should option these lyrics for a 2017 Valentine’s Day offering: “You need me, you tease me/Use you up, throw you away.”
45. “Raise Your Hands to Rock,” Theatre of Pain (1985)
If Mötley Crüe had made a video for “Raise Your Hands to Rock,” the song would’ve been a “Dial MTV” smash. With the bruised-strum verses and first-in-the-air chorus, the tune comes off like the spawn of Bad Company’s “Shooting Star” and Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock.”
44. “Hollywood Ending,” New Tattoo (2000)
How do you pull off some solid Mötley Crüe songs on the band’s lone album without Tommy Lee on drums? Pull out the acoustic guitars.
43. “Take Me to the Top,” Too Fast for Love (1982)
A dirty, hungry band that didn’t care what they had to do to make it, so long as it didn't involve wearing skinny ties and playing new wave. Even the lesser Too Fast for Love tracks really hold up for metal/hard-rock fans, due primarily to the studded-wristband rhythms, Sixx’s translucent lyrics and Mars’ song-within-a-song solos.
42. “Sick Love Song,” Red, White & Crue (2005)
Some of the band’s latter tracks exuded an ill-suited modern-rock vibe, but this relentless cut feels true to the Crüe.
41. “Teaser,” Decade of Decadence (1991)
An electric sea of guitars lifts this cover of a 1975 solo cut by late Deep Purple guitarist Tommy Bolin.
40. “Hell on High Heels,” New Tattoo (2000)
Is this an outtake from a Brian Johnson-era AC/DC album? That’s a compliment, by the way.
39. “All in the Name Of …”, Girls, Girls, Girls (1987)
A skeezy boogie inspired by and dedicated to then-underage adult film actress Traci Lords. “All in the Name Of …” the might have felt rebellious in 1987, but today the lyrics feel totally creepy — no matter how rollicking the music is.
38. “Rock 'n' Roll Junkie,” Decade of Decadence (1991)
Ratty bass, shock-treatment grooves. The “Rock 'n' Roll Junkie” chorus was used prominently during a segment of VH1’s oft-aired Behind the Music Mötley Crüe episode.
37. “New Tattoo,” New Tattoo (2000)
A boozy, flirty singalong superior to anything Bro Country has given us.
36. “City Boy Blues,” Theatre of Pain (1985)
Mötley Crüe at their Aerosmith-iest.
35. “Louder Than Hell,” Theatre of Pain (1985)
The band traded in their dark look to go sparkly for Theatre of Pain, but “Louder Than Hell” could have easily fit on Shout at the Devil.
34. “Time for Change,” Dr. Feelgood (1989)
“We Are the World” with tattoos.
33. “Stick to Your Guns,” single (1981)
The band’s first single, pre-Too Fast for Love, and a mainstay of their early Sunset Strip club shows. “Stick to Your Guns” is better than its clichéd title would suggest. Listening back now, the track hints at the pop and pomp that would eventually zoom Mötley to Lear jet heights.
32. “Anarchy in the U.K.”, Decade of Decadence (1991)
This feisty take on the Sex Pistols punk classic was an MTV hit despite the fact Megadeth had just covered “Anarchy in the U.K.” three years earlier.
31. “Bastard,” Shout at the Devil (1983)
The lyric “Out go the lights, in goes my knife/Pull out his life, consider that bastard dead” landed Mötley on the PMRC’s (or Parents Music Resource Center’s) 1985 “Filthy 15” list, along with artists such as Madonna, Judas Priest, AC/DC, Prince, Venom, Black Sabbath and Sheena Easton.
30. “Dancing on Glass,” Girls, Girls, Girls (1987)
A Thin White Crüe take on the cocaine blues.
29. “Toast of the Town,” B-side to “Stick to Your Guns” single (1981)
The guitar solo flies by like the best wild-and-free year you ever lived.
28. “Starry Eyes,” Too Fast for Love (1982)
It’s all about the hand claps in the beginning — and I always wished they did them throughout the entire track.
27. “Five Years Dead,” Girls, Girls, Girls (1987)
Did ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons take possession of Mick Mars’ soul at some point during the recording of the Girls, Girls, Girls album?
26. “Helter Skelter,” Shout at the Devil (1983)
Snicker if you want, but they totally held their own covering The Beatles’ unhinged classic. And since Mötley’s version was recorded post-Charles Manson, it takes on even more of a sinister vibe.
25. “Sumthin’ For Nuthin’,” Girls, Girls, Girls (1987)
Mötley Crüe’s version of a Blood on the Tracks story song is about a 16-year-old gigolo who “for a treat gave it free … happy 63.” Seniors discount!
24. “You’re All I Need,” Girls, Girls, Girls (1987)
By 1987, power ballads were beginning to be played-out. So leave it to the Crüe to write one from the twisted perspective of someone who murders his true love.
23. “Angela,” Decade of Decadence (1991)
One of three newly recorded tracks on Decade of Decadence, “Angela” is an earworm romp that captures the spirit of vintage Mötley Crüe deep cuts.
22. “Danger,” Shout at the Devil (1983)
Maybe it’s because Shout at the Devil is top-heavy with Mötley essentials, but why does everyone sleep on the album’s closing track, “Danger”? The dynamics rush from melancholy to fury. Some tasteful pale synth in the background. And Vince is almost a little too convincing singing the lines: “Then my best friend died/Lost my mind/Made me hate/I can’t escape.”
21. “Public Enemy #1,” Too Fast for Love (1982)
Singles like “Live Wire” drew fans in. Exuberant deep cuts like “Public Enemy #1” are why Mötley Crüe became the first rockers many young fans in the early '80s obsessed over. Also, Tommy Lee is a cowbell Jedi.
20. “Without You,” Dr. Feelgood (1989)
A baby-maker in rocker’s clothing.
19. “Knock ‘Em Dead, Kid,” Shout at the Devil (1983)
A brutal Reagan-era specimen that could’ve been a Judas Priest song.
18. “Tonight,” Too Fast for Love (reissues from 1999 on)
Nikki Sixx is a longtime fan of power-pop band The Raspberries, and during the Too Fast for Love era, Mötley cut this glammed-out cover of their 1973 nugget “Tonight.”
17. “Ten Seconds to Love,” Shout at the Devil (1983)
A tender ballad about a comely next-door neighbor our narrator is too shy to express his true feelings to. Kidding. “Ten Seconds to Love” chronicles a ménage a trois in an elevator. The lurid bass and drums breakdown rules.
16. “Merry-Go-Round,” Too Fast for Love (1982)
Somewhere between a country ballad and a horror movie. A supremely underrated cut hardcore Crüe fans worship.
15. “On With the Show,” Too Fast for Love (1982)
Sixx turns legally changing his name, from Frank Carlton Feranna, into a cautionary rock eulogy for his former self, “Frankie.” Neil’s “Ooh baby” that concludes “On With the Show” is one of his finest recorded vocal performances and brings Mötley’s debut album to a stirring end.
14. “Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.),” Dr. Feelgood (1989)
13. “Wild Side,” Girls, Girls, Girls (1987)
Seedy rock poetry, with some dark-blue Mick Mars guitars.
12. “Too Fast For Love,” Too Fast For Love (1982)
The Rolling Stones song “Bitch” clad in lipstick-red Spandex.
11. “Primal Scream,” Decade of Decadence (1991)
How does a band make a greatest-hits compilation enticing to longtime fans? Make the tacked-on “previously unreleased track” as awesome as “Primal Scream.” It sounds like the rest of the Crüe locked Mick Mars in a studio closet and wouldn’t let him out until he wrote enough Jimmy Page riffs to populate an entire Led Zeppelin album.
10. “Smokin’ in the Boys Room,” Theatre of Pain (1985)
There are days when I play the first 15 seconds of this track over and over and over. Like six or seven times in a row. It’s one of my favorite moments on a rock recording: Vince’s “woo” and scatting over Tommy’s showboat drums before screaming, “Lemme tell ya about!” We did a “10 Original Songs Better Than Their More Famous Covers” list at L.A. Weekly last year. And Mötley’s version of Brownsville Station’s old-school rocker was definitely NOT on that list.
9. “Kickstart My Heart,” Dr. Feelgood (1989)
“Kickstart My Heart” seems like it’s been used in 47 different TV commercials by now, which can diminish this acceleratory rocker’s impact on the listener. And yeah, we know the whammy-bar intro bites on Montrose’s “Bad Motor Scooter.” Still, anyone who’s heard Mötley Crüe perform “Kickstart” in concert knows this song can still knock your teeth out live.
8. “Too Young to Fall in Love,” Shout at the Devil (1983)
Lee’s tom rolls leading into each verse are hooks onto themselves. Who else but Mars could do a metal guitar solo that evokes a martial arts movie score? Not exactly rock’s most acclaimed vocalist, Neil hits headband-wearing high notes here with a searing edge. Some genre-biased writers use the description “pop metal” as a coded put-down. But the shitty hipster bands they applaud will never pen a song that sticks and kicks like “Too Young to Fall in Love.”
7. “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away),” Dr. Feelgood (1989)
Perhaps the Mötley Crüe song that could conceivably be covered well by the widest range of artists, from an outlaw country act like Chris Stapleton to an R&B vixen like Rihanna to an alien pop-star like Lady Gaga. Sixx lays down a lovely, soulful bassline. “Don’t Go Away Mad” eventually culminates in a glitter-boogie rave-up.
6. “Looks That Kill,” Shout at the Devil (1983)
Call it “pentagram pop.” For rock fans of a certain age, “Looks That Kill” is inseparable from the goofy accompanying music video, featuring the Crüe rocking out in their Mad Max-ish stage outfits from the period and battling a mysterious and elusive she-warrior.
5. “Home Sweet Home,” Theatre of Pain (1985)
If you’re going to write and record a power ballad, make it the decade’s best. For someone who does drum solos while hanging upside down, Tommy Lee plays a surprisingly graceful piano. Mick Mars peels off another of his patented fiery, melodic solos and “Home Sweet Home” features one of Nikki Sixx’s best lines: “I had to run away high/So I wouldn't come home low.” Vince Neil sings it all from the heart. And he should have received a Grammy for Best Humming for that outro.
4. “Live Wire,” Too Fast for Love (1982)
A truly dangerous-sounding song by a truly dangerous band — how fitting this was the opening track on Mötley’s beautifully trashy debut LP. Absolutely pummeling double bass-drum pushes the serrated guitar into makeup-and-leather ecstasy.
3. “Girls, Girls, Girls,” Girls, Girls, Girls (1987)
Who better to give us all a glam-blues tour of the world’s finest strip clubs than Mötley Crüe?
2. “Shout at the Devil,” Shout at the Devil (1983)
The dramatic intro sounds like theme music to an occult ritual before the sneering vocal and start-stop thud remind you, no, this is masterpiece metal.
1. “Dr. Feelgood,” Dr. Feelgood (1989)
Tommy lays down a cavernous, sex-god drum pocket; Mick’s guitar cuts like a bone-saw; Vince’s beach-dude bray goes supersonic; and Nikki polishes his dark lyrical style into a multi-platinum drug-lord saga. The ultimate crystallization of everything Crüe.
Mötley Crüe: The End box set is out Nov. 25 and available at all major retailers. More info at www.motley.com.
[Note: An earlier version of this list omitted four new and previously unreleased tracks from the 1991 greatest-hits compilation Decade of Decadence. We regret the error.]