Dr. Feelgood

Motley Crue

Elektra Records, 1989


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Admission number one: I have never been a fan of heavy metal band Motley Crue.

Sure, there were a few songs of theirs I liked, like "Shout At The Devil" and "Looks That Kill." But when I was a full-fledged headbanger back in the early '80s, I didn't have a driving need to run out and buy new Motley Crue albums as they came out. As I got older, I finally decided to pick up some Motley Crue albums - most of them for about two dollars at my local used record store.

Admission number two: I would rather have Dr. Kervorkian be my personal physician than listen to their 1989 release Dr. Feelgood again. Their "masterpiece" to some, it is now the musical equivalent of Jack-In-The-Box: it's obnoxious, boring - and at times, it can make you feel sick.

Vince Neil and crew, at the time, seemed to want to get their act together and put out a real album - one with songs that had substance and musicianship. They hooked up with Bob Rock, and invited a whole gaggle of friends over to add to the project; you almost need a scorecard to figure out who is singing on what track.

The title track talks about a subject at least one member of the band once found endearing: drugs - namely, this song tells the story of a drug dealer about to fall from grace. At one time, I enjoyed this song - and it still is probably the best song on the album. That's not a great endorsement, when the first full-length track is the peak of the experience.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Many of the other singles have not stood up well to the test of time: "Kickstart My Heart," "S.O.S. (Same Ol' Situation)," ad nauseam. The harmonies are not the greatest, and the musicianship is weak. (I will admit the sparse use of the talkbox on "Kickstart My Heart" is good - I've always said that toy is good when used sparingly.)

Many of the songs on Dr. Feelgood sink to the cock-rock lows - and for Motley Crue, it's hard to imagine how one could slip lower than the gutter. Just the song titles say it all: "Slice Of Your Pie," "Sticky Sweet," "She Goes Down"... if one didn't think the band was serious, it may have been humorous. Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick must have been really hard up for cash when they agreed to provide backup vocals on "She Goes Down." Even heavy-metal sensation Bryan Adams (that's called sarcasm, kids) provides backing vocals on "Sticky Sweet" - oh, yeah, real convincing, going from "Everything I Do (I Do For You)" to a song with lyrics like "Now when I've done good / She slaps me on the ass."

And Motley Crue should never have been conned into believing they could pull off a power ballad! Anyone who made "Home Sweet Home" off Theatre Of Pain such a hit is guilty of the piece-of-buffalo-shit performance on "Without You." Neil may have been a decent screamer for the heavy metal genre, but he's no lounge lizard.

To the headbanger, the cries of "Sacrilege!" are probably being screamed right now. No, it's just truth: Dr. Feelgood was, for its time, the last act of a desparate band. Motley Crue was beginning to run out of ideas and steam; if Girls, Girls, Girls was a potential warning sign, then Dr. Feelgood should have been the fire alarm. And let's face it, this was never a band that was into deep meanings and real musicianship. When I think of rock drummers, I think of people like Neil Peart, Lars Ulrich and Bill Ward - not Tommy Lee. Nikki Sixx was never a great bassist, and Mick Mars - okay, he could occasionally pull a tasty guitar riff out of his axe, but that's all the credit I'll give.

Following a "best-of" collection two years later, Neil would be shown the door (though he would be back in the band as of this past year), and Motley Crue would go on to record an under-rated album with John Corabi. But Dr. Feelgood seemed like Motley Crue's career had flatlined.

Rating: F

User Rating: B



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Elektra Records, and is used for informational purposes only.