So Vince Neil, conscious that his band have a new (sort of) record to sell, has gone and badmouthed Axl Rose for letting down his fans in the wake of the decade-old Chinese Democracy saga.
The Motley Crue singer has criticised his fellow American for failing devotees of the biggest rock and roll band on the planet by taking an eternity to release a new album, failing to rehearse with his revolving door band and finally shelving plans to tour any time soon.
All fair points you might think. And coming from any number of hard working, hard gigging, hard on their luck singers they would have been made with full justification. But let’s remember Mr Neil and his Motley mates haven’t always had their fans’ best interests at heart.
When Axl’s latest critic quit the Crue in 1992 the most famous party animals on the Sunset Strip experienced a rapid decline. Neil insists he was dismissed but by all accounts he just upped sticks and left to pursue a solo career. And for five years the Crue limped along without their talismanic leader, releasing a terrible self-titled record and totally losing their way – but still expecting fans to fork out for new CDs, merch and shows.
Even when Neil returned in 1997 it seemed a move motivated by money on all sides and his lack of passion was reflected in the atrocious Generation Swine. It was bad bordering on the laughable and should never have seen the light of day. But it did and the Crue faithful sent it straight to number four on the Billboard chart – still believing in a band which didn’t even believe in itself.
Then came the reissues after Vince and the boys secured the rights to their back catalogue. Dubbed Crucial Crue it was more like Crucial Income.
Now Axl might have taken 10 years to make Chinese Democracy but what’s worse? Disappearing off the scene altogether with the aim of coming back with something meaningful (which I still believe that album is) or pushing out a couple of dud records and a few re-releases to maintain some kind of commercial momentum? There is a very strong case indeed for arguing Vince Neil has been know to let his fans down – firstly by walking away and then by returning without any respect for the Crue’s magnificent legacy.
In fact nearly 20 years separates Dr Feelgood – Crue’s best ever record – and last year’s return to form in the shape of the impressive Saints Of Los Angeles. That’s even longer than the period between the Gunners’ Use Your Illusion records and the much maligned Chinese Democracy. But the difference is that the Crue have continuously milked their fans for the past 20 years while Axl, for all his dithering in the present and failure to plan for the future, was quick to draw a clear line under the past.
There are many musicians, in any number of bands, who could have criticised Axl Rose with a clear conscience and the lazy bugger needs someone on his case. But Vince Neil needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror before addressing the issue of loyalty to fans. Motely Crue might be back to their brilliant best in 2009. But their past hasn’t always been so glorious.