Mötley Crüe — Crücial Crüe (BMG)

Looks That Kill: this wildly reimagined set of splatter vinyls has got the looks and the hooks as Mötley Crüe’s classic era gets the reissue treatment…again.

It’s doubtful any true fan of 80s sleaze metal is missing any or all of these era-defining releases but let’s face it — even Tommy Lee never looked this good.

And given the unique styling attached to each of these coloured vinyls it’ll require a serious amount of self-restraint to resist a truly beautiful box set.

Each record recollects Crüe’s more questionable fashion choices back when denim and Lycra were glam metal’s go to uniform.

Housed in a leather-look box with embossed silver logo, there’s no doubt this premium package looks like the real deal. 

And for a band often accused of favouring style over substance, Crücial Crüe is an appropriately colourful retrospective.

Crüe’s Sixx Appeal

Kicking off with a relatively conservative black and white splatter (the visual calm before the storm), 1981’s furious Too Fast For Love is the sound of a band with nothing to lose but so much to gain. 

Nikki Sixx’s songwriting might have been in its infancy but the electric Live Wire and tantalising title track hinted at the stadium anthems to come. 

However, if the band’s naivety was all part of the charm during those formative years then it didn’t take long for the marketing men to latch on to a serious money making opportunity.

Crüe’s flamboyant looks and earworm hooks were ready made for the FM radio/cable TV generation and 1983’s Shout At The Devil shifted a sensational 200,000 copies in its first week. 

If Looks That Kill and Too Young To Fall In Love failed to gain a foothold in the upper reaches of the Billboard Hot 100 then Crüe’s reputation as the bad boys of glam rock was gathering pace. 

Kicked off Kiss’s tour prior to recording Shout At The Devil and unable to kick their addiction to drink, drugs and partying after the album’s release, the band’s off stage antics became headline news. 

Crüe’s bad behaviour, just as much as their bad-ass tunes, helped propel their second long player to quadruple platinum status. 

If the yellow and black splatter included here is more Stryper than Crüe then it’s still an insanely attractive disc.

Front Row For Theatre Of Pain

But it doesn’t come close to the so-called hot pink magenta/black splatter brilliantly setting off 1985’s breakthrough UK release Theatre Of Pain

With Tom Werman back as producer this was the top six Billboard smash that secured glammier-than-ever Crüe a truly global footprint.

Released against the backdrop of Hanoi Rocks’ drummer Razzle’s tragic death — at the hands of a drunken Vince Neil — Theatre Of Pain landed with a bang inside both the Billboard Top 10 and the UK Top 40. 

Increasingly famous or progressively infamous?

It didn’t really matter to Crüe’s laissez faire paymasters as the band’s crisp cover of the Brownsville Station hit Smokin’ In The Boys Room, über ballad Home Sweet Home and plenty more scrapes with the law kept them front and centre of the serious music mags and the gossip hungry tabloid rags.

By the time Girls, Girls, Girls (presented here on cyan blue/black splatter) added to 1987’s spectacular hair metal canon, Neil and co. were on a roll. 

The album that soundtracked an increasingly riotous lifestyle — the title track, Wild Side and Bad Boy Boogie leaving little to the imagination — debuted at number two on the Billboard chart and became Crüe’s first top 20 UK album.

A decadent record released in different times, Girls, Girls, Girls nevertheless reveals the Sunset Strip’s scene leaders at the peak of their powers.

Feelgood Factor

If Girls, Girls, Girls represented the meeting point between glam metal and stadium rock then Dr Feelgood (check out the Coke bottle green/oxblood splatter combo!) was evidence of Crüe’s eyes fixed firmly on the corporate prize. 

Within a decade the band had gone from rough and ready wannabes to polished multi-platinum performers.

And if ripe upstarts Guns N Roses had already usurped the Crüe as the most dangerous band in the world then Neil, Sixx and Tommy Lee were still more than capable of testing the old adage that all publicity is good publicity.

Dr Feelgood represented Mötley Crüe’s final flirtation with Top 40 chart success (notwithstanding the 1991 remix of Home Sweet Home) in the shape of the anthemic title track, Without You and Don’t Go Away (Just Go Away Mad).

And the band’s only number one album bookends this hugely satisfying recap of those prolific, often anarchic early days. 

One for the trüe Crüe completist? Maybe. 

But such is the splendid range of splatter vinyls here there’s plenty to pique the interest of those harking back to hair metal’s kaleidoscopic peak — Crüe fan or not.