The idea of a band performing one of their classic albums live and in its entirety is a novel one and something I enjoy immensely. I have two criteria though: if it’s a traditional album-something that’s under an hour in length-then the band better fill out the last part of their set with other songs from their repertoire. The other requirement is that the album must be certifiably worthy to be played in its entirety. This means that it should be something that universally acknowledged as a classic album, something that stands as the artist’s high-water mark or one that stands as a high-water mark for their particular genre.
More and more bands are doing these types of shows to give them an “event” type of feel. Some of the more obvious albums have been revisited: Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, Todd Rundgren is going to do A Wizard, A True Star, and I just got word today that Steely Dan is going to do Aja, Goucho, and The Royal Scam on three consecutive nights in Chicago. All of these albums are recognized by fans and critics of their importance and all would surely excite fans interested in hearing the live interpretation.
Fans of metal and hard rock though are somewhat shortchanged by the “album performed in its entirety” phenomenon. Rush did it with 2112 and Judas Priest is planning on performing British Steel. Both are welcomed, but a few bands have decided to jump in the fun without a proper invitation and with albums that don’t immediately stand out as worthy for inclusion.
Ratt-not a band that stands out as groundbreaking or innovative-announced plans to perform Out Of The Cellar in its entirety during this summer’s Rocklohoma. I’ve got no problem with Ratt circa ’82-’90; later incarnation are pretty much a joke, but not as big a joke as Steven Pearcy’s voice deterioration. Nonetheless, if one was to ask “What’s the best album Ratt ever did?” the answer would be Out Of The Cellar and if you were to ask “Where would this album be appreciated the most?” well sir, I would submit the stage of Rocklahoma.
Personally? I wouldn’t drive too far to witness the show, but if that’s your bag, then so be it.
This brings us to a more pointed debate concerning one Motley Crue and their announcement that they will be performing Dr. Feelgood in its entirety. The Crue has managed to stay a nut hair above irrelevance even though they haven’t released anything remotely entertaining since John Corabi replaced Vince Neil and despite that their “heyday” was over twenty years ago. I’ve bashed them enough for their sins, but this is a band that just seems to aggravate me with each passing year that I cannot help but to rag on them every step of the way.
Dr. Feelgood may be the band’s highpoint in terms of commercial success, but it is by far the band’s critical apex. Maybe this is a point of argument among Crue fans, but I always felt that their true artistic merit ended after Shout At The Devil and even that is an album with plenty of flaws.
Admittedly, one doesn’t listen to Motley Crue for intellectual satisfaction or critical analysis, which is part of the reason why their decision to play Dr. Feelgood somewhat laughable.
I mean, if the band really wants to start thinking of themselves as a band that provided fans of hard rock with complete albums of artistic intent then they should have picked either Too Fast For Love or Shout At The Devil.
Everything beyond those two albums were either fodder for mainstream success or halfassed efforts that were stuffed with filler in between a few catchy tunes that could be pushed on radio.
Dr. Feelgood was rolled out as the band’s “return to form,” their moment of clarity thanks to newfound sobriety. The title and the bio sheet that came with it hinted at an almost thematic attempt-a concept album that addressed the perils of addiction and the glory of emerging from the depths of despair.
In fact, the album is essentially two songs that directly hint at addiction with a bunch of other radio-ready songs that have nothing to do with Dr. Feelgood’s supposed themes.
It bares the fingerprints of Bob Rock, a producer known for his desire for perfection and ear for melody. On both accounts, it succeeds; there’s barely a mistake on the album’s 11 tracks and it’s produced with a clear ear to mainstream approval. It contains none of the band’s notorious penchant for decadence and with the exception of a stupid track devoted to a cocksucking chick, there is hardly anything offensive at all.
It’s Slippery When Wet with umlauts.
Motley Crue is notorious for flinging shit around no one ever seems to complain of the stink. The idea that the band will perform this album in its entirety during Crue Fest 2 smells like horseshit to me. Sure, there’s the obligatory “20th anniversary” explaination, but since when is Motley Crue able to count and since when are we keeping track of when mediocre records we originally released?
Could it be that there’s enough pre-recorded material from the Feelgood sessions that this just makes the most sense to perform? We all know that Vince Neil barely sings a note on stage anymore, finding it more beneficial to charge you $50 for the luxury of seeing him while making you sing the majority of the set list for him. Maybe there’s nothing from the Too Fast For Love or Shout At The Devil sessions that they could pipe through the p.a., requiring Vince to actually having to sing.
Or maybe it’s just another one of those unexplainable things, like how this band was able to secure such longevity with such limited evidence of greatness. This is a band that’s taken fans for a ride for more years than they were actually a credible unit-and yet they’re still out there charging full price for the same 90 minute set that they were doing 20 years ago (present Feelgood set excluded…but not by much).
I have no idea why the Crue works me up to a lather. It’s probably because of the number of bands from that same era that can’t make ends meet even when they may have better material than what Motley Crue can provide while these nitwits continue to receive more compensation with no hint of gratitude and, most importantly, without the back catalog to justify it.