Live: Entertainment Or Death

Motley Crue

Motley / Beyond Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


At what point in a band's career is it almost anti-climactic to release a live album? Obviously, it's a bit pushy for a group with only one or two albums under their belt to put out a live effort (though there are times this works to their advantage).

Motley Crue has been slugging it out now for two decades (though the band's future is reportedly in flux at this writing), but it took them until 1999 to release a full live album. When Live: Entertainment Or Death first came out, the label's publicist sent me a single-disc version, saying she was waiting on the full two-CD sets. Three years later, I finally gave up on waiting and bought it.

I should have saved my money.

As a studio band, Motley Crue has been notoriously uneven. As a live band, Vince Neil and crew can't even rely on the trickery of the studio to enhance the band's sound. As a result, this set - culled from dates spanning 17 years - is spotty at best, vulgar and sloppy at worst.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Taking up the bulk of the first disc is a collection of tracks mostly from the Crue's early albums up to Shout At The Devil. With most of these 11 tracks pulled from 1982 and 1984 shows, the listener is given a band who was still discovering their own unique sound while dealing with the excesses that would have made William S. Burroughs puke. Neil's vocals often seem to go out of tune, especially when he attempts the high-pitch shrieks he was able to nail in the studio (though, to be fair, Roger Daltrey has the same problems), while the overall sound is muddy thanks to poor mixing of Nikki Sixx's bass and Mick Mars's guitar parts. For that matter, the overall sound loses a lot when Mars goes into a solo, since there's no other guitar to back up the band. The fact that a latter-day recording of one of the Crue's early songs, "Ten Seconds To Love," fails to light things up, should let the listener know that something's not right here.

Disc two isn't much better. Relying heavily on tracks from Dr. Feelgood (an album I freely admit I don't like), Motley Crue shows they haven't made that much improvement on their overall sound. Some songs, notably the power ballads ("Home Sweet Home," "Without You"), have not aged particularly well; others, like "Smokin' In The Boys Room" (pulled form a recording in 1985) and "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)", make the listener long for the studio versions. Even a track like "Wild Side" sounds like it needs some outside help - c'mon, with all the chaos on stage and poor excuses for back-up vocals on other tracks, I'm supposed to believe the note-perfect vocals on this one were live?

Looking back at Live: Entertainment Or Death, one has to assume that this is a disc which should have been released about 10 years ago. Had it come out in 1992 (right around the time Neil was taking his leave/getting sacked from the band, whichever story you believe), it might have worked a little better. But Motley Crue is a band pretty well removed from their glory days, and this disc sometimes sounds like a half-hearted attempt to remind listeners what they used to be like. Unfortunately for the Crue, they do succeed in this - only they remind us how chaotic of a band they really are.

Rating: F

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2002 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 Motley / Beyond Records, and is used for informational purposes only.