Dusting 'Em Off
Revisiting an album, a film, or an event on its anniversary

Dusting ‘Em Off: Mötley Crüe – Too Fast for Love

on May 23, 2009, 11:00am

The eighties were a time of segregation in heavy metal music. Flip through an old issue of Metal Edge or Circus magazine and you’ll find that the genre was dissected into various categories and sub genres such as pop metal, death metal, black metal, speed metal, thrash metal, classic metal, glam metal, and hair metal – amongst others. Some of the terms, such as glam metal and hair metal or death metal and black metal meant basically the same thing, while others were a combination of more than one sub genre. Many fans seemed to become obsessed with one type and slam anything else, but in the war between the so called posers and fans of the heavier music, Mötley Crüe were the bomb. They were one of the few groups, especially in their earlier days, which seemed to satisfy metalheads of almost any affiliation.

Mötley Crüe, comprised of Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, and Mick Mars, became a household name by the mid-eighties, but if Too Fast for Love and Shout at the Devil are any indication, you kind of wish success had eluded them for at least a couple more years. The band was at its best on its first two albums, but things were never quite the same after the release of the single “Smoking in the Boys Room” off the otherwise solid, Theatre of Pain in 1985.

Too Fast for Love showcased the themes of youth, sex, and violence that would become commonplace amongst future Crüe albums, but the words and attitude seemed much more natural here. The songs are edgier and the raw production is better suited to the band’s sound and image than the glitzy production days of Bob Rock. The infectious guitar riffs of “Live Wire” kicks the album off in full throttle and takes the listener on a high speed cruise through sexy California nights and Jack Daniels weekends that doesn’t ease off until the final notes of the beautiful and tragic, “On With the Show”.

There’s no filler or slick production tricks, and every song is a gem, aged to perfection on the small stages of hot L.A. clubs such as the Whiskey-A-Go-Go and the Starwood. “Take Me to the Top” and “Too Fast for Love” are anthemic rockers in the vein of early Kiss, while “Starry Eyes” wouldn’t sound out of place on a classic Cheap Trick record, and although the group occasionally wears it’s influences on its sleeve, the unique combination of Vince Neil’s sugary vocals, Mick Mars’s raw guitar, and Nikki Sixx’s lyrical wit makes the album undeniably one of a kind. The slow and atmospheric, “Merry Go Round”, and the punkish, “Come On and Dance” really sounds like nothing else the band has ever done, and my personal favourite, “Public Enemy #1”, has some great pop melodies beneath the crunching guitar.

Released at a time when New Wave bands such as Devo and Flock of Seagulls, as well as more classic acts like AC/DC were topping the charts, Too Fast for Love was a precursor to the hugely popular glam-metal movement of the mid to late eighties. Originally distributed under the band’s own Leathur Records in 1981, before being re-released on Elektra in 1982, there are four different versions of the original album (including an ultra rare promotional CD), that are hot collectables and have been known to sell for well over a thousand dollars on Ebay. In 1999, a new remastered version of the album was released that included six new songs such as the group’s first single, “Stick to Your Guns”, and a cover of The Raspberries’ “Tonight”.

The members of Mötley Crüe were always an entertaining interview and the early years were filled with wild tales of bar fights and groupies, but I remember Nikki Sixx telling a story about his days before the band made it big. He was dating a girl that lived at the top of a hill, and his car was in such bad shape that he had to drive it up the hill in reverse to pick her up. He said that he must have really liked her. Those are the stories behind Too Fast for Love. It’s a collection of youthful dreams and exuberance that disappeared on the band’s later releases, and although it isn’t the most original or groundbreaking album around, it is easily Mötley Crüe’s masterpiece, and in my humble opinion*, the best metal album of the eighties. I don’t care what the Slayer fans say.

*Editor’s Note: I fully support this humble opinion.

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