Even Tommy Lee Doesn’t Like This Mötley Crüe Album

Joe Bielawa from MInneapolis, USA, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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For every great album that you make, there are always going to be a few that seem to miss the mark. Every song can’t be the greatest thing you’ve ever written, and artists can’t necessarily be expected to be head over heels for their records all the time. If you ask Mötley Crüe‘s Tommy Lee about Theatre of Pain though, he seems to be more confused about how everything started to pan out. 

While Vince Neil has already torn Theatre of Pain through the mud as not being the greatest record that he ever made, Tommy also has trouble giving the record a positive review. In fairness, it’s probably a bit harder for him to be fully objective because it was the first time he was actively involved in the band’s songwriting outside of arrangements. As he told Stereogum:

“I was always involved when it came to arranging and making things work — that’s a drummer’s job, to make sure everything’s flowing right. I did that a lot, but on Theatre Of Pain I started bringing in full ideas and demos.

I was just dicking around on the piano during rehearsal playing what would become “Home Sweet Home,” and Nikki was like, “What is that?” And I was like, “It’s this thing I’m working on, it’s pretty cool.” Later on I’d get more into the production side too, but I started bringing in stuff around this time.

In response to being reminded that both Vince and Nikki both don’t like Theatre Of Pain, Lee offers his own take:

There’s parts I love, and parts that I don’t, I can’t say it’s my least favorite, because there’s some great stuff on it. But as a band, we were still trying to figure out what it is that we all collectively did.

I was just coming into the picture with songwriting, and we were in this headspace where we loved David Bowie. Every time you saw him, he had changed into something different.

We liked that, so that’s why around Theatre Of Pain we really glammed it out — super-bright colors, more makeup. Then we went for a different look on the next record. We were always evolving, but Theatre Of Pain was early on enough that we were still figuring out what Mötley Crüe was.”

It’s certainly telling that one of the only singles from this era of the band wasn’t even written by them, instead being a cover of the old rock and roll classic “Smokin in the Boys Room.”

Even in their autobiography The Dirt though, Vince Neil talked about the band having some issues out on the road with the rest of the record, saying “Every night, though I loved singing it, Nikki {Sixx} would complain that the song was stupid and that he didn’t want to play it.

I felt like I was the only one sober enough to realize how bad some of those songs were. I was shocked the record went double platinum.”

Though the crowd may have loved the record, it wasn’t long before the band came back to what they did best, being decked out in biker gear and making something a lot nastier on Girls Girls Girls. Motley may have been the kings of Sunset in the ‘80s, but their days playing with glitter wasn’t meant to last too long.