Motley Crue "Too Fast For Love" original 1981 Leathur mix

Around the time of the 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Nikki Sixx said in a Kerrang interview that his band Mötley Crüe were once “told by the Hall Of Fame that we would never get in, because of how we’ve acted”. Although it is understandable if an organization does not want to reward bad behavior, one must wonder what kind of bad behavior keeps someone out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Few art forms have been more frequently associated with bad behavior than rock and roll music, right?

Well, anyone who wants a crash course on the L.A. hair-metal band’s wild and outrageous past needs to look no further than Netflix. The new Netflix movie The Dirt dramatizes the first 15 years or so of Mötley Crüe’s history. The film is based on the band’s autobiographical 2001 book of the same name, and was co-produced by the four band members among others. After watching this account of the band’s out-of-control party life in the ‘80’s, it’s hard to believe that all four of the band’s usual members are still alive – although bassist/founder Sixx did once die for a matter of minutes in 1987, and a DUI by singer Vince Neil caused the death of Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley in 1984. And who has not heard about the tabloid scandals of drummer Tommy Lee? (It’s probably a good thing that The Dirt does not mention Pamela Anderson even once).

Although it is impossible to cram too many small details into a one-hour-and-47-minute biopic, one thing I wished The Dirt had mentioned was the recording of Mötley Crüe’s 1981 debut album Too Fast For Love. The Crüe originally recorded this album in three days at a small studio, and initially released it on their own indie label called Leathür Records, with a reported print run of 900 copies. After the band was signed to Elektra Records, Too Fast For Love was remixed under the supervision of Roy Thomas Baker, and was reissued on Elektra in 1982. Nearly all subsequent reissues of the album have utilized that remixed 1982 version.

The original 1981 mix of Too Fast For Love consisted of Van Halen-like arena rock on a punk-rock budget. In the history book of rock and roll, Too Fast For Love belongs on or around the same page as Def Leppard’s High ‘n’ Dry and Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation; like those records, Too Fast For Love distilled elements of ‘70’s heavy metal, glam rock, and power pop, and used them to create a form of pop-metal that would help define the “hair-metal” sounds of the 1980’s. (The original back cover art amusingly depicts the band’s Kiss-like hairstyles, using photo editing to make Vince Neil’s head of hair look much bigger than it actually was). Nikki Sixx wrote or co-wrote all of the songs. Lead guitarist Mick Mars did not have the same skills as Eddie Van Halen, but he was able to kick up confident storms of high-speed metal licks. Vince Neil’s androgynous falsetto vocals recalled the glam-rockers of the early-‘70’s, and his vocals on the debut album were less grating than they sometimes were on the band’s later works. Although the original recording had a raw and sleazy quality, with lyrics that already matched the band's prurient lifestyles, the songs were often more melodic than those of other metal bands of the period.

For the album’s 1982 reissue on Elektra Records, the primitive sound quality was considerably polished, bringing it up to major-label standards, and also helping to set the standard for later hair-band albums of that decade. If it’s not one of the best or best-selling of the ‘80’s hair-metal albums, Too Fast For Love was certainly one of that genre’s early defining records.

One clear difference between the two versions of Too Fast For Love is the inclusion of “Stick To Your Guns” (which was also the band’s first single) on the original 1981 release and the song’s omission from the Elektra reissue. The song basically comes across like low-budget Van Halen, especially when a quick-change instrumental occurs around the two-thirds mark. The song also makes unexpected use of cowbells. Those interesting touches aside, it was not one of the album’s better tracks, so it was no great loss when it was left off the 1982 reissue. The single featured a non-album B-side called “Toast Of The Town”, which provided a better example of the same basic Van Halen-meets-glam-rock ethos. Both of these songs later turned up as bonus tracks on later CD reissues of Too Fast For Love.

The title track is one track with a significant difference between its two versions. The four-minute-plus 1981 version has a different intro that fuses the song with an overall Raspberries-like power-pop feel. The downside is that the 1981 version goes on a bit too long, so the 1982 version tightens it up and toughens it up with a heavier-metal guitar presence that makes an immediately different impression from the beginning. This change made the song come across more like a straight-up hard rock number. The 1981 version also has a noticeably different ending, when it fades out with an experimental guitar sound instead of the more traditional fade-out of the 1982 version. All things considered, the original mix of the song is the preferable one.

Another remix with a noticeable difference is “Come On And Dance”. The 1981 version has a sludgier guitar sound, and a concert-performance-like finale. Vince Neil lets out a number of high-pitched howls (a la Robert Plant) during the choruses. For the 1982 version, Neil’s vocals were re-recorded – not necessarily for the better – and his howling is left out of the choruses and inserted toward the end. The guitar sound was also polished up for the ’82 mix, but that also does not necessarily make it the better version. Although the ’81 mix of “Come On And Dance” certainly did need better production, it still ends up being the more potent mix out of the two.

There are at least three other tracks where Neil’s vocals were noticeably rerecorded, but probably should have been left as they originally were. The ’81 mix of “Public Enemy #1” was more melodic, while the ’82 mix was sped up and Neil’s vocals sounded tougher. “Starry Eyes” was also remixed with fuller instrumentation, which deemphasizes Neil’s falsetto. “On With The Show” served as something of a closing ballad on the original version of the album, but it hardly comes across as a ballad at all on the remixed version, as the instrumentation is mixed louder and faster and Neil’s vocal stands out less. The seemingly violent lyrics of that song are actually a metaphor for Sixx changing his name from his birth name (Frank Ferrana, Jr.) and putting his former life behind him (another thing that is dramatized in The Dirt).

Some of the tracks were definitely improved on the 1982 remixed album. The high speed opening track “Live Wire” was given smoother presentation and a more prominent drum sound (which must have made Tommy Lee happy). “Take Me To The Top” and “Piece Of Your Action” have tougher sounds that are notably improved from the tinnier originals; the latter is a prototype of the next album’s well-known song “Looks That Kill”, featuring a thrilling Mick Mars guitar solo that comes through better in the remix. The remixed “Merry-Go-Round” boosted the guitar and drum sounds to effectively fill in the production gaps of the original mix.

Although the rawer 1981 mix of Too Fast For Love is often less easy on the ears than the professional 1982 mix, it does come across as being the more authentic version of the album, and is often preferred by fans. Any fans of Mötley who have not yet heard the Leathür version will certainly want to investigate the way the original recordings of these songs sounded, and judge for themselves.

The 1981 mix of the album was not made available again until 2003, when all 10 of its tracks (as well as “Toast Of The Town”) were included on the now-discontinued box set Music To Crash Your Car To: Volume 1 (Hip-O Records ‎B0001460-02). I must say that box set’s title was chosen in very bad taste, especially considering the whole Vince Neil and Razzle thing. In 2005, the original mix was issued on a limited edition vinyl LP (Hip-O Select ‎B0004795-01), packaged with a repress of the 7-inch “Stick To Your Guns” single. That LP reissue was limited to 5,000 numbered copies. As of this writing, the 1981 mix is not currently available commercially.

Additional notes: The letters in the band’s name and the album's title appear in white on the cover of original Leathür version’s first pressing, while the subsequent pressings and reissues print the band name and album title in red letters against the cover’s still black-and-white background. Some early Canadian pressings from Elektra in 1982 contained the Leathür version of the album, even though the packaging listed the tracks in the Elektra order.

Running times for the tracks listed below are provided according to the center labels on the LP’s.

Mötley Crüe - Too Fast for Love

Mötley Crüe "Too Fast For Love" (Leathür LR/1281-2) 1981

Track Listing:

1. Live Wire (3:16)
2. Public Enemy #1 (4:23)
3. Take Me To The Top (3:46)
4. Merry-Go-Round (3:27)
5. Piece Of Your Action (4:40)
6. Starry Eyes (4:30)
7. Stick To Your Guns (4:20)
8. Come On And Dance (3:11)
9. Too Fast For Love (4:11)
10. On With The Show (4:04)

Mötley Crüe - Stick to Your Guns / Toast of the Town

Mötley Crüe “Stick To Your Guns” (b/w “Toast Of The Town”) (Leather MC-001) 1981

Track Listing:

a. Stick To Your Guns
b. Toast Of The Town

Mötley Crüe - Too Fast for Love

Mötley Crüe "Too Fast For Love" (Elektra 60174) 1982

Track Listing:

1. Live Wire (3:14)
2. Come On And Dance (2:45)
3. Public Enemy #1 (4:20)
4. Merry-Go-Round (3:22)
5. Take Me To The Top (3:43)
6. Piece Of Your Action (4:38)
7. Starry Eyes (4:30)
8. Too Fast For Love (3:22)
9. On With The Show (4:00)