Motley Crue made a name for themselves with their debut album, Too fast for love, less than a year after the band’s conception. With 900 printed copies, the self-produced album was released on Nov. 10, 1981, via the band’s own Leathur Records and proudly boasted 10 tracks of raw aggression, attitude and sleaze that matched the hype of the band’s already growing reputation.
A must-see act in clubs, Motley Crue transferred their bad behavior seen on stage to after-parties in the band’s house, which was barely furnished and saw the group living in harsh conditions. Although they might not have much money for food or anything else, there was never a shortage of booze and drugs. Crue is already living and loving the rock star life and setting themselves up for one of the most legendary careers with Too fast for love.
The album had mostly been written before the band even materialized. Nikki Sixx was formerly in a group called London (where apparently all the members went on to find success after leaving) and he wrote music on his own but felt it wasn’t right for his current group. He kept the songs in his back pocket and had them ready to go after forming his new band.
Rounding out the Motley Crue lineup was a drummer Tommy Leeguitarist Mick Mars and singer Vince Neil. However, Neil almost missed his chance. The band originally planned to audition him for the vacant slot, but the singer had missed the audition, forcing the Crue to choose a frontman named O’Dean. When that didn’t work, Neil was called back and made sure he turned up this time. Nikki Sixx spoke about Neil’s 1982 audition on a local radio programsaying, “It was just magic, his voice was a perfect fit for our sound and it just came together.”
When Neil entered the studio, Neil had only been in the band for a few days and had to read from a sheet of lyrics while putting his tracks on the band’s Leather demo. At the urging of band manager Alan Coffman, the quartet decided to release their first album entirely on their own as label interest had yet to pick up, in part because of the band’s image, which can be seen on the album cover, a tribute to The Rolling Stones artwork for their album Sticky fingers.
Coffman helped finance the record in addition to finding gear and equipment for the guys to use. (He later ran away with Advanced for the band’s second album, which inspired the song “Bastard”). The result was 38 minutes and 49 seconds of pure energy by a band without stylistic constraints or pressure from a label. The unadulterated process spawned groundbreaking cuts like “Live Wire,” “Take Me to the Top” and the title track, along with the moody “Merry-Go-Round.”
Motley Crue, “Live Wire” music video
When asked about the subject of “Merry-Go-Round,” Sixx revealed the inspiration behind the song, saying, “When I was living in Seattle growing up, there was a guy who was about 22-23 years old and had about four kids and had all this pressure – it was too much on his mind.”
He explained more, adding: “There was a real merry-go-round right there where the houses and little apartment buildings were. And one day he just ended up sitting out there and he’d lost his mind and they took him away in a straitjacket. He went back to being a little kid; he was out there playing on the merry-go-round and he just lost it – too much pressure.”
Producer Michael Wagener mixed the record in four days, having previously worked with Mick Mars. After the band signed with Elektra in 1982, the album saw a worldwide release with a remixed version and different tracklisting, hitting “Stick to Your Guns” and the original opener “Too Fast For Love”.
Motley Crue, “Too Fast For Love”
The only Elektra pressing with the original Leathur Records mix were the first copies in Canada, which did not have any omissions like the later releases, as the band was preparing to tour the country and the label wanted copies of the album available in stores. coincides with the trip.
Prior to the label backing, the band had booked their own shows and done all their own promotion, renting out 350-600 venues and package venues from Northern California to Nevada. Spandex, leather and makeup had gotten the group a lot of attention in addition to the music.
When asked if she felt the band were on to something special, consulting manager Vicky Hamilton reflected: “Oh totally. When Motley hit it was all punk rock and European new wave stuff like Duran Duran or the Psychedelic Furs. So they just parted ways out with their duct tape, spandex and hair Nikki lit herself on fire and just everything about them was like “What is THAT???!!”
Motley Crue, “Take Me to the Top” – Live in 1981
This statement echoed Sixx’s thoughts at the time he talked about Motley Crue’s image with local radio and foreshadowed what would become hair metal. The bassist said: “A lot of people in LA – it’s taking off like in England when the punk bands started, Six guns and stuff like that, everyone went to extremes. I wonder what’s going to happen in the future with us because it’s starting to happen right in LA; what will happen when the album is distributed internationally if it goes to the extreme?”
Nikki Sixx got her answer in years to come. Too fast for love was certified platinum by the RIAA in 1986, one of five of the band’s albums to eclipse that mark. The glam metal image that Motley Crue adopted so early on went on to see global dominance in the mid-to-late 80s and helped bring fame to countless other bands that would lean heavily on Crue’s style .