In 1987 rock was king and it had hair. Everyone was on board the hair train – every new band, no matter their actual sound, made sure their luscious locks were on prominent display in press photos and videos. Many old guard rockers, such as Heart, joined in on the hair party. Rock some tunes, get some huge hair, and cash the royalty checks.
And in 1987, the four people most chiefly responsible for starting the whole hair mess arrived with a new album. Motley Crue returned with Girls, Girls, Girls as a way to reclaim a bit of glory after their prior effort Theatre Of Pain was commercially successful yet critically panned. The album was a success and the band continued their hot streak through the end of the decade they helped define.
For everything on that record, one song stands out as among the very best tunes Crue recorded. The album’s opener Wild Side did not see an official release as a single, but a crazy MTV video put the song in the spotlight and the song became a sensation.
It is Wild Side that I’ve chosen as the next entry to my list of S-Tier Songs. For an explanation of what S-Tier songs are and the list as it stands today, head here.
Motley Crue – Wild Side
In the late 80’s where the formula for success was hard rockers about sex and ballads about sex, Motley Crue showed back up to add a grittier edge to the sound of their own doing. The band started heavier and nastier than the scene they helped forge, and on Wild Side they returned to explore the sleazier side of life.
The song is a hard hitter, going straight for the throat with a great riff and some pounding drums. Motley Crue were never technical masters of their instruments but when they wrote a great song it was unmistakable. Wild Side is signature Crue and it stands with the other staples of their set, and towards the top of it.
The song lyrically explores the seedier side of life. It’s something often left out of the polish and shine of 80’s rock – everyone was so busy glizting up the Sunset Strip that people forgot how screwed up Los Angeles really was. But this band, one who was billed as the most dangerous in the world, reminded everyone what life on the streets could really be like.
And yeah, they really were dangerous – sadly they were a danger to themselves and others.
The heralded video showcased a live performance replete with Tommy Lee going upside-down on a crazy drum rig. The stunt was a huge talking point that helped spread word about the song and also cemented the band’s reputation as over the top and crazy.
Why is this an S-Tier song?
Wild Side is a kick ass banger that is widely considered one of the band’s best songs. It stood apart from the muddled rock scene of the later 1980’s and re-established some of the grittier edge to Motley Crue. It might not be hard to stand out from the hair rock pack when you drew the blueprints for it, but the band’s return to a harder sound was timely as the Sunset Strip was about to give birth to a dangerous new band who would directly challenge the Crue for the top spot as the king of the rock hill.
I’m not at a point yet where I would take the time to rank individual Motley Crue songs but Wild Side is an easy top 3 for me. It’s one of the real gems in their catalog and it stood out from the crowd as 80’s hair metal excess began to swamp the scene.