Review of Dealer Demo

featuring Tommy Lee on drums

In 1980, Tommy Lee recorded six songs with his band Dealer. These were the only songs Tommy ever recorded before Motley Crue. When Tommy went to meet Nikki at the Denny’s, he took a cassette tape of these six songs which he gave to Nikki as an example of his drum playing.

The rest is history.

Recently, the band’s leader, Michael Britton uncovered the six demo songs and wanted to digitize them and put on a CD. Michael came to me for my Dealer photos he wants plastered all over the CD.

While doing the CD cover and artwork, I was fortunate to have access to the six songs. I remember watching Tommy perform these songs. Brings back so many good memories.

So let’s get the review. I’m not reviewing the quality of the recording. It was done in a guys home studio during a rehearsal. I’m not reviewing the skills of the artists. Hell, I never knew that Nikki couldn’t play and when I watch talent shows and they say “your pitch was off” etc.. I never notice those. I’m a visual person, not an audio person. My review will be just the songs.

There are two hard rock songs. Motley Crue fans will probably love them. I’ll concentrate on the other four songs. Each song is as different from the other as each Motley Crue album and tour was different from the others.

Woodbury Boys

Woodbury Boys This song has a very heavy Van Halen influence. That fun jump around song. The two leaders of Dealer (Michael and Mark) are the same age as David Lee Roth. They all came from the same city, Pasadena and played together many times. This song reflects that influence on them.

Note: Woodbury is the name of a street in Pasadena and the song is about a bunch of frat boys living on that street and having parties and fun.

She Touched Me

Tommy is like a kid in a candy store on this one with his cow bell. Michael was a 12 year old and into playing music when the Monkees appeared. When Michael wrote this song, you can hear the influence the Monkees had on him in this song.

Mom’s OK

In this song the keyboardist (Mark) takes over the singing. To me, it sounds like a song you would hear Cheech and Chong play in one of their movies. Considering Cheech and Chong released two movies before this song came out, it’s quite possible it inspired this song. Close your eyes and listen, from the sounds of it, I can picture Tommy playing with Cheech and Chong in one of their movies in the 80’s.

Drinkin & Drivin

I used to think it was a good thing that Tommy got caught with Bullwinkle and the band broke up (allowing him to hook up with Nikki).

But after listening to this song, I think Tommy blew it. He could have been even bigger than Motley Crue if he didn’t mess with Bullwinkle and followed the path this song could have taken him.

Dealer was coming back from tour. Michael was driving the tour van, Cyclops. Tommy was sitting shotgun. Michael started writing this song about drinking and driving (hmm.. maybe they were doing that on the way home?). Tommy came up with a chorus, and BOOM the song was done.

When I heard this song on the demo, it instantly reminded me of Red Hot Chili Peppers. The song primarily consists of rock with an emphasis on funk, as well as elements from other genres such as punk rock and psychedelic rock.

When I looked up Red Hot Chili Peppers I found they formed 3 years AFTER Dealer. Even more bizarre is RHCP is also from Los Angeles with all founding member’s attending high school not far from where Tommy would perform this song.

Could this song have been the inspiration for RHCP? I could picture Tommy in RHCP.

After hearing this song, now I believe if Tommy stays with Dealer, and they choose to create more songs in this style they could have beaten RHCP to the punch.

Considering RHCP has won 6 Grammy Awards and Motley 0. RHCP is in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and Motley isn’t (although I’m sure they will be one day). If Tommy started a band like RHCP in 1981, with songs like Drinkin & Drivin, he may have been bigger than what he achieved with Motley.

Or it could be I smoked a little too much while writing this review.

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