Main Index Page General Ratings Page Rock Chronology Page Song Search Page New Additions Message Board


[page in the process of being converted from MP3 status to full status]

Class ?

Main Category: Hard Rock
Also applicable: Rhythm & Blues, Punk/Grunge
Starting Period: The Punk/New Wave Years
Also active in: The Divided Eighties, From Grunge To The Present Day



Disclaimer: this page is not written from the point of view of a Motorhead fanatic and is not generally intended for narrow-perspective Motorhead fanatics. If you are deeply offended by criticism, non-worshipping approach to your favourite artist, or opinions that do not match your own, do not read any further. If you are not, please consult the guidelines for sending your comments before doing so. For information on reviewing principles, please see the introduction. For specific non-comment-related questions, consult the message board.

For reading convenience, please open the reader comments section in a parallel browser window.


Coming soon.



Year Of Release: 1976

It's rather funny that upon hearing this, the very first album recorded (but not released) by the Godfathers of thrash and speed metal, the initial reaction is somewhat like 'sheez, I kinda understand why their record company turned this down'. On Parole was indeed recorded in 1976, but was deemed unsuitable for release by the band's record company; it was only released officially three years later, as the band's career was picking up steam and the public screamed for more Motorhead. The exact reasons of why the album was shelved for so long are not quite clear to me, but I can actually guess: the album sounds pretty sterile and feeble when compared to 'classic' Motorhead releases. On the other hand, it also presents the band as a gutsy, raw, unpolished outfit, which might be pleasing for those rock purists who'd never want their rock'n'roll overproduced or overslick; particularly for those who hate Motorhead as a show-offey, exaggerated, near-comic outfit reveling in sexist and satanic imagery.

True, there's enough dumb sexism in the debut album as well (whaddaya want from an album whose very third song sports the title 'Vibrator' and is completely dedicated to extolling the eternal virtues of the aforenamed object?). But cock-rock and machismo aside, the essence of Motorhead is in power, rebellion and simplicity, aka standard punk values, except that Motorhead are far more densely rooted in tradition, blues and bluesrock than any given punk band. (Could we just make a nice generalization and say that heavy metal usually finds its roots in the blues while punk usually finds its roots in pop and pop-rock? I KNOW it's not a hundred percent true, but I just love making dubious generalizations). And there's enough pleasure to be found in the album as such.

For one, Larry Wallace, the band's first guitarist, is a great player, ripping out simple, but effective and energizing solos on most of the fast AND slow rockers, while Lemmy Kilmister contributes phat bass runs and grumbly grizzly vocals - you know, jes' da thing to have. 'Motorhead' is obviously a minor classic, and a perfect way to claim the legacy of Steppenwolf: 'Motorhead, remember me now Motorhead, alright...'. Same with the title track, which eventually evolves into a solid, tight jam that really threatens to blow the roof off (apparently since the roof in question wasn't all that high, considering the acoustics of the album). Bluesy rockers like 'The Watcher' have every inch of menace that is supposed to be contained therein preserved, and even the cover of the old R'n'B standard 'Leaving Here' kicks some moderate ass.

That said, the percentage of filler is still way too hard for the album to receive anything higher than the rating I gave it. The supposedly 'glorious' bike anthem 'Iron Horse', for instance, sounds as if they were recording it underground (why are the guitars mixed in so poorly?), and due to lack of that same polish that some of ye purists might lament loses any kind of impact. Same goes with the supposedly glorious outcast anthem 'Lost Johnny'. In all, I'm kinda torn - part of me wants to congratulate the boys for the rawness and sincerity, while another part cuts the appraisal down by pointing out the awful production. The pessimistic part eventually gains that battle, because there's the added argument of subpar songwriting: not that Motorhead were ever excellent songwriters, but these here songs certainly don't qualify as their best. Apart from 'Motorhead', of course, and 'On Parole', which are acclaimed classics an' righteely so.

The CD re-issue adds a couple alternate takes to beef up the running time, but so far I haven't figured the differences from the originals and I don't have any more time left to do that. Maybe in a hundred years. Oh and, by the way, most of these songs were actually re-recorded later for the band's 'official debut', the self-titled Motorhead, which is for extremely perverse reasons missing from my MP3 collection. Guess they thought it was a compilation or sumpthin'. Too bad - it's usually considered to be highly superior.



Year Of Release: 1978

The first truly "classic" Motorhead album, and, well, it's really dang fine no matter what kind of complaints one could hang on it. Lack of diversity, lack of technical skill, sloppiness, primitivism... that's what we need on here and that's our main point. As far as "basic no-bull rock'n'roll" goes, Overkill simply beats the stuffing of just about any single Kiss album ever released.

This is where it all comes together for Lemmy and the guys. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that Overkill (as well as most subsequent Motorhead albums, for that matter) is not heavy metal and can't be put in the same category as, say, Rainbow or Judas Priest. Essentially, the guys have stopped at your pure basic rock an' roll, winding it up and speeding it up and making everything sound as raw as possible - as opposed to AC/DC, whose main schtick was to play as smoothly and "jagged-edgedly" as possible. Motorhead just bang on, disregarding sound quality, cleanness and precision. What they do not disregard is conviction: they hack out their riffs and solos as if their very life depended on it, and they sure have that "spirit of rock'n'roll", whatever it might be.

Conviction alone isn't enough, of course, and here is where we come to the main point: despite the chaotic sound mess and sludginess, most of these songs are pretty well written, or, at least, pretty well ripped-off if it comes to basic structures. Lemmy's inspirations are obvious: traditional hard blues-rock, modern punk a la Ramones and company, and let's not forget the repetitive fantasies of Hawkwind, too. Remember how Hawkwind used to have all those primitive, but oh so catchy mantras repeated over and over again? Well, cut out the sci-fi sound effects and length, speed 'em up, and you got yourself a prime Motorhead anthem.

Practically every one of the ten rockers on here is excellent. It's even hard for me to start describing them - all I can say is "energetic speedy [variant: mid-tempo] rockers with mastodont-class bass riffs [variant: subtle electric riffs] and screeching raunchy vocals from Lemmy sculpted into somewhat memorable vocal melodies [variant: piles of exciting vocal noise]". At least half of these songs went on to become deserved live favourites, and rightly so. Trust me on that one: I'm no big fan of brainless macho hard rock, but these tunes are some of the best brainless macho hard rock anthems ever written, if you're only willing to give the genre one weak chance. And after all, who says hard rock gotta have brains? Anyway, which would you prefer - have Lemmy singing about chicks and unwarranted violence or Ronnie James Dio singing about medieval torture and catching rainbows? Tough question, isn't it?

It's funny, by the way, that a couple of tracks on Overkill are still rooted in Lemmy's Hawkwind influences. 'Capricorn', for instance. What's up with those echoey guitars and astrologic lyrics? Eh? And what about 'Metropolis'? Its wicked slow sound also reminds me of the good old days of silver machines and masters of the universe and psychedelic warlords disappearing in smoke. Ah, those were the days... As you understand, these are two very good songs with memorable, if way too simple, riffs and spacey grooves that just get to your head.

Of course, those who are not too fond of, or haven't been initiated into, Hawkwind, will prefer to concentrate on the fast ass-kickin' stuff like the title track, for instance. Lemmy's bass riff is really something, and Eddie Clark is no slouch either, playing at lightning Johnny Ramone-like speed (granted, the guitar does not sound like a chainsaw, but then again, punk rock this is not). By the way, Lemmy's bass riffs are essential to this band - it's what makes Motorhead's sound so idiosyncratic and exciting. Legend has it that Kilmister originally played rhythm, and when he had to switch to bass in Hawkwind, he just continued to strum his bass as if it were a rhythm guitar. Stupid, but unimaginably, it worked. Question number one: why assign different functions and playing styles to different instruments if it all blends together in the long run?

I won't be discussing other songs - just mention that tracks like 'Limb From Limb', 'Tear Ya Down', '(I Won't) Pay Your Price' and certain others are classics of the genre as well. Plus, the CD re-issue adds some cool bonus tracks, including two different versions of the band doing 'Louie, Louie' as some kind of fat dirty joke. And to conclude it all, amazingly, not a single song sounds cheesy, fake or ridiculous: everything is completely adequate, and downright scary in parts. You can really imagine this Lemster guy tearing you limb from limb... brrr. This ain't no comic band like AC/DC (not to mention the grotesque idiocy of Kiss) - they sound like they mean it. An unquestionable hard rock classic, even if it's not my personal cup of tea.


BOMBER ***1/2

Year Of Release: 1979

Mother dear, maybe Motorhead is my personal cup of tea after all... see, the problem is, I'm writing this review about half a year since I wrote the one for Overkill and you know, I'm pretty sure about half of the songs on here are just re-writes of older material, and the other half would be re-written on subsequent albums and everything. But truth is, I just love that stuff. So let's lower the rating just a wee bit for a couple so-so numbers and proceed from there.

What a sound, oh man. Bomber seems even rawer, grittier, angrier, than before. It's impossible to listen to this at top volume - if Black Sabbath at top volume makes the floor tremble and ultimately crash below your feet, then Motorhead at top volume certainly causes your WC to explode. But it's real, man, it's real rock and roll from the street, with all the dreck and the dung and the sweat and the... yuck, too good I've had my dinner several hours before. They're still taking it a bit slower and a bit bluesier than their very best records are supposed to sound, but not really much, and besides, a slower song or two don't really frig things up seeing as how it's not the speed, really, it's the dirt that matters. And boy is this record dirty.

'Stone Dead Forever' is the main hit and the main classic, and for good reason; the thing starts cooking with the very first note of Lemmy's bass riff - then, when Eddie Clark throws on his power chords and Lemmy ends each chorus with a slammin', ominous, merciless 'stone dead... FOREVER!', it's as if the whole world has metamorphosed into that hideous-fang-adorned gaping jaw that you see ever so frequently on Motorhead album covers. I also love how each of the solos starts with Lemmy just poking around with his bass some more, and, of course, the song coda is unquestionably one of the epoch-defining moments in rock'n'roll. I used to think that nothing could kick more ass than the ending to AC/DC's 'Whole Lotta Rosie', but heck, even if Eddie Clark throws on less chords and flashes his fingers far less effectively than Angus Young, he takes the better overall approach - it's pure Chuck Berry with lots of extra added distortion and just a few general trills for good measure. And the man was good at recapturing that sweet inspiration; for proof, listen to the live version of the song tacked on to the end of the album which kicks even more ass. Hell, nobody was kicking that much ass at the time - all 'em Kiss and Aerosmith and even the better hard rock acts like Thin Lizzy were much too refined to engage in that kind of sludge. Funny thing, not even Judas Priest were able to raise that much hell with their songs.

The slower numbers on here actually do a good job of acting as 'breathers' in between the real punch-deliverers, although, granted, it's not the kind of material that would earn Motorhead eternal recognition. 'Lawman' seems to borrow the main riff from Alice Cooper's 'School Out' and thus suffers quite a bit - in their prime, the original Alice Cooper band were one of the few outfits who could really rival Motorhead for sludginess and truly raw "metal punk" energy. But 'Sweet Revenge' is kind of a nice thing, what with the "pseudo-slide" guitar attacks from Eddie and all; I seem to remember the main melody is essentially just a re-write of 'Capricorn', but it works fine all the same. And most Motorhead fans seem to be picking on Eddie's vocal spotlight, the mid-tempo blues number 'Step Down', but I don't really seem to mind it. Motorhead don't do "generic blues" often, but when they do, they make goddamn sure it's nowhere near generic - the guitar tones are just as primally masochistic as ever; as for Eddie's voice, well, few things can be more limited in the world than Lemmy's vocal range anyway, so I'd be much more surprised if Eddie Clarke sang like Dennis DeYoung rather than like Lemmy's younger brother with a severe throat infection, which he does and that seems to totally fit within the album's stylistics.

But of course it's still the faster numbers that constitute the meat of the album. 'Stone Dead Forever', yes, title track, yes, 'Talking Head', too, with that unforgettable riff, the 'Motorhead' clone 'Dead Men Tell No Tales', and 'Poison', too, which could be turned into a pretty cool power pop number, I guess. Or maybe not, what with the violent misogynist lyrics and all. The bad news is I can't tell you anything interesting about these tunes, but believe me, they're all prime Motorhead. I almost feel embarrassed for liking this band so much, but hey, I'd much prefer going about how Bomber is one of the greatest albums ever released than reveal any of my TRUE inner secrets. Let this be my greatest revelation to humanity. And oh yes, nearly forgot - the bunch of live bonus tracks at the end of the album are just as good and maybe better than the studio ones.



Year Of Release: 1980

The timing couldn't be more right for this album: 1980 was, unquestionably, the year when kick-ass heavy metal was bigger than ever. Back In Black! British Steel! Iron Maiden's debut! And although Motorhead, together with AC/DC, were representing the 'old guard' rather than the newly-emerging British New Wave of heavy metal scene, they fit in perfectly with this, their biggest selling record ever.

And they actually deserved it. The decision was to pull all the stops, and that is exactly what happens. No slow bluesy numbers, no attempts at ominous moody depressing tunes, just butt-ripping rock'n'roll, fast, mean and dirty, all the way to the bank. Every single goddamn motherfuckin' song on here sounds so much the same that Back In Black seems like The White Album in comparison. Mark Prindle remarked that each of the riffs here probably took about 45 seconds to write, and he couldn't be more right. The chord sequences are idiotic, when there are chord sequences at all. But the speed, the tone, and the atmosphere simply can't be beat. You just can't argue with a record like this. You just can't.

Actually, once the forty minutes of your parents' worst nightmare (and really, I can't imagine any record, apart from maybe all those Cannibal Corpse albums that are designed with the sole purpose of making you vomit over your boots, that could alienate a guy from his parents better than Ace Of Spades - hey, I'm pushing twenty six and I'd never dare put any of those songs on for my father, himself a big rock'n'roll fan), anyway, once the forty minutes of your parents' worst nightmare have spun in your mind for a bunch of times, you start noticing all the little vocal hooks and all the little intricacies in the riffs... you could have sworn they weren't there at the beginning, but they actually were, and like it or not, they are what helped initially draw you to the album. That's the power of Motorhead. That's the perverse charm of the Lemmster. God I feel sick, humiliated, whatsoever.

Well, I don't really even know how to describe these songs. Ehhh... there are about four slower tunes and the rest boogie along at lightning speed. Proto-thrash at its nastiest. 'Ace Of Spades', the title track, must have been a real shock to everybody: apart from maybe Judas Priest, nobody in the metal/hard rock camp was playing that fast in 1980, certainly not AC/DC or Van Halen or any other guitar heroes. And they're actually not just going chunka-chunka-chunka like every mediocre thrasher does, there's actually a memorable descending guitar riff being played over the chuggin' bassline! And the lyrics? 'You know I'm going to lose, and gambling is for fools, but that's the way I like it baby, I don't wanna live forever'? Whoah! That's, like, the real Motorhead way of life! (Granted, Lemmy has since violated this rule, because at this particular joint seems like only a shotgun could take him out, but he is gonna die some day, isn't he? Unless he's the Son of God in disguise, and that would be a really sick joke on the part of the Father, I guess).

All the other songs are just one big song for me. From 'Love Me Like A Reptile' to the apocalyptic calabash of 'The Hammer', everything that is left in my memory is broken bits and hanging straps and scraps and scrips of occasional hooks and suchlike. I know I'm not supposed to give out high ratings to albums where I can't even begin describing the songs, but Ace Of Spades is truly a unique case. I mean, I am sitting listening to the maniacal, absolutely devastating coda to '(We Are) The Road Crew' right now and I don't understand how these guys manage to do it. The wah-wah, the grinding guitar, the smashing bass, hell, even Philthy Animal's drums manage to sound all dirty and sleazy. And all this, without an ounce of self-indulgency. They're sincerely pushing for unadulterated rock'n'roll excitement, not for showing off their skills... which they don't have anyway. Heck, okay, Eddie Clarke is a skilled guitarist, but he's no other Eddie. He doesn't excite with his chops, he excites with how he's able to take the dirtiest Chuck Berry licks and make them ten times as dirty.

Okay, so when you're all fed up with the three or four riffs that repeat themselves over and over, the new CD re-issue adds three bonus tracks, two of which sound exactly like everything else, but the third one is a curiosity - 'Please Don't Touch', recorded together with the all-female metal band Girlschool, is radically, very radically different from the classic Motorhead sound. It's more like slickly produced pop metal, and Lemmy's vocal sounds awfully shy when paired together with this female Girlschool growl, but it's still a good song. Catchy and well-flowing, and Eddie gets a great guitar solo as usual.

Ooh well, anyway, anyway... to hell with the bonus tracks, this is an awesome album. Awesome. I will forever lose my reputation if I attempt to give it a perfect rating, and it really works as an "experience" rather than a set of individual songs, but that's an experience not to be missed. I certainly won't subscribe to the theory that Motorhead are the "perfect" rock'n'roll band, symbolizing the rock force more than the Who or the Stones, but one thing's for certain: few bands could rock out at such a dumb, dumb, dumb level as Motorhead and still end up sounding intelligent. Yeah, you heard me. If you have a minute of spare time, use it to analyze Lemmy's lyrics. They're hardly deeper than the Dead Sea, but they're neither overtly offensive nor overtly cliched. He's a cool guy, warts and all.



Year Of Release: 1981

Yeah yeah yeah, this is a classic live metal album, speed and dirt and all. But before I start kissing its ass, let me just tell you one thing: if there ever was one band whose sheer power in the studio could be comparable to the live power, it's Motorhead. I mean, when we're dealing with hard rock/heavy metal, live albums usually present us with a chance to see the band let its hair down and sacrifice some of the meticulousness, precision and clean production in favour of aggression, energy, and spontaneity. This principle is theoretically unapplicable to Motorhead, because the band was never about meticulousness and precision in the studio, and as for the production, well, production on your average Motorhead record is usually as "clean" as a brontosaurus' bowel movement.

Thus, No Sleep won't offer you much of a shock if you've already sat through the previous recordings, although if taken as your introduction to the classic epoch of Motorheading, it'll surely blow every fuse in existence. For me, the biggest shock was Lemmy's spoken intros to the songs - apparently, the guy speaks with the exact same voice as he sings. It's not too clear to me how even an incessant use of drugs, nicotine and alcohol can reduce a human being's voice to the sound of a choking truck engine; I guess the guy probably spent his childhood swallowing redhot branded irons or something. Well then, I mean, it's none of my business, I kinda dig Lemmy anyway. Few singers in the business can hit less notes than he can, and that's something to be proud of, especially when you actually have got an ear for music. Forever on, Mr Kilmister.

As for the songs themselves, well, it's the classic Motorhead lineup at the peak of their power, so what do you expect? They tear. It's pretty amazing how just a trio of guys can make so much noise, and make it melodic noise at that. Special props go to Mr "Philthy Animal" Gillicuddy, whose sledgehammer drumming on the fast numbers totally annihilates your eardrums. Hey, the intro to 'Overkill' as captured on here is a goddamn goddamn classic! In fact, it's probably one song that really reduces the original to shreds. One step forward and you'll fall into hilarious or, worse, dumb profane parody; as it is, it's the sound of you and your favourite band venting out your frustration to the absolute, unprecedented max. Lightning speed, terrific sledgehammer on the drums, and none of those "rock'n'roll has to be so very simple" presuppositions - these guys respect technique when they find it, with Eddie Clarke delivering some of the most fluent and exciting solos in the business that have nothing to do with either punkish one-note solos or self-indulgent hair-metal wanking. Just great old Chuck Berryesque rock'n'roll pumped to the brim. Gosh, I've probably said it all a million times already, but then if Motorhead don't find it beyond themselves to record the same album over and over again, why should I be ashamed of rewriting the same review over and over again?

It's interesting to note that the album is actually pretty diverse. Okay, "diverse" as far as Motorhead go with diversity. They certainly play their hearts out on the fast numbers: 'Overkill', 'Ace Of Spades', 'Bomber', and 'Motorhead' are the rightful classics and they're done perfect justice. But then the band also digs into some of the 'slower' numbers, going as far back as 'Iron Horse', for instance, an early number that's been polished, tightened up, given the "harsher" treatment of early Eighties Motorhead and graced with Lemmy's ever worsening "iron hoarse" vocal treatment. But you know, the worse Lemmy sings, the better it actually turns out; as long as he doesn't hit any particular bum notes, he's all right with me. Funny how everything's relative - the exact same "hoarse throat" that serves as a major boost to Motorhead nearly ruined Brian Johnson's fortune with AC/DC. Talk about expectations!

Maybe I could really do without 'Capricorn', but then again, we do need some reminder of Lemmy's Hawkwind past (even if from whatever interviews I've read with the guy, he is still way pissed off about how the band unceremoniously dumped him after his drug bust). Not that 'Capricorn' is a Hawkwind song, it just has a couple of those sci-fi motives, both in the music and lyrics, that were so typical for Hawkwind. And even the minor numbers like 'No Class' and 'Metropolis' sound perfectly all right in the overall setting. You also gotta love how the album starts with a few of those pompous orchestrated sounds that are often used to open a performance and then immediately, without a warning, slips into the deafening bass intro for 'Ace Of Spades'. And maybe you'll also dig the wailing sirens at the show's end, but then again, maybe not. Maybe to you, it sounds like a GLAM element! And you can't imagine anyone less glammy than Motorhead. Lemmy Kilmister, the cute-looking teenage idol. Yeah, right.



Year Of Release: 1982

Now don't get me wrong - I'll start this off with a disclaimer that I like Motorhead's style a lot (as if this wasn't already obvious from the previous reviews) and I guess everything they ever did was unabashedly great. At the very least, you can't say that Motorhead ever did filler because they either did no filler or everything they ever did was filler, and in the latter case these reviews become useless in the first place.

However, have pity on the poor little guy who occasionally listens to other music than lightning speed thrash-metal. See, it was pretty hard for Motorhead to ever top Ace Of Spades: that was, after all, where they got the heaviest, the fastest, the raunchiest, the most uncompromising they ever could really pull out of their systems. And after you reach this kind of, er, 'artistic peak', there's no way to go but (a) down or (b) sideways. Most of the really talented artists usually choose sideways, because it's always fun to try your forces at something new when you've reached your top at the old. Not Motorhead. What could they do, release a cocktail lounge jazz album? Or an LP of world beat music? They had their tough guy image to support, after all, and so Iron Fist follows faithfully in the steps of Ace Of Spades. And for the first time, I'm disappointed.

If there's at least one entirely new riff on here, please tell me what it is, because I hear at least one or two "elder" songs in each of the numbers on here. And it's not like Motorhead really gave a damn either. The title track consciously rips off 'Ace Of Spades', but comes off slightly less convincingly (maybe because of the lyrics - the pseudo-Satanic bullshit of 'Iron Fist' sure ain't no match for 'that's the way I like it baby, I don't wanna live forever'). And just like Ace Of Spades, the entire record is just a sequence of fast steamhammer-like songs with maybe just a couple relatively slower numbers thrown in - guess whenever 'Philthy Animal' got way too tired of annihilating his drum set, they were reluctantly ready to give him this tiny break.

I'm really not sure of what to say about the musical merits of Iron Fist. If I'm not mistaken, on some songs Lemmy puts a lot more fuzz on his bass than he used to before; check out the beginning of '(Don't Need) Religion', for instance. This certainly adds to the overall heaviness of the songs, but that's about the only real 'advance' on the album. Otherwise, it's just a question of how much you really enjoy Motorhead, I guess. I personally don't see no difference between playing Ace Of Spades twice in a row or alternating it with Iron Fist; frankly, I guess I'd prefer doing the former. Saves you extra money, too.

I guess one thing that's somehow 'advancing' is the lyrics: ever so often, Lemmy decides it necessary to issue a formal "fuck you bastards" statement, and this LP has more of those than I've ever seen previously. '(Don't Need) Religion', in particular, is pretty straightforward and pretty violent, and I guess it was a rather brave position to issue the song right smack dab in the midst of the conservative onslaught in the early Eighties. After all, let's face it, not many rock stars have got lines as obvious as 'don't need Jesus Christ Superstar' in their lyrics. John Lennon had some of these, and now Lemmy Kilmister of all people. Heh. Not that I would ever agree with the bluntness of that statement, of course, but whatcha want, it's Lemmy. Ever read one of those fabulous Kilmister interviews? Now there's a guy you wouldn't really wanna argue with!

And then of course there's all that populist trash like '(Don't Let 'Em) Grind You Down'. I wanna write a movie scenario where a guy goes to a Motorhead concert, hears the song, and then, inspired by the communicative process, proceeds to kick the shit out of his boss. Maybe in my next life... who knows. Hope the actual song isn't forgotten by that time. And I guess the "Big Artistic Statement" on Iron Fist is 'America', Motorhead's answer to 'Back In The USA' of sorts. 'America, fast cars, America, the girls, the fuss, America, don't make no fuss, America, get on the bus'. That's the lyrical genius of Lemmy. Hey, don't tell me you really were expecting a modern day John Milton. You weren't. I know that.

There's a whole bunch of bonus tracks on the new CD issue, too, but this time you're not gonna get any freaky Girlschool collaborations, just more of your basic headbanging. It all amounts to seventeen tracks of prime Motorhead material, and truthfully, all you really need to extrapolate it on everything else is the last track, the two-minute instrumental 'Young And Crazy' which perfectly sums up all of the aspects of Motorhead music (except for the vocals, of course). It kinda sounds like your basic pattern - you take it, change one chord and get yourself a different Motorhead song. Aw what the heck, don't change anything at all, just give it three different names. Oh yeah, one of the bonus tracks is called 'Lemmy Goes To The Pub'! Imagine that! A pub! And I thought Lemmy only visited the House of Lords! My, what shocking behaviour.



Year Of Release: 1983

Pretty optimistic, almost friggin' yoo-too-ish title, considering that the band loses a crucial member here, notably Eddie Clarke himself. Enter Brian Robertson, fresh from the dissolved Thin Lizzy, but how on earth could Lemmy have fallen for that guy is beyond me, since the band's history is full of records of violent clashes between him and Robertson. Brian certainly kicked ass in Thin Lizzy, but he'd always been in the 'melodic metal' camp, with expressive complex solos that would advance far beyond "kickass", in dire contrast to Clarke's vehement brutal grossly overdriven Chuck Berry-isms. It came almost to the point of absurd when Brian actually refused to play some of Motorhead's most aggressive thrashing numbers onstage - including 'Bomber'! Needless to say, the sucky guy didn't last long in the lineup; the question is why would Lemmy think of having him in the first place.

Of course, it might have been due to the fact that Lemmy was actually looking for some fresh blood to reinvigorate the stale formula. I mean, the guy's not as crucially dumb as he might seem, he likes to have his music change just a teensy-weensy bit from time to time. And Robertson provides a good enough change: there's more guitar melodicity on this album than anywhere else in the Motorhead catalog. Lemmy's always the heart and the soul of every tune, no question about that, the album's solid and friendly [thick as a] brick foundation, but Robertson's guitar riffs are uniformly more complex and tricky than Clarke's, and his soloing also advances beyond his - and yet, all the tunes are as carnivorous as ever.

It does take a sharp eye to spot the differences, of course, because Motorhead is that major band where the bass guitar rules over everything else and if you disagree about it you're dead and gone, sucker, but then again, I guess when you've sat through all of their previous albums, your ear should already be relatively well trained towards distinguishing between the sonic layers on any given Motorhead track. So here you have your 'Shine', for instance: look at the guitar solo that Robertson is playing. He's actually setting up a melody there! He might even be pouring his heart out! He's all over the fretboard! He actually gives his notes a direction! Don't get me wrong - I bow down before Clarke and it's his guitar playing that's responsible for the classic Motorhead sound, but I'm really interested in how this particular configuration works out, too.

Or, for instance, 'Dancing On Your Grave'. That thing has a descending arpeggiated riff, for Chrissakes, very similar, if not identical, to the one invented by Eric Clapton on 'Badge' - Motorhead might have very briefly touched on similar moody melodic passages at the very beginning of their career, but that was long gone anyway, and Robertson reinstates the mood, even if essentially the song is just another bass-heavy vicious rave-up. And once again, the solo is that of a classic Seventies metal guitarist, not generic (but cool! cool! cool!) blues-rock licks played at devil speed but something more intricate.

The problem I seem to be having with the album is that this time around, most of the songs are almost pathetically slow. That bothers me - if on past albums there might have been an overabundance of look-alike lightning-speed proto-thrashers, Perfect Day sure suffers from an abundance of slower pieces. In fact, only the opening and closing numbers recapture Motorhead's speedy glory: 'Back At The Funny Farm' kicks the doors open with a predictable "Barbaric Bass" introduction and never lets go until the end, and 'Die You Bastard' stays true to its title as well. But the rest is S-L-O-W. I guess Robertson just couldn't have been talked into speeding up as often as those other guys woulda liked it - too bad, as his soloing on the fast numbers is mind-blowing just like on the slow ones.

This just means that occasionally I get bored with the proceedings - 'One Track Mind' and the title track in particular are no fun for me. However, when the main riff becomes well defined and the guys get their stuff together and seem all bent on driving the point home, this results in the album's major highlight, the ter-riff-ic anti war anthem 'Marching Off To War' (hey, was 'anti-war' pleonastic in this sentence or what?). That Lemmster, when he's really got it, he's got it, he's giving you some of the most original social comment since the days of Demosthenes! Go Lemmy go! No, but seriously, since when do we all love Bruce Springsteen, yet fear and shun Lemmy Kilmister? At least that guy sure wouldn't wear no Union Jack on his ass.


Return to the main index page