Listening to the first of the Motörhead reissues (after headbanging to the whole bunch a few times) is a revelation of sorts. This is a band that is mostly ignored when people are talking about the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, but in a sense they were one of the most innovative bands of that era, melding punk influences with metal to create a distinctive sound. It is not that the songs are necessarily fast compared to the speed metal bands of today, but they have this soaring quality to them. This album features some searing solos by Fast Eddie Clarke and fast staccato-like drumming by Philthy Animal Taylor, and some really cool bass work by Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister (Stay Clean). Of course, Lemmy's wheezing vocals make the songs all the more unique. The bonus tracks on this release include Too Late Too Late, Like a Nightmare, Louie Louie (two versions), and an instrumental version of Tear Ya Down.
Motörhead weren't unique only due to their nature of their unique sound, but Lemmy, the front man of the band, played bass in a very distinctive and brutal way! I think this is one of those albums where his bass playing is a bit more in the forefront than in other bands, partly because of the production, and partly because the solos and riffing is turned down a bit, along with the drums. While the album is somewhat slower than Overkill, it shows a distinctive improvement in the songwriting skills of the band. The album features the first (and last) time Fast Eddie Clarke sings a Motörhead song (Step Down) with the band, which is one of my favourite tunes on the album. The bonus tracks on this album features Over the Top, Leaving Here, Stone Dead Forever, Dead Men Tell No Tales, and Too Late Too Late (all but the first track are from The Golden Years live EP).
This ties with 1916 as my favourite Motörhead album of all time. Here, both the songwriting skills and the velocity of the music really complement each other, and Lemmy's vocals are actually more palatable. The solos by Fast Eddie Clarke are among the best by him in any Motörhead album, and the drumming is incredibly tight. Soon after this album peaked in the charts, Philthy decided it was a good idea to break his neck. While Lemmy and Eddie were waiting for Philthy to heal, they teamed up with members of Girlschool and produced the St. Valentine's Day Massacre EP, from which are culled two of the bonus tracks in this re-release: Johnny Kidd and the Pirates' Please Don't Touch, and Emergency. The other bonus track is Dirty Love, which is the B-side of Ace of Spades.
"If you like to gamble, I tell you I'm your man. You win some, lose some, it's all the same to me. The pleasure is to play, it makes no difference what you say. I don't share your need, the only card I need is the Ace of Spades." ---Motörhead, The Ace of Spades
What's the next thing to do when you've just recorded three blistering albums that have scorched and scarred the rock world in a unfathomable fashion? Record a live album, of course. Motörhead do something in this album which must've been fairly unimaginable at that time (1981). They take all the classics in the previous albums, which were recorded at breakneck speed, and turn them into faster and more aggressive versions! Recorded mostly at the Hammersmith Oden in London, this is one of those classic live heavy metal albums, and contains the cream from Motörhead's first three albums. If there's only a single Motörhead reissue worth buying, it's this one! The bonus tracks are Over The Top, Capricorn (which is previously unreleased) and Train Kept-A-Rollin. To top it all, the liner notes taken on the form of a poster with some candid photos.
"Another town, another place, another girl, another face, another truce, another race, I'm eating junk, feeling bad, another night, I'm going mad, my woman's leaving, I feel bad, but I just love the lead. Another beer is what I need, another gig by ears bleed: We are the road crew." ---Motörhead, We are the Road Crew
Fast Eddie Clarke replaces Vic Maile, the producer of Ace of Spades, at the helm, which leads to some interesting, and not always pleasing, results. This is one of my least favourite of all the Motörhead albums. While it has the characteristic speedfreakery (there's a new word for you) associated with it, the production is a bit more slick and removes the edge off of the aggressiveness which I think was a key element in the success of Ace of Spades. After this record, Fast Eddie leaves as a result of Lemmy recording Tammy Wynette's song, Stand By Your Man with Wendy O. Williams. Interestingly, this is the release where the band profess their love for the good 'ol U.S. of A. Perhaps the best thing about this reissue are the bonus tracks, which are Remember Me I'm Gone, Lemmy Goes to the Pub, Don't Let 'em Grind Ya Down, Same Old Song I'm Gone, and Young and Crazy (the latter three are all alternate unreleased versions of songs in the album).
This is the first, and only, album with Brian "Robbo" Robertson (formerly of Thin Lizzy), the replacement for Fast Eddie Clarke. In a pure technical sense, this is one of the best Motörhead albums. This is also one of the most complex and melodic of all the albums, and features some of the greatest guitar work ever in any Motörhead album. Robbo's talents literally dominate the proceedings with long melodic solos and crunchy rhythm guitar. While Fast Eddie compensated for his lack of precise technical skill with flamboyance and speed (and while it even worked to a certain extent), Robbo could do everything Fast Eddie did, and more.The problem with all this is that if you're the average Motörhead fan, you probably wouldn't care about the subtleties that Robbo's guitar work brought to the music. Robbo didn't endear himself to his fans either, since history shows that he refused to play classics such as Ace of Spades, Motörhead, and Overkill, live, choosing to play long, extended solos during covers of the blues classic Hoochie Coochie Man. Another problem was that Robbo had come in with short hair and this created a bit of a problem with the image-conscious fans. All this ensured that Robbo wouldn't last long with the band. However, I think that this is an album that must belong in a Motörhead fans collection, since it is an indication of what the band is truly capable of, without compromising their music.
The bonus tracks are Turn You Round Again, Don't Need Religion (live), and the live version of Hoochie Coochie Man which features some amazing guitar work (and the drumming and bass is pretty good too!). The liner notes contain a nice cartoon strip depicting the relationship between Robbo, Lemmy, and Philthy. This album contains aspects of Motörhead that I wish I could see more of.
This is another of my favourite Motörhead albums, and even though it's missing Fast Eddie Clarke, who is replaced this time by two guitarists, Phil Campbell and Muck "Wurzel" Buston, it packs the usual powerful Motörhead punch, along with a sophisticated edge in the music but not in the production. Songs like The One to Sing the Blues, and I'm So Bad (Baby I Don't Care), No Voice in the Sky, are just as classic as Ace of Spades and Overkill. In a sense, this album combines the best of Ace of Spades and Another Perfect Day. That is, the guitar work is much more improved than with Fast Eddie, but there's not too much of self-indulgence in the solos here, and there's more focus on the band as a whole.
While the Motörhead spirit is definitely present in many tracks on this album, the album is also extremely diverse in style and sound. Nightmare/The Dreamtime is an amazing song in its own right, but sounds nothing like what Motörhead would do, and Love me Forever is a classic power ballad, and the cello-driven title track is something that'd fit in excellently in Pink Floyd's The Wall. The track Ramones salutes the band who must've been a considerable influence on Motörhead's music. This album was nominated for a Grammy (but lost to Metallica). Philthy Taylor, who had reunited with the band for 1988's Rock and Roll left again after this release.
"Politicians kissing babies for good luck. T.V. preachers sell salvation for a buck, You don't need no golden cross, tell you wrong from right. The world's worst murderers were those who saw the light." ---Motörhead, No Voice in the Sky
This sampler samples (duh) six Motörhead reissues (from Overkill to Another Perfect Day), all digital remastered with new packaging and rare and unreleased bonus tracks (the reviews of the six reissues are above). The liner notes by Steffan Chirazi that come with each re-issue, are excellent, and contains a lot more context with regards to each release. There are also complete lyrics for all the tracks. If that isn't enough to make you obtain the releases themselves, you should find a way of obtaining this sampler, which contains many of the bonus and unreleased tracks listed above. But hey, why not live on the edge?
You'd think with the passage of time, Motörhead would slow down their music, perhaps tone it down a little. Younger bands have done as much, either due to weakness or to make their music acceptable. But not with Motörhead. Lemmy's voice in this album is less wheezy and more gruff. His bass pounding is great as usual, but the most interesting performances are with the harmonica and the acoustic guitar. The guitar solos by Phil Campbell are terse and to the point, and Mikkey Dee's drumming is tight and solid. Like with other Motörhead albums in the past, the fastest and the most aggressive song is the first one, Civil War, which is about putting people in jail for minor crimes which may turn them into hardened criminals. My favourite songs are those that carry a deep meaning in their lyrics like Eat the Gun (about gun control), Them Not Me (deriving joy from other people's pain), and Broken (about political bureaucracy). After all these years, Motörhead is still the same old uncompromising speed machine it has always been, and that's a great thing in this "Alternative" world.
The latest album from Motörhead starts off strong with Love for Sale which recalls classic Motörhead tunes from albums like Overkill, Ace of Spades, and 1916. The subsequent tracks, Dogs of War, Snake Bite Love, and Assassin are also classic, but include a bit of experimentation (in fact this is the first time I've welcomed any attempt at experimentation by a band like Motörhead who are considered great because of their consistency). Some of the lead guitar work, by Phil Campbell is among the best I've ever heard by Motörhead. The vocals by Lemmy Kilmister and the drumming by Mikkey Dee are on par. The second half of the album isn't as great as the first half, and the production could've been better, but you can't win 'em all. All in all, a worthy addition to the Motörhead repertoire of albums.