Motörhead

Picture of Motorhead

Motörhead

Motörhead - Motörhead ©1977 Dead Line Music
1. Motörhead
2. Vibrator
3. Lost Johnny
4. Iron Horse / Born To Lose
5. White Line Fever
6. Keep Us On The Road
7. The Watcher
8. The Train Kept A-Rollin'
9. City Kids
10. Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers
11. On Parole
12. Instro
13. I'm Your Witch Doctor
14. Leaving Here (live)

Having rebounded from lineup changes and being dumped by the band's original label, Motörhead issued a self titled record in 1977 that truly unleashed the bombastic band upon the world. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Motörhead reprises nearly all the tracks that were recorded during the original On Parole sessions in 1976. With a new guitarist Eddie Clarke and drummer Phil Taylor, Motörhead reinvestigates the songs with newly found raucous vigor and the trademark Motörhead bluster. Whereas the On Parole versions were restrained, the band rips through the same tracks with a fury and power not exactly prevalent in 1977's punk or pompous arena rock world. As a result, Motörhead did become that band that both metalheads and punks were allowed to like, as well as inspiring a whole legion of impressionable fans. Motörhead also set the template for the rest of Motörhead's career, relying a basic formula of overcharged tempos, distortion, gravelly vocals and inherently ear-catching songwriting.

The band's debut essentially set the stage for their ascent into noteriety. The following set of releases, Overkill, Bomber, Ace of Spades and No Sleep Till Hammersmith, are universally regarded as masterpieces and the band's peak by just about everyone with any sense. The debut sometimes gets overlooked, but still has plenty of excellent songs to make it worth tracking down. Naturally, there have been multiple reissues of this album, but you can't go wrong with any version containing at least a couple bonus tunes.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2006

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On Parole

Motörhead - On Parole ©1979 EMI International
1. Motörhead
2. On Parole
3. Vibrator
4. Iron Horse/Born To Lose
5. City Kids
6. The Watcher
7. Leaving Here
8. Lost Johnny
9. Fools
10. On Parole (Alternate Take)
11. City Kids (Alternate Take)
12. Motörhead (Alternate Take)
13. Leaving Here (Alternate Take)

Having been sacked from Hawkwind, Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister wasted no time in forming a new act reflecting a dirtier, grittier type of music, one that would ultimately help define a genre, ensuring Lemmy's infamy along the way. Lemmy recruited Larry Wallis and Lucas Fox to record their debut album with United Artists. The sessions for No Parole resulted in UA ultimately shelving the album, citing its unlistenability. Wallis and Fox parted ways with Lemmy, who rebounded with Phil Taylor and Eddie Clarke. The new lineup signed with the Chiswick label, released an eponymous record, and shot straight into legendary status. As a result, UA looked like a bunch of clowns in their original decision to shove off Motörhead as a waste of studio tape. The On Parole sessions have seen multiple reissues over the years (par for the course with Motörhead's entire discography). As a result, there are several different versions floating around, so if you're curious about the origins of Motörhead, look for one with bonus tracks.

My first introduction to Motörhead's early sessions was through a cassette tape with some dorky named like "Motörhead's Greatest Hits Vol. 5" or something along those lines. Having been thoroughly engulfed in Motörhead's later sound, the music from No Parole surprised me a bit. The most noticeable thing here is that Lemmy's vocals weren't completely shot yet. Somewhere along the way, Lemmy must have graduated from a one pack to three pack a day habit. While Lemmy will never be confused with Phil Collins at any point, On Parole finds his voice to be the cleanest you'll ever hear in Motörhead's existence. (Hawkwind fans will note that his lead vocal contributions with that band are quite identical.) The second noticeable aspect is that the guitars are much cleaner and lacking the distortion and firepower that Fast Eddie Clarke would later provide. In fact, Motörhead was essentially sounding like an offshoot of Hawkwind, except considerably more stripped down and looser. On Parole featured several songs that originally appeared on Hawkwind albums: "Lost Johnny", "The Watcher" and the signature track "Motörhead". The title track to this album demonstrates Lemmy's love for old time rock and roll with a slightly rockabilly feel.

On Parole is a significant entry into the Motörhead story. While it never will quite reach the legendary status of Ace of Spades or No Sleep Till Hammersmith, the band's roots are splendidly documented, allowing fans to see the logical progression from Hawkwind's spaced out rock to Motörhead's revved up assault on metalized rock'n'roll.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2006

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Overkill

Motörhead - Overkill ©1979 Castle
1. Overkill
2. Stay Clean
3. (I Won't) Pay Your Price
4. I'll Be Your Sister
5. Capricorn
6. No Class
7. Damage Case
8. Tear Ya Down
9. Metropolis
10. Limb From Limb
11. Too Late, Too Late
12. Like A Nightmare
13. Louie, Louie
14. Tear Ya Down (instrumental Version)
15. Louie, Louie (alternate Version)

After a failed debut album (No Parole, which was shelved by United Artists) and finally a proper debut self-titled release, the Motörhead wagon train finally embarked into grassy fields of success with Overkill. This 1979 album began a streak of wildly successful releases for the outfit, culminating with the British number one hit, No Sleep Till Hammersmith, in 1981. Slighly metal, slightly punk, but purely rock'n'roll, Motörhead's Overkill is a good example of their early classic era with the infamous Kilmister/Clarke/Taylor lineup.

Overkill still retains more rock than any of the "everything louder than everything else" wall of sound of later years. Lemmy's singing voice hadn't completely decayed into his signature rasp and the production of Overkill, provided by former Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Smith, is rather clear for Motörhead. The guitar and bass do not quite seem to be competing for attention in the mix. The second notable thing about Overkill is the wealth of quite good songs: "Stay Clean", "(I Won't) Pay Your Price", "Capricorn" and "Metropolis" have long been fan and concert favorites. The songs tend to have a jaunty, rock feel to them throughout, making the album a enjoyable romp. In the scheme of Motörhead's extensive history, Overkill doesn't rank as one of my personal favorites, but there are more than enough good songs to include it as mandatory for your Motörhead collection. If nothing else, it helps set the stage for the string of great albums to follow.

The Castle Music reissues kindly include a few bonus tracks here, some of which have been rather difficult to find in the past. Two tracks ("Too Late, Too Late", a different version than what appears on No Remorse, and "Like a Nightmare") are b-sides and two are alternate versions of songs that appear on the album. You also get the killer, definitive cover of "Louie Louie" as well. Of all the various Motörhead reissues, this version is the one that offers the best liner notes, photos and extra tracks, making this album all the more worth your time.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2001

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Bomber

Motörhead - Bomber ©1979 Castle
1. Dead Men Tell No Tales
2. Lawman
3. Sweet Revenge
4. Sharpshooter
5. Poison
6. Stone Dead Forever
7. All The Aces
8. Step Down
9. Talking Head
10. Bomber
11. Over The Top
12. Leaving Here (live)
13. Stone Dead Forever (live)
14. Dead Men Tell No Tales (live)
15. Too Late Too Late (live)

Bomber represents "classic" Motörhead in their very prolific period between 1979-1981 where they released three studio albums plus the infamous No Sleep Till Hammersmith live record. Bomber was released hot on the heels of 1979's Overkill and stands as a solid, although not entirely compelling, release for the trio. Bomber has a definite blues edge to the ugly rock n roll sound of the band, especially on tracks like "Sweet Revenge", "Step Down" (featuring Eddie Clarke providing the vocals) and "Lawman". The band does retain much of the definitive sound of Motörhead that was established on Overkill. What holds back much of the album, however, is somewhat bland tracks throughout. Obviously the frantic title track is still a major classic for the band and "Dead Men Tell No Tales" is a great grooving number, but much of the material is nothing more than simply good. These aren't the kind of tracks I'd immediately throw on a "best of" compilation and that in itself puts Bomber down the list of "necessary" Motörhead albums, particularly in light of the other two releases from 1979-1980.

The 1996 reissues includes five bonus tracks, including two live versions of songs already appearing on Bomber. The liner notes are actually quite informative and much care has been given to making this reissue actually worth the money of the fans. Given the spotty nature of Motörhead's back catalogue and the various incarnations of reissues, it's good to know there is at least one set of reissues that are worthy.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2000

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Ace Of Spades

Motörhead - Ace Of Spades ©1980 Castle
1. Ace Of Spades
2. Love Me Like A Reptile
3. Shoot You In The Back
4. Live To Win
5. Fast And Loose
6. (We Are) The Road Crew
7. Fire, Fire
8. Jailbait
9. Dance
10. Bite The Bullet
11. The Chase Is Better Than The Catch
12. The Hammer
13. Dirty Love
14. Please Don't Touch
15. Emergency

If ever there was an album to cause reviewers to rush off to their little typewriters, word processors and computers to spout off statements of an album being a band's "seminal and definitive moment", well, Ace of Spades is just that album. Motörhead's flurry of activity in the studio culminated with this 1980 record, which has become the band's calling card and most identifable piece of work. Luckily, even within all the gushing this record has endured over the past two decades, it certainly is worth all the praise and worship.

Perfectly capturing the rock fury of the trio of Lemmy, Fast Eddie Clarke and Philthy Animal Taylor, Ace of Spades is a energized, dirty and realized record that shows off the band's ability to simply blow down forests with their sheer amplified noise. The album features more than a few longtime concert staples that have appeared in more Motörhead setlists than sticky tape and Sharpie pens, including the title track, "The Chase is Better Than the Catch" and of course "(We Are) The road crew". The music is performed in a way that gets the listener's blood boiling. The production captures the band's turmoil quite well and all of the songs are catchy, full of aural warfare and adrenaline. This is the type of record you put on when you want to get pumped up for some major physical activity, such as leveling Tokyo during your week of subbing for Godzilla.

The Castle reissue appends three good tracks, including a B-side from the title track and the EP recorded with Girlschool around that time. Lewd, nasty and entirely fun, these three songs only enhance what is an already great album. There simply isn't any reason for you to not have this album if you consider yourself a metal fan of any degree.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2001

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No Sleep Till Hammersmith

Motörhead - No Sleep Till Hammersmith ©1981 Roadracer Revisited
1. Ace Of Spades
2. Stay Clean
3. Metropolis
4. The Hammer
5. Iron Horse
6. No Class
7. Overkill
8. (We Are) The Road Crew
9. Capricorn
10. Bomber
11. Motörhead
12. Over The Top
13. Leaving Here
14. Stone Dead Forever
15. Dead Men Tell No Tales
16. Too Late, Too Late

One of the early career pinnacles of Motörhead, the penultimate live No Sleep Till Hammersmith capped off the most productive and influential period of Motörhead's career. From 1979 to 1981, Motörhead released a trio of excellent studio albums, tore up concert stages everywhere and ended up hitting high on the charts with No Sleep Till Hammersmith. Naturally everything after this time period was marked with a sense of anticlimatic slide and then predictable lineup instability, but as it were, Hammersmith existed as a great punctuation mark for an amazing era for the band.

The album on the whole is not exactly the most glossy and shiny picture of the band as the production is impossibly murky, but at the same time this image perfectly captures the ugliness of Motörhead. Aside from the fact that the disc, even the 1992 reissued version, is not mastered to be loud enough, No Sleep Till Hammersmith is indeed what Motörhead was all about in 1981. The song selection covers the four album span from the debut to Ace of Spades, offering pepped up versions complete with bonus energy. "Bomber", "No Class" and "The Hammer" all rip on this album. The signature show closer, "Motörhead", is simply a juggernaut of fury and unleashed adrenaline. Compared to earlier versions recorded with either Hawkwind or in early Motörhead sessions, this anthem to speed utterly demolishes all the previous versions.

The 1992 Roadracer version appends the 1979 live EP The Golden Years as well as an extra live track ("Over the Top"). Some of these songs had reappeared on the 1984 double "best of" release No Remorese but as a bonus prize, they add onto No Sleep Till Hammersmith nicely. Regardless of which particular issue of this album you get, Hammersmith is a necessary bookend to the Motörhead collection, especially for fans of their prolific '79-'81 era.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2000

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Iron Fist

Motörhead - Iron Fist ©1982 Bronze
1. Iron Fist
2. Heart Of Stone
3. I'm The Doctor
4. Go To Hell
5. Loser
6. Sex & Outrage
7. America
8. Shut It Down
9. Speedfreak
10. (Don't Let 'em) Grind Ya Down
11. (Don't Need) Religion
12. Bang To Rights
13. Remember Me, I'm Gone
14. (Don't Let 'em) Grind Ya Down (alternate Version)
15. Lemmy Goes To The Pub
16. Same Old Song, I'm Gone
17. Young And Crazy

Lemmy rather dislikes this record. The longtime Motörhead fan can take that as he will, but it does suggest Iron Fist may not indeed be the classic Motörhead release. The album was the last to feature the infamous trio of Kilmister, Eddie Clarke and Phil Taylor, as Clarke left the band soon after Iron Fist's completion to form Fastway. His parting legacy with the band is a somewhat oddly produced album that seemed to emphasize Lemmy's grinding bass tone, but sounded as though Clarke placed his guitar amp on the far side of a gymnasium for recording purposes. But while Lemmy himself places little worth on Iron Fist, I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the record. If nothing else, the album features a dozen competent Motörhead songs, with a couple being classics. The title track and "Speedfreak" are both defining moments of the ever growing Motorlegacy. The remainder of songs are at least enjoyable and adhere to the quality of the lesser moments of their classic records from 1979-1981. I've often wondered if Lemmy dislikes this record due to some of the tension in the band at the time of its recording and associates those bad times with the music here. Either way, Iron Fist deserves a better view than that and should be acquired along with the other releases featuring Eddie Clarke and Phil Taylor.

The reissued version features five bonus tracks. Most are just demo and alternate versions of other songs on the album, but the fact that so many bonus tracks were included, as well as the excellent liner notes, make this particular reissue version the definitive one.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2001

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Another Perfect Day

Motörhead - Another Perfect Day ©1983 Metal-Is/Sanctuary
1. Back At The Funny Farm
2. Shine
3. Dancing On Your Grave
4. Rock It
5. One Track Mind
6. Another Perfect Day
7. Marching Off To War
8. I Got Mine
9. Tales Of Glory
10. Die You Bastard!
11. Turn You Round Again
12. Hoochie Coochie Man
13. (Don't Need) Religion

After "Fast Eddie" Clarke left Motörhead, Motörhead found themselves in a strange predicament. Augmented by Brian Robertson on guitar, the band made it through the Iron Fist tour but met some hostile reactions from their fanbase due to Mr. Robertson's less than tough looking stage image. The lone album he appeared on, Another Perfect Day, only furthered his lack of cohesion with the popular perception of Motörhead. In some regards, the former Thin Lizzy guitarist brought a new element to the band that his predecessor never had: a stylish sense of melodicism and flash that made the band sound more musical than ever before. Yet that very talent was most likely his undoing. On the subseqent tour, Robertson rebelled against playing longtime Motörhead stage classics and his tenure with the band was thus quite brief.

Nevertheless, Another Perfect Day, while far from one of the albums that fans will point to as a defining moment, has more than a few good songs that make the album an enjoyable experience. "Shine", "I Got Mine" and "Dancing on Your Grave" are a few of the better songs that show off Robertson's ability to create a little more texture and melodic smoothness than Clarke ever had. Other songs tend to be a bit more drawn out than Motörhead fans might be used to. There's a sense of blues to some numbers that, while not completely foreign to the band's style, was given more of a highlight on Another Perfect Day. However, there is also a loss of the sense of urgency in drawing out things. Motörhead was known for being strictly to the point and not mucking about in the process, so Another Perfect Day's attempts at being more adventurous occasionally fell short.

Despite being practically an orphan in the grand scheme of things, Another Perfect Day is still worth getting when rounding out your collection of the Motörhead studio albums. Unlike the considerably more primal early albums, Another Perfect Day is polished and palatable to tender ears. The reissues that surfaced in on Castle and Metal-Is Records offer some good unreleased tracks so it would benefit you greatly to search out these versions. Be sure to read the informative liner notes to find out the full story about Brian Robertson and Another Perfect Day.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/2002

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What's Words Worth

Motörhead - What's Words Worth ©1983 Big Beat
1. The Watcher
2. Iron Horse / Born To Lose
3. On Parole
4. White Line Fever
5. Keep Us On The Road
6. Leaving Here
7. I'm Your Witch Doctor
8. The Train Kept A Rollin'
9. City Kids

One of the banes of Motörhead's existence is the proliferation of various live recordings, sketchy compliations and otherwise less than vital releases. For the most part, even the more dedicated fans can stick to the studio albums and a couple of the better live albums and be completely fulfilled in all their Motörhead desires. One of the earliest unordained live albums is What's Words Worth, recorded live in early 1978. While actually having a pretty decent sound quality, one that's a bit heavy on Lemmy's bass and quieter on the guitar playing, it essentially warms over material from Motörhead's debut without exactly giving the listener a pressing reason to plunk down some coin. Worse yet, the same concert has been repackaged under at least five different album titles, with variations in track listings and order. It is quite doubtful that Lemmy and his cohorts ever saw a dime from any sales of this album in any particular release form. I suppose only a true completist would really go through much trouble to track this down.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2007

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No Remorse

Motörhead - No Remorse ©1984 Roadracer Revisited
1. Ace Of Spades
2. Motörhead
3. Jailbait
4. Stay Clean
5. Too Late, Too Late
6. Killed By Death
7. Bomber
8. Iron Fist
9. Shine
10. Dancing On Your Grave
11. Metropolis
12. Snaggletooth
13. Overkill
14. Please Don't Touch
15. Stone Dead Forever
16. Like A Nightmare
17. Emergency
18. Steal Your Face
19. No Class
20. Iron Horse
21. We Are The Road Crew
22. Locomotive

In 1984, Motörhead had gone through a series of lineup changes that left Lemmy as the sole remaining member of the "classic lineup" that put out Ace of Spades, No Sleep Till Hammersmith, Bomber and Overkill. After 1982's Iron Fist, guitarist Eddie Clarke bailed to form Fastway (not necessarily considered the greatest career move in musical history). Thin Lizzy's Brian Robertson provided guitar on 1983's Another Perfect Day, but proved to be an inadequate fit for Motörhead's style and image. Moreover, drummer Phil Taylor also decided to leave the band, forcing Lemmy to draft a full new lineup. Rather than stick to the power trio format, Lemmy brought in two guitarists: Wurzel and Phil Campbell (who has stayed with Lemmy clear to the present day). Pete Gill joined as the new drummer. Motörhead's next move was a bit unusual. Rather than dive into a new studio project, the band chose to release a double LP compilation called No Remorse, which culled tracks from the band's recording history, some b-sides, live tracks and four new songs from the brand spanking new lineup. The resulting release stands as one of the finest and most recommended Motörhead albums of them all.

First off, you simply cannot go wrong with the track choices for the compilation portion of the album. We've already established the greatness of Motörhead's output from 1977-1981. Moreover, the band chose some pretty good tracks from Iron Fist and Another Perfect Day. The b-sides, such as "Emergency", "Please Don't Touch" and "Louie Louie", are real gems. Although there were a handful of lineup changes even by 1984, the band's music is consistent from conception on. When I first heard this on cassette back in high school, No Remorse instantly solidified my love for Motörhead's music.

No Remorse, like any other release in Motörhead's extensive back catalogue, has seen a variety of reissues in various formats. Vinyl collectors may wish to seek out the leather bound double LP set that came out in 1984. Compact disc has found quite a few reissued versions floating around, each with a different set of bonus tracks. The extra songs are simply gravy to an already excellent compilation. No Remorse stands out simply for being one of the most thoroughly solid compilations for any band, as well as being possibly the perfect entry point for fans curious about Motörhead. There are other Motörhead anthologies out there, but most are to be avoided as they pale in comparison to No Remorse.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2006

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Orgasmatron

Motörhead - Orgasmatron ©1986 Castle
1. Deaf Forever
2. Nothing Up My Sleeve
3. Ain't My Crime
4. Claw
5. Mean Machine
6. Built For Speed
7. Riding With The Driver
8. Doctor Rock
9. Orgasmatron
10. On The Road (live)
11. Steal Your Face (live)
12. Claw (alternative Version)

The mid 80s found Motörhead in a bit of flux. Both Fast Eddie Clarke and Philthy Animal Taylor had left for other pursuits in life and the revamped lineup of Motörhead had gone three years between proper studio albums. While the lineup of Lemmy, Phil Campbell, Wurzel and Peter Gill had debuted a few tracks on the compilation double album of No Remorse, Orgasmatron was the first full studio release for the quartet, three years after Another Perfect Day. More interestingly, Orgasmatron featured the production talents of Bill Laswell and somehow ended up being a subpar job from one of music's best studio rats.

Regardless of some of the potential pitfalls of being a band in transition and an unusual recording situation, Orgasmatron is still one of Motörhead's best albums of all, mostly due to the fantastic songs and quite appropriate performance of the band. With a twin guitar attack being utilized, Motörhead's music did indeed transform slightly to acknowledge that new things could be done but not so much that the band's motif was lost. Pete Gill offers a very competent performance on drums, though this would be his one and only studio appearance with the band (No Remorse tracks notwithstanding). Lemmy's vocals are varied, insomuch as this guy can actually vary his approach. "Orgasmatron" is snarled and angry, the raging "Ridin' with the Driver" is intense and over the top, while "Claw" is sinister and dirty. Quite a few of the songs have a stronger attack than the band had shown since their '79-81 heyday, with the aforementioned "Ridin' with the Driver" being on of their most aggressive songs to date. "Ain't My Crime" is a fun, rocking number while "Built For Speed" is simply the band's operational directive. The unfortunate part to this record that might put off some listeners is that the production squashes a lot of the sound into a bit more mush than Motörhead should have. All the instruments are audible, but are placed strangely in the mix. Considering Bill Laswell's ability in his vast number of other projects, this is an unexpected twist.

The reissued version of Orgasmatron does offer some rare goodies, including b-sides of singles from the era. "On the Road" is an early live version of "Built For Speed", which is identical to the studio version except for the chorus. "Steal Your Face" appears as a live track while the album closes out with a slightly different studio version of "Claw". Regardless of some its superficial flaws, Orgasmatron finds Motörhead alive and well in 1986, showing that rock'n'roll was still the fire that kept the band going, problems and transition phases be damned.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2000

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Rock 'n' Roll

Motörhead - Rock 'n' Roll ©1987 Castle
1. Rock N Roll
2. Eat The Rich
3. Blackheart
4. Stone Deaf In The USA
5. The Wolf
6. Traitor
7. Dogs
8. All For You
9. Boogeyman
10. Cradle To The Grave
11. Just 'cos You Got The Power

Rock'n'Roll is an important Motörhead release for a number of reasons. The first reason is the significance of the title, which hopefully should go a long way in proving that Motörhead was neither metal nor punk, but a rock and roll band in the highest sense of the term. Motörhead's influence comes from Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis, rather than Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. It is Motörhead's subsequent influence on metal, particularly thrash, that seems to cause the association with metal. Secondly, Rock'n'Roll features the triumphant return of Phil Taylor to the drum throne, although Lemmy offers a punch in the face to Phil in the liner notes (albeit tongue-in-cheek). Finally, Rock'n'Roll, while not the band's best effort to date, contains more than a few rather good songs that should be seen as Motörhead classics.

Compared to its 1986 predecessor, Orgasmatron, Rock'n'Roll has a very solid production that isn't so sonically squashed. The album has a much more spacious sound, giving everyone a lot of clarity. The band also seemed to be focusing on songwriting more than adrenaline infused aggression. "All for You" actually features Lemmy attempting to croon and harmonize. Other songs are simply well done, with catchy hooks and/or hilarious lyrics: "Eat the Rich" (a leftover from the Bill Laswell sessions on Orgasmatron), "Traitor" and the romping "Boogeyman". The general sound of the album finds them playing more like a regular rock band, only with ample amounts of distortion and of course Lemmy's vocalizing. In the end, it comes across fairly well and the good songs on the album make it worthwhile.

The Castle reissue appends a couple b-sides from the "Eat the Rich" single. Both tracks are fitting for the album. The liner notes, on par with the rest of the Castle reissues, are very informative and well done.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2001

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The Birthday Party

Motörhead - The Birthday Party ©1988 Enigma
1. Iron Fist
2. Mean Machine
3. On The Road
4. We Are The Road Crew
5. The Hammer
6. Metropolis
7. Ace Of Spaces
8. Steal Your Face
9. Nothing Up My Sleeve
10. Bite The Bullet
11. The Chase Is Better Than The Catch
12. No Class
13. Killed By Death
14. Bomber
15. Motörhead

Recorded at the band's ten year anniversary (hence, the title The Birthday Party), this live album is one that Lemmy himself tried to block the release of several times. You can take that as a stunning vote of no confidence in this particular album. For the casual fan, the album acts as yet another live album featuring those nutty Motörhead boys, but it is hardly essential or worth plunking down the bucks unless you find it used. (And since it is long out of print and probably in oblivion forever since none of the many Motörhead reissues series have resurrected the album, you will have to find it used.) The major problem with this album is that the sound quality is, as expected, fairly thin. The guitars lack the necessary grit and bite that should characterize a Motörhead release, while the bass is somewhat lost in the mix altogether. The setlist does a fine job of covering the band's career up to 1986, including a handful of older songs mixed with the more recent selections from Orgasmatron. The four piece (at that time including Phil Campbell and Wurzel on guitar and Peter Gill on drums) does a competent, if not terribly inspired, job of playing older tracks, though Gill lacks the unkempt energy of Philthy Animal Taylor. Also of interest is a slightly earlier version of Rock n Roll's "Built For Speed" called "On the Road" here. Other than not having the chorus down yet, the song is very faithful to its proper studio version. Needless to say, this album is simply something that will appeal to hardcore fans of the band, but the less rabid might want to check out any number of other live albums instead.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2000

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No Sleep At All

Motörhead - No Sleep At All ©1988 GWR/Roadracer Revisited
1. Dr. Rock
2. Stay Clean
3. Traitor
4. Metropolis
5. Dogs
6. Ace Of Spades
7. Eat The Rich
8. Built For Speed
9. Deaf Forever
10. Just Cos You Got The Power
11. Killed By Death
12. Overkill

No Sleep at All is actually a nostalgic album for me because it was the very first Motörhead album I actually heard when I was a teenager. Sure, the sound is muddy, feedback squeaks are caught and itsounds like the guitarists set their Marshall Stacks at a pidding 3.5, but there is something about this live album recorded in Finland that I truly enjoy. Even through the muddled sound, you can tell this is a spirited, fun-filled performance from the band throughout. Songs like "Dr. Rock", "Eat the Rich" and of course "Ace of Spades" absolutely get a severe boot in the butt courtesy of the entire band. The song selection is pretty decent, covering the old material from the Fast Eddie era to some newer material on the Orgasmatron and Rock n Roll albums. Roadracer Revisited was also kind enough to add on a few more tracks to the 1992 reissued version (which, knowing how often Motörhead gets reissued, has probably been reissued again): "Stay Clean", "Metropolis". Another bonus to this album is "Just 'Cos You Got the Power", which I don't believe appears on any other Motörhead album. (If you do happen to know where else it appears, please let me know.) While Motörhead has released better sounding and more comprehensive live collections, No Sleep At All is still one of my favorite discs from the band. As a bookend to No Sleep to Hammersmith and a closing statement for the 80s, it's a good time as well as an exciting performance, regardless of flaws.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2000

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1916

Motörhead - 1916 ©1991 WTG/Sony
1. The One To Sing The Blues
2. I'm So Bad (baby I Don't Care)
3. No Voices In The Sky
4. Going To Brazil
5. Nightmare/The Dreamtime
6. Love Me Forever
7. Angel City
8. Make My Day
9. Ramones
10. Shut You Down
11. 1916

It really is too bad that 1916 turned out to be the last truly great Motörhead album. Their output since then has been either entirely too average and workmanship or utterly awful (see March or Die's review). But thankfully 1916 exists as both a fine Motörhead record and proof they could step outside their paradigm and accomplish something besides their basic formula.

1916 was quite full of surprises upon first listen. For example, the idea of Lemmy singing not one, but two soft songs (let's not call them ballads because there is someone out there who will automatically think of Warrant and other sappy hair bands) must be befuddling to many leather clad, beer swilling Motorfanatics out there. Or a Ramones flavored tribute song called, quite appropriately, "Ramones". Or a track featuring backwards vocals, sparse percussion and keyboards. But it was all there and frankly, it works. The album is still fully complete with classic Motörhead songs throughout, brimming with typical amphetamine fueled aggression. Certain songs stand out as classic Motörhead, utterly timeless: "No More Voices in the Sky", the Chuck Berry-on-meth "Going to Brazil" and the autobiographical "I'm so Bad (Baby I Don't Care)". But it's the unexpected steps into new territory that really bring attention to this album. "Love Me Forever" is a slow number that effectively works and gives Lemmy the chance to try singing a bit more emotionally. Not that he really can do it. "Nightmare/The Dreamtime" is a weird number that has a grinding bass propelling the song along, with quite a few odd vocal effects and very little percussion. And finally, the title track is easily one of Lemmy's most harrowing numbers. Featuring cellos, keyboards and very sparse percussion, Lemmy's account of a World War I soldier's death in Europe is frankly the saddest and best written lyrics he's ever penned. Goosebumps will spring out on your arms. Guaranteed.

The band afterwards never really fulfilled the greatness of this album. As per normal, lineup changes kept the band in transition and in fact, only Lemmy and Phil Campbell remained from the 1991 lineup that recorded this album. I got the impression that, given the acclaim the band received for the more adventurous aspects of 1916, Lemmy consciously tried to write more songs that were essentially out of his league on succeeding albums. But regardless of where Motörhead went after 1916, this remains one of the absolute best albums in their career and utterly required in your collection.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2000

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March Or Die

Motörhead - March Or Die ©1992 WTG/Epic
1. Stand
2. Cat Scratch Fever
3. Bad Religion
4. Jack The Ripper
5. I Ain't No Nice Guy
6. Hellraiser
7. Asylum Choir
8. Too Good To Be True
9. You Better Run
10. Name In Vain
11. March Or Die

Right after releasing one of the best albums in their history with 1916, Motörhead went straight ahead to release one of their worst with March or Die. Actually, let me amend that statement. March or Die is frankly their worst album. "Stand" is a teaser track, opening the album with a catchy and fun tune that is all-Motörhead. But from their lame cover of "Cat Scratch Fever" on, it just gets steadily worse. "Bad Religion" hardly lives up to the band that has the same title, "Jack the Ripper" is unengaging, "I Ain't No Nice Guy" is a very trite duet with Ozzy, and the rest sound like Motörhead at half-ass. It sounds like Motörhead, it looks like Motörhead, but it lacks so much of the fire and explosiveness of Motörhead. Looking back on that period of the band's history, the addition of new drummer Mikkey Dee (who is quite a good drummer) and the departure of Wurzel after this album suggest that the band just didn't have it within them to really put forth a strong album. With everyone sounding like they were just running through the motions, March or Die becomes the most unnecessary Motörhead studio album of them all.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/1999

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Bastards

Motörhead - Bastards ©1993 Zyx Records
1. On Your Feet Or On Your Knees
2. Burner
3. Death Or Glory
4. I Am The Sword
5. Born To Raise Hell
6. Don't Let Daddy Kiss Me
7. Bad Woman
8. Liar
9. Lost In The Ozone
10. I'm The Man
11. We Bring The Shake
12. Devils

Somewhere after the dud that was March or Die, Motörhead entered what I consider to be the "lost portion" of their career. Fact is, Motörhead has consistently and efficiently released solid record after solid record throughout the nineties and right into this current decade. However, it can also be accurately said that none of these records quite have the impact of the band's prime in the late seventies and early eighties. Heck, if you ask me, just about everything they did in the eighties was brilliant.

Anyhow, Bastards is kind of a bastard record in that it seemingly has been overlooked in the grand scheme of things. But does it deserve such an fate? As it turns out, Bastards falls smack dab in the middle ground of Motörhead releases. It features some seriously rocking songs and a couple bummers. Let's face it, Lemmy crooning over acoustic guitar about incest is just not something anyone really needs to hear ("Don't Let Daddy Kiss Me"). He pulled off the acoustic brooding songs on 1916, but that was something best left alone after that point. However, songs like "I am the Sword", "We Bring the Shake", "Devils" and "Burner" are all rocking Motörhead songs with everything necessary to fit that mold.

Bastard is certainly not ever going to fall into the category of the Ace of Spades or Overkill segments of the band's back catalogue. However, as with just about all their studio albums, there is more than enough quality material to make it worth picking up at some point or another.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2006

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All The Aces/The Mugger Tapes

Motörhead - All The Aces/The Mugger Tapes ©1993 Castle
CD one:
1. Ace Of Spades
2. Killed By Death
3. Motörhead (live)
4. Iron Fist
5. Orgasmatron
6. Love Me Like A Reptile
7. (We Are) The Road Crew
8. Bomber
9. The Chase Is Better Than The Catch
10. Louie, Louie
11. No Class
12. Deaf Forever
13. Over The Top
14. Overkill
15. Ace Of Spades (CCN Remix)
CD two:
16. White Lightning
17. Space Chaser
18. Somethin' Else
19. Would If I Could
20. (Just A) Nightmare
21. Cinammon Girl
22. Summertime Blues
23. Killer, Killer

Just what the world needs...yet another compilation of "the best" of Motörhead. There are at least thirty such compilations of either the best of Motörhead, rare material and live renditions of the best of Motörhead and to a degree, none are a whole lot better than the others. However, All the Aces actually does offer something unique that none of the other collections have and that is the inclusion of The Mugger Tapes as a bonus disc. This particular recording features Eddie Clarke and Phil Taylor teamed up with John "Speedy" Keen and Bill Wrath in a live setting, playing some old standards and some originals. Although the quality is murky and the performance seems very inspired by alcohol, The Mugger Tapes represents something that is truly rare.

As for the compilation itself, All the Aces features nothing but the most predictable and expected rundown of Motörhead through the ages. With the exception of "Over the Top", every one of these songs is something featured heavily in various compilations and live recordings. It is as though they tried to guess what all the fans placed on their homemade mix tapes and put it onto one disc. That said, All the Aces does succinctly cover the high points of Motörhead up to the late 80s. Certainly hardcore fans might quibble and ponder over what should have been included but overall, these songs are good representations of all the various studio albums. There is, however, an extremely terrifying remix of "Ace of Spades" that puts the heart of the song to a danceable rhythm machine and utterly quakes the foundations of what has made rock n roll so strong. I think one listen is all I will submit myself to because I can't fathom subjecting myself to such blasphemy again. There is also a CD-ROM bonus for those fans with home computers, so there are some nice additions to the Castle reissue series for fans.

While No Remorse still stands as the most important compilation in Motörhead's history, All the Aces/The Mugger Tapes holds its own in actually being worthy of your paycheck with the bonus disc and other goodies. The liner notes are informative, the packaging very attractive and the music plentiful. You can definitely put this on your wish list for Motörhead albums.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2001

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Sacrifice

Motörhead - Sacrifice ©1995 Sanctuary
1. Sacrifice
2. Sex And Death
3. Over Your Shoulder
4. War For War
5. Order / Fade To Black
6. Dog Face Boy
7. All Gone To Hell
8. Make 'Em Blind
9. Don't Waste Your Time
10. In Another Time
11. Out Of The Sun

By 1995, Motörhead was waist deep in the irrelevant portion of their career, where the band would never release another "classic" record that would stir the heart and loins of fans in the way Ace of Spades has. However, rather than sulk, Motörhead dusted off their leather pants and put themselves to work by releasing Sacrifice, a thoroughly decent record of above average rock tunes. The songwriting on Sacrifice is very obviously situated firmly within the Motörhead sound, possibly moreso than the previous trio of studio albums (1916, March or Die, Bastards). The production is a bit dirtier and more appropriate for a Motörhead release. Songwise, the band sticks to what they do best, ripping out fast paced numbers blended with the occasional grinding churner. Thankfully, there aren't any moments where Lemmy tries to astound us with his sensitive crooning over acoustic guitar. Let's just say I prefer it when Lemmy offers sleaze, raunch, thoughts on war, and booze.

For the most part, Sacrifice is a faceless record with only a couple truly memorable numbers ("Don't Waste Your Time" flat out rocks, although it's rather reminiscient of 1916's "Going to Brazil"). Yet, when playing, it's also a quite fun record that ends before it wears out its welcome. And that, at the end of the day, is why we still love Motörhead.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2006

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Overnight Sensation

Motörhead - Overnight Sensation ©1996 CMC International
1. Civil War
2. Crazy Like A Fox
3. I Don't Believe A Word
4. Eat The Gun
5. Overnight Sensation
6. Love Can't Buy You Money
7. Broken
8. Them Not Me
9. Murder Show
10. Shake The World
11. Listen To Your Heart

By 1996, Motörhead had slimmed down to a trio and Lemmy had even shaved his mug for the cover photo of Overnight Sensation. Despite the changes, the album was simply another solid, if undistinguished, foray of heavy rock music. While the music scene around them was filled with a veritable bevy of alternative rock acts, Motörhead rumbled on without altering their trademark sound one bit.

As with all the albums Motörhead has released since their notorious late 70s/early 80s "career peak" (I say that with a degree of sarcasm as I feel the band has had numerous career peaks, one that essentially creates a mountain range for their existence), Overnight Sensation is consistently good, yet very few of the songs get the same recognition as earlier numbers. The album does feature a handful of generic songs, at least by Motörhead standards. However, there are several notable highlights: "Eat the Gun", "I Don't Believe a Word" and "Listen to Your Heart" (featuring acoustic guitar). On a whole, Overnight Sensation does feel like a stepping stone to better days ahead. It is a good album, especially compared to March or Die, which started the period of lukewarm material for Motörhead. However, later releases would definitely overshadow this album.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2007


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Inferno

Motörhead - Inferno ©2004 Steamhammer
1. Terminal Show
2. Killers
3. In the Name of Tragedy
4. Suicide
5. Life's a Bitch
6. Down on Me
7. In the black
8. Fight
9. In the Year of the Wolf
10. Keys to the Kingdom
11. Smiling Like a Killer
12. Whorehouse Blues

By 2004, the trio of Lemmy, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee had proven this was the lineup that could last the test of time and put out decent record after decent record. Much like Lemmy's fellow countrymen Iron Maiden, Motörhead mostly seemed to enter the studio to make a record as an excuse to get back out on tour. But at least in Motörhead's case, their records were worth hearing.

Inferno is standard issue latter day Motörhead. The album has its share of fast paced songs, slower songs, songs with a groove and songs with some swing. Granted, not too many of these songs quite reach the stratospheric levels of the band's early records, but there's a consistency that not many bands ever achieve. And perhaps it's simply a matter of Motörhead being around for most of our lives. Their early stuff most likely was the Motörhead material the fans heard first and thus the loyalty and reverence towards it. That's just how it goes for bands with such an extensive existence. But it should be pointed out that songs like "Killers", "Life's a Bitch" and "Keys to the Kingdom" are plenty enjoyable. It should be impressed upon everyone that this band often shows far more energy than musicians half their age.

Perhaps the most notable track is "Whorehouse Blues", a number which provides the "diversity" Motörhead has put on each album since 1916 (with varying degrees of success). In this case, Lemmy is in the alternate universe where he gives us a hint at what his music would be like had he gotten into a more classic blues sound rather than the world of bombastic rock and roll. His smoke riddled voice is surprisely genuine for this style. It's a great album closer and rather amusing.

Inferno, much like everything the current lineup has released, is a good, if short of great, release that deserves a listen by any longtime fan of the band.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2010

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Kiss Of Death

Motörhead - Kiss Of Death ©2006 Sanctuary
1. Sucker
2. One Night Stand
3. Devil I Know
4. Trigger
5. Under The Gun
6. God Was Never On Your Side
7. Living In The Past
8. Christine
9. Sword Of Glory
10. Be My Baby
11. Kingdom Of The Worm
12. Going Down

Certain things bring comfort to an unpredictable existence. For instace, we like to know that in the morning, birds will chirp and the sun will rise. Or, after a long winter, the days become longer and the landscape warms up. Or, most importantly, Lemmy Kilmister, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee will get together and make yet another Motörhead record for the filthy masses to enjoy.

Unlike so many other bands that have any sort of longevity, Motörhead enters yet another decade of raising hell with a record that oozes the greasy quality of their classics. While it is obvious that fans will never rank a modern Motörhead record up there with Overkill or Ace of Spades, the band has done nothing but put out good record after good record. More interestingly, the current lineup has been at it for a dozen years without a single change, which is quite impressive unto itself.

Kiss of Death is actually a remarkable release for Motörhead as it is possibly their best since 1916. Lemmy is over sixty now and yet he still can singlehandedly kicks more ass than every single emo, screamcore, hardcore or modern metal band you can name. And he does it with a drink in his hand, spilling nary a drop. Let's see Rivers Cuumo do that. Kiss of Death is honestly nothing more than exactly what Motörhead has been doing all along: loud, fast and crude, with Lemmy's lyrics accurately depicting his experiences, no matter how lurid. Write what you know, that's what they always advise. Significantly, several tunes have a bit of swing in them, something drummer Mikkey Dee hasn't always excelled at, being the technically precise metronome that he is. The album's "ballady" number, "God Was Never on Your Side", is actually a quite good one, unlike a couple previous Motörhead attempts to soften things up.

In the end, it's likely that Kiss of Death will never receive the reverence it deserves, which is a damned shame. It's a thoroughly enjoyable record with more than a few songs that stand among the band's best. Rather than treading water in their twilight years, Motörhead is still killing the grass on your lawn and blowing eardrums left and right. I bet Phil Collins can't say the same.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2007

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Motörizer

©2008 Steamhammer
1. Runaround Man
2. Teach You How To Sing the Blues
3. When the Eagle Screams
4. Rock Out
5. One Short Life
6. Buried Alive
7. English Rose
8. Back on the Chain
9. Heroes
10. Time is Right
11. The Thousand Names of God

It's probably time to recognize Lemmy Kilmister as the true icon of Rock and Roll. It's not Keith Richards nor is it whatever the flavor of the week is these days. While richards gets wheeled out every few years to milk his audience dry for admission money, Kilmister remains constantly active and merely looks like death half warmed over. It can easily be argued that Motorhead has outlived their most influential period by almost thirty years, but despite that, they still issue good album after good album. Unlike most of the bands they influenced in the early 80s in the burgeoning thrash scene, Motorhead never quit. So many thrash bands disappeared and only reappeared when the scene was more favorable towards making a few bucks. Motorhead weathered many storms and have continued on. That's a sort of credibility that few bands ever establish.

Much like every album the Kilmister/Dee/Campbell trio has released, Motörizer is capable and above average in songwriting, but obviously not an album that redefines an entire musical scene. That sort of thing is obviously best left to the youthful bands out there. Motorhead is one of the few bands that can get away with sticking to a formula without getting stale. In fact, chances are every review you read for this album will state this or at least infer it. You can also cue up the automatic comparison to AC/DC in that regard. I find this album to be slightly behind the grading curve these guys set on 2006's excellent Kiss of Death, but it's still a satisfying release. "Rock Out" features typical Lemmy tongue-in-cheek lyrics about rock'n'roll cliches. Songs like the album opener "Runaround Man" mostly demonstrate that despite Lemmy's age (62 at the time of this recording, if my math skills are still working), Motorhead hasn't gone soft or strayed away from what makes them enjoyable. Motörizer makes one believe that if Lemmy lives another decade, his 2018 release will be just as hard rocking and aggressive as anything else this band has ever done. Now that is what makes him the true standard bearer of what rock and roll is suppose to be about.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2009

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