On June 11th 2012, Sanctuary Records via Uniiversal Music will be releasing Motorhead’s 6 albums originally released via Bronze Records between 1979/1983. They are the original masters in gatefold wallets with the original artwork, housed in a compact box.
1st release of the 6 is Overkill and is easily one of my favourite albums! It was originally released on March 24th 1979 and reached #24 in the UK album charts but it was a miracle it ever came to be. Original drummer Lucas Fox had been replaced by Phil Taylor and the 1st sessions with him were not released as their record label United Artists were not satisfied by them although when Motorhead got some recognition, they released them as the On Parole album in 1979.
In Feb.1976, Motorhead auditioned for a 2nd guitarist which resulted in “Fast” Eddie Clarke joining, prompting the resignation of original guitarist Larry Wallis and so to many Motorhead fans, the classic line up was formed! In band arguments and also with United Artists led to a planned farewell Motorhead gig at the Marquee Club in London. Lemmy wanted it recorded but it was not done so the band were granted 2 days studio recording. 13 tracks were laid down which became Motorhead’s self titled debut album on Chiswick Records in Aug.1977.
Bronze Records offered a one-off single release deal in July 1978 resulting in a cover of the Richard Berry classic Louie Louie. It broke into the UK singles chart, Bronze extended Motorhead’s contract and the seeds of the Overkill album were sown. Once again, the classic Motorhead War Pig/Snaggletooth logo adorned the sleeve by Joe Petagno. Produced by Jimmy Miller and released on March 24th 1979 the album literally kicks off with the double bass drum patterns from Phil Taylor. It was the 1st Motorhead album i bought and this track in my opinion is their finest album opener! Lemmy’s Rickenbacker bass thunders in followed by Eddie’s searing riffs. The song has 3 parts, each one beginning with Phil’s concrete drill like salvo. The song still closes Motorhead’s gigs to this very day, just proving what a classic it is. Stay Clean follows, another current set choice with an earth shaking Lemmy bass solo midway. An almost rock and roll beat drives throughout I Wont Pay Your Price with a guitar solo to match, proving that playing at 100mph isnt always the best way. I’ll Be Your Sister and the “spacey” Capricorn follow, both songs bringing the tempo down but still raucous. No Class, the albums 1st single release is next, crashing and bashing its way to #39 in the UK singles charts. Damage Case rumbles along with some classic tongue in cheek lyrics by Lemmy, “Hey babe, wait a minute stop, dont run away dont call a cop. I aint looking to victimise you, all i want is to tantalise you” . Phil Taylor’s snare gets some serious use on Tear Ya Down following Lemmy’s 1,2,3,4 intro in German with Eddie Clarke weaving in and out of Lemmy’s bass runs. Metropolis still features in the current set which apparently Lemmy wrote immediately after seeing the film of the same name. A nice bluesy number with some tasty wah-wah pedal soloing from Eddie. Album closer Limb From Limb has it all. Lemmy’s Rickenbacker humming over Eddie’s sparse riffs and Phil’s steady beat when halfway thru the tempo increases with Lemmy providing a guitar solo showing he is no slouch on a 6 string either!
A mere 7 months after the release of Overkill, Motorhead followed it with Bomber, my favourite Motorhead album with my favourite Motorhead song, Stone Dead Forever! Produced again by Jimmy Miller and released on Oct.27th 1979 it climbed the UK album charts to an impressive #12. The production allows each member to shine and Bomber sees some vitriolic Lemmy vocals. An example of this is proven on the punishing album opener Dead Men Tell No Tales with Eddie soloing manically throughout. Lawman contains an anti – Police rant by Lemmy, a slower number with some lazy riffs before the 1st guitar solo is hammered into the ground by Lemmy’s bass. As the song fades it segues straight into Sweet Revenge with yet more pissed off vocals. A slow but crushing number, the guitar solo sounds as though it has been backward tracked . Sharpshooter hurtles along by a driving Lemmy riff with Eddie’s guitar lurking in the background before let loose for a long solo. Poison follows, another angry Lemmy song berating his father for walking out on him and his mother. Stone Dead Forever crashes in with Lemmy’s bass intro joined by rat a tat drums. Another angry vocal over a driving rhythm, Lemmy hammering the opening riff midway as Eddie delivers a killer solo. All The Aces opens with ” The only thing i know is playing rock and roll, i’m not a business man, i’m just in a good time band. You dont let no one know where the money goes, because of parasites, i aint got no rights! “. A raging vocal highlighting Lemmy’s hatred of the business side of the music industry. The instrumental section has some awesome drumming from Phil Taylor, a very underrated performer! Step Down is next and after over a minute of bluesy guitar, we have the 1st Motorhead song ever sung by Eddie Clarke. Apparently he hated doing it but its always sounded ok to me and fits the lyrics and mood of the song. Lemmy returns for Talking Head, another angry rant with the guitar riff copying his delivery and Lemmy adding some crunching bass lines midway. Whereas the Overkill album opened with the album title song, Bomber ends with it’s title song. Released as a single on Dec.1st 1979, it reached #34 in the UK single charts, highlighting Lemmy’s interest in World War II, Bomber is a stone cold Motorhead classic, the inspiration behind their stage show on the tour of the same name.
So 2 strong album releases in less than a year but even the ever growing army of Motorhead fans could not have expected what was to follow with album on album no.3!
Nov.8th 1980 is a date revered in rock/metal history as it heralded the release of the genius that is the Ace Of Spades album! With new proucer Vic Maile at the helm, Motorhead could do no wrong as each of the 12 tracks leaps out of the speakers. I read a review at the time and part of it said that ” Ace Of Spades is an album that will be the yardstick future metal albums will be measured against “. It reached #4 in the UK album, quite an achievement for a band once voted for as the ” Best, worst band in the world “.
The adrenaline rush title track that inspired many U.S thrash metal bands speeds in with a manic Lemmy riff, Phil’s drums snapping at his heels then Eddie completing the classic Motorhead album opener. As it crashes to an end there is no let up as Eddie lets rip with the riff to Love Me Like A Reptile, a song highlighting Lemmy’s love of the fairer sex. ” Thunder lizard, stony eye, you got me hypnotised. Hot tongue breaks in and out, i cant believe my eyes “. The Western theme of the album cover runs into next track Shoot You In The Back, Lemmy beginning the song with a shout of ” Western movies! “. Eddie’s riffs are backed up by some nice rattlesnake effects by Phil Taylor before he lets rip with a wah wah guitar solo. Live To Win’s thudding bass intro thunders into Lemmy’s lyrics about how Motorhead have never given in to peer pressure, the song ending in a storming Eddie guitar solo. The racy Fast And Loose features some autobiographical tongue in cheek lyrics by Lemmy with an instrumental break midway that could cause an avalanche! We Are The Roadcrew follows, a tribute to Motorhead’s longstanding dedicated staff. The howl of feedback midway was apparently caused when Eddie fell over in the studio and Lemmy has said that the lyrics were wrote in a matter of minutes but nevertheless some of his finest, e.g ” Another hotel we can burn, another screw, another turn, another Europe map to learn “. Fire Fire keeps the intensity levels to the max with all 3 playing as though their lives depended on it. Phil gets a mini spot midway, the song ends with Eddie thrashing away on his Telecaster. A belch, a ” Stop wincing about ” and a ” 1,2,3,4″ left over from the studio preludes the risque lyrics of Jailbait. Some old fashioned rock and roll is next, Dance Dance is a real foot tapper with a 2 scorching Eddie solos. Bite The Bullet is another barnstormer with yet more studio nonsense as Phil Taylor screams ” Hang on for f***s sake ” before the song kicks in, another tale of love lost as Lemmy sings ” Stepping out, I’m leaving here, no use crying, crying in my beer! “. Probably the heaviest track on Ace Of Spades is next, the mighty The Chase Is Better Than The Catch, Lemmy and Eddie’s riffs nailed down by a rock hard beat by Phil. The 12th and final song The Hammer lives up to its name purely on the Overkill type drum workout on it with yet more clever Lemmy lyrics, ” I’m in your life, just might be in your wife, could be behind your back, I might be on your track “. So thats the end of Motorhead’s milestone album, the cover of which depicts them all dressed up looking moody in cowboy outfits on a hill against a clear blue sky which was in fact shot at a sandstone quarry in Barnet!
The follow up to Ace Of Spades is probably one of the most underrated live albums ever even though it entered the UK album charts at no.1 on it’s release on June 27th 1981. No Sleep Till Hammersmith is as close as you can get to a live Motorhead gig in that era. Unlike the title, it was recorded in Leeds and Newcastle from 3 gigs between March 28th/30th 1981, part of a mini tour following the main Ace Up Your Sleeve tour at the end of 1980, the 1st time i saw Motorhead. An unforgettable gig, the sleeve of the live album captures it perfectly! Also on the album is an early Motorhead song, Iron Horse/Born To Lose which was recorded in 1980. I think it was taken from a gig at Stafford Bingley Hall but i’m not 100% sure. Produced again by Vic Maile, he managed to get Motorhead as raw as you can possibly get but with crystal clear clarity!
Album opener Ace Of Spades could have been the closer but it doesnt overshadow the following 10 tracks. Stay Clean’s bass solo by Lemmy could have burst eardrums alone! Metropolis is as spacey as ever but is then kicked into touch by an o.t.t version of The Hammer dedicated by Lemmy to ” Little Philbert on the drums ” . Album highlight for me, Iron Horse/Born To Lose steamrollers in next, Lemmy dedicating it ” To all the angels in here ” . A thrashy No Class is dedicated by Lemmy to ” Me and Eddie, as Phil has already had one ” . Overkill follows and sounds even faster than the original version. One of Motorhead’s roadies, GR steps up onstage next to give an almighty ” WOOOARGHH ” prior to Lemmy dedicating the next song to ” A fine body of men ” . Of course its ( We are ) The Road Crew and its duly pounded out! Eddie gets to shine with some nifty lead work on a heavy Capricorn. The album closes with a suckerpunch of Bomber and their signature tune Motorhead, a fitting end to any Motorhead gig.
Ace Of Spades was always going to be an impossible album to follow and Iron Fist, although having some great songs has some fillers on it. Matters were not helped by the production. Recordings were originally started with Vic Maile at the helm once again but Eddie Clarke, unhappy with the sessions decided to produce it himself with Will Reid Dick engineering. Worst to suffer was the drums, lacking their usual punch in the final mix. Released on April 17th 1982, it still managed to reach #6 on the UK album charts. The title track rushes in with all guns blazing and was the set opener on last year’s UK tour. Heart Of Stone, another lost love song by Lemmy as he bellows the chorus of ” Leave Me Alone, get off the phone, i’ve got a heart of stone “. I’m The Doctor sees Lemmy singing in a lower register, the 1st of 3 in a row of album fillers. Go To Hell is redeemed by Eddie’s solo and Loser’ s vocals have an Ozzy like pitch. Sex And Outrage is an uptempo return to form with some fiery leads from Eddie. America has a Thin Lizzy type feel with some sarcastic lyrics by Lemmy, ” America, cold as death, up to Canada, crystal meth “. Shut It Down is another lacklustre number sounding like a weaker version of Tear Ya Down from the Overkill album. Speedfreak is a classic, Lemmy delivering some 100mph chords and Eddie and Phil crashing in a vein similar to Love Me Like A Reptile. ( Dont need ) Religion is almost a carbon copy of Ted Nugent’s Cat Scratch Fever which they would go on to cover in 1992. Thankfully the album closer Bang To Rights is back to what Motorhead do best.
Iron Fist would be the last Motorhead album with Eddie Clarke on. Whereas he wanted to use studio time to improve on Iron Fist’s flaws, Lemmy wanted to record a cover of Stand By Your Man with Wendy O Williams from U.S band The Plasmatics so the ensuing argument resulted in Eddie’s departure 2 dates into a U.S tour. His replacement was none other than ex – Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson.
So, Another Perfect Day, the last album of the 6 and probably as controversial as Iron Fist but for different reasons. It certainly was not the production as Motorhead used Tony Platt who had previously worked with Mutt Lange on ACDC’s Highway To Hell and Back In Black albums made Motorhead sound huge on Another Perfect Day! This was the one and only Motorhead album to feature Brian Robertson and a lot of Motorhead fans, including myself found the album too commercial. To be honest, before i did this review, i had not played the album from start to finish since it was released on June 4th 1983, it reached #20 in the UK album charts and the 2 gigs i saw with Brian were lacklustre as he looked bored onstage each time. In fact, the set from support band Anvil on Motorhead’s headlining tour was more impressive but on hearing the album again after all these years, my opinion has changed for the better as Back At The Funny Farm zooms out at Iron Fist pace and the 1st guitar solo shows that Brian was the right man for the job in the studio if not onstage as he refused to play Bomber, Ace Of Spades, Overkill etc. which alienated him from the fans. 2nd track Shine shows a commercial edge but the guitar solos keep it rocking, his style on the album reminiscent of Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top. Dancing On Your Grave is in a similar vein to Shine with a fine vocal by Lemmy, showing a melodic side to his range. Lemmy’s lyrics were a vast improvement to those on Iron Fist, back to his tongue in cheek humour. Dancing On Your Grave features the classic couplet ” I know you thought you were a real operator, but i dont know why, all you had was a bankroll babe, and a glint in your eye “. Rock It follows and it certainly does with Brian adding some rock and roll piano for added effect. One Track Mind is a real slow burner, a track that has improved with age. The pace is then picked up with the album’s title track, featuring a fiery lead break from Brian. Marching Off To War, another impressive number is an example of Lemmy’s frustration of the album being overblown as it had over 20 guitar tracks on it. I Got Mine has a commercial edge and was re-introduced to the live set on the 2008/2009 and 2010 UK tours. Tales Of Glory sees Lemmy’s love of rock and roll coming out and album closer Die You Bastard speeds along with some menacing Lemmy lyrics, ” You can smell the danger, watch your step, see the friendly stranger stretch your neck “. So thats Another Perfect Day then, an underrated album which i wont be leaving nearly 30yrs until i play it again!
Even by Motorhead’s standards Brian Robertson’s drinking was excessive, leading to his dismissal in Nov.1983 after playing Another Perfect Day onstage, then playing it again and even though being corrected by Lemmy, started to play it again. When Brian was sacked he took Phil Taylor with him and they formed the band Operator. Lemmy would go on to hire Pete Gill on drums and Wurzel and Phil Campbell on guitars to record the Orgasmatron album in 1986.
Overkill album track listing :-
I Wont Pay Your Price.
I’ll Be Your Sister.
Tear Ya Down.
Limb From Limb.
Bomber album track listing :-
Dead Men Tell No Tales.
Stone Dead Forever.
All The Aces.
Ace Of Spades album track listing :-
Ace Of Spades.
Love Me Like A Reptile.
Shoot You In The Back.
Live To Win.
Fast And Loose.
We Are The Road Crew.
Bite The Bullet.
The Chase Is Better Than The Catch.
No Sleep Till Hammersmith album track listing :-
Ace Of Spades.
Iron Horse/Born To Lose.
We Are The Road Crew.
Iron Fist album track listing :-
Heart Of Stone.
I’m The Doctor.
Go To Hell.
Sex And Outrage.
Shut It Down.
Dont Let Em Grind Ya Down.
Dont Need Religion.
Bang To Rights.
Another Perfect Day album track listing :-
Back At The Funny Farm.
Dancing On Your Grave.
One Track Mind.
Another Perfect Day.
Marching Off To War.
I Got Mine.
Tales Of Glory.
Die You Bastard.
Motorhead band line up for 1st 5 albums :-
Lemmy Kilmister- Lead vocals/bass.
Eddie Clarke- Lead guitar.
Phil Taylor- Drums.
Band line up for Another Perfect Day album :-
Lemmy Kilmister- Lead vocals/bass.
Brian Robertson- Lead guitar.
Phil Taylor- Drums.
I award Overkill, Bomber, Ace Of Spades and No Sleep Till Hammersmith 10/10, Iron Fist 7/10 and Another Perfect Day 9/10.