A friend recently said something about Motörhead which I think very accurately describes what the band is to most people who aren’t necessarily devout fans: “I never really got into them but I never disliked what I heard.”
Founded in the mid ’70s by former Jimi Hendrix roadie and ex-Hawkwind bassist / vocalist, Lemmy Kilmister (how’s that for not one but two unbeatable claims to fame), Motörhead are easily one of the most influential bands of all time in hard rock and heavy metal. Thousands of bands proudly claim to have been directly influenced by them; they’re credited with ‘re-igniting’ the NWOBHM genre at a time when punk seemed like an unstoppable force; they’ve literally outlived countless more bands; the Joe Petagno-drawn War-Pig Motörhead logo with its heavy metal umlaut rates right up there with Iron Maiden’s Eddie in the world of metal mascots go; they’re said to have been indirectly responsible for creating speed-metal… That, and 67-year-old Lemmy continues to push out Motörhead albums, the most recent one being album number 20.
Seriously, what’s not to like about Motörhead?
Actually until very recently I found myself in the “never really got into them but I never disliked what I heard” brigade. But that seems to be changing.
I’ve mentioned before how I find it so much harder these days to discover new music that really gets me excited. Depending on who you ask there’s either a biological reason called “getting old” for why you hate all this damn young person’s music, or this phenomenon doesn’t really occur because all new music actually does suck and was always better back then. Whichever way you feel about it, in my case it goes some way to explain why over the last few years I’ve gotten my hands on a whole heap of classics, particularly ’80s heavy metal albums. Among them, is a haul of Motörhead albums.
Kind of not the first Motörhead album.
My first proper foray into Motörhead (other than a muffled cassette tape dub of Rock 'n' Rollthat I came across when I was 12) didn’t quite blow me away. As I said, I was looking into more classic heavy metal albums, and I decided to pick up a Motörhead album at random from my local chain store. I ended up with a copy of On Parole — to the best of my understanding a proto-Motörhead album that was initially meant to be the band’s debut, but which their record label sat on for a couple of years. As far as I can tell, several tracks then made it onto the band’s debut, Motörhead: Motörhead.
As a stand-alone, On Parole has a rocking ’70s groove with a cool bluesy feel and some sharp lyrics (like the witty Vibrator and the visceral anti-record label Fools). However, it still didn’t quite feel like it had that “I never disliked what I heard” vibe. Perhaps because it was just a little bit too ’70s? Or maybe there wasn’t enough of the unmistakable ‘Lemmy from Motörhead’ gravelly voice?
So I decided to give it another shot and that’s when I stumbled upon this six-album set of the band’s next six albums. The Motörhead:Classic Album Selection is a nice budget-pack that, while housed in nice cardboard sleeves, does not come with any separate liner notes. It starts with the second album in the Motörhead discography, Overkill from 1980, and progresses through Bomber, Ace Of Spades, Iron Fist, Another Perfect Day and, finally, the No Sleep ’Till Hammersmith live album.
That’s when I realised I’d somehow managed to acquire all these albums in chronological order (save for the first album, which as I’ve mentioned I kind of already half-owned). Surely… this had to mean something? Motörhead had been absent in my life for so long and here was some kind of sign that I should start from the beginning. Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to buy more music.
Motörhead albums galore.
To date I’ve happily managed to get through one full daily listen of Overkill and I’ve just commenced on Overkill. Everything is a blend of dirty 12-bar blues and fast, in your face, loud hard rock; and every song is about birds, drinking, and people getting their come-uppance. From there it’ll finally be onto Ace Of Spades, an album which I hate to say I’ve never heard before, save for the title track.
As I said, I’m busily digging (up) the classics.
The Motörhead: Classic Album Selection box would make for a superb starting point for the aspiring Motörhead listener. It’s classic hard rock and heavy metal from half a dozen albums that contain what are widely regarded as some of the best Motörhead songs ever written. It contains everything I could have possibly wished for and it has that unmistakeable Motörhead vibe.
Contains some of the best best Motörhead songs ever.
While we’re at it, here’s a video of Ace Of Spades, performed by Compressorhead: the “world’s heaviest metal band”. That’s a description to be taken literally by the way. After all, look at them…
Shouldn’t it be Compressörhead?
As I said, what’s not to like about Motörhead?