Motörhead - Ace Of Spades - Review
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critics' view

Just as likely to be feted by fans of heavy-metal as those of the Sex Pistols, Motorhead straddled these apparently mutually exclusive worlds with a powerful blend of no-nonsense rock and an accelerated punk-like energy. Formed in 1975 after bassist and lead singer after Lemmy was unceremoniously slung out of Hawkwind, Motorhead may have been out of step as support act to the likes of the proggy mainstream such as Greenslade and Blue Oyster Cult, but their brand of high-speed hyper-metal was spookily ahead of the curve when it came to the imminent rise of punk, and the development of subsequent off-shoots such as speed metal.

Doing respectable business with albums such as Overkill and Bomber, it was Ace Of Spades that really broke them, getting to No.4 in the album charts when released in 1980. The furious pace that was by now their trademark sound was repeated once again but this time expertly captured at ear-splitting volume in the studio by producer Vic Maile. Remarkably fresh after 25 years, this is arguably the ultimate sex, drugs and rock n’ roll album ever recorded.

When Lemmy sings the lyrics to “(We Are) The Road Crew” it’s the sound of a grizzled veteran who has been there, done that and gone back for second helpings. Having spent most of his life on the road and being either on stage or behind it (once upon a time he roadied for Jimi Hendrix no less), it’s a kind of “My Way” testimonial with a twinkle in his eye.

More worryingly perhaps, the same could well apply to “Jailbait.” Sounding not unlike Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” on steroids, as the title less than subtly implies, it’s an after-show encounter of the dodgy debauchery kind.

If ever a piece of music was a manifesto for the mad, bad and dangerous to know party then the title track is it. Unrepentant and full of hell, there’s not one note out of place during its meteoric 2 minutes and 49 seconds; a defining point that’ll be remembered long after Lemmy and co. have popped their Cuban heels.

Sid Smith
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The BBC's album reviews ended in 2013, although the pages are archived for retrospective reading.
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