Friday, August 23, 2019

Just One Song - Motorhead

Ace of Spades
Ace of Spades (1980)

As I write these features, I've tried to steer away from choosing the most obvious songs. What would be the point? But in the case of Motorhead, the most obvious choice is really the only choice.

They were rare birds - those Motorhead guys. Commencing operations in 1975, still the early days for both punk and heavy metal, they somehow managed to bridge the gulf between these two worlds, a gulf that was considerably larger then than it is now.

The band hung on for forty more years (apparently speed doesn't always kill) until Lemmy Kilmister, captain of the ship and the only constant member, finally drew the dead man's hand. They cranked (pun intended) out a boatload of albums in that time, many of them very fine efforts. But it's the early ones, starring the classic lineup of Lemmy, Fast Eddie Clarke and Phil Taylor that are the keepers. Though they mixed elements of punk and metal, especially early on, Motorhead seemed mostly to fall into the latter camp. Though Lemmy insisted that they were neither of the above and were just a humble rock and roll band.

I'm sure I'm not alone in picking Ace of Spades, their fourth album, as the best of the bunch. I'd put it up there with the best metal albums ever. It's hard to point to any stinkers in this array of 12 tracks, with highlights that include rippers like Love Me Like a Reptile, Shoot You in the Back, Fast and Loose
and (We Are) The Road Crew. Then there's Ace of Spades, one of the great metal songs of all time (sorry, Lemmy's ghost - that's metal).

There are plenty of songs that can grab your attention with a killer opening and Ace of Spades does that in...well...spades. Lemmy's furious bass barrage kicks off the proceedings, then here come the guitar and drums and we're off to the races. Unlike some of those songs that latch onto you at the start and then release, Ace of Spades doesn't let up, hammering home its point in less than three minutes and then getting the hell out of Dodge. Overkill, from the album of the same name, was a close runner-up to Ace of Spades, but it really doesn't get any better than this.

Of course, a solo piano cover version was called for. And they said it couldn't be done.

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