Motorhead – Ace Of Spades (1980): Review

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Produced by Vic Maile
Label – Bronze

From an era where popular music was tribal in its influence to young fans, Motorhead were one of the very rare acts that managed to bridge the huge chasm between heavy metal and punk. The trio never professed to anything ground breaking, but what they did have in spades was raw power, accelerated energy and an unrepentant nerve to deliver, whatever the fall out. Formed in 1975 by former Hawkwind bass player Lemmy (Ian Kilmister), they honed their sound on three previous long players ( “Motorhead”,”Overkill” and “Bombers”), and having slavishly toured as support to more ponderous musical outfits such as Greenslade and Blue Oyster Cult burst through this album in a six week recording session that laid the foundation for speed and thrash metal. Dr Feelgood producer Vic Maile captures the band’s primal essence perfectly, emphasizing Phil (Animal) Taylor’s pummeling rhythms, and (Fast) Eddie Clarke’s riffs. Lemmy’s grizzled vocal spews out stories of their daily routine and one can easily figure that the subject matter is far from fantasy, with hard living, sex, drink, drugs and rock n’ roll convincingly portrayed with no apology to social conventions. The singer’s experience as a roadie with Jimi Hendrix is accurately recalled in “(We Are) The Road Crew”, carnal debauchery burns on “Love Me Like A Reptile”, “Jailbait” and “The Chase Is Better Than The Catch”.

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But it’s the title track that will always be the strength and to some extent it impacts negatively on some other fine tracks. It towers above all around it; nothing can penetrate either its malevolent attitude to clean living or its powerhouse instrumental delivery. It’s sentiment is a “My Generation” for the new decade, but significantly, whilst Pete Townshend was aware of the older naysayers decrying the devolution of morality amongst the youth, Lemmy is completely oblivious to it. It is both his anthem and eulogy and as his passing in 2016 was announced, “Ace Of Spades” will fittingly be the song associated to his life.

Growling, mind garotting metal excess, this collection is the most raging, pounding, overdriven experience you’re ever likely to hear. An influential album and a fine testimonial to a band that built their reputation on bloody, glorious instinct.

8/10

Track Rating

1 – Ace Of Spades (10)
2 – Love Me Like A Reptile (9)
3 – Shoot You In The Back (8)
4 – Live To Win (8)
5 – Fast And Loose (7)
6 – (We Are) The Roadcrew (8)
7 – Fire Fire (8)
8 – Jailbait (8)
9 – Dance (7)
10 – Bite The Bullet (8)
11 – The Chase Is Better Than The Catch (8)
12 – The Hammer (8)

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5 responses to “Motorhead – Ace Of Spades (1980): Review

  1. As fine and complete a hard rock record as was ever made. When you consider how much quality metal spewed forth in the late 70’s and early 80’s this is still a gem of an LP.

    In much the same way that Fawlty Towers episodes tire me out, the sheer exhaustion of this album is testament to the sensual overload of skyscraper guitars, 36volt sds max bass and richter quaking drummage combined to earthquake the listener into rubble.

    This LP could not be made today. It sounds like it was recorded by being etched into granite and dropped onto tape from squadrons of Lancasters.

    A great great record Hackskeptic and certainly deserving of eternal tribute on a virtual Easter Island of album sleeves that should now exist.

    This goes to eleven….

    • I had a feeling this record was right up your strasse Kenny. Just think, if only Vardis had managed to write one song as good as many of the tracks on this album, their story would have been so different.

      • Vardis fall sadly into that painful “where are they now” category as suffered by Tap in ’82.

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