With the sad news of the passing of Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister, it seems only appropriate that we look at his wonderful back catalogue of the music he made with Motorhead, the band that he will forever be best remembered for. The bands key elements were consistency and simplicity. Rock and metal are notorious for its factions and sub genres but Motorhead managed to cut through that and right from the off you were guaranteed their trademark whiskey-soaked growl over thunderous back beats, trash-rock riffing and everything turned up to maximum.
10. Motorhead (from Motorhead 1977)
This song acts as the bands birth certificate, mission statement and raison d’être all wrapped up in three chord aggression and razor wire vocals. As a proclamation it declares who the band are and what they are all about and even though like all bands they experimented with style and content along the way, this eponymous outing pretty much set up the template for what was to follow.
9. Hellraiser ( from March or Die 1992)
Written with Ozzy Osborne and Zakk Wilde for Ozzy’s No More Tears album, Motorhead re-recorded this for the film Hellraiser III and then featured it on the album March or Die. Possibly the band at their more commercial end of operations but somehow they still manage to wander into these more mainstream areas without compromising their core sound. There is a slight whiff of 80’s glam metal about it but only if that band had been locked in a basement for three months to exist only on brimstone and raiser blades. Even when treading more obvious territory they were still the baddest kids on the block.
8. (We Are) The Road Crew (from Ace of Spades 1980)
The perfect tribute to the hedonism of life on the road in a rock and roll band (Lemmy always said that Motorhead were just a rock and roll band, forget labels and genres.) Bluesy riffs pushed to their illogical conclusions, a righteous clatter of biblical proportions and something that should be in the user manual for anyone who has desires to be in a touring band.
7. Iron Fist ( from Iron Fist 1982)
The perfect example of the simple genius of Motorhead, out punching punk, out rocking rock, heavier than metal, faster than the speed of dark, it is the perfect hybrid of everything that rock and roll is about in the modern era and now one managed to capture it quite like Motorhead. Not only is it big but it is a lot cleverer than you think.
6. Built For Speed (from Orgasmatron 1986)
Hard, heavy and uncompromising, that is the Motorhead way and Built For Speed has all of those in Spades..geddit? It’s a tough, streetwise homage to speed both literal and chemical something alluded to in the bands name.
5. Born To Raise Hell (from Airheads: Soundtrack 1994)
Included here as much for the sentiment and lyrical content as much for the song itself. This was written for the Airheads soundtrack which Lemmy had a cameo role in and features rapper Ice – T and Ugly Kid Joe’s Whitfield Crane. It takes the band down a more AC/DC vibe, nothing wrong with that and as a statement of intent I’m sure it was the song that the angels were playing on the day that Lemmy came into the world.
4. Orgasmatron ( from Orgasmatron 1986)
Proving that it isn’t always all about speed, Orgasmatron is the roomiest, sludgiest of Motorhead songs and contains a surprising political message rather than the sexual one suggested by the title. Again it shows the band as innovators of new musical ideas and a wave of doom, metal bands were spawned in the wake of this claustrophobic masterpiece.
3. Overkill (from Overkill 1979)
Quintessential Motorhead from start to finish, fast, driven, grungey , dirty, dangerous and constructed out of riffs built from rusting metal and acid baths, oil spills and land mines. It is everything you want from the band and even though lesser bands such as Metallic have sort to increase their own stock by covering it, no-one can come close to this amazing sound.
2. Killed By Death (from No Remorse 1984)
This is about as dark and twisted, gnarly and vicious as it gets, it’s also a furious onslaught of primal rock and roll, but that sort of goes without saying if you have read this far. Killer riffs both from guitars and the bass-rhythm guitar style that Lemmy adopted (playing chords on a bass? whatever next?)
- Ace of Spades (from Ace of Spades 1980)
There can only be one song at the top spot, the one that became their anthem, their most popular song with the masses and an instantly recognisable musical calling card, a classic by any definition. Again it is a punk-metal hybrid, fast licks and dirty production, it is built on punch and power, shock and awe and the perfect way to round off this run dow,