Lemmy – Immortalizer (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

There are not many people who truly deserve the accolade “icon,” of whom when people say that “we shall not see their like again,” it is truly justified. Ian Fraser Kilmister, known to the world as Lemmy, was certainly one of those people. After leaving Hawkwind in the early ’70s, on less than amicable terms, he launched his own band Motörhead, whose ship of hard rock, punk and incendiary blues-metal, he captained for the rest of his career.

There have been imitators but none have ever come close to capturing the force of nature and the unique sonic storm that the band managed to conjure. All you can really do is stand on the periphery in awe and pay tribute to the man and his music. And that is exactly what Immortalizer do on this titular track.

Getting a tribute right is a tricky business. The art is to stop short of plagiarism but make music which speaks to the same urges, Immortalizer walks that line with sure-footed precision. Lemmy is a song which references the man’s own lyrics and licks but does so in a way which pays homage rather than merely riding its coat-tails.

As the video neatly demonstrates, Immortaliser is just one man, providing drums, bass, guitars and vocals, no mean feat, and he gets the delivery just right. Many people would attempt to throw too much at such a song, forgetting that Motörhead were not really a technical band. Their power was built on the elements of rock and roll, groove, swing and simple structures, and of course the legendary volume and unearthly power that they wielded through those instruments. 

Again, this song gets it just right. It is low-slung, foot on the monitor, four to the floor, heads down, no-nonsense, unadorned rock and roll. There is room for the occasional flashy riff and bass run but no more than the man himself would have deemed as being tasteful and staying on the right side of pomp and pose. The result is a song which sits somewhere between Motörhead’s rock squall and the grunt and grind of later era Thin Lizzy…not a bad place to be.

Five years gone, times does indeed fly. And if it is true that we won’t see his like again, and I’m sure that is true, then at least we have songs such as this. Songs which not only stand up in their own right as straight down the line, no-nonsense rock and roll, albeit turned up to eleven, as the famous quote goes, but which also remind us of the brilliance of one of rock’s undisputed deities.

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