Motörhead have always had a sense of a band that sounded like they were falling apart at the seams, but in a good way. In that respect, they are one of the bands that truly represents what rock ‘n’ roll itself IS.
Lemmy’s acid stone gargling always seemed they might just tear out anything else that crossed it’s path including the buzzsaw guitars that sat literally right behind them. But an astonishing 34 albums in, including an immense amount of live sets, they’re still standing and arguably just got better and better. If this is even close to the right word, they may have become more cohesive without ever getting comfortable.
You’d be hard pressed to ever call them melodic, but ironically their latest album Under Cover, 11-tracks stretching from 1992’s March ör Die through to 2015’s Bad Magic sessions might be as close as they came. It probably helps that it includes covers of songs by the Rolling Stones, Judas Priest, the Ramones and more, all bands that were considerably more attuned to melody than Motörhead were (having said that, that’s not difficult!).
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Classics such as opener ‘Breaking the Law’ and ‘God Save the Queen’ are welcome additions. More surprising tracks such as Ted Nugent’s ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ and the rousing Bowie classic ‘Heroes’ are a treat to the ears. However the more melodic and joined up they feel via songs crafted by other acts who were considerably more particular about song craft and less so about hard rock somehow sound amiss in this setting. The Stones’ ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ is awkward and is the kind of song that probably sounded like a good idea at the time in the studio but the results are a little bit odd.
Motörhead sound considerably more comfortable covering the likes of Sex Pistols and Priest because they came from the same ilk and played with the same levels of passion towards rock ‘n’ roll. They bring elements that, while nothing new, brings the songs to life in a way unheard of. The sweetest and bitterest part of being Motörhead is that they never sound better than when making pure joyful, hard noise.
For Motörhead fans, the album is an obvious must and it at least adds a level of intrigue to their catalogue that may have been somewhat limited to those who are not fans.
Essential for fans but the casuals should look a little further back.