Bad Magic, Motörhead’s 22nd studio album in the band’s 40th year, opens in classic Motörhead fashion with Victory Or Die. All the essential ingredients are there: the fast and furious rumbling bass, the hoary, growled vocals, the blinding guitar solo, coupled with a memorable rock ‘n’ roll tune and some world-weary seen it all, done it all rock ‘n’ roll lyrics. It’s a strong opener. For sure, Lemmy’s voice might sound a bit more aged than previously. But given his well-publicised health problems in recent years it’s something of a miracle that this album sounds as good as it does. Many of the songs wouldn’t sound at all out of place on some of the albums from late 70s/early 80s “heyday” period. Thunder & Lightning and Electricity are both stand-out tracks for me in that vein, as well as the aforementioned Victory Or Die.
It’s not all completely predicatable, though. Two tracks depart significantly from the tried and tested Motorhead formula. Firstly, we have Till The End, a slow number that has Lemmy spelling out his life philosophy with some suitably heavy but melodic backing. And we also have a cover of the Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil. “Motörhead sing the Stones” could have sounded a bit gimmicky but, surprisingly, it comes off. A wall of thunderous drum sound provides an atmospheric backdrop for Lemmy to let rip on the old Jagger/Richard classic.
Did I need another studio album by Motörhead? If truth be told this is the first new studio album of theirs I’ve bought in years. But admiration for how long they’ve kept going twinned with a realisation that this is a band almost certainly in the final stages of its long career drove me to buy it. I’ve not been disappointed.
Released: August 2015
Previous review: Motörhead at Hyde Park
An added bonus of buying tickets for Black Sabbath in Hyde Park was having the chance to see Motörhead on the bill earlier in the day. Lemmy’s recent health problems had left some question marks over the future of the band and so, five years after I’d last seen them, it was good to catch up with them again on stage.
However, while Motörhead’s “best of” CD and their iconic No Sleep ’til Hammersmith live album are frequently blasting from my stereo, I must confess to having heard not a single album Motörhead have recorded since about 1982. And although we were treated versions of Stay Clean, Ace of Spades and Overkill that owners of the No Sleep… album will be very familiar with, there were several songs in the 45-minute set with which I was unfamiliar. The thing about Motörhead, however, is consistency: in sound, in quality and in attitude. So while a particular song they are performing may not be a classic from the Overkill/ Bomber/Ace of Spades era, it manages to sound exactly like it should be.
As well as iconic front-man/bassist extraordinaire, Lemmy Kilmister, Motörhead are Phil Campbell on guitar and Mikkey Dee on drums and while neither were in the band in the early “classic” years, Campbell has been with them for thirty years and Dee for over twenty. As for Lemmy, you wouldn’t think it from his vocal delivery and certainly not from his bass-playing, but it’s during his brief between-song banter with the audience that you realise that Lemmy is now quite an old man.
Will Lemmy and Motörhead be around forever? Obviously not. Will they be performing for that much longer? If truth be told, probably not. Is it still worth seeing them? On today’s performance – most certainly yes. Catch them now while they are still a living, working unit, still delivering the classic Motörhead sound.
Over the Top
Lost Woman Blues
Going to Brazil
Killed by Death
Ace of Spades