Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best. As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones. I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate! This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?
NOTE: I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only. There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.
This week, we are discussing, perhaps the baddest band in rock and roll, Motorhead. This English outfit came out in the seventies as a trio, although during a stretch of their history, acted as a quartet. The group’s classic line-up consisted of Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister on bass guitar and lead vocals, “Fast” Eddie Clark on guitar, and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor on drums, although guitarists Wurzel, and especially Phil Campbell had long tenures in the group. Meanwhile, drummer Mikkey Dee pounded the skins for more than 20 years.
Motorhead has been considered to be of many genres, including heavy metal, however, prided itself on being a simple rock and roll band. Lemmy began most concerts by proclaiming, “We are Motorhead and we play rock and roll.” Its classic line-up abandoned for good in the early nineties, Lemmy, Campbell, and Dee carried on until Lemmy’s death in 2015, permanently ending the band.
Speaking of Lemmy, in my opinion, there is perhaps not a cooler rock star figure that ever lived. Known for enjoying his Jack and Cokes, and seemingly always puffing on a cigarette, along with his well-known reputation of extreme hard living, it amazes me he lived until age 70. His on-stage humor, presence, and charisma only adds to his coolness. The man dressed in black and demonstrated one of the iconic stances when singing into the microphone. Long live Motorhead!
Coming off the success of the 1916 record a year earlier, Motorhead attempted to hit it commercially. Unfortunately, the effort failed, resulting in the worst album in the band’s catalog. Stand and Jack the Ripper are the highlights, however, the highlights are few and far between.
Best Song: Stand
Best Deep Cut: Stand
There’s not much to say about this one. To me, this is a very uneventful album, one that offers nothing new (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and, unfortunately, one whose songs are less than memorable.
Best Song: Dogs of War
Best Deep Cut: Dogs of War
An average offering at best, Kiss of Death, most likely not deliberate, presents a sound at times more akin to the days’ modern rock groups, rather than anything cutting edge or resembling the classic Motorhead sound of albums before. Devil I Know and Christine are the only tracks that make me turn my head.
Best Song: Christine
Best Deep Cut: Christine
Plagued by production problems, as well as having to follow the topflight live album No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith, Iron Fist was the last to feature the classic line-up. It’s a record whose many songs were written in the studio, with a rushed effort being the result. At least the title track is a classic.
Best Song: Iron Fist
Best Deep Cut: Iron Fist
What was intended to be the Motorhead’s debut album in 1976, On Parole was released three years later, to the band’s chagrin, who do not consider it to be an official release. There are some decent tracks here, including Motorhead, Lost Johnny (both on the band’s self-titled record), the title track, City Kids, and Fools.
Best Song: Fools
Best Deep Cut: Fools
A very punkish debut, the album solidified the patented Motorhead sound, with Lemmy’s throated vocals, Eddie’s chugging guitars, and Philty’s thunderous drumming. As far as debut records, you could do worse.
Best Song: Motorhead
Best Deep Cut: Motorhead
The band transitioned back to a three-piece unit following Wurzel’s departure. The result was a heavy if uneven album. Mid-nineties vocal effects were very much in play on this record that at times, sounds a bit dated. That said, Civil War, Crazy Like a Fox, and the title cut are decent tracks.
Best Song: Crazy Like a Fox
Best Deep Cut: Crazy Like a Fox
A solid collection of new tracks, Hammered fits nicely alongside 2000’s We Are Motorhead as more than respectable representations of what the band had to offer in the 21st century. Walk a Crooked Mile, Brave New World, Mine All Mine, and Red Raw draw most of my attention.
Best Song: Walk a Crooked Mile
Best Deep Cut: Walk a Crooked Mile
The band’s first output of the new century has some moments, including the thrashing See Me Burning, the grooving Slow Dance, a cover of the Sex pistols’ God Save the Queen, and a ballad titled, One More Fu*&#ng Time. At least the record proved that the band still had some gas left in the tank at this point in its career.
Best Song: Slow Dance
Best Deep Cut: Slow Dance
Sadly, this is the final Motorhead album, as Lemmy would pass away soon after its release. That said, considering the man was almost 70 years old, Bad Magic is not a bad way to go out. There are highlights here for sure. Take a listen to Victory or Die, Thunder and Lightning, Fire Storm Hotel, The Devil, and the ballad Till the End.
Best Song: The Devil
Best Deep Cut: The Devil
This is another underrated album that hits the listener in the face with tracks such as Runaround Man, Where the Eagle Screams, and Buried Alive. Meanwhile, other highlights include Teach You How to Sing the Blues and The Thousand names of God. Motorizer is a significant upgrade over 2006’s Kiss of Death.
Best Song: Runaround Man
Best Deep Cut: Runaround Man
The only release to feature Thin Lizzy’s Brian Robertson on guitar, Another Perfect Day is a decent offering with stellar production, despite Lemmy’s claim that it is the band’s, “most hated album.” Back at the Funny farm, Shine, Dancing on Your Grave, and the title cut are the highlights.
Best Song: Back at the Funny Farm
Best Deep Cut: Back at the Funny Farm
Philty Animal came back for this record, one that is often overlooked by diehard fans. The opening one-two punch of the title cut and Eat the Rich get things off to a rollicking start, while Stone Deaf in the USA, The Wolf, and Dogs are worthy of a listen.
Best Song: Eat the Rich
Best Deep Cut: Eat the Rich
A heavy album, most likely in part to the tension within the band, primarily surrounding second guitarist Wurzel, who was claimed to already have had one foot out the door during the recording process. The title track, Sex and Death, Over Your Shoulder, Dog-Face Boy, and All Gone to Hell highlight the record.
Best Song: Over Your Shoulder
Best Deep Cut: Over Your Shoulder
When you thought that Motorhead might be at risk of becoming a nostalgia act, they surprised you with a strong album. Case in point, 2004’s Inferno. Terminal Show gets things off to a thrashy start, while Killers might be the best number from the band in the entire 2000’s, while making a case for the 90’s, as well. Meanwhile, In the Name of Tragedy is a mid-tempo, catchy thrasher that sticks in your head. Suicide, In the Black, In the Year of the Wolf, and Keys to the Kingdom are other key highlights to focus on. The record closes with the acoustic blues track, Whorehouse Blues.
Best Song: Killers
Best Deep Cut: Killers
Motorhead appeals to me mainly because of its versatility. They can tap into a plethora of genres of rock, including the high-octane tempos of thrash and heavy metal, hard driving straight up rock, and heavy tunes mixed with a blues influence. When they mix things up from song to song on an album, I’m hooked. Aftershock does this for me. Although the filler is limited, I do tend to think 14 songs is a bit too much. However, I am nitpicking here.
Best Song: Heartbreaker
Best Deep Cut: Heartbreaker
A more than formidable comeback from the career low March or Die a year earlier, Bastards features a strong first half, including On Your Feet or Knees, Burner, I Am the Sword, and Born to Raise Hell. Meanwhile, the album’s biggest surprise is the haunting Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me, a song that tackles child molestation, sung beautifully and only in a way that Lemmy could.
Best Song: Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me
Best Deep Cut: Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me
A late career masterpiece, The World is Yours was dedicated to the late Ronnie James Dio, who passed away earlier in the year. There is no shortage of strong tracks here, with many being in the vein of the hard driving, mid-tempo, thrash metal that greatly appeals to yours truly. The highlights a plenty, including, but certainly not limited to, Born to Lose, I Know How to Die, Get Back in Line, Devils in My Head, and Outlaw.
Best Song: Get Back in Line
Best Deep Cut: Get Back in Line
In the precarious position of being sandwiched between classic releases Overkill and Ace of Spades, Bomber sometimes gets a bad rap. It’s unfortunate because there are some great tracks on this record. Dead Men Tell No Tales, Lawman, Stone Dead Forever, All the Aces, and the title track are the highlights. Plus, the lighting rig from the concert tour was brilliant!
Best Song: Bomber
Best Deep Cut: Bomber
This is an album that displays a wide variety of Motorhead’s musical influence. Singles The One to Sing the Blues, I’m So Bad (Baby I Don’t Care, and No Voices in the Sky triumphantly lead off the record, dripped in hard rock and heavy metal. Going to Brazil and Angel City bring a fifties honky tonk mix to the table, while R.A.M.O.N.E.S. appeals to the punks. Meanwhile, the band brings something new in the form of a ballad with Love Me Forever. Perhaps the biggest shock is a vulnerable Lemmy crooning his ode to fallen soldiers in World War One with the album-ending title cut. The versatility works beautifully. This is a go-to Motorhead album for me.
Best Song: Going to Brazil
Best Deep Cut: Going to Brazil
An outstanding album in which all nine tracks are at least solid, with some being brilliant. Deaf Forever is one of my favorite Motorhead songs of all time, while Nothing Up My Sleeve, Ain’t My Crime, Mean Machine, Doctor Rock, and the title cut all more than worthy of your attention.
Best Song: Deaf Forever
Best Deep Cut: Deaf Forever
Now we are entering revered territory. The album features so many outstanding tracks, including the anthemic title cut, as well as Live to Win, Fast and Loose, (We Are) The Road Crew, Jailbait, and the amazing The Chase is Better Than the Catch. You could easily make the argument that this record belongs in the top spot, however, that only speaks to the strength of the number one album in the band’s catalog.
Best Song: Ace of Spades
Best Deep Cut: The Chase is Better Than the Catch
A vast improvement over its debut, Motorhead hit it out of the park with its second release. My go-to Motorhead record that has no weak moments. All-time classics such as the title cut, Stay Clean, No Class, and Damage Case highlight the record. Meanwhile, Overkill is strengthened by spectacular deep tracks (I Won’t) Pay Your Price, I’ll Be Your Sister, Capricorn, and Metropolis.
Best Song: Stay Clean
Best Deep Cut: Metropolis