I remember debating the issue of “How badass is Lemmy Kilmister?” with an old friend the other day. While I kept harping like a 14 year old about how the guy keeps taking jibes at others and with that he clearly exploits his status as a venerable member of the Heavy Metal community, the friend went ahead to point out that the band had been ruling the roosts with a discography that spans over 35 years and is the reason behind why most of the current crop of artists do what they do, and also adroitly pointed out that it was my silly word against all the testimonials about the band from the Industrial greats themselves. Skating past the post-lost-debate sulkiness I did something I should have done an hour back: Put my thinking cap back on. Indeed, what did I know about Motorhead? Scoff as much as people may I’d never deny that my entry to the realm of Heavy Music was with rock bands the likes of The Rasmus and Red Hot Chilli Peppers and then Limp Bizkit and Marilyn Manson and Rammstein; I had little to no knowledge about the people who started it all. How much did I know about Motorhead apart from the fact that I learned 10 years back that these were the guys who wrote that song they play when Triple H entered the arena. A little number-crunching and polite “How do you do’s” later I had coaxed my friend to lend me his precious (and ancient) copy of the self-titled debut from Motorhead, which he had acquired from the back alley flea market.
The self-titled record was not the debut record from the band in all honesty. It was a mix and match of tracks from their actual debut album “On Parole”, which was stalled from being released by their label, and a couple of tracks they had come up with later, including a cover of “Train Kept A-Rollin”. At the risk of drowning in leather clad vanity, I confess, this album momentarily (putting it modestly) whisked me off to the corner of a stinking beer pub where dust coated the counters and the curious scent of alcohol, sweat, diesel oil and debauchery did the rounds. The three chord driven riffs and the two note variation vocals would then go onto highlight the dirty yellow light bulbs and people would sit with mugs in hand and without a care in the world while the band belted one anthem after another. Damn, my first brisk with the Demon Rum sounds so tame now. Yep, tracks like “The Iron Horse” and “Keep Us On The Road” will do that to you.
It would be tantamount to being a puritanist fart if I try pointing my finger at the production quality. Not to belittle the band, but they could care less about how the production sounded. They were the kind of people most of our parents would jump a mile to avoid, they played an aggressive rendition of Punk, which thinned the borderline between Blues and Metal, and their no-frills approach to the music they wrote and played had no room for crispy clean production, and other such nitty gritty details. This might not be the most Metal record that’ll give you the need to listen to every living day, this is far from the record that will help you improve on your songwriting; this can be just one of those records that you listen to time to time and then keep aside for a while till you feel the need to remind yourself why you picked up an instrument. To hell with complex songwriting, sometimes good ol’ loudness is what we need.
When the first spin was over with, nothing much was achieved, except for a desire to step on shoes, no matter who they belonged to, and an overwhelming desire to get in people’s faces. Not all of it saturated at once, or stayed permanently but the feeling of liberation that had something to do with an established Rocker belting out one song after another while rocking out on a Bass plugged into a Marshall guitar amp, while his equally deranged (more or less for the same reasons I’m guessing) band mates on guitar and behind the drums did the same. And to think this isn’t even their strongest record.
There’s nothing new I can cram in this article, which has not already been said about Motorhead. With a record in hand that was probably released when my Dad got into his first High School fight, it’s hard to judge and harder to critique at. None of these artists gave two hoots about what anyone thought about them, what anybody labelled them as or what one preposterous kid had to nitpick about them, 35 years after their inception. With a record like “Motorhead” on the playlist all you need is a six pack on the table and the company of good old friends (and more) and the desire to close your eyes and fly back to idle reveries when the solo from “The Watcher” washes over you.