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Motorhead enters the 1990s, and releases what was to hold up as, arguably, their best work for the whole decade. Very impressive, as Motorhead at their worst still makes Judas Priest sound like Stryper.
Rock ‘n roll attitude is embodied without a wasted note or breath. Sadness (and other powerful emotions that testosterone buries deep within most mens’ out of shape figures) is displayed in not too many and not too few songs tremendously and with little to no cheese. Punk is heard both evenly throughout the album as well as overtly on the obvious track. Thrash and speed metal elements are strong, and puts bands of those genres absolutely to shame. Doom and gloom is bookended by catchy, energetic tracks, yet nothing is out of place. The production is crisp and clean (as far as Motorhead goes I mean), but in no way soft or weak. Everything is surely unique to the band (which puts them out of the simple dimensions of their genre) and continues their legacy. If they hadn’t already done everything by the legendary Ace of Spades, this would be a major evolutionary step; a testament to Motorhead’s sheer genius.
That’s 1916 in a nutshell. If I had to explain to someone how incredibly awesome Motorhead is any more, I’d end up pontificating like a lunatic. But, it’s true! They’re amazing. This was released 18 years ago as of this time of writing, and while its style is rooted in the ‘70s and even earlier than that, it still holds up. In fact, for albums over 10 years old, this might be Motorhead’s album that holds up best.
Make My Day is probably my favourite track on here. The lyrics are great, it sounds spontaneous every time I listen to it, and the riffs... shit. Just listen to it. Remember the first time you listened to something like Holy Wars or Raining Blood? The riffs were lightning-fast and heavy but still got stuck in your head, prompting you replay it as soon as it was over. If you don’t fall into that category, I... I don’t know. As mentioned by another reviewer, this is a lost classic. I mean, every Motorhead song is good, but this is special even to them. I don’t think you can find this one on a live album, unfortunately.
Of course there’s the title track, which is of course at unlike anything they’ve ever done. I don’t care what great vocalists in metal and rock you can name, Lemmy is right up there as far as having soul in what’s sung. I can’t name many songs sadder than this. For me, the contrast between this and the rest of the album kind of enhances everything; you go through a great little journey, and it ends in tragic sadness. Oh, man.
For new Motorhead listeners this would ideally be the fifth or sixth album you have to listen to, and by the time you’re a fanatic this will probably be the one you’ll perhaps notice isn’t in as constant rotation as others, but very well may shine brightest and be saved for special occasions.
Ahh, where do I start? Do I start with the obvious "This is MotÃ¶rhead, and they will kick your ass"? Or do I go in a bit of a different, yet still extremely generic "You've heard of MotÃ¶rhead, and so they need no introduction" path to introducing this album? Decisions, decisions. While I'm deciding, I'm going to put on MotÃ¶rhead's 1916, so that all of you wonderful listeners can be floored by the hammering, electric-power-drill-esque opening riffs of "The One To Sing the Blues." Relish in its simplicity, and the way it bombards you with riff after riff, all the while with Lemmy Kilmister, the mastermind behind the whole thing, belting out his trademark gruff, down-and-dirty style rock vocals with even more energy and charisma than usual.
...is it over yet? [ ] Yes. [ ] No.
If you marked "yes," then move on to the next paragraph. If you marked "no," then go back and listen again.
After "The One to Sing the Blues" ends, you'll end up hearing the even better "I'm So Bad (Baby I Don't Care)," with its screaming, out-of-this-world solo work and a great performance from Lemmy, and you may share the reaction that I had - "holy fuck, this kicks ass!". We also have such displays of youthful bravado as the singalong arena punk anthem "No Voices in the Sky," the hard-hitting "Going to Brazil," and the obligatory MotÃ¶rhead rock n' roll anthem "Angel City," which is catchy, dirty and classy all at once. Just keep listening to these songs. I'm almost ready to start the review this time. Honestly. Just give me a few more minutes.
You've probably noticed at this point that 1916 is not just another fast MotÃ¶rhead romp, and that it has some of the most beautiful and stirring tracks that the band has produced to date. You've noticed those dissonant, dreamy chords on "Nightmare/The Dreamtime," and heard Lemmy's gritty croon. You've been floored by my personal favorite song here, the epic, pounding flare of "Love Me Forever," which carries a majestic element that I never used to associate with these guys. And after a few more heavy and fast songs, which have promptly ripped your face off by now, you will have likely reached...well, fuck, I'm not too good at pacing these things, am I? We've reached the VERY LAST SONG, and I still haven't figured out a decent enough opening statement for this review. We've reached the soft, melodic and poignant last stand of the title track, and you've probably got tears in your eyes. And if you don't, then you at least feel satisfactory at having listened to one of the most consistently awesome albums this great band has ever put out.
And as for my opening statement? Well, I'll just say that this is timeless fucking music. Metal, rock, punk, whatever you want to call it; it's timeless, enduring music that I will come back and enjoy on many a day. Long live MotÃ¶rhead.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
Ah yes, 1916 widely recognised as a damn fine Motörhead album and a terrible year for war. One could of perhaps feared that 1916 would be a bit of a sell-out, all the signs indicated that; Lemmy moves to LA and the band to a major label…..could we expect power ballads and Tawny Kitaen? Well no, although 1916 was a bit of a departure from the tried and tested Motörhead sound in places (which frankly was needed after the stagnant ‘Rock and Roll’) it still rocks like a bastard.
1916 finds Motörhead in a experimental mood but unlike previous experimentation’s (on the ‘Bomber’ album for instance) 1916’s quirks and experimentations don’t sound contrived or as some of the experiments on ‘Bomber’ did, shit. No, as it turns out ‘Nightmare/The Dreamtime’ and ‘Love Me Forever’ are quite good Motörsongs, hardly show stoppers but worthy nonetheless. But this experimentation shouldn’t come completely as a surprise as lest we forget that Motörhead have actually changed their sound over the years. Despite this experimentation, the real killers on 1916 are the balls out rockers which come complete with Lem’s wonderful ‘I’ve spent the past 20 years drinking and shagging’ swagger. ‘I’m So Bad (Baby I Don’t Care)’ is one of my absolute favourite Motörhead songs with a rather splendid riff and some of Lemmy’s best lyrics. It’s a corker, with all the swagger and attitude you could possibly ask for….listen to it and reaffirm your faith in Rock and Roll. ‘One to Sing the Blues’ is a simple yet effective song, effortlessly catchy and a nice way to start the album. ‘No Voices in The Sky’ was sent up wonderfully by Beavis and Butthead (eye for eye, tooth for tooth!) and is a melodic, lightening fast and almost poppy number, albeit still heavy. ‘Going to Brazil’ is just plain old Rock and Roll, its stayed in the set ever since although because of this songs success with have had to put up with a few second rate copies of it on subsequent albums….but I won’t hold it against the original. ‘Make My Day’ is perhaps my personal favourite and a forgotten Motörhead classic featuring some characteristically brilliantly lyrics, these being my personal favourite;
‘Dream lover, head to tail, coulda put a lot of boys in jail’, Ah Jailbait……A rhyming couplet that would of done William G Shakespeare proud…
‘R.A.M.O.N.E.S’ is unsurprisingly a tribute to that great Rock ‘N’ Roll band, The Ramones (but doesn’t all that punk shit belong on Mars?) and this too is a great lively number that sounds just like classic 70’s Ramones. Even thought some tracks stand out from the rest 1916 is a consistent piece of work and ranks among the bands best.
Performance wise, even thought this isn’t the most celebrated line up Motörhead ever had, its generally good performances all round. Philthy Animal although he wasn’t half the player he was when he came back after leaving in 1984, puts in a good performance here although he apparently had trouble with some of the timings in the studio. But you can’t really tell here as they managed to coax a good performance out of him. Guitarist’s Phil Campbell and Wurzel do a fine job here, with razor sharp riffing and good old balls out rock solos throughout. I’m quite fond of Motörhead’s twin guitar line up, I find it ultimately more interesting sonically than the current line up (although that said the current line up is still fantastic live and the guitar sound on ‘Inferno’ and ‘Kiss of Death’ is much improved from say ‘Overnight Sensation’, ‘Snakebite Love’, ‘We Are Motörhead’ etc). Lemmy of course plays some damn fine bass with his signature ‘plane taking off’ sound and sings (note sings not shouts) as well as ever. The production on ‘1916’ is greatly improved over ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ and ‘Orgasmatron’, the guitars less thin and the vocal performance better.
So as with about eight over Motörhead albums, ‘1916’ is a essential classic……and please Lemmy put ‘I’m So Bad (Baby I Don’t Care)’ back in the set list. Perhaps in keeping with tradition ‘1916’ was followed by the much weaker ‘March or Die’ (Motörhead albums go in a pattern of weak/strong, usually- except Motörhead don’t actually do bad albums, just lesser ones).
How do you review a Motorhead album? They all tear the guts out of rock and roll getting better the louder they're played
The opener "The One to Sing the Blues" owns, but "I'm So Bad" is really where the album starts, fast and loud and everything in between a Motorhead song needs to be. We don't even have to wait long for the next monsters "Going to Brazil" a live staple for a reason, "RAMONES" and "Shut You Down"...fuck I don't know what to say, two in a row.
But there's a little *gasp* variation here amid these songs. A song like "1916" doesn't exist anywhere else in the Motorhead catalogue, some organs and solemn lyrics lamenting war and death. "Nightmare/Dreamtime" is an interesting little track carried by Lemmy's vocal presence.
While the casual Motorhead fan really only need "Ace of Spades" and "Overkill" (perhaps "Hammersmith" too), the forgotten classic is "1916", a fucking beasts so what more is there to say? The band that strings a few chords together and makes a song as fresh as the most inventive prog.
This album, like Lemmy says himself, is a classic. The album itself is musically satisfying, and the songs individually could survive on their own as a single. "The One to Sing the Blues" is a most excellent way to start 1916. "I'm So Bad" is a fun, fast-paced song that plays in the background while you tip your hat to your one-night stand. "No Voices In the Sky," another fun 'n fast one, could be considered a heavy punk song, what with it's anti-wealth/religion/politics message. "Going to Brazil" definitely reflects Lemmy's love for good ol rock 'n' roll, with it's 50/60's era piano and guitar playing. "Nightmare/The Dreamtime" is a nice soothing (one of the few times "soothing" can describe a Motorhead song) and a nice one to listen to if you're having problems sleeping, as long as you can ignore Lemmy's creepy little gnome grumbles. "Love Me Forever" is a nice little ballad, though not one of Lemmy's lyrically strongest. Being a resident of SoCal, I love Lemmy's lyrics to "Angel City," but I also enjoy it because I can't listen to it without thinking of a lounge-like version of it. "Make My Day" is another classic, and i personally enjoy it's ever so catchy chorus. You better focus real hard or you'll miss "RAMONES," which took me a total of two minutes to learn it on guitar. "Shut You Down" doesn't really have anything special to it, but it's still a catchy and groove-like, so I don't skip it. Then, finally, we have the actual song "1916." This song will not only make you choke on your tears, make you want to celebrate Memorial Day early and wonder why it wasn't on the credits to Saving Private Ryan. So cheers Lemmy! This is probably the best album the four peice Motorhead ever made (unless you count Sacrifice since Wurzel left after the recording).