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This album is fucking awesome. If there is any album that would explain Motörhead's surprisingly large popularity, it would be "Ace of Spades". Before this, Motörhead was just playing good music and having fun, but it was with this album where people realized that they were fucking serious. For some people, this is probably their first Motörhead record (I know it was mine), it's definitely their most successful, it has a Classic Albums documentary about it, it is featured in the book "The 1001 Albums You Must Listen to Before You Die", and Motörhead still play songs from this album in live shows to this day. It's simple enough to be successful, but heavy enough to have scared the living shit out of music listeners at the time and influence many bands like Sodom, Slayer and Venom.
The best way I can describe the feel and flow of this album is this way: You're driving your car down the highway, and it just so happens that not a single car cuts you off, there's not a single red light in sight, and the speed limit is fucking 100. So you just race down the highway not giving a fuck and just enjoying life at it's fullest. Unfortunately that will probably only happen in wet-dream-ville so it's best not to play this while driving, because otherwise your obituary will end up in the paper the next day. But I digress.
The production/mixing on this album is as fucking relentless as the music itself. The bass booms like an engine, the guitar rips through the sound like lion claws and the drums pound bruises into your stomach. Not to mention the (always) awesome vocal performance by Lemmy (who always knows how to sing with an equal amount of aggression as well as carrying a tune at the same time, funny that I can't say the same for a lot of modern vocalists). Either way, this album sounds like a motorcycle engine except that that certain engine also contains some hard-rockin' songs that never get old. Best engine ever!
Now, let's talk about the songwriting, mostly this album dashes through at a fast pace with the exception of the mid-paced rocker "The Chase is Better Than the Catch". The riff-work on "Ace of Spades" is almost formulaic in a way (which doesn't bring the album down in the slightest), yet it never stops my head from banging the shit out of itself. The fastest songs on here are "Ace of Spades", "Fire, Fire", "Dance", "Bite the Bullet" and "The Hammer". All follow the same formula but are still awesome and bucket loads of fun. "Love Me Like a Reptile", "Shoot You in the Back", "Fast and Loose", "Live to Win", "(We are) The Road Crew" and "Jailbait" take it a little slower but the effect is still loud and strong (and bucket-loads of fun). Each song on here plays loud and proud and it keeps the pace of the album going until it stops and gets the listener excited for seeing Motörhead on tour (which I have yet to do).
A lot of people criticize this album for being too repetitive or for not being varied enough, understandable, but I don't see how that is a bad thing. Motörhead is one of my favorite bands of all time and I wouldn't change their sound for the life of me. I say, if your good at what you do, keep doing it. Of course, I have nothing against bands/artists wanting to try new things and exploring shit, but sometimes those people can get a little pretentious with all the experimental shit that they put out. Besides, Motörhead loves what they do and they didn't even let record companies change their sound, so that alone is enough of a reason why I love their music so much. All I can say is, if you have passion, it doesn't matter if your varied or not. If you're a Motörhead fan and still don't own this record (although, I don't think that's even possible) or if your trying to get into Motörhead, buy this album, it will surely get you into them, I know for sure that this album got me into them. It's not perfect, but it's damn close.
Whenever anyone needs a reminder that the words primitive and bad are not synonymous terms when describing a metal band, Motorhead’s well known 1980 lawn killer of an album “Ace Of Spades” is the place to send them. It’s the sort of album that hearkens back to those days where the lines between hard rock, punk and metal were pretty well blurred, and there was a place for bands to play primitive pentatonic riffs and Chuck Berry inspired guitar solos yet do it in such away that rekindles the shock factor of both after about 25 years after they were introduced to a wider audience. It represents a band that is quite apt at testing the manhood of its listeners, while still keeping that non-conformist 70s punk element at the fore.
While definitely not being the most consonant sounding band, this is the sort of sharp edged, cigarette steeped goodness that can be sung along to. Lemmy’s vocals are about as gritty and gravely as they come, yet there is still a discernable melody in his minimal range. But the real winner here is the wicked combination of chunky, distorted bass work with crunchy rock guitar riffs that create an aggressive feel that is nasty enough for hardcore, yet precise enough to be mistaken for the emerging NWOBHM. A few of the band’s signature live songs can be found on here, along with a tiny side order of older rock influenced numbers that could be qualified as filler, yet are still solid and fun.
Perhaps the biggest flaw at play here, which is typical to most Motorhead albums, is generally a lack of variety. The songs tend to be either up tempo, or really up tempo, and consisting in a very simple yet highly energetic mixture of simplistic 70s riffs played a little too fast and dirty, and drums that get a little too happy on the double bass at times. The shorter and faster things tend to be, the better, as is the case with most 70s punk albums. Most are familiar with the wickedly gritty title song that kicks things off, though perhaps not so much with the equally energetic yet somewhat cleaner cut closer “The Hammer”, but both are classic examples of the solid speedy goodness Lemmy and company have been delivering since “Overkill”. Other quintessential highlights include the flashy rocker “Fire, Fire” and the sloppy little ditty “Bite The Bullet”.
Pretty much everyone can have a genuine appreciation for this band, although being able to fully appreciate an entire album of their’s is a different matter as they have a fair share of songs in their repertoire that rarely see the stage, and “Ace Of Spades” isn’t really an exception to the rule. There’s still a lot of old school rock present in the mix here, and most people who go for heavy metal might not go for the pre-NWOBHM tendencies at work here, anymore than they might some of the lesser known early Judas Priest and Black Sabbath songs. But this is the sort of album that can be appreciated by most fans of straight up heavy metal at high tempos, and should definitely be looked into.
Lemmy and the band plays for my knowledge hard rock mainly. The mainstream sound of the first Motörhead releases play for nothing particular concept. The latter stuff focuses more of the phantom illusions that psycho minds and talented artists create. The No More Tears with Ozzman is another example of the multitalent and complex Mr. Lemmy. The Motörhead stuff is about personal demons, women and drugs. When one of those matters are haunting you, you just need this album.
Ace of spades is a fast scyther where the ego of Mr. Kilmister is blown as big as the Jupiter itself. The power melodies are based on pure rock and personal voice by Kilmister. The shifty waves of the opener and Talking Head really fires up the listener. And they better watch out, because they are in for a rough ride. The propagandic Dancing On Your Grave is another personal favourite. Overkill leaps for something weird, but is cut tad too short to provoce any brain orgasms. Talkin Head heads for destruction, and on a mental note it kinda delivers actually good (pure mad) guitar solo.
The grumbling of Lemmy is like a gorilla with a microphone. Now, I mean that the album has natural power in it. Although I prefer for the later stuff like Inferno this is where Mr. Lemmy started his musical career which prefers rock and dismisses pop hooks. The sound and songs snatch kinda nicely to your ears and thats what you need if you want to become totally deaf before the age of 30. Listening this kind of music is best in the sunny mornings and totally depressing in the rainy nights. Prefer this, I do. You know this is a fun little drive, althought I had the gut instinct telling me that it just wasn't that good if you know what I mean.
“Ace of Spades” is not your usual approach to creating heavy metal music. What Lemmy does here is crank up a bunch of modestly composed Little Richard songs to full gear. He gives them distorted guitars, wailing solos, gruff vocals, and a biker attitude that couple with some of the most sexually promiscuous and boozing lyrics you can imagine.
When the title track opens the album, you are immediately sucked into the galloping speed metal riffs. This song is dirty but catchy, and it’s no wonder that it’s remembered today as a rock classic. Motorhead got lucky with the breakthrough success of this song, and it’s no surprise that the others stayed only within the grasp of real metalheads (and punks). Songs like “Jailbait” are sleazy and in bad taste, but Motorhead are intended to be an advanced case of halitosis; that’s their purpose. They are the filthy scoundrels of hard rock and roll, and downright proud of it.
The faults of this album are rather apparent, though. There is little variety; there are no ballads, no instrumentals, or any sort of variation in songwriting. They are verse-chorus numbers that are not as aggressive as they could be. It seems that bands like Venom needed to kick Motorhead up a notch, because Lemmy and the guys are at their best during the real speed metallers like “The Hammer.” If every song were like this, or even like “We are the Road Crew,” this album would be a masterpiece. Unfortunately, while punkish speed metal may be my favorite style of music, it’s one of the most difficult to compose in because things get monotonous fast. There are very few classic full-lengths to be found in this niche style, and Ace of Spades isn’t quite a classic either. Well, the song is, just not the album.
If you don’t know what Motorhead sound like, get out from under your rock and listen to Ace of Spades. Or, if you’re curious about what Lemmy’s voice sounds like, you can just record a running chainsaw and put it down in a pitch shifter. Seriously though, he has quite the gravely voice and it comes to him all too naturally.
My conclusion is that this is a bit too light for my tastes in speed metal, but when it’s at its speediest it is indeed something to bang your head for.
You don't have to be ground-breaking, sophisticated, or even sober to record a classic heavy metal album. All you need to do is rock really fucking hard and have the balls to back it up. Such is the case with Motorhead, one of the grimiest, energetic, most badass bands to ever kick some ass and play some tunes. Ace of Spades isn't necessarily the best thing they've ever cranked out, but it's certainly their most well known and easily one of their most memorable.
This is not an album you'll have to relisten to several times to catch all the subtleties. This is as straightforward and accessible as they come. Whether Motorhead is ripping through some intense speed metal ("Ace of Spades," "The Hammer") or laying down a dose of laid-back, bluesy rock and roll ("Fast and Loose," "The Chase is Better Than the Catch"), Lemmy and the boys keep it heavy and they keep it catchy. Great riffing, tight rhythm section, lots of lead, and lyrics you can't help but sing-along to. The ever rough and gruff Lemmy Kilmister delivers some great lines on this one, hitting up all the band's usually subject matter. Songs about drinking, songs about gambling, songs about fornication, songs about writing songs about said topics, it's all here, delivered with a great sense of songwriting and tons of attitude. Motorhead fans pretty much need to own this one.
If there's one thing that holds this release back, it's that it suffers from the same problem as most of Motorhead's discography, that being repetitiveness. About half-way into this album, you'll start to wonder if you're hearing the same riffs, leads, and vocal melodies from earlier songs. This isn't exactly the case, but there isn't a lot of variety on here (an effect that's furthered by the inclusion of the bonus tracks). Ace of Spades is just straightforward, ballbusting heavy metal. The repetitive nature of their albums does hinder some of their later releases, but here it's still quite fresh and easy to listen to whether you're new to the band or if you own all their albums. Recommended if you want to have a good time.
Motorhead basically invented thrash metal, and, this record, which originally came out in 1980, played a large part in that. This rerelease, which comes with 3 bonus tracks, clocks in at just over 46 minutes, which, for 15 tracks, averages out to a little over 3 minutes per track.
While the title track is probably Motorhead's most well known song, it actually doesn't stand out too much here, as all of these songs are equally good really. Of course, they aren't radically different, either, but that's not really a bad thing.
In fact, the standout track for me on this one was bonus track Please Don't Touch, a Johnny Kidd and the Pirates cover done in collaboration with then labelmates Girlschool. While I'm not too familiar with the original, which came out in 1959, after all, the cover version is excellent, and perhaps the catchiest song on the whole album. Makes the CD version worth buying even if you own it on vinyl, unless, of course, you own the St. Valentine's Day Massacre EP as well...
The one thing that strikes me about this record is the amount of energy the music has. You really get the impression that the band is giving it all they got, and the energy given off is infectious. Ace Of Spades wouldn't be a good album to put you asleep, although it would provide an adequate soundtrack for a high speed car chase!
The production on this record is far from pristine, although all the instruments can be quite clearly heard, providing that you can tell Lemmy's bass from a guitar, which, with his playing style, isn't always too easy. These guys might not be virtuosos, but they're perhaps the greatest three piece band ever (at least until they became a four piece, anyways). Motorhead has done for thrash what Black Sabbath did for stoner rock/doom metal, and this is essential listening for all speed metal heads.
What we have here is the 6th offering from Motörhead. Following the extreme success of two milestones of the Motörsound (Overkill, Bomber) we are kicked in the face with Ace Of Spades, full of adrenaline album that delivers the goods exactly to what the fans wanted after the previous bombs.
Really we'll have to say that ALL motörmusic is the same, if we are going to prejudge the album by further stablishing and popularizing too (since it's THE best selling Motörhead album) then we are missing exactly what this album is.
This album sank the knife deeper into our souls of what Motörhead is supposed to be and to sound like.
This is why I say the album is heavily underated, the songs in here are ripping drunkfests for Motörbangers. Every single one. Maybe you'll find a filler or two, I give you that for Fire, Fire and Dance. But what band has not done that?
I'll have to disect this album into a song-by-song description so I can proove my point that you can't mistake Ace Of Spades with Fast And Loose or The Chase is Better Than The Catch...
Ace Of Spades - This is the wild as fuck intro to a great album, particulary, the title track. We are given an bass line by Lemmy "God" Kilmister that lasts aproximately 6 seconds before Fast Eddie kicks us in our nuts with the unmistakable riff, flowing nicely from drunk bass lines to wild riffs, this song doesn't let us breath for a second. Of course who can forget the wild, out of this world solo? This is a straight forward, no wankery solo to keep the pace of the song. And it sure works.
Love Me Like A Reptile - Keeping the line with the "don't let us breathe please" Motörhead philosophy, we are quickly introduced to Love Me Like A Reptile. Another fast paced, straight forward song with funny lyrics. This song is more based on the guitars and haves more of a Rock (or old school Metal if you will) feeling to it, unlike the previous song which's riff was (to me) a bit influenced by a Bluesy feel , especialy in the last notes of the main riff.
Anyway, concerning the album in general, we can feel a variation of guitar distortions and the bass being mudder or cleaner in each song. In what respects to the present song (LMLaR), the bass works more in the back, though we have to acnlowledge that this is a band that normaly concentrates into writtiing music for the stand out of the Bass guitar.
Shoot You In The Back - The guitar riffing beggining to this song is what the bass line beggining is to Ace Of Spades. Fast Eddy Clark lays an impecable main riff line so the song can explode into what it will be the whole performance of the band. It also lasts about 6 seconds to do that.
Lemmy sings as always, I don't need to mention that.
The riffing combined with the choruses, unlike the previous songs, features a groovieness feel that makes it particulary catchy, with a clean guitar sound.
Live To Win - This song again makes it's way with a bass intro.. similar formula that utilized Ace Of Spades? Yes. The same? No... This song is kind of a mixture in between Ace Of Spades for the speed and the ominous presence of the bass, and Shoot You In The Back, for the clean guitars, which delivers a cleaner solo, equaly wild but less drunkier than AoS, and the catchy choruses. This song actualy gives us 2 solos to bang at, the second being my favourite since it's longer and gives me a feeling that it's more complete than the previous one, but not diminishing the other in any sense.
Fast And Loose - Live to Win fades to present us with the bluesy directed riff of Fast And Loose. This song, without ever moving away from the classic Motörhead sound, vibes as a Blues influentied song as a whole, not only the guitar. But it is easier to note this on the guitar than on the other instruments.
This song is as catchy as the previous, and the bass is again working behind the guitar. (If you don't remember that was featured in Love Me Like A Reptile but not in the other two).
(We Are) The Road Crew - This is a tribute song to the Motörhead Road Crew though the lyrics are not particulary invasive to the particular lives of the actual "Motörcrew" and can be taked as an anthem for any Road Crew in the world. Which is a good thing, since this is a fun song and can be played with indefinetely.
This song, musicaly, is very variated. We have a bigger presence of the bass which slowly drags itself into the back but never quite like in the second song and it haves a muddier sound. The guitar is also wilder and drunker and features a rock/punk crossover melody which gives this song the wilderness it should have.
Fire, Fire - It can be considered a filler song since it had not reach the popularity as ALL the 6 songs that precede it. But nonetheless this is a great song (quality over quantity). This song works with the bass hand to hand with the guitar, but the guitar is cleaner and the bass is dirtier and more in the front. We have a particular riff in here that sounds similar to Ace Of Spades, same? Nope, not at all. Anyway, as I was saying, the bass gains much more notoriety in the song because the guitar is not layed over it, but Lemmy gives the right place to Fast Eddie so he can deliver us the great, very clean soloing. I feel this equaly as a more fun song for the band.
Jailbait - This song follows pretty much the same formula than Fire, Fire and it's not ALL THAT memorable. But it sure haves the Motörhead landmark on it's front. The difference with this song and the previous is that the bass is less dirtier and less in the front of the mix.
I can't say much about this, the guitar riffing and "kerrangs" are those of classic Motörhead. Particulary, the solo for this song is the first presented in the album to lay the same note played 5 or 6 times and then continues down the notes to the rest of the soloing (much like Morbid Angel or Sodom) (the first one) the second one is more on the classic vein of Motörhead, though Fast Eddie Clark also plays the same note a couple of times in a row.
Dance - I don't need to say that this is another fast paced song from the UK Motörbangers. The main riff to this song is played faster than the previous, and we can also hear the bass in the front, though with a perfectly clean sound. So is the guitar, this song is much like Fire, Fire, in the sense that bass and guitars work almost hand to hand.. almost, because the bass is wilder here than the guitar. Not as it was featured before.
The solos are also perfectly delivered and the bass goes into it's right place so it doesn't disturbs the quality of the soloing.
Bite The Bullet - This is the shortest song in the album; again a song written by Lemmy that features funny lyrics. About the music of the song, the intro is delivered by the drums and the guitars (no bass) and then it kicks right into our face with the inclusion of the bass which completely dominates this song and it's alway in front of the mix. Punk influented by Lemmy's singing pace, this song doesn't give us a rest for it's shortness, and I repeat, the bass is right there in the front row slaming your head even during the duration of the solo.
The Chase Is Better Than The Catch - The previous song doesn't get to an end for it is interrupted (while slowing down, of course, no production error..) by the classic epic TCIBTTC. This is a very "Dance" song, because as this previous song, this one haves the sound that Motörhead would define forever in the next releases. The bass guitar variates it's domination of the song, but for the majority of it, you can clearly hear the bass right infront of the mix and the guitar in the back, more distorted than the bass, to give it a more present feeling so the bass doesn't get to opaque the rest of the musicians' performance.
The solo is quite mudded and still the bass guitar is present during it.
This song is a classic epique which I prefer live because of it's rawness and it's obvious existance ment to be played in front of an audience, as the majority of Motörhead songs.
The Hammer - What a way to close a fast paced rock/metal album than this song. This song is quite unique, because of it's uber fast pace. This one is one of the fastest songs in this album. The riffing is unstopable and the guitar is mixed at the same level than the bass guitar, being the first again muddier and more distorted than the last. So you can hear both present in almost a fight to be the loudest on the mix. Drums aren't left behind in the whole album, always getting the pace of the two main instruments and delivering it's quote of excitement and precious speed to each song. This doesn't fails us in The Hammer, the drums are wild, exciting and keeps in pace with the wilderness of the whole song.
Well, there you have it; I think I have proved myself stating that this album features quite a variation of songs and styles, but close attention must be payed, and of course, truthful enjoyment.
Well, my tape version (manufactured circa 1994 at the latest, since that's when I got it) has 12 tracks on it, but I downloaded some mp3s that comprise a total of fifteen tracks. I'm not sure what the origin is of that release, but the first 12 are the Ace of Spades LP and the last three are apparently the collaboration with Girlschool that came out around the same time. I distinctly hear the female vox on "Please Don't Touch", and I have no idea about the nature of the other two - is that Lemmy, poorly mixed, or some other dude? It sounds like a dude - backup vox?
Anyway... it's good stuff, though it lacks the awesome bite that the live album No Sleep 'til Hammersmith has. I'm not sure quite what it is. Maybe it's the production, maybe the songwriting, maybe the fact that I heard the live album first, so I'm thinking that songs like Road Crew, the Hammer, and Ace of Spades, are meant to be played live, with that particular blend of slightly sloppy, slightly drunk, and completely fucking insane sounds that live Motorhead are known for.
And yes, there does remain the question of if there really are fifteen distinct songs on here... Motorhead is kinda like AC/DC in that they put out basically the same songs over and over again. They're very entertaining for the most part, but of the hundreds of Motorhead songs I've heard, I'd be hard-pressed to identify more than about thirty without the vocals. The riffs are very similar, and the songs run together. At times, this leads to a very pleasing effect - the fast, under-two-minute Bite the Bullet immediately leads into the slower, more groovy The Chase is Better than the Catch, and the whole thing sounds like a perfectly executed thrash break. I get the distinct feeling that Sodom came to this conclusion too, and exploited it to good use!
Highlights... the opener is legendary, a hyperspeed blast of punkish metal... self-destructive in lyrical approach, throwing in a chaotic solo, and of course that whackjob riffage coming on both guitar and bass at the same. On the live album, it is ridiculously godly - here it is quite good as well. Other higlights include the original closing track, The Hammer, which forms an excellent bookend to Ace of Spades, given the riff similarity. Then, Please Don't Touch is a very old-school rock 'n roll number (by old school I mean OLD school, like the early Beatles or even before that), and it's executed very well by the combination of Motorhead and Girlschool. Usually bonus tracks are worthless, but this is a highlight.
Worth getting? Certainly. It is a bit overrated as an album (especially compared to the very underrated followup: No Sleep 'til Hammersmith) but still quite decent. Just don't expect a whole fuckload of variety!
Motörhead is a damn cool band. Their music is also cool. But I have one problem with them. Many of their songs sound so alike. Which is why I can't give "Ace of Spades" a higher score.
The album opens with the title track, which is simply blinding! It's my favourite song of theirs, and I'm sure many others feel the same way. The riffs and the lyrics are just insanely cool. Love Me Like a Reptile is also a good song, with a nice riff. Nothing compared to the title track, though. Shoot You in the Back follows the same style as the previous two, only slightly more laidback. And this is where you begin to realize that Motörhead isn't exactly the most varied band out there. Still, it's a good song. Live to Win and Fast and Loose are next, and although they certainly don't stink, the fact that they come after the previous songs makes them a bit tiring. But then, track number six arrives. (We Are) The Road Crew is an excellent song, with an awesome riff and some seriously badass lyrics. Suddenly there is hope for this album! That is, until Fire Fire is played, and the album goes back into a-good-song-but-why-bother mode.
Jailbait stands out a little, luckily, but by now you understand that you're not gonna be surprised by the tracks that comes after. And you don't. Dance is average, Bite the Bullet is more than long enough, despite clocking in at only 1:38, and The Chase is Better Than the Catch is just boring. The album ends with The Hammer, which is only a variation of what has gone before. Good, but unneccesary. The three bonus tracks, Dirty Love, Please Don't Touch and Emergency, give me nothing, and are therefore useless filler material.
I should also mention that the production is very raw, which suits the music, but doesn't add anything special. For all the coolness this band radiates, it can't hide the fact that they write the same songs again and again and again. They almost make AC/DC seem varied. Only almost, though, since that's impossible, haha. As this is by very many considered Motörhead's finest album, I should probably not buy anything else by them. At least I tried.