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‘Bastards’ is Mikkey Dee’s first and Würzel’s last proper Motörhead album, so that’s the nominal line up changes out of the way, so now for the important stuff. What exactly did Phil and Lemmy have for breakfast during the recording? Respectfully, Cider and Jack Daniels. Erm yeah. Anyway, ‘Bastards’ is another brilliantly monikered album, somewhat of a lost classic for the band, not because the fans have forgotten it or the band just the standard record company bullshit. Honestly, Motörhead should have been bigger than Metallica (mainly due to more quality songs, musicianship and live performances) but they had a insanely high amount of record company and managerial bullshit to deal with instead, just typical!
‘Bastards’ is an album of two half’s, I know all albums have two sides but this has somewhat of a clear divide in terms of musical direction. The A side is frighteningly good, the first 5 songs are just balls to the wall, be that balls to the wall speed metal or rock ’n’ roll, its achingly heavy (barring the ballad ‘Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me’ which is tender but I could be a prat and argue that lyrically it’s still heavy). The second side still rocks but displays the bands more experimental side, and although less successful than the frankly stellar A side, its still rather good. The AC/DC of erm rock ’n’ roll? (I was going to say metal but that’s not strictly the case)…hardly. ‘Liar’ displays a new sort of groove for the band, all mid tempo and angry! ‘Lost in the Ozone’ is a power ballad (two ballads on a Motöralbum? It’ll be MTV unplugged next!). ‘I’m the Man’ is a weird sort of bluesy grunge that doesn’t actually work, but it’s the only one on the album, so we can overlook that. Oh crikey it’s all experimental! But doth it rock? Aye, indeed.
Individual life affirming, hell raising and rocking tracks include. ‘On Your Feet Or On Your Knees’ (which isn’t about oral sex don’t worry!) which is a riff onslaught with a nice foot stomping pace, a definite underrated Motörhead classic on a underrated Motörhead classic…bizarre that! ‘Burner’ along with ‘Sacrifice’ is as close to thrash metal as the band got. It’s short, sharp and prickly (much like a hedgehog) with some eerie wahed guitar from Phil and one of his most unique solos. The lyrics here are particularly harrowing ‘I don’t think you know your future yet…’ well Mystic Meg does.
‘Death or Glory’ is the customary war themed song that has Lemmy indulging in one of his favourite past times, military history (well he’s not saving the Nazi memorabilia for a rainy day or the second coming of the forth Reich). It features Würzel and Phil at their most ferocious and insane; frantic (not the Metallica song!) riff work ahoy, and Mikkey shows he’s not been hired just for his uncanny resemblance to Joey from Friends. ‘I Am the Sword’ again has some brilliant spidery riffs and Lemmy’s most disturbing and vicious vocals ever. ‘Born to Raise Hell’ again continues the theme of having loads of great songs all stuck together (which isn’t actually a theme, but it feels like one). Now, if you don’t like rock ’n’ roll you won’t like this, but this begs a bigger question…what the sweet baby Jesus were you listening to Motörhead for if you didn’t like rock ’n’ roll!? Did you want jazz? Eleven finger tapping? “Proto-speed-thrash-metal?”…I despair of you and if this album wasn’t so good I’d take your life and mine! Anyway, ‘We Bring the Shake’ is the best of the more experimental numbers here. It’s quite reminiscent of Hawkwind, which is no bad thing. The verses have an ethereal droning quality to them which would fit just perfectly on ‘Space Ritual’ and the chorus well rocks…I feel I need more adjectives to describe rocking. So all in all an excellent bunch of tightly crafted songs.
Production and performance wise, this is the band displaying their most aggressive tendencies which were somewhat lacking on ‘March or Die’ (although that album is nowhere near the abomination others have made it out to be). The guitar sound is immense and everything’s definitely in the red. Mikkey, as the new boy has something to prove and he does it in style. The drums on the album are killer especially in contrast to the drab and straight sounding Tommy Aldridge (who is good for Ozzy and Whitesnake but not Motorhead). Lyrically, Lemmy combines his typical rock ’n’ roller themes with a more grizzly outlook on humanity and he does it with the class and flair of a man who’s done it all, well by it all I mean your mum and sister (hell, he chatted up my mum when she was fourteen too…and that’s all she disclosed, Jailbait?). Würzel and Phil deliver the goods once again on guitar, with some memorable moments.
‘Bastards’ is another masterpiece from the band who won’t or more likely can’t die. Ignore the negative review, the band and fans alike recognise ‘Bastards’ as one of the bands finest and it’s the best to feature Mikkey so far. Just another great album from an Englishman, Welshman, Scarecrow and a Swede.