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Just as good as the next three, you wankers. - 79%

VileRancour, May 20th, 2004

For some reason, Motorhead's '79-'81 output gets all the praise, yet this album seems to go unmentioned. Exactly why is anyone's guess - the songwriting here stands very nicely on its own. This album may not be a constant stream of well-known tracks, or a steady succession of signature NWOBHM/speed metal moments, like 'Ace of Spades' for instance; in actuality it has more in common, perhaps, with the primal form of traditional heavy metal, as some of these songs would have been quite at home on one of Black Sabbath's (or even Judas Priest's) '70s efforts. Lemmy may not consider Motorhead to be part of the "metal movement", but the fact remains that Motorhead and heavy metal in general were products of the same process with the same source materials: the proggy, quasi-epic remnants of acid rock, streamlined and solidified into a loud, lumbering and archetypal style of expression.

It is a bit unfortunate that the album-opening title track does not quite live up to its promise here - the mix isn't the best, the vocals sound strained and the drums are somewhat ham-handed. Nevertheless, 'Motorhead' is a fitting introduction to the band, with its vigorous speed, its opening distorted bassline, and the lyrical subject matter which quite literally gave birth to the definition "speed metal", although the ill-fated 'On Parole' album features a more interesting version (and, of course, there's always the definitive live one, off 'No Sleep Til Hammersmith').

'Lost Johnny' (which like 'Motorhead' used to be a Hawkwind song) has metamorphosed here into a red-blooded traditional metal tune - perhaps more melodic than the usual Motorhead fare - which could have appeared on any of the seminal albums by other '70s metal pioneers, and brings to mind a few successors as well, what with the same characteristic rhythm pattern which later propelled such songs as Maiden's 'Wrathchild' and Venom's 'In League With Satan'. The heavy, almost Sabbath-like 'Iron Horse/Born To Lose' and the frenetic, agitated 'White Line Fever' are other highpoints, as is the midpaced, quasi-epic amphetamine hymn 'Keep Us On The Road', featuring an excellent little bass solo. 'The Watcher' - yet another redone Hawkwind song - has also gone far since the original acoustic version, presented here as a somewhat understated but creepy tune that sounds straight out of something like 'Sin After Sin' with its vague psychedelic overtones and reverberating guitar.

The Yardbirds cover 'The Train Kept A Rollin' and the closing track 'City Kids' could have been dispensed with; the CD version also adds the contents of the 'Beer Drinkers' EP - recorded at the same sessions - which is mostly disposable material as well; a ZZ Top cover, a plaintive and uninteresting rock'n'roll song, an instrumental, and another vapid cover (of the Bluesbreakers this time). Nevertheless, the main segment of the album stands very nicely on its own alongside the next three albums and solidifies Motorhead's position in the '70s metal/NWOBHM hierarchy; and considering that most of the material here was recorded in two days, that is no small feat.