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Lemmy Goes To LA... - 91%

Acrobat, January 20th, 2008

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).