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Motörhead > Rock 'n' Roll > Reviews
Motörhead - Rock 'n' Roll

My phone autocorrects the umlaut if I forget it - 69%

gasmask_colostomy, March 26th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2010, 2CD, Sanctuary Records (Deluxe edition)

How does this one get forgotten about when it's called - of all things - Rock 'n' Roll, a.k.a. the philosophy of Motörhead? Maybe people think it's a greatest hits compilation, but no, it's a ragged, brief album from 1987, right after the well-renowned Orgasmatron and a long way detached from 1916, which seemed to usher in the next era of the band. After all, there are a lot of Motörhead albums to choose from, and this isn't the best one. But, if my phone autocorrects Motorhead to Motörhead, surely that's enough status to make sure people keep your fucking raison d'etre in mind. And don't tell me that Lemmy didn't like raisins, just because they're made from fruit.

Admittedly, considering that this has just about the best Motörhead line-up ever (Lemmy and Philthy Animal, plus Phil Campbell and Würzel on guitars), the songs themselves are a little disappointing, even if the attitude is all there. Lazy, lewd, and loud all accounted for: the album does what it promises and delivers more blues-based riffs than the efforts either side, the bass turned up and crackling, the pace just a mite down on the rollicking speed that the band gave (and took at least as often) at other career junctures. Isn't it nice though, for a band who have been accused of repeating their songs and recycling their sound over the years, that Rock 'n' Roll feels distinctive, the clumpy drums stomping round 'Blackheart' like it's actually about the pirate of the same name tapping his wooden leg into the planks of the foredeck. Certain familiar tropes crop up ('Stone Deaf in the USA' sounds like a patchwork of Motörhead song titles), yet this is also the only album by the band where you can hear the country twang of lap steel, not to mention such silly innuendos as Lemmy's "bacon torpedo" in 'Eat the Rich'. Oh, and 'Blessing' is funny as fuck even if it is just the same joke from Monty Python being dedicated to the band.

One might even say that this is the most relaxed you can catch the Londoners, what with the jokes (a few voices can be heard kidding about in the studio too) and laidback feel of the title track and sparser 'Dogs'. Among the nine songs, some variety comes the way of the listener, getting into heavy boogie mode for 'Traitor', silly singalong on 'Eat the Rich', which was also on a soundtrack, and cranking things up for 'The Wolf', seeming almost what would happen if Motörhead were covering something from the first Bathory LP. They knock out some decent choruses, sounding almost nostalgic on 'All for You' (not a ballad, I promise) and 'Dogs', though some of the more obvious stuff on side A isn't top notch in that department. It would be an exaggeration to say that Rock 'n' Roll contained a full hand of good songs, but - as Motörhead albums usually prove - none are actually bad either, merely a few mediocre cuts and a slightly thin spread of hugely memorable ones. Ending on 'Boogeyman' was certainly the right way to go, while a couple of B-sides prove diverting on the big ol' Sanctuary reissue, as does a full set at Monsters of Rock 1986.

Rather a shame it is that Rock 'n' Roll has been so hugely sidelined over the years, I can't say that its status constitutes an injustice. Certainly little of top quality floats around in the sparing 34 minutes, while the laidback vibe adds enjoyment but also detracts from the primal feeling of Motörhead at full throttle. If you've already decided that these guys are your kind of thing, you'll want to check this out and be amused. For those merely curious, just remember the title and start with something else.

Their Scruffiest Album Ever! - 74%

Acrobat, January 25th, 2008

1987’s ‘Rock ’n’ Roll’ album is considered by Lemmy as one of the bands weaker albums, and I’d have to agree. After the excellent ‘Orgasmatron’, the band rushed back into the studio and seemed to spent even less time on the production of the album. Whereas ‘Orgasmatron’ was weirdly lacking in guitars in places (especially considering that it was the bands first twin guitar album) the bass and drums still sounded excellent, but ‘Rock ’n’ Roll’ sounds just thin and in places unbearably weedy. Oh well, you know the general pattern of Motörhead albums, a weak one then a strong one.

The song writing on ‘Rock ’n’ Roll’ seems stagnant in comparison to the fresh and daring ideas on ‘Another Perfect Day’ and ‘Orgasmatron’, the riffs and song structures seem a little too predictable. Ok, past works such as ‘No Class’ or ‘Jailbait’ were predictable but some of the songs on ‘Rock ’n’ Roll’ are lacking in that certain class (see what I did there?). However, it’s of note that there are some classic Motörhead anthems on this album….just as any other Motörhead album. Two of these are actually b-sides (if you own the re-mastered version, which I can recommend as its got two songs on it that are better than most of the album), these being ‘Cradle to the Grave’ which is simple but very well done, a underrated and overlooked song and ‘Just 'Cos You Got The Power’ which has been in the live set for the past 20 years and although this version is not the best, it’s still a corker, slow and bluesy with some great defiant lyrics from Lem. On the actual album itself the title track stands out as a immediate winner, the sort of thing Motörhead have done over and over again. It’s so bloody simple but it works right from the opening line of ‘Well here, babe, look at you, in love with someone else’ (as if Lemmy’s ever got hung up on a girl leaving him, he’d surely just sleep with their sister), to the great bow-now-now riff, a simple message of how Rock ’n’ Roll can save your soul and one of Phil’s best solos its an instant classic, something which this album is a little thin on. ‘Eat the Rich’ is one of the albums better known tracks and it’s a fun enough romp, but the lyrics although light hearted are pretty damn cheesy at times, still fun though. The line ‘Shetland Pony, extra pepperoni’ is one of Lem’s best ever quips .

‘Blackheart’ is the kind of thing we’ve heard from Motörhead before, a bit of a throw-back to the ‘Overkill’ days, and the verses are excellent but I don’t care for the chorus much, it just seems a tad uninspired. ‘Stone Deaf in the USA’ exemplifies just how thin the guitar on this album is, but the song although not a classic is good fun and one of the albums better numbers, catchy and fun. ‘The Wolf’ kicks off this albums second side and it’s a seriously dull piece of speed, ok chorus but it’s nothing a song like ‘Mean Machine’ already did better. ‘Traitor’ again is pretty standard Motörhead fare and although not offensive, its forgettable. It had been done before, and it was done better. ‘Dogs’ is clunky and like most of this albums second side features sections which work better than others. The verses are boring and Philthy’s drums give it a boring groove but the chorus’ are better. ‘All For You’ sounds like a song that wasn’t quite good enough to be on ‘Another Perfect Day’, a bit similar to ‘Shine’ but nowhere near as good. But at least it’s something a little different on the album, hell it’s a Motörhead love song! ‘Boogeyman’ also sounds like a second rate ‘Shine’, ha well it’s ok, but can we try a little harder please?

So it’s another Motörhead album and another line up change, Pete Gill is gone and Philthy Animal Taylor’s back. Good right? Nope, Philthy’s decided to play fairly boringly now and even fucks up on record, listen to that uneven and pathetic sounding double bass at the beginning of ‘The Wolf’, shocking! This is the same drummer who destroyed on ‘Overkill’, the man who was perhaps the most insane and non-drummerery (if you know what I mean) drummer since Keith Moon, and by 1987 he’s average. What a crying shame. This must of rubbed off on the rest of the band as Würzel and Phil’s guitars are often workmanlike and lacking in inspiration, although there are flashes of brilliant from both (mainly in the solos, the riffs are often quite dull on this album). Notably the solos sound far more vibrant that the rhythm as they were recorded in a different studio. Lemmy’s bass is the same as ever, which is a good thing but the sound is too thin in places. Lemmy’s vocals are strained in places which he put down the very hurried pace at which this album was recorded (and then back on the road again, no doubt, oh well can’t blame ya!). Overall, it seems that if a little more time had been taken on the vocals, guitars and production and if they’d got a drummer who actually cared to play on the album ‘Rock ’n’ Roll’ would have been a great Motörhead album rather than an average one (Motörhead don’t do bad albums).

It’s a bit of an odd one this ‘un, by no means bad, just hardly a stone-cold, killed by booze and speed Motörclassic. There are about three versions of this album in circulation at the moment. All I know is avoid the original, it’s missing two of the best songs from this era. Apparently the recently released double disc version is the best by far, it features a rather sterling live set from Donnington 1986.

Couple of bits changed, grammar, paragraphing and title.