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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.