Motorhead - Ace Of Spades (Re-issue)
Motorhead Metal!
Disc 1: 12 songs (36'30) Disc 2: 15 songs (51'46)
Release year: 2005
Motorhead, Sanctuary
Reviewed by Marty
The roots of heavy metal music were planted in the 70's by such greats as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. The torch was then carried throughout the mid to later part of the decade by bands like Judas Priest, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Rush, Rainbow and U.F.O.. 1980 was a huge year for metal music and saw the release of such classics as AC/DC's Back In Black as well as British Steel by Judas Priest, Black Sabbath's Heaven And Hell, Ozzy's Blizzard Of Ozz, Saxon's Strong Arm Of The Law and the debut albums by Iron Maiden and Def Leppard. It was the start of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) that fuelled the resurgence of heavy metal music throughout the early 80's. Released later that same year, Motorhead's Ace Of Spades set the entire music world on its ear with their brand of rough and ready rock and roll that borrowed from the blues as well as punk music to fuel the machine that churned out some of the nastiest and fastest heavy metal that we'd ever heard. Like them or not, everyone seemed to know about Motorhead as the videos for The Chase Is Better Than The Catch and Ace Of Spades were regular features on many music shows.

Although it was their fourth album, Ace Of Spades was the first album to get world wide release and was the first one released in North America. By the time this album came out, they had a huge following in many parts of Europe and it was time for the rest of the world to get onboard. Interestingly, for the tour in support of Ace Of Spades, Ozzy opened for them on parts of the European leg whereas they opened for Ozzy when the tour swung through North America. Their self-titled debut, Overkill and Bomber albums had really generated a huge buzz amongst the metal community in Europe but Ace Of Spades broke the band in big way and literally silenced the critics who had either ignored them in the past or felt that they would never amount to anything more than the cult status that they had achieved thus far.

This album absolutely smokes from beginning to end with the hard-hitting speediness of the title track Ace Of Spades getting you set for a painfully sore neck by the end of it all. The wild and fast drumming by Philthy Animal Taylor and Fast Eddy Clarke's slicing guitar attack propel this one into heavy metal infamy. Lemmy was never really much of a singer but his vocal style was so unlike any other and the way he used his voice fit the music of Motorhead perfectly. The song Ace Of Spades is probably one of Lemmy's finest hours. Hard-hitting riff driven tracks like Love Me Like A Reptile, Shoot You In The Back, Fast And Loose and Jailbait fuel the immense energy of this album with the punk edged Live To Win showing that Motorhead probably had more in common with the 70's punk bands and their fast-paced, high energy social statements than many of the other metal acts at the time. In a fitting tribute to their tireless and hard working crew, (We Are) The Road Crew was written for them. Describing everything from cheap motels, the crazy hours and general debauchery of a Motorhead tour, Lemmy's clever and witty lyrics are testament to a band that cares so much about their crew and those involved, that they wrote a song for them. Lemmy's lyical style put him in a bit of hot water over the track Jailbait. Although the topic of underage sex is implied, Lemmy safely and very slyly keeps his distance from saying anything incriminating!! Fire, Fire and Dance although still very solid tracks are the only spots on this album where the quality takes a brief dip. Fire, Fire has the classic speedy Motorhead groove but the chorus is one that I've never really cared for. Dance, with it's boogie-riff style benefits from some of the best lead guitar playing on the entire album. The Chase Is Better Than The Catch showed that Motorhead could also write heavy music that had a solid groove to it and combined with some of Lemmy's best lyics, produced a Motorhead classic even to this day. The classic speedy Motorhead style is the one that permeates most of this album and no more notably than with Bite The Bullet and The Hammer. The Hammer is a variation on the Ace Of Spades arrangement (which was a variation on the arrangement for Overkill etc., etc...) and finishes the album with a crushing blow accompanied by Lemmy screaming "Believe me....The Hammer is coming DOWN!!"

Ace Of Spades has recently been re-issued as a two CD package (like Bomber, Overkill and Iron Fist) containing the fully re-mastered original album and a bonus CD full of alternative versions, B-sides and 4 songs from a BBC Radio 1 broadcast. Dirty Love was the original B-side to the song Ace Of Spades and is featured here in three different versions. It's a decent track and is certainly not just a throw away song. A couple of the alternative versions sound like rough "jams" that the band did in the studio to get the whole track down on tape. These rough mixes are also heard of album tracks like Ace Of Spades that has the same lyrics but a slightly different main riff and the whole arrangement of the song is very different. It's cool to see the evolution of a song from it's roughest of state. You also get two versions of Love Me Like A Reptile with one being very much like the album version and the other having different vocal and guitar phrasings especially for the chorus section. The alternate versions of Shoot You In The Back and (We Are) The Road Crew are live in the studio jams with a bit slower tempo and Fast Eddy's guitar having more bottom end than the album versions. Alternate versions of Fire, Fire, Jailbait and The Hammer are very rough mixes that have a different overall sound but don't differ in structure all that much from the final versions. The last part of the bonus disc is a four track BBC Radio 1 broadcast that sees the band rip through great versions of Fast And Loose, Live To Win and Bite The Bullet/The Chase Is Better Than The Catch. The sound quality is very good for these recordings and shows and band in it's prime.

The impact of this album was huge. It sent metal fans scurrying to their local record stores in a frantic search for any other Motorhead albums that they could find. Although they were very expensive imports, copies of Bomber and Overkill could be found in the larger record stores in the big cities of North America. Motorhead were a mean and ugly looking bunch and cared little for what other thought about them. They were here on their own terms and did things their way from day one. There was no such thing as a compromise. From their debut album through Overkill and even the Bomber album, you could see the evolution of the band and everything was in place for them to fire out one of the best heavy metal albums ever. The speed and attitude was a huge influence on the Bay Area thrash metal bands of the early 80's like Metallica, Exodus and Megadeth and the rough and basic production was a big change from the ultra slick production qualities of many albums from that era. Ace Of Spades was a major peak in their career, their biggest selling album and created a legacy that's still alive and well even to this day. Motorhead had worked very hard and played hundreds of gigs up until this point. Ace Of Spades was no fluke, it was born of hard work, perseverance and a desire to take on the world....and that they did!!

Killing Songs :
Ace Of Spades, Love Me Like A Reptile, Shoot You In The Back, (We Are) The Road Crew, Jailbait, The Chase Is Better Than The Catch and The Hammer
Marty quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Motorhead that we have reviewed:
Motorhead - Rock 'N' Roll reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Motorhead - Bad Magic reviewed by Goat and quoted 78 / 100
Motorhead - Aftershock reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Motorhead - Another Perfect Day reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Motorhead - 1916 reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 21 reviews click here
13 readers voted
Your quote was: 100.
Change your vote

There are 28 replies to this review. Last one on Sat Jul 15, 2006 2:35 pm
View and Post comments