“Ace Of Spades” by Motörhead - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1980Album Chart of the Decade: 1980s1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die external-link.png

TJR says

Staring back at you from a sandpit in Barnet were drummer Phil Taylor (26), lead singer and bassist Lemmy (34) and guitarist Eddie Clarke (30). “We are Motorhead, and we play rock and roll!” was Lemmy's gig-intro catch-phrase and “Ace Of Spades” was their definitive statement. Building on the momentum of '79, Motörhead's first long player of the new decade gave them their biggest hit single (#15) and album (#4) to date. They knew they had a killer song up their sleeve, and the “Ace Of Spades” 45 was carefully planned for release in late October, just ahead of the album itself. Daytime radio airplay and appearances on Top of the Pops propelled things along nicely and the “Ace Up Your Sleeve” tour was a big success - all of this with no dilution of their uncompromising hard and heavy rock assault. Respect is due. It'd be no exaggeration to describe the opening salvo as the most thrilling three minutes in the history of rock, although Lemmy himself would downplay it in the years to come:

I used gambling metaphors, mostly cards and dice — when it comes to that sort of thing, I'm more into the slot machines actually, but you can't really sing about spinning fruit, and the wheels coming down. Most of the song's just poker, really - 'I know you've got to see me, read 'em and weep, Dead man's hand again, aces and eights' - that was Wild Bill Hickock's hand when he got shot. To be honest, although "Ace of Spades" is a good song, I'm sick to death of it now. Two decades on, when people think of Motörhead, they think "Ace of Spades." We didn't become fossilised after that record, you know. We've had quite a few good releases since then. But the fans want to hear it so we still play it every night. For myself, I've had enough of that song… I'm glad we got famous for that rather than for some turkey, but I sang 'The eight of spades' for two years and nobody noticed.

Almost thematically, “Shoot You In The Back” keeps the cowboy theme going: “Western movie, The riders ride into the night, Into the west, To see whose gun's the best”. High Barnet's a bit lively in 1980! Proving themselves to be good lads, they big up their boys on the real-life tale “(We Are) The Road Crew”. As Eddie Clarke later remarked: “They were a good crew, and they were proud of how good they were. I would put them up against any crew in the world.” And a good time was had by all by the sounds of it. Side two is strong with the likes of “Jailbait”, boasting of backstage frolics with teenage groupies, “Bite The Bullet”, a 90 second Punk adrenaline rush from the only group who's break-up songs sound like a cause for a party, and album-closer “The Hammer” which takes things full circle from the opener with another speed freakout. There's a killer on the loose: “Oh, don't try to run, don't try to scream, Believe me, the hammer's gonna smash your dream… There ain't no way, you'll see another day, I'm shooting out your lights, bring you eternal night, And your eternal tricks, begin to make me sick, The only thing I know, is that you've gotta go”. The opener rings in my ears again… “I see it in your eyes, take one look and die, The only thing you see, you know it's gonna be the Ace of Spades.” I wouldn't mess with him.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [02:49] 10.0.png Motörhead - Ace Of Spades (Eddie Clarke, Ian Kilmister, Phil Taylor) Rock
A2 [03:23] 6.7.png Motörhead - Love Me Like A Reptile (Eddie Clarke, Ian Kilmister, Phil Taylor) Rock
A3 [02:39] 7.3.png Motörhead - Shoot You In The Back (Eddie Clarke, Ian Kilmister, Phil Taylor) Rock
A4 [03:37] 6.6.png Motörhead - Live To Win (Eddie Clarke, Ian Kilmister, Phil Taylor) Rock
A5 [03:23] 5.5.png Motörhead - Fast And Loose (Eddie Clarke, Ian Kilmister, Phil Taylor) Rock
A6 [03:12] 5.9.png Motörhead - (We Are) The Road Crew (Eddie Clarke, Ian Kilmister, Phil Taylor) Rock
B1 [02:44] 6.8.png Motörhead - Fire, Fire (Eddie Clarke, Ian Kilmister, Phil Taylor) Rock
B2 [03:33] 7.5.png Motörhead - Jailbait (Eddie Clarke, Ian Kilmister, Phil Taylor) Rock
B3 [02:38] 6.1.png Motörhead - Dance (Eddie Clarke, Ian Kilmister, Phil Taylor) Rock
B4 [01:38] 7.6.png Motörhead - Bite The Bullet (Eddie Clarke, Ian Kilmister, Phil Taylor) Rock
B5 [04:18] 6.7.png Motörhead - The Chase Is Better Than The Catch (Eddie Clarke, Ian Kilmister, Phil Taylor) Rock
B6 [02:48] 7.9.png Motörhead - The Hammer (Eddie Clarke, Ian Kilmister, Phil Taylor) Rock

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