by Joshua Brown
Over-the-top speed metal, which has littered ‘zine pages with creative metaphors like “Satan on acid,” “licks the balls of your Momma’s ex-boyfriend,” et cetera, was essentially pioneered by Detroit’s MC5 and brought to the level of a science by England’s Motorhead. Motorhead were formed in 1975 by wart-infested frontman Lemmy Kilmister, named after a song he wrote for space rockers Hawkwind, of whom he had been a member since 1971. Their early career is documented by this series of reissues, with the exception of their self-titled LP and awful debut, which was rejected by United Artists but later resurfaced as On Parole. As great as Motorhead were and still are, an often overlooked aspect is that their albums contained a great deal of filler. No Remorse, their “greatest hits” double album had most of the gems, which made purchasing their early full lengths an activity reserved only for diehard speedfreaks.
About the albums: Overkill was the album that showed their potential to be one of the loudest, nastiest bands of all time. Bomber was a follow-up that was somewhat weak in comparison. After that minor set-back, Motorhead bounced back with what is still considered their definitive album, 1980’s Ace of Spades, which spent eighteen weeks on the album charts, reaching #4, and whose title track is an unparalleled thrash masterpiece. 1982’s Iron Fist was a bit of a let down, followed by arguably their best album of the period, Another Perfect Day. The hyperdrive insanity of Ace of Spades was preserved, with a heretofore unheard melodic element brought in by the replacement for guitarist Fast Eddie, Thin Lizzy’s Brian Robertson. Though musically it was just what the doctor prescribed, commercially it was the biggest mistake of Motorhead’s career. A scene that supposedly promoted “not judging a book by its cover” criticized Robertson’s appearance harshly. Although he could obviously rip shit up on guitar, his glamour-boy fashion statement didn’t jive with the scum puppy image fans associated with Motörhead, and that unfortunately marked the end of Lemmy and Crew’s flirtation with stardom. Along with the original albums, each CD has three to five bonus tracks; alternate versions, b-sides, the Golden Years EP and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre EP with Girlschool. The name Motörhead means speed freak, referring specifically to the drug.