Music

Motorhead: 2-Disc Deluxe Expanded Editions

Doug Sheppard

By the mid 1980s, Motorhead's definitive records were behind them, but these satisfying efforts assured that the band would be rock-and-roll elder statesmen rather than has-beens.


Motörhead

Another Perfect Day

Subtitle: 2-Disc Deluxe Expanded Edition
Label: Sanctuary
First date: 1983
US Release Date: 2006-03-28
UK Release Date: 2006-03-06
Amazon
iTunes

Motörhead

Orgasmatron

Subtitle: 2-Disc Deluxe Expanded Edition
Label: Sanctuary
US Release Date: 2006-03-28
UK Release Date: 2006-03-28
Amazon
iTunes

Motörhead

Rock 'n' Roll

Subtitle: 2-Disc Deluxe Expanded Edition
Label: Sanctuary
US Release Date: 2006-03-28
UK Release Date: 2006-03-28
Amazon
iTunes

In hindsight, the mid-1980s were a transitional period for Lemmy and Motorhead that probably established them as legends. While they had already made their definitive recordings in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it's safe to say that without a few more worthy outings, they would never have ascended to elder-statesmen status.

And for a while, it looked as though they wouldn't. The band followed a disappointing finale by the classic Lemmy-Phil Taylor-Fast Eddie Clark lineup, Iron Fist, with 1983's Another Perfect Day, a worthy but uneven recording that in some ways gave proof to those who doubted Clark could be replaced. But replace him they did, and after four killer new cuts on 1984's No Remorse anthology and the barnstorming comeback of 1986's Orgasmatron, it was clear that Motorhead stood with the greats. These three expanded double-CD reissues trace the period when Lemmy and Company solidified their place in history.

It's not that Another Perfect Day is a bad album; it's simply one that doesn't sound much like Motorhead. Though a veteran of heavy rock with Thin Lizzy and Wild Horses, then-new guitarist Brian Robertson was also a classically trained, highly stylized player who lacked the abandon and spontaneity of Clark. Combine that with slower tempos, and you have a revamped Motorhead sound that worked on "Shine", "Stone Dead Forever", "Back at the Funny Farm", and the slow-grinding "One Track Mind", but was less successful on other tracks. While it's certainly better than 95 percent of rock releases in 1983, it's not up to Motorhead's usual standards.

Even if the better moments on Another Perfect Day convince you that the pairing with Robertson could work, the 10 June 1983, concert comprising disc two may be all the evidence needed to the contrary. Similar to the album, it's not a bad performance, but it's low on energy and long (77 minutes) on time. Worst of all, it's composed mostly of songs from the band's lesser albums, Another Perfect Day and Iron Fist. A Motorhead show without "Ace of Spades", "Overkill" and "Bomber"? No wonder this lineup only lasted a year.

The next lineup, on the other hand, was a menace live, as indicated by the 13 October 1984, performance from a Kerrang showcase included on the Orgasmatron bonus disc. Subtract Taylor and Robertson, add Pete Gill on drums and the one-two punch of Wurzel and Phil Campbell on guitars, and you have a quartet that put Motorhead back in contention. Romping through classics like "Stay Clean" and "Metropolis", the new classic "Killed by Death" (just recorded for No Remorse), plus "Nothing Up My Sleeve" from the forthcoming album, it was as if the band was an old Western gunfighter who'd been left for dead -- only to reemerge with guns blazing for all who doubted his mettle.

Armed with Motorhead's best set of songs in six years, Orgasmatron delivered on the promise of such live appearances and even updated the band's sound on the title track and "Deaf Forever" to keep pace with the then-burgeoning thrash metal movement it had helped create. Elsewhere, it's recognizably Motorhead, with "Ain't My Crime" snarling slowly and "The Claw" ("Overkill"-styled intro and all) and "Mean Machine" blitzing at breakneck pace.

As underscored by the 16 August 1986, live show at Monsters of Rock, Castle Donington, included on the bonus disc of the Rock 'n' Roll reissue, the finest Orgasmatron tracks stood up well alongside Motorhead classics. Though similar to the 1984 set list, the 13-song show is another great one, with the band romping through its repertoire slightly faster than the originals and joining the Who, Deep Purple, and James Brown as one of the few who can make a live album that loses nothing in translation. Bonus: finally, a live version of "Iron Fist" -- and a killer one at that. Amazing that this is the first commercial release of this show.

Rock 'n' Roll itself not only represented the return of Taylor to the drum throne, but also -- in perhaps a nod to the title -- a return of the early Motorhead sound. Released in August 1987, it also came just in time to ride the peak of metal's popularity in the 1980s, charting higher than any previous Motorhead record in the States (at #150) and garnering exposure on both MTV (which made The Headbangers' Ball a weekly show around that time) and the long-forgotten 24-hour satellite metal station, Z-Rock. Unfortunately, the song that got promoted, "Eat the Rich", is among the lesser tracks on an album that isn't among the band's finest. While it's slightly more consistent than Another Perfect Day, tracks like "Dogs" and the uncharacteristically melodic "All for You" are mediocre, and the album lacks any spearhead track to push it over the edge.

That said, "Boogeyman" and "Stone Deaf in the USA" are among a few good rockers, and in spite of its flaws, Rock 'n' Roll sounds more like a band on an off day than one on the decline (a theory borne out by the next studio album, 1991's classic 1916). And again, the live set on disc two is not to be missed (hence the rating).

6


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Film

In Amy Seimetz's 'She Dies Tomorrow', Death Is Neither Delusion Nor Denial

Amy Seimetz's She Dies Tomorrow makes one wonder, is it possible for cinema to authentically convey a dream, or like death, is it something beyond our control?

Music

The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.

Books

John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.

Music

Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.

Music

Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.

Books

Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.

Music

Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.

Film

Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.

Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Music

The Beatles' 'Help!' Redefined How Personal Popular Music Could Be 55 Years Ago

Help! is the record on which the Beatles really started to investigate just how much they could get away with. The album was released 55 years ago this week, and it's the kick-off to our new "All Things Reconsidered" series.

Music

Porridge Radio's Mercury Prize-Nominated 'Every Bad' Is a Wonderful Epistemological Nightmare

With Every Bad, Porridge Radio seduce us with the vulnerability and existential confusion of Dana Margolin's deathly beautiful lyricism interweaved with alluring pop melodies.

Music

​​Beyoncé's 'Black Is King' Builds Identity From Afrofuturism

Beyoncé's Black Is King's reliance on Afrofuturism recuperates the film from Disney's clutches while reclaiming Black excellence.

Reading Pandemics

Colonial Pandemics and Indigenous Futurism in Louise Erdrich and Gerald Vizenor

From a non-Native perspective, COVID-19 may be experienced as an unexpected and unprecedented catastrophe. Yet from a Native perspective, this current catastrophe links to a longer history that is synonymous with European colonization.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.