June 18, 2024

Remembering Motörhead

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In the annals of metal and rock history, few bands have left quite as recognisable a mark as Motörhead. Born from the frenetic mind of Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister in 1975, the band stormed onto the rock scene with a unique blend of speed, aggression, and unapologetic volume that would go on to redefine the landscape of heavy music. Over the years, their influence has seeped into the very fabric of pop culture, cementing Motörhead as a legendary force in the world of rock and roll.

Now that the iconic Lost Tapes have been released into the world in a widely playable format, it’s time to take a trip down memory lane and remember just what made Lemmy and Co. one of the greatest bands of all time.  

Pop Culture Icons

Motörhead’s impact on pop culture is undeniable. Their unmistakable approach to songwriting, the “War Pig” emblem, and Lemmy’s iconic moustache have all been adopted as symbols representing musical rebellion. The band’s thunderous sound was so compelling that it has been featured on the soundtrack of countless movies, TV shows and even commercials. Everything from The Young Ones to video games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 has adopted Motörhead tracks, showcasing the band’s timeless appeal across multiple different mediums. 

Then, of course, there’s the impact that Lemmy Kilmister himself has made on the cultural landscape. The frontman’s gravelly voice, mutton chops, and relentless approach to life have solidified his enduring status as a cultural icon, even now almost ten years after his passing

Rediscovering The Sonic Assault

Motörhead’s musical legacy can be likened to a freight train charging full speed ahead, with Lemmy’s signature bass and vocals, ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke’s blistering guitar riffs and Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor’s relentless drums creating a cacophony of raw power. The sheer intensity of the band’s music set Motörhead apart from their contemporaries, even in the budding heavy rock scene, which helped them to carve out a distinct niche as pioneers of speed metal. 

The band’s creative output spanned no less than four decades, and during that time they birthed some of the most memorable rock and metal tracks of all time. We could devote a full series of posts to dissecting the greatest hits of Motörhead, but for a speedier retrospective here are three of their standout tracks that all music lovers should know. 

  • Ace of Spades

No discussion of Motörhead would be complete without at least mentioning their magnum opus, Ace of Spades. Released in 1980 on the album of the same name, this track stands as one of the most iconic songs in both the history of heavy metal and the history of recorded music. The sheer reach of the song means it’s a staple everywhere from the mosh pit to digital poker rooms,  since it’s not just a track about the card game but also widely regarded as one of the best songs to listen to when playing poker. It even features in Martin Harris’ book Poker and Pop Culture as the most memorable song on the topic. 

The relentless pace, catchy riffs, and Lemmy’s distinctive growl combine to create a blast of a song that truly captures the essence of everything the band was about. Ace of Spades has become an anthem for generation after generation of metalheads — not bad for a track full of poker references that was allegedly written in the back of a Ford Transit van. 

  • Overkill

Released in 1979, the album Overkill marked a pivotal moment in Motörhead’s career. The title track showcased the band’s relentless energy and established them as a force to be reckoned with in the burgeoning heavy metal scene. The song’s pounding percussion and Lemmy’s visceral bass lines set a new standard for speed metal which would influence the countless bands that followed. Overkill was and is not just a song; it’s a sonic manifesto that solidified Motörhead’s place in the pantheon of metal gods.

  • Killed by Death

Following the roaring success of Ace of Spades at the start of the decade, there was a time in the mid-80s when Motörhead were largely written off in the music press. All that changed, however, with the arrival of Killed by Death, the standout track on the No Remorse compilation album. The song proved the band was far from over; Lemmy’s trademark inventive wordplay reached a new level of brilliance, while the accompanying music video delivered a perfect send-up of rock n roll tropes.

author avatar
Bernard - Side-Line Staff Chief editor
Bernard Van Isacker is the Chief Editor of Side-Line Magazine. With a career spanning more than two decades, Van Isacker has established himself as a respected figure in the darkwave scene.

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