In the early ‘80s, punk and metal squared off in the States. You had to make an either/or decision: metal dirtbag or punk cretin. Hair length meant a lot, how you were treated, if you were walking into a beating. Jean jacket or leather jacket were easy codes. There were serious consequences, silly as it sounds today. We’re talking before crossover which is another ball of bees. Between the intractable divisions, between the Sunset Strip hairspray buttrockers (like Odin—assless chaps with suspenders, egregious Spandex and hot tub abuse) and the hardcore punk equation of hair = shit hippie, one band, Motörhead, and one man, Lemmy Kilmister, was the keystone, the détente that both sides agreed didn’t slurp shit. Motörhead built the bridge between the two camps that hated each other. Make no mistake, dark waters still run deep beneath it to this day, but Kilmister built a durable brick monument with his sturdy hands. Motörhead’s metal wasn’t fluffy, wasn’t poppy. It was, and is, dangerous: face-moley, zit-rocky in a Hawkwind-meets-Sabbath way. It was straight-forward, not solo-drenched, Chuck Berry-informed, wank-in-check, and hard, which punks got behind. (Let us not overlook the power that the bullet belt and all-black attire has had on punk accessorizing.) Motörhead’s song topics were unabashedly rock’n’roll: fucking, white drugs, brown liquors, WWII tank battles, gambling, and bad luck. It’s not PC music. Nor is in anti-PC. It’s rock’n’roll. This is a re-issue of the first 1977 LP, originally on Chiswick. Lemmy, Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, and “Fast” Eddie Clarke ran their black flag up the pole and let it fly, creating the rarest of rare: a place where people of different nation-states of music who fucking hated one another’s guts could celebrate the power of music together with few getting stabbed or shot or bombed or threatened with mutual annihilation. No small feat. I’ll end with a piece of unsolicited advice: look beyond “Ace of Spades,” (which isn’t on this record), dive into Motörhead’s nineteen other studio albums, and revel in this superpower’s consolidation of punk and metal. Hail the War-Pig bastards.
–todd (Drastic Plastic, drasticplasticrecords.com)