The Motor Legacy continues. And so does the Motor Marketing Machine. Motorhead have always had a penchant for a cover version; their legacy is built on one, the eponymous track a Hawkwind song written by Lemmy as a single b-side shortly before he was fired in 1975. And this themed release (which is largely a compilation) collects a number of cover versions, recorded since 1992, and some of these are fantastic tracks.
With Lemmy passing in December 2015, there’s been a posthumous live release (fair enough) and even a range of sex toys (the less said the better). While the legacy will live long and prosper on the back of hits like Ace Of Spades and Orgasmatron, and albums like No Sleep ‘Till Hammersmith, this album reminds you that sometimes a cover can match their own original work. And sometimes it doesn’t.
Along side founder, bassist and vocalist Lemmy, who originally founded the band as Bastards in 1975, are guitarist Phil Campbell (who joined alongside guitarist Wurzel in 1984), and drummer Mickey Dee (formerly of King Diamond, replacing Phil Animal Taylor in 1992).
The opening track is a cover of Judas Priest’s Breaking The Law, originally released on a Priest tribute album. The first issue is in the notes, saying Motorhead were never really into heavy metal; as much as I always wished Lemmy (RIP) changed the live set list, equally they needed to drop the rock’n’roll bullshit and look at what they played and who they influenced. Yes they were rock’n’roll, and a touch of blues too, those are the roots of heavy metal which is where Motorhead took them too.
Gripe aside, it’s a strong if rough’n’ready and a fitting tribute to one of Britain’s finest.
The Sex Pistol’s God Save The Queen, from 2000’s We Are Motorhead, again shows a punk tinge. It’s solid, but not one of the band’s best.
Brave, and excellent, is the more recently released Heroes. David Bowie died a couple of weeks after Lemmy and both left an amazing legacy and catalogue, and this combination works well.
The added jangle is perfect to match Bowie’s touches. The guitar work is excellent and Lemmy moved off his growl too.
If you look at the original tracks, Rainbow’s Stargazer is by far my favourite, and the band give it a damn fine blast. With Lemmy’s health preventing him singing this, long time friend Biff Byford does an excellent track. Fantastic though Phil and Mickey are, they’re not Blackmore and Powell, but with no keyboards it’s as good and high octane a version as you’ll ever hear.
Two tacks from 1992’s March Or Die; first off Ted Nugent’s Cat Scratch Fever. Excellent, moody, the pace a little plodding but more than solid. Excellent guitar riff. Hell Raiser is one of the most Motorhead tracks here, co written by Lemmy and Ozzy Osbourne for the latter’s 1991 album, and Motorhead did their own version a year later. Interesting to hear Lemmy sing a vocal line he wrote for quite a different singer.
Two Rolling Stones tracks get blast through; Sympathy For The Devil and Jumpin’ Jack Flash, showing that Lemmy was a fan. Fitting and enjoyable.
The Ramones’ Rockaway Beach is a demo from 2002 and is the kind of track here that makes the release special – a good energy, a good angle and a top performance.
Twisted Sister’s Shoot’em Down was originally released on a tribute album and again shines. Lemmy was a fan, friend and advocate of Dee Snider and Twisted Sister since the latter’s early days. Apt, fun, very very worth.
Metallica and Motorhead first played live together at Lemmy’s 50th, and Lemmy would often join Metallica on stage when the latter played a ‘Head song. Another friendship that led to this cover and it’s suitably noisy and blistering.
While some of the tracks were released on Motorhead albums, there’s rarities and previously unreleased work, and brought together under the theme, it works much better than the hints of cash-in would indicate and is well worth your £££. 8/10