It's been 40 years since Motorhead dropped their iconic album Ace of Spades, but its legacy is ageless.
Motorhead's fourth studio album, their first to be released in the U.S., turned 40 years old this week. Sadly the main protagonist of the band, and its characterful lead singer Lemmy is no longer with us to celebrate this milestone having died from a combination of prostrate cancer, cardiac arrhythmia and congestive heart failure in 2015. His legacy, however, lives on and is no better represented than in his band's biggest selling album, Ace Of Spades.
Motorhead - Ace Of Spades
Prior to the release of Motorhead's tour de force in 1980, Stoke-On-Trent's finest export Ian Fraser Kilminster had certainly done his ground work and put in the time. After joining Hawkwind, as a bassist instead of the guitarist he intended to be, and helping them record their stand-out track Silver Machine, Kilminster went on to form Motorhead in 1975. Having released their eponymous debut album in 1977, Overkill and then Bomber both in 1979, Motorhead were already being hailed as one of the best of the "New wave of British Heavy Metal" bands.
Lemmy's love of gambling contributed significantly to the lyrical content of the title track, although he once joked that "I'm more into slot machines actually but you can't really sing about spinning fruit". The lead single from the album was released a month earlier than the album, earning Motorhead several TV appearances including one on Top Of The Pops as it climbed to number 15 in the charts.
Ace Of Spades the album though was not just a one song wonder. The twelve tracks that make up the album, recorded with Motorhead's classic line up of Lemmy, 'Fast' Eddie Clarke and Phil 'Philthy Animal' Taylor, was a fully formed record that caught them at the peak of their collective creativity. The machine gun style speed metal undoubtedly paved the way for the likes of Metallica and Anthrax and set a benchmark in terms of quality metal albums.
The whole record is relentless from start to finish. Opening with the title track it never lets up. Taylor's drumming on Love Me Like A Reptile speeds along at a ridiculous pace as Lemmy's razor wire vocal howls for all it's worth. 'Fast' Eddy doesn't disappoint as he enters the fray with one hell of a guitar solo and the combination is a lethal cocktail shot through with intensity and venom.
Fast and Loose is just as it says, with Lemmy's squal accompanying a torrent of sound from Taylor and Clarke. The Chase Is Better Than The Catch, another crowd favourite (Which, together with Jailbait, does contain some questionable lyrical content to say the least) is probably as relaxed as Motorhead get on Ace Of Spades but their laid back is everyone else's full pelt. Roadie tribute (We Are) The Roadcrew is just as unforgiving as the rest and has another blistering virtuoso guitar solo courtesy of Clark whilst close out track The Hammer brings the album to a riotous conclusion in a frenzied whirlwind of carefully choreographed sound.
Even today there are relatively few Metal acts, or albums, that cross over into the public arena but Motorhead's Ace Of Spades, with its anthemic title track and so much more, is one that did just that 40 years ago this week reaching number four in the UK album charts. Forty years old and still sounding just as potent.