Igor Stravinsky once remarked that the baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi didn't write 685 concertos, he wrote one concerto 685 times. It could be similarly argued that every hemi-semi-demiquaver recorded by Motorhead in its 20 years of existance is a minor variation on the group's triple-speed signature song "Motorhead," written by Lemmy Kilmister shortly before he was booted from English prog-bores Hawkwind in 1975: distorted bass amped up to the point of insanity, Kilmister's throat-cancer roar, drug-marathon imagery, incomprehensible soccer choruses, and thrashy, trebly, speed-freak guitar crusted over the top like a ripe scab.
Motorhead's formula is pretty much everything you could want in an unfashionable rock band, even if you discount the grinning mechanized skulls, biker paraphernalia, and profoundly unwashed appearance. It seems like an obvious move in retrospect, but Killmister may have been the first Brit to plunder the Detroit Iggy/Nuge/MC5 thing the way Beatles took over Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Motorhead was the loud, wet fart punctuating the Mentos commercial of late-'70s British rock, and Motorhead-influenced groups from Discharge to Metallica dominate loud working-class music to this day; as a teenager, a pre-Metallica Lars Ulrich was president of a Motorhead fan club.
1980saw Ace of Spades, probably Motorhead's greatest studio album, with Kilmister's bad-neighbor policy rendered as crunch and spit and blood; tune for tune it's almost the evil twin of AC/DC's Back in Black, released the same year. Busy Motorhead also found time for a classic collaboration with Girlschool, the St Valentine's Day Massacre EP, an inspiration for the grrrl-rock bands of the '90s.


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