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Motorhead - Ace of Spades Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 April 2005


format: DualDisc
label: Silverline Records
release year: 2005
album: Ace of Spades
first release: 1980
performance: 8.5
sound: 8.5
reviewed by: Charles Andrews

Look, it’s Motorhead. I don’t have to tell you about Motorhead. Let’s just get right to the 5.1 sound … Uh, yes … I see a hand raised out there … Holy Jailbait, what a reptile. No class.

Okay, to begin with, they are gods – well, Lemmy’s a god, Lemmy Kilmister, the bass player to end all bass players, the throat from Hell; he was, is and remains Motorhead, but he/they are not heavy metal gods, though they begat the entire movement of the ‘80s. No, like AC/DC and MC5, they arose from the rock tradition, the hard, loud, hard, faster louder hard rockin’ tradition, and took it over the edge.

Motorhead is in your face. Lemmy is screaming into the microphone and poppin’ veins. While his guitar player wails like a wounded banshee and his drummer knocks the walls down, he treats his bass like a Thompson submachine gun. He’s a force of nature no one has even thought about stopping for 30 years.

So be forewarned, those of you who through some oversight, some gap in your education, do not worship the Lemster and have every Motorhead album ever made. This is intense. It doesn’t take a breath. No ballads here. No change of pace what – so – ever. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. These two albums, their second and fourth or third and fifth, depending on how you look at On Patrol, are probably their best two, though some would substitute their following release, No Sleep Til Hammersmith, probably for Overkill. No matter. The fact that these two benchmarks of raunch and roll have now been mixed for 5.1 is an absolute mind-boggling Event. So if you think this might not be your cuppa tea, see ya, not be ya, and let the faithful march on.

Oops, one minute, there are the five bonus tracks, on both the CD and DVD sides of Overkill. I never get too excited about alternate takes or songs that didn’t make it onto the original release, because there’s usually a very good reason they didn’t. They weren’t as good. So you could live without these five, and they aren’t as good as all the other 10 original tracks, which is obvious in this context. But they are from the classic Motorhead period so … we’re glad to have them. Two B-sides, two versions of “Louie, Louie” (the clean lyrics versions, the “alternate” take livelier than the first, and what accent on Earth is Lemmy using to pronounce “Louie, Louie”?!) and an instrumental version of “Tear Ya Down,” not as sonically crisp an arrangement as the vocal take we’re used to.

Let’s get straight to the point, since Motorhead fans have no capacity for bullshit or wasting time. I’m kind of new to 5.1 and when I threw Overkill on I thought what the fork, I must have something out of whack, some setting not set. This sounds … good, ‘cause it’s on a good system and I’m playing it really loud, but where’s the juice? Sure, it’s superior to the stereo CD mix, I can hear that. “Overkill” has a finish that kills ya, but it always did, I’m just hearing it so much more distinctly now. “Capricorn” leads with that awesome echoing drum now magnified, but it seems every time Lemmy sings, the other instruments sort of fade out. Could they only afford two tracks in those days? Was there that much technical advance in the two years that passed before Ace of Spades? I don’t think so. Both these discs were mixed at the same 5.1 Studios in England, same exec producers, though by different engineers. What gives?

Because Ace of Spades is just kill, just awesome, it’s rock and roll heaven. It’s what 5.1 was made for. From the first note. The guitars are all over, sometimes front, sometimes rear, the high bass notes drive through your chest like a molten spear, and on “The Hammer,” the cymbals were firmly planted on the top of my head, which was then removed.

It’s 10 times better than Overkill. Seriously. So maybe do yourself a favor and just get Ace – and you must get it!! – because a real Motorhead fan will settle for nothing less than what it delivers. In Spades.

There are photos. There are liner notes and lyrics. Did you read what I just wrote about the sound? You will not buy these for the extras.

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