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Class 6(66)

Motörhead: Bomber

10/09/09  ||  Habakuk

Introduction

In 1979, back when CD albums came with Bonus tracks in order to replace LPs in the shelves, Motörhead put out two, that’s right, two awesome albums. This one’s the latter, and where one might suspect a couple of leftovers that have been scraped together after “Overkill”, one is wrong. “Bomber” holds up against its predecessor at least equally well, to a point where they’re both hard to separate as there’s no quality drop whatsoever. That’s even more admirable when taking into account that the next year, they came up with fucken “Ace Of Spades” – their work ethic (producing good shit, fast) was obviously not a problem at the time. The world was shown 30 years ago what’s still true in 2009: This band is a fucken powerhouse.

Songwriting

9. First of all, this album is packed with classic hit material, and at least four songs (“Bomber”, “Sharpshooter”, “Stone dead forever”, “Over the top”) on here are 100 % awesomeness with sugar glazing, with almost all of the rest following very closely, plus two odd songs that I won’t universally praise, but do enjoy from time to time, namely the sinister, psyched-out “Sweet revenge” and “Step down” with Eddie Clarke on vocals. Music-wise, what’s going on? Mostly up-beat, guitar-driven tunes with shitloads of groove and melodic yet gritty guitar riffs. Somehow they manage to include loads and loads of little kicks in the butt into their sound that make this stuff a feast for moshpits around the globe. Listen to the verse riff in “Sharpshooter”, for example. It’s not exactly fast, far from it, but it’s fucken intense, pumping music thanks to the riffing accentuations.
I’m still waiting for a good thrash or death metal band with a decent sound to cover the title track, it would still result in total fucken devastation. Now subtract 30 years of metal history, let Lemmy & Co. work their charm before even the 80ies started and you probably get an idea of exactly how great this shit must have been when it came out.

Production

7. The bass drum is a bit muffled, and the drums in general sound a bit thin, but you can make everything out alright if you pay a little attention. The guitar sound is a mixture of “Overkill” and “Ace Of Spades”, which is not exactly surprising. That means, it sounds good. It’s easy to separate from the thick, grinding bass as well, and both together produce a warmly distorted sound that will make you feel like you’re back in your mother’s womb, and you’ll like that. Mmmh.

Guitars

9. Eddie Clarke’s got a great, snarly guitar tone and uses it to smoothly roll through his loose riffing and terrific solos that are not too far away from the underlying riff melodies. Nothing’s worse than solos without proper backing from a second instrument, but they ensure that doesn’t happen. First of all, most of the solos work more like complex riffs, and even if they wander off too much, there’s still Lemmy watching Eddie’s back, and that’s probably one of the more comfortable situations you can have as a guitarist worried about punch. You get the idea of how well it works from the live bonus tracks where there’s no second guitar editing magic, so I don’t really mind those, though I’m not the biggest fan of live recordings.
Overall, Eddie’s playing is deeply rooted in rock ‘n roll and nothing flashy, but he does have a trademark style, and a pretty great one at that.

Vocals

10. By the time, Lemmy had perfected his voice for semi-singing while sounding like the coal mine he just ate is still stuck in his throat. It’s iconic, it sounds great, what else do you want? Ten points? Alright, ten points!

Bass

9. The bass sound as well is pretty much untouchable, so that’s a strong point to begin with. Lemmy mostly plays key notes, but he does have a fair bit of interludes, transitions and quasi-solos to shine with, and the bass was definitely key for early Motörhead’s heaviness, as no matter what goes on guitar-wise, things are beaten forward by a dude with big fat moles in his face and a truckload of guitar picks to waste.

Drums

8. There’s no full-on track like “Overkill”, but the galloping double-bass during “Bomber” is just as awesome. Phil Taylor’s got energetic, explosive playing, stylish snare rolls and great cymbal and hi-hat work adding lots of little details. Very enjoyable, and I wouldn’t like to miss him. It wouldn’t work with today’s Motörhead, I think, but the old stuff is just fine with Phil Taylor behind the kit.

Lyrics

9.

Ain’t a hope in hell,
nothing’s gonna bring us down,
The way we fly,
five miles off the ground,
because we shoot to kill,
and you know we always will,
_it’s a bomber, it’s a bomber!

Now apart from the fact that this album was among the first that started mixing war themes and imagery with heavy metal (feel free to prove me wrong), seen from today’s point of view it’s also remarkable that all this talk about being hard-working, never-stopping badasses actually was more than just imagery. “A mission every night”, indeed. It’s only two war songs, though, the rest is about all these greedy “financial wizards” exploiting bands and everyone else, TV hypnotizing the masses, non-rock ‘n roll people being bland, and Lemmy cutting up someone. Influential? Damn straight.

Cover art

7.5. It’s a bomber, it’s a bomber! I reckon it’s a Heinkel He 111, which must have left a lasting impression on Lemmy somewhere in his WWII books.
It’s got snaggletooth painted to the side and drops a couple bombs whilst Lemmy and Phil Taylor man two machine-guns and shoot to kill. Without their faces [insert 1979 photoshop equivalent (scissors and glue?) here]-ed into the windows, this would look a lot better, though. Especially since they’re positioned in a way the actual guns should poke ‘em right in the eye.
Doesn’t matter, I kinda like it.

Logo

7.5. It’s nothing special, really, but it’s rock ‘n roll as Fred Flintstone’s car. Don’t know why it’s red and has almost no contrast to the cover art, though.

Booklet

6. I can’t for the life of me remember what was in there, but I suspect liner notes and lyrics. Awesome man, lyrics.

Overall and ending rant

I don’t see a way around “Overkill”, “Bomber” and “Ace Of Spades” if you’re a Motörhead fan. If you aren’t yet, become one. Or what other band do you know that built a bomber to circle over their stage? – “But I don’t like heavy metal clichés, boo hoo.” Fuck you.
Motörhead has long moved beyond the cliché point into a higher state of awesomeness.
This is a great starting point to find out. Granted, their style of today is not quite the same, but this hasn’t aged a bit and is a milestone album in early heavy metal.

9

  • Information
  • Released: 1979
  • Label: Bronze
  • Website: www.imotorhead.com
  • Band
  • Ian “ Lemmy” Kilmister: vocals, bass
  • Eddie Clarke: guitars
  • Phil Taylor: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Dead men tell no tales
  • 02. Lawman
  • 03. Sweet revenge
  • 04. Sharpshooter
  • 05. Poison
  • 06. Stone dead forever
  • 07. All the aces
  • 08. Step down
  • 09. Talking head
  • 10. Bomber
  • 11. Over the top
  • 12. Leaving here (live)
  • 13. Stone dead forever (live)
  • 14. Dead men tell no tales (live)
  • 15. Too late, too late (live)