MOTÖRHEAD — Motörhead (review)

MOTÖRHEAD — Motörhead album cover Album · 1977 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
"Motörhead" is the self-titled debut full-length studio album by UK heavy/hard rock act Motörhead. The album was released through Chiswick Records in September 1977. Motörhead had already recorded an album in late 1975/early 1976 titled "On Parole", but United Artists Records refused to release the album, because they felt it lacked commercial potential (they eventually released it in 1979 after the success of "Overkill (1979)" and "Bomber (1979)"). Motörhead continued to play live though and finally secured a new label deal with Chiswick Records, who payed for studio time to record material for this debut release. All tracks from "On Parole", except "Fools" and "Leaving Here", were re-recorded during the sessions for "Motörhead", but only 5 of them made it unto the original 8 track, 32:37 minutes long version of the album. In addition to those 5 tracks, "Motörhead" features the two new original tracks "White Line Fever" and "Keep Us on the Road" and a cover of "Train Kept A-Rollin'" (originally recorded by Tiny Bradshaw in 1951 and popularized by The Yardbirds in 1965).

Since the recording of "On Parole" guitarist/vocalist Larry Wallis has been replaced by Eddie Clarke. The lineup of Eddie Clarke (guitars), Lemmy Kilmister (Vocals, Bass), and Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor (drums) would be stabile in the period 1976–1982.

Compared to "On Parole", which shares a large portion of the material featured on this album, "Motörhead" features a more harder edged, at times punked, and very gritty and raw "Fuck You" attitude laden introduction to Motörhead. The difference between the "On Parole" version of the eponymous titled "Motörhead" track and the version of the same track on this album tells the whole story. The 1977 version features a snarling aggression, and badass attitude that the "On Parole" version could only dream of, and that goes for all the re-recorded versions of the tracks from "On Parole".

It´s obvious that this lineup of Motörhead were hellbent to succeed and that they put all their energy into recording the most raw and energetic versions of the material as they could. Not that the versions featured on "On Parole" aren´t really well played and powerful, but the rawness of the sound production, the distorted and quite busy bass playing, and Lemmy´s sandpaper vocals on this album, provide the music with an edge that "On Parole" can´t match. So it´s not so much the material which has changed, it´s the determination behind the delivery, and the way the tracks are performed (and produced), which end up making the huge difference between the two releases.

"Motörhead" proved to be a relatively successful debut album for the band although it wasn´t until they released "Overkill (1979)" that they had a genuine breakthrough. There had been speculations about a band split-up shortly before Motörhead signed the label deal with Chiswick Records, but the fact that they achieved at least some moderate success with this album, meant that they opted to continue. It´s not their most accomplished album, and at times it´s a little rough around the edges, but a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is still deserved.
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