Classic Albums: Motörhead (Ace of Spades) Netflix DVD Directed by Tim Kirkby Starring Lemmy Kilmister, Phil Taylor, Eddie Clarke, Slash, Lars Ulrich Eagle Rock Entertainment Originally Released: April 27, 2005
"We weren’t even given credit as musicians. People thought we were fuckin’ wankers…" – Eddie Clarke, Motörhead
There are many seminal albums that have stayed the course of the Metal genre over the years, but very few have reached across multiple genres becoming such a cornerstone in music history as Motörhead’s Ace of Spades. The 1980 release was hugely prominent in its day, but is perhaps more so as time goes on.
While their albums Overkill and Bomber put Motörhead on the map, it was Ace of Spades that catapulted them to international stardom (or notoriety). The band was led by the god known only as Lemmy, and joined by guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke and backed by Phil “The Animal” Taylor (responsible for the invention of using double bass drum in metal songs).
The band has been cited as a key influence in the expansion of multiple metal subgenres, from thrash metal to groove metal and more, and could be also seen as one of the early UK bands to help propel the early beginnings of what would become known as the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, Motörhead has also been referenced as a major influence in the development of the punk movement, which rose from additional inspirations such as Iggy and the Stooges, MC5, and The Ramones as well.
And it goes beyond that. It could also be argued that their influence held impact over the 1990’s Grunge scene as well – as evidenced by Dave Grohl’s homage to metal on his Probot album, on which Lemmy appeared. The point is that somehow Motörhead came from metal sensibilities with full-on ferociousness, developing a musical style on Ace of Spades that transcended scenes and genres, and was embraced by fans of a majority of movements.
So many years on, the Classic Albums series takes a look at this very important piece of music history, and it’s feasibly the most unique release of the series. First of all, how many of these retrospectives have a cigarette-smoking montage? Now that’s fucking Motörhead right there.
But perhaps more decisively, the Classic Albums episode doesn’t "clean up" for the look back at the development whatsoever – it is portrayed warts and all (pun intended). The drugs and the fighting, the broken bones and the booze… it’s all there. But beyond the excesses of rock and roll, there’s a close feel between those involved in Motörhead – almost like a family.
Phil and Lemmy still get along like a house on fire, and their rapport with each other develops into some of the funniest stuff on screen. The band reunite (sort of, in a digitally assisted way) for some filmed portions of the songs from the album, and we also get to meet members of the all-important dedicated road crew, who influenced the song, “We Are The Road Crew.”
But therein lays an important component of metal culture that can be traced to Motörhead, among a few others, and that is the dedication and unity between metalheads. There’s like-mindedness in the subculture, and much of this can be credited to the closeness of the band members and road crew of Motörhead, and their fan base. There are several anecdotes discussed highlighting this throughout the episode, with the story from the Germany tour being the best of the bunch.
The Classic Albums series, truly, is superb in many ways. They’re short episodes, giving a great glimpse into the bands they focus on… But the Motörhead episode is perhaps the best of the bunch I have seen. Not only is this one for the metalheads, but indeed for any music fan with an appreciation of influences in the history of rock and roll.
Overall Rating: Two Black Aces and Two Black Eights