Author’s Note: Part of a deep dive series on Motorhead. Read the rest of the series:
Motorhead – Rock ‘n’ Roll (1987)
When being asked to choose between rock and roll and sex, Lemmy Kilmister had no trouble calling it as he saw it (I’m paraphrasing): “Well, the average show lasts about two hours, coitus could be half an hour tops…so to me it’s pretty obvious which is better, you know?” Punctuate with long puffs of cigarette smoke and long pulls at a Jack and Coke for greater effect.
That joyful spirit permeates this Motorhead record. Though it has its dark moments with expressions of unbridled anger at the worlds stupidity, Rock ‘n’ Roll is overall Motorhead’s “happiest” album as far as mood goes. That is especially true thanks to the two opening cuts…
1. Rock ‘n’ Roll
2. Eat the Rich
4. Stone Deaf in the USA
5. Blessing (“Oh Lord…”) feat. Michael Palin
6. The Wolf
9. All For You
The title track of Rock ‘n’ Roll is one of those “I am Lemmy and this is my life” songs that could even be a headbanger’s breakup song if you squint. It doesn’t matter what she has done to you–it’s a comfort to know you’re still in love with rock and roll! “I’m all I’ve got, and what I am is all I’ll be!” he continues in the underrated personal statement of “Blackheart.”
“Eat the Rich” is just the funniest song in the entire Motorhead catalog. In Lemmy’s world (and many others), sex is a primal hunger, a need, down, dirty and rough. “Sex is as much fun as you can have on this planet without laughing,” Lemmy says.
Singing this live, I can’t imagine getting through it with a straight face. How could I not collapse into laughter after singing,
“Hey baby, here’s your supper!
Come on honey, bite that sucka!”
“Side order, gimme your daughter
It makes sense that Lemmy’s sense of humor was inspired by recording in a studio owned by Michael Palin, who stopped in for a monologue recording and a “Blessing” upon the fine gentlemen of Motorhead. Great little bonus if you also like Monty Python’s style of humor.
That is on the heels of “Stone Deaf In the USA,” a slide-guitar-basted tour diary about the nation who was really starting to embrace Motorhead at the same time as UK audiences were taking them for granted. Lemmy calls out his favorite American cities, especially Los Angeles, which would become his new home.
The songs get a bit darker after that, with “Traitor” and “Dogs” spitting insults at corrupt, filthy politics and those who enable it. But even so, Lemmy’s modus operandi was not to despair or sob over these things, but to laugh…which is a rare gift indeed. “All For You” brightens things, as a most melodic Motorhead tune with sharp guitar punctuations and a well-executed solo. Not to mention the finale, “Boogeyman.” A distinctive, fat, fuzzed-out bass intro, and a guitar-driven rock and roll show with old school, repetitive pull-off solos make this another one of the records best tracks.
Most fans (including yours truly) will revisit the first two songs on Rock ‘n’ Roll more often than the others, but the rest of it is underrated and well-executed. Perhaps not a top-five Motorhead record overall, but comfortably top ten in the studio canon, and probably the most fun.
Lemmy Kilmister (RIP)
Phil “Wizzo” Campbell
“Philthy Animal” Taylor (RIP)
Written by Matt P