Motorhead – Bastards (1993)
The magnificent bastards of Motorhead carry on their underrated and prolific 90s output with this 1993 statement of metal attitude.
Fans may already know the general approach to Motorhead’s post-80s work: more modern production, cleaner vocals, and generally a more rock-oriented flavor. Both the strong songwriting and the production come together for a truly high-quality experience from Lemmy and company. Indeed, there are just as many arena-sized power chord progressions (“I Am the Sword”) as there are thrash-tastic chuggers (“Burner,” the fastest song on this album).
Anti-media basher “On Your Feet Or On Your Knees” has a message that we all need to hear now more than ever in our hyper-connected, tech-saturated lives. There is such a sneer on that song when Lemmy roars, “Shut UP, I’m talking to you!” And that’s not even the chorus yet…
And one cannot talk about Bastards without mentioning “Born To Raise Hell,” one of Motorhead’s finest all-time cuts. Its powerful, anthemic gang-vocal chorus made it a fitting release as a single in time for the movie “Airheads,” in which Lemmy had a cameo appearance. This would be a killer show opener, if the band ever wanted to give “Doctor Rock” a rest. It is impossible to hear the song without imagining a crowd of rowdy Motorheadbangers just getting out of a show, ready to hit the bars and keep the party going.
1. On Your Feet Or On Your Knees
3. Death or Glory
4. I Am the Sword
5. Born To Raise Hell
6. Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me
7. Bad Woman
9. Lost In the Ozone
10. I’m Your Man
11. We Bring the Shake
This was also the first full Motorhead with “the best drummer in the world, Mikkey DEE,” and he would carry on with them until the band was no more. He exchanges pleasantries with his new lineup on “Death or Glory,” which is a true full-band performance complete with a live-style marching breakdown, borderline-funk guitars, and a mini Mikkey Dee drum solo. The song’s lyrics are a tribute to soldiers throughout history, who fought in many different circumstances and places but have the same choice in common: death or glory.
The bridge/middle section of Bastards contains some serious mood whiplash, as the band enters its very darkest song on record, “Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me,” about a father who puts his helpless daughter through hell. Lemmy sounds tender and vulnerable here, a rare but powerful type of vocal from him. Right after that though, he whiplashes again and wheels into “Bad Woman,” shot through with rock ‘n’ roll piano and a badass attitude to match. One can only wonder which one of Lemmy’s thousand-plus all-time lays he’s talking about here…maybe several!
The upward climb continues through the pissed-off “Liar,” the lonely “Lost In the Ozone” with its distorted bass solo, all the way through to “Devils,” a feel-good, anthemic statement of well-wishes to the fans and a fitting closer indeed.
“I will be the watcher, and I will never sleep,
Many miles before me, and promises to keep,”
Lemmy’s lyrics proclaim in “Liar.” A lovely statement, for the band had not even reached its career halfway point yet and had many fine moments ahead of them.
“I’m so proud of that album,” guitarist Phil Campbell reminisces. “Some great songs.”
“One of the best albums we ever did,” Lemmy agrees. “Every song on it is strong.”
Unfortunately, in another example of the too-many-to-count universe of quality music not getting the sales it deserves, Bastards was not promoted outside Europe by Motorhead’s German label at the time, ZYX Records. It charted decently enough over there, but non-European fans had a hard time getting their hands on it. No matter, though: it has found its way into the hearts of Motorhead fans regardless in our new age. So if you’ve already bought most of the well-known, classic Motorhead albums and want to dig in even further, look for Bastards first.
Lemmy Kilmister (RIP)
Written by Matt P
Author’s Note: Part of a deep dive series on Motorhead. Read the rest of the series: