Style: heavy metal
Members: Lemmy Kilmister ~ bass/vocals
"Fast" Eddie Clarke ~ guitar/vocals
Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor ~ drums
Every band has one album that towers over all the others from them. Sometimes it's due to its influence, sometimes to a particular sound, sometimes its the time/era of its release, sometimes it's just surrounded by good PR. Often its even not the most inventive or musically the best from the artist. It may even sound completely different than anything else a band has done, such as R.E.M.'s Out Of Time with "Losing My Religion" that came out of nowhere, went everywhere & would never be duplicated. Motorhead's fourth album Ace Of Spades, recorded at the end of 1980, isn't musically that different from the albums that came before, but it ranks largely as the number one album in the Motorhead catalog containing probably the quintessential Motorhead song in the title track. It's hard to deny that status. What makes this album stand out from its predecessors is its in your face feeling with driving rhythms coming out of a trio where quartets have failed at trying to achieve the same sound. Actually, it wouldn't be untrue to say that later line-ups of Motorhead wouldn't be able to get the drive of this album right either. Something magical occurred here with the songwriting & the playing. Everything fell in place & had just enough of a spark to make this the Motorhead litmus test. It's almost sad to consider how many albums have come since, including an acoustic take of the title track, yet its the title track that leads off any greatest hits album from them. Though, part of the magic may also lie in the fact that this album predates thrash & the big metal/80's hair movement, so it finds a unique place historically bridging the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal & the American thrash scene that would follow. Many bands hit 1980 with burn out setting in & membership problems following, struggling with some hits but nothing major or were changing their sound to follow vague & changing trends or were abandoning trademark sounds either to struggle or renew their careers. Motorhead didn't do any of the above, but just churned out what they'd been doing. The result provides an uncluttered & unpretentious alternative to the flashy solos that would soon come into vogue thanks to Van Halen & Malmsteen. Though, there is a problem with the album - the songs are highly repetitive. They blend far too much & being under three minutes generally means everything goes by fast with no real development. It doesn't help that Lemmy never varies his singing much, though few sound as naturally raw as him & like many musicians his lack of range is part of his style. But, even with this bump in the road, metal fans are united in agreeing Ace Of Spades is a must for any metal fan or anyone interested in Motorhead. This line-up of Motorhead is one of the great trios of metal, let alone one of the few from the early days.