Iron Fist

Motörhead

Bronze Records, 1982

http://www.imotorhead.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/16/2004

Iron Fist, the 1982 release from Lemmy Kilmister and the other lads in Motorhead, proved to be a changing of the guard in many ways. First, it marked the final appearance on record that "Fast" Eddie Clarke would make as a member of the band, thus spelling the end of a legendary version of Motorhead's lineup. It also spelled the beginning of a turn in Motorhead's fortunes -- though this would not be for the better.

Maybe the time for change was right. From the first time I heard this album way back when I was a teenager, it was obvious that there was something not right about the overall sound of Motorhead. Maybe it was the production quality that Will Reid Dick brought to the table. Maybe it was that the songwriting and playing were sub-par. Maybe this just qualified as Motorhead's first unsuccessful studio album in their history. (Libelous, I know -- but I happened to like my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 On Parole. So there.)

Granted, the title track is a work of art, even if its overall sound doesn't have enough bass to make Kilmister's Rickenbacker sound like it's cracking the drywall. I guess my fondness for this track could be due to the home video Deaf Not Blind, which I first saw when I got into Motorhead (and because "Iron Fist" was the leadoff video). But there's a reason this track has been culled for numerous best-of sets -- namely, 'cause it's a track that has a solid hook and powerful performances from Clarke and Kilmister.

The problem is that this is the only track worth noting on Iron Fist. The bulk of this disc sounds like it was written on deadline, and needs more than a coat of paint on both the lyrics and the musicianship. Tracks like "Go To Hell," "Heart Of Stone" and "(Don't Need) Religion" are songs which should have been spine-busters in Motorhead's discography. But Kilmister often sounds like he's detached from the vocals, and Clarke really doesn't turn in anything spectacular in terms of guitar work, making this disc an exercise in underachievement.

To make matters worse, the songs often sound like they stretch on too long, despite the fact that many of them clock in at under three minutes. Now, Motorhead had always been able to deliver a lethal punch in that short of a time span -- "Iron Fist" itself is proof of that. But the lack of real development in these songs makes the listener feel like they're running a marathon with each track, desperately searching for the end of the track. Even the bonus song "Remember Me I'm Gone" (thrown on when RoadRacer Revisited re-issued this disc some years ago) doesn't help matters; in fact, this track seems to bog the disc down even more.

In a sense, that's really a shame, since Iron Fist could well have been the closest thing to punk rock that Motorhead had recorded in their career, and it could have been a real barn-burner. But this particular offering from Motorhead leaves more questions than answers, and is a sad conclusion to a powerful chapter in their career. The worse news for Kilmister was that Motorhead's troubles weren't over yet.

Rating: C-

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© 2004 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Bronze Records, and is used for informational purposes only.