Rock 'n' Roll
GWR Records, 1987
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/22/2004
If Lemmy Kilmister and Motorhead proved anything in 1986, they showed they were survivors. They had withstood legal challenges which kept them from the recording studio and a major lineup change which replaced almost the whole band. The answer to these challenges was Orgasmatron, quite possibly one of the best albums Motorhead has ever recorded.
But change is a constant in Motorhead's camp, and following this album's success came the departure of drummer Pete Gill, and the return to the fold of Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor. But how does one follow up a classic album? If only bands knew the answer to that question. In Motorhead's case, the follow-up disc, Rock 'N' Roll, was a letdown, though not without merit.
Two tracks immediately stand out on this disc. The first is the rollicking good time "Boogeyman," which incorporates Kilmmister's love of 12-bar blues and the speedfreak nature of heavy metal into a track which will have your foot tapping and your head slamming into the table. Likewise, "Eat The Rich" is an irreverent look at life with a touch of humor that only Kilmister could deliver.
The trouble with Rock 'N' Roll is that the remainder of the disc sounds like it wasn't completely thought out, and was completed before the band had sufficient time to plan their next move. Tracks such as "Blackheart," "Dogs," "Traitor" and "Stone Deaf In The USA" all sound like they had some promise, but their potential was to remain unfulfilled.
A second problem is the overall sound of the disc. Granted, I'm working with the original CD (which has since been re-issued by Metal-Is), so things might have improved over the years. But the overall sound of this disc is both too pure for a band like Motorhead and too treble-based. Sure, Kilmister's bass rings out at the right times. But overall, the production work of Guy Bidmead just doesn't work for a band like Motorhead.
To be fair, any disc which followed up an album like Orgasmatron was going to suffer. But I've listened to Rock 'N' Roll a few times on its own, and even when it is isolated from the bulk of Motorhead's discography, it's still a tad disappointing. It's kind of sad, really, that after taking such a strong step forward after a few studio letdowns, Motorhead find themselves stepping backwards once again with Rock 'N' Roll.