The Best Of Motörhead


Metal-Is Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Motorhead is not the kind of band that can easily be packaged into one neat compilation.

I know we've reviewed No Remorse, a "de facto" best-of disc that came out in 1984. I know that I'm reviewing a two-disc set which actually has the stones to call itself The Best Of Motorhead. And I mean no disrespect to my publicist friends working this disc, but the name is a misnomer. You simply can't water down Lemmy Kilmister and crew's 25 years together into one or two CDs.

You really want the true Motorhead best-of? Go to your local store, pull about $300 from your wallet, and buy every single fucking disc Motorhead has put out. Go home, kiss your family and friends good-bye for a while, and listen to the discs from the start - and, if you can find a copy of On Parole, I mean the absolute start. Stop only long enough to down a can of lager and to wipe the sweat, blood and drool from your face. I did this, and look what I've become - I'm now one of the Beautiful People, and have achieved inner peace... that is, to compensate for the blown eardrums thanks to repeated exposure to Overnight Sensation.

Yet even this isn't adequate enough - the problem is that nobody's been able to figure a way to take Lemmy and bottle him for the masses. (Probably for the best; they'd most likely discover that Lemmy was carcinogenic. No offense, Lem, you know I love ya.) Until they can figure out how to do this (and assuming your local Mom and Pop store has issues carrying records with titles like Bastards), The Best Of Motorhead is a flawed, but enjoyable, portrait of a band who has looked at the rules of rock and roll, and has given them the finger.

The first disc of this set jumps around quite a bit from Kilmister's last days with British space-rock outfit Hawkwind to their classic Ace Of Spades disc. Stylistically, it's a little hard to follow because of the constant time warps; you go from a raw, unpolished sound to pure sonic fury, back to unpolished... all within a span of six minutes.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Of course, I could sit here and nitpick about the track selection of the first part (Why is a different version of "Louie Louie" featured? Where's "Love Me Like A Reptile"? How's about the version of "(We Are) The Road Crew" from No Sleep 'Till Hammersmith?), but chances are any true Motorhead fan will have their own unique list of shoulda's for this part of the collection. And, admittedly, it is interesting to hear songs that normally don't get spotlight time for Motorhead ("City Kids," "White Line Fever," "Dead Men Tell No Tales") get a chance to shine.

And while I can understand including the original version of "Motorhead" as performed by Hawkwind, I can't justify inclusion of Girlschool's cover of "Bomber" on disc two. Yes, it's a Motorhead song... but Girlschool, despite their close ties to the band, is not Motorhead. (Maybe what Metal-Is should have done was to include a bonus EP with cover versions of Motorhead songs like this one. Maybe they then could have included Sepultura's cover of "Orgasmatron", hmm?)

The second half of The Best Of Motorhead does a better job of keeping things going the right way down the timeline, and it does call to people's attention some incredible work by Kilmister and his various bandmates. Yet there are gaping holes that have to be brought up. The band's 1992 effort March Or Die is nowhere to be seen - you mean they couldn't have included "Stand" or "I Ain't No Nice Guy"? Bastards is missing in action as well - damn shame that a track like "Born To Raise Hell" isn't given another chance to bask in the spotlight. And Motorhead's last four studio efforts all get cursory mentions with the inclusion of the title tracks from three, and the cover of "God Save The Queen" from We Are Motorhead.

Yet there is so much to smile about on this half of the disc as well. You're able to remember the moments of glory that Brian "Robbo" Robertson had on Another Perfect Day with the inclusion of "I Got Mine". Orgasmatron is lovingly remembered with four selections ( what?!? No "Mean Machine"?), and the oft-overlooked Rock 'N' Roll is brought back to life with three tracks culled from its platters. So many of Motorhead's albums have fallen through the cracks over the years; it's nice to see that these have been resurrected, at least partially.

The four previously unreleased live tracks, regrettably, don't add that much to the lore of the band - but then again, that role was filled by such discs as No Sleep 'Till Hammersmith and Everything Louder Than Everyone Else. I appreciate what the label tried to do, but I'd rather have had some of the tracks I've been pining for earlier in this review included in their place.

Oh, don't get me wrong, The Best Of Motorhead is still a pleasant way to spend nearly two-and-a-half hours cracking the plaster in your bedroom, and if someone is looking for one place to start their examination of this classic band, this would be near the top of my list. (I still have a place in my heart for No Remorse, though.) But when you listen to this set, remember that Motorhead is a band that cannot be contained by such a small cage - indeed, if by any cage at all. Allow yourself to be mauled, and splurge on their whole discography.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 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 Metal-Is Records, and is used for informational purposes only.