Overnight Sensation


CMC International Records, 1996


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister is a genius. There's no other way to say it; the man is a fucking genius. You don't survive over 25 years in rock and roll unless you know what you're doing and how to do it well.

Yet for all of that, his band Motorhead is still very much a cult classic, one of those bands that you have to discover through a friend who's in the know. This is a group that, whether metal was popular in the States or not, should have been revered as a supergroup well over a decade ago. The fact that they're often relegated to opening act status proves there's no justice in the world today.

Motorhead's 1996 album Overnight Sensation, their second platter for CMC International, is just one piece of evidence I use to back up the above statements. Despite losing guitarist Wurzel (who left after 1993's Bastards), the band - bassist/vocalist Kilmister, guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee - continued to put out arguably some of the band's best material of their career. Overnight Sensation is the one album that might just top their 1986 album Orgasmatron as their best work ever.

One of the keys to the rejuvenation of Motorhead has been the addition of Dee (who joined the band for the 1992 album my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 March Or Die). His drumming is powerful, speed-oriented and technical, meaning he is pushing the envelope for the rest of the band to follow. Fortunately, Kilmister and Campbell are both up to the challenge, working their way through complex time signatures, ball-to-the-wall speed and - believe it or not - a radio-friendly love song.

Granted, "Civil War," a decent track itself, might not be the most spectacular way to kick off the album, but it actually works well because it leaves you unprepared for the musical shock that awaits. One track later, "Crazy Like A Fox," features the band getting into a real groove, and puts Kilmister on the spot with a harmonica (!!!) solo. If I didn't know better, I'd have thought that Kilmister also handled the guitar solo at the end of the song... but there's no evidence in the liner notes to prove that.

Simply put, there is not one bad performance on Overnight Sensation. "I Don't Believe A Word" features some of Kilmister's best singing in years (despite what one may think, Kilmister still has a very good set of pipes, as well as a powerful singing voice), and Dee's trap work raises the song up many levels. The title track and "Broken" both are solid, mid-tempo rockers that highight everything good about Motorhead. "Them Not Me" is the most challenging for the listener, going into what sounded like a 7/4 time signature in the chorus. Although I've played musical instruments for most of my life, I honestly don't know how Motorhead could keep track of the time, playing as fast as they did on this song.

And then, there are the all-out surprises. "Eat The Gun" is a gung-ho, tongue-in-cheek look at war, with even a little sexual innuendo thrown in for good measure. If anyone takes this song seriously, they're fools who need to stop reading between the lines. "Listen To Your Heart," which prominently features the use of acoustic guitar (played by one L. Kilmister), is a surprisingly pop-oriented song (albeit with distorted electric guitars) that dares to show a more sensitive - even romantic - side of a band who may not seem to be of that ilk.

I don't know why it took me so long to pick up Overnight Sensation (and I didn't have the heart to ask my colleague at CMC for a press copy of a three-year-old album), but now my problem is that I don't want to take it out of the tape deck of my car. Overnight Sensation is an album that shows clearly that Motorhead's glory days are by no means past them, and that they just might be at the high point of their career right now. Check this album out now - it's been 25 years that Motorhead's been waiting to be an Overnight Sensation, and they shouldn't have to wait any longer.

Rating: A

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© 1999 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 CMC International Records, and is used for informational purposes only.