The 5 Best Motorhead Songs – Lemmy R.I.P

by Tony Shea on December 29, 2015


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Lemmy is God

The great Lemmy Kilmister died today at the age of 70 following “a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer” according to the announcement on the Motorhead Facebook page. Of course Lemmy was the frontman for Motorhead, the legendary rock and roll band that straddled the fence between metal and punk, creating a unique highbred sound that inspired a legion of bands including ones as diverse as Metallica and Green Day in the process. (The fact that Motorhead is not yet in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is utterly absurd.)

It seems almost a miracle that Lemmy has lived this long considering his legendary predilections for drinking, smoking and drugs. And though he had some health problems over the last year, the fact that his cancer was diagnosed just two days ago and now he’s dead seems beautiful.

Over the course of a forty-year career Motorhead produced 23 studio albums and sold more than 15 million units, becoming a kind of religion for millions of fans around the world along the way. Motorhead was the kind of band whose balls-out, no-regrets rock and roll could save your life. I feel like it must have saved mine a dozen times. Motorhead is your courage when you need it; it’s that thing inside you that manages to stay free; it’s the thing that keeps on fighting, the thing that never says die even when it dies; it’s a thing that triumphs not because of its subtle delicacy or tasteful panache, it wins because of its fury and its power which is pure guts.

One of the great front men of all time, Lemmy played his bass like he was beating it into submission, a one-of-a-kind, hell-bent-for leather viking screaming into the mic with a voice like a fucking chainsaw. And he wrote great songs. Of the hundreds to choose from I concede that it is actually impossible to narrow it down to a top 5 list. But here goes anyway. Godspeed Lemmy – RIP.

5. Ace of Spades

The song that has become synonymous with Motorhead through the years is an absolute ball breaker that lays out Lemmy’s philosophy on life. The title track to the 1980 album of the same name, you may have heard this one before.

If you like to gamble, I tell you I’m your man
You win some, lose some, it’s all the same to me

The pleasure is to play, makes no difference what you say

I don’t share your greed, the only card I need is
The ace of spades, the ace of spades

Playing for the high one, dancing with the devil
Going with the flow, it’s all a game to me

Seven or Eleven, snake eyes watching you

Double up or quit, double stake or split
The ace of spades, the ace of spades

You know I’m born to lose and gambling’s for fools
But that’s the way I like it, baby
I don’t wanna live for ever
And don’t forget the joker

Pushing up the ante, I know you got to see me
Read ’em and weep, the dead man’s hand again

I see it in your eyes, take one look and die

The only thing you see, you know it’s gonna be
The ace of spades, the ace of spades

4. Rock and Roll

The title track from 1987’s album of the same name is about the power of rawk!

Well here, babe, look at you, and you with someone else,
Turned out like all the others, leave me by myself,
That’s how it works I guess, and you like all the rest
Guess I can handle it, if that’s the way it is

‘Cos I’m in love with rock ‘n’ roll, satisfies my soul
If that’s how it has to be, I won’t get mad
I got rock ‘n’ roll, to save me from the gold
And if that’s all there is, it ain’t so bad
Rock ‘n’ roll

I never been a one to have no steady girl,
I love the way I live, runnin’ round the world
I like to fool around, love to tear ’em down
And if I leave, you love to miss me when I’m gone

I can’t imagine growin’ old with anyone
Marching to a different drum, I hear a different song
I swear I love ’em all, I don’t care if they’re small
I don’t care if they’re tall, love ’em anyway

‘Cos I’m in love with rock ‘n’ roll, satisfies my soul
If that’s how it has to be, I won’t get mad
I got rock ‘n’ roll, to save me from the gold
And if that’s all there is, it ain’t so bad
Rock ‘n’ roll

3 . Orgasmatron

For my money the ultimate anti-war song. From Motorhead’s seventh studio album of the same name, from 1986 this track closed the album down in terrifying style.

I am the one, orgasmatron the outstretched grasping hand
My image is of agony, my servants rape the land
Obsequious and arrogant, clandestine and vain
Two thousand years of misery of torture in my name
Hypocrisy made paramount, paranoia the law
My name is called religion, sadistic, sacred whore
I twist the truth, I rule the world, my crown is called deceit
I am the emperor of lies, you grovel at my feet
I rob you and I slaughter you, your downfall is my gain
And still you play the sycophant and revel in my pain
And all my promises are lies, all my love is hate
I am the politician and I decide your fate
I march before a martyred world, an army for the fight
I speak of great heroic days, of victory and might
I hold a banner drenched in blood, I urge you to be brave
I lead you to your destiny, I lead you to your grave
Your bones will build my palace, your eyes will stud my crown
For I am Mars, the God of war and I will cut you down

2. Sacrifice

Of all the songs ever made that rock this one goes right to the top of the list, complete with a trick ending that will make your hair stand on end. From 1995, here’s the track from the album of the same name.

Why do they not believe
I have not lied, even for this,
Now no-one can conceive
The lie becomes the loving kiss,
But I would not,
Fall in love,
Like this.

The woman stitches the shrouds,
The children murder all the world,
If only you believe,
Then only you will die,
How can you not,
See the stars,
In your eyes.

Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice,
Sacrifice, pay the price, blood like ice, sacrifice.

The pain is on you now,
Do not consider flight for gain,
In you the poison breeds,
Crawling with the mark of Cain,
And no-one shall,
Set you free,

Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice,
Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice.

1. Killed by Death

This song looks death in the face and laughs hard. This song originally released in 1984 as a 7”is my pick for the best of Lemmy and Motorhead. What’s on your list? Please let me know in the comments below!

If you squeeze my lizard
I’ll put my snake on you
I’m a romantic adventure
And I’m a reptile too

But it don’t make no difference
‘Cos I ain’t gonna be, easy, easy
the only time I’m easy’s when I’m
Killed by death, Killed by death
Killed by death, Come on!

I’m a lone wolf ligger
But I ain’t no pretty boy
I’m a backbone shiver
And I’m a bundle of joy

But it don’t make no difference
‘Cos I ain’t gonna be, easy, easy
The only time I’m easy’s when I’m
Killed by death, Killed by death
Killed by death, Come on!

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Tony Shea ( Editor-in-Chief, New York)

Tony Shea is based in New York, having recently moved from Los Angeles after more than a decade on the sunny coast. His short films have won numerous awards and screened at major festivals around the world including Comic-Con. As a musician, he is the lead singer for Los Angeles rock n’ roll band Candygram For Mongo (C4M) who has been a featured artist on Clear Channel Radio’s Discover New Music Program and whose songs have been heard on Battlestar Gallactica (Syfy Channel) and Unhitched (Fox) among other shows and films.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sara and Thad January 1, 2016 at 3:22 pm

Excellent tribute, Tony!

earthdog70 January 1, 2016 at 12:56 pm

I knew there would be a tribute here. Glad I got to catch 3 Motorhead shows and one walk-on appearance by Lemmy at a Slash show. RIP sir.

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