What a shit age for music we are in. Musical legends pass away all the time, of course, but for Lemmy and Bowie to pass so close to one another, at such a similar age, and for the same reason- well, fuck cancer and fuck 2016.
My personal golden age of music is 1990-91. I was the mulletest headbanger you ever did see. David Bowie, I mean, my dad liked him and he was cool in Labyrinth and all, but my heart really belonged to heavy metal. And those years, 1990 and 1991, were an amazing time to be a metalhead. Anthrax, Slayer, Megadeth, Metallica, Sepultura, Pantera and Corrosion of Conformity all released huge records. And almost exactly 25 years ago- January 18,1991-Motörhead released 1916.
1916 is a perfect album. It rocks, it metals, it punks. And it's loud. Oddly enough, it has some startlingly beautiful quiet moments too, which was unusual for Lemmy and Co. The title track is a heart-rending, bare, first person narrative of a soldier who died at the Somme, a four-month battle which cost nearly 60,000 lives on its first day.
I heard my friend cry, as he sank to his knees
Coughing blood as he screamed for his mother,
And I fell by his side, and that's how we died,
Clinging like kids to each other
And I lay in the mud and the guts and the blood
And I wept as his body grew colder,
And I called for my mother and she never came,
Though it wasn't my fault and I wasn't to blame
There's also a weaponized packet of pure punk, a minute and twenty-seven seconds of loving tribute to those other blokes who played as fast and loud as they could- R.A.M.O.N.E.S. R.A.M.O.N.E.S. Ramones! The Ramones were so tickled by it that they covered it themselves, and I imagine a few Ramones fans assume they wrote it but it was Lemmy, goddammit. Misfit, twilight zone, R.A.M.O.N.E.S. Ramones!
Is there a catchier set of riffs in all of Motörhead-dom than "I'm So Bad Baby I Don't Care"? No. The answer is no. In fact the first four tracks are all flawlessly catchy, hook-laden party songs. "The One To Sing The Blues" melds seamlessly with "I'm So Bad Baby I Don't Care" which in turn passes the party torch to "No Voices In The Sky" and then they all head down to South America with "Going To Brazil". Perfection. Seriously. And then a very cool, creepy left turn with the backwards-masked "Nightmare/The Dreamtime" which has some of my favorite lyrics of all time. The ones that aren't backwards, I mean. I'm sure the backwards stuff is also very cool. Soft flesh and razor blades/ Golgotha Ace of Spades/ Steel needles kiss your pretty eyes/ All mine all mine, black night moonshine/ All mine all mine, nightmare the dreamtime. Yup. You think I'm looking these lyrics up on google or something but I've listened to these songs almost every day for 25 years so. No need.
There's also a ballad, "Love Me Forever", one of the aforementioned quiet moments, which is one of my faves. Simple, but pretty.
My sincere desire is that you are moved to listen to this album in its entirety, even if you are not normally a Motörhead person. I think you will find something to your liking. I'm listening to it right now and feeling a little bit sad. But also kind of like pumped right up because damn, this album kicks ass.
Rest in Peace, Lemmy.