Hot Metal February 1991….
The below review of “1916” from Motorhead is by Darryl Mason who gave it Five Skulls out of Five Skulls. It appeared in the Hot Metal February 1991 issue. The italics are the actual review from Hot Metal and the rest is my addition.
KILLER! Is the headline in a big bold white font for album number 9. This is Lemmy before his work with the Osbourne camp for “No More Tears”. And for some reason, I feel like his lyrical contributions to “No More Tears” validated Lemmy (warts and all) to the mainstream.
Lemmy doing a ballad?
With f_____kin keyboards?
But that’s not the only big news to come out of Motorhead’s latest album “1916”.
The band that practically invented thrash six years before the term was coined have slowed down the juggernaut ride of drums and guitars to create a classic heavy metal album.
If you’ve been a fan of Motorhead since they first got into the picture as “the world’s best worst band” and followed them through the last decade and a half of mega albums like “Overkill”, “No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith” and “Orgasmatron”, then “1916” will be a surprise.
Yet after all, Lemmy and Motorhead have always been into shock tactics.
Before the album was even released there was controversy.
It was Motörhead’s first studio album in nearly four years, and their first release on WTG after their legal battle with GWR Records was resolved. It seemed to be a trend in the MTV Eighties were significant bands from the Seventies struggled with record label deals because they were not “good looking” and “marketable” for MTV. Black Sabbath, Bad Company and Deep Purple come to mind straight away.
Then they had the producer problem. According to the band, initial producer with Ed Stasium was fired for putting in instrumentation without the bands knowledge, while Stasium said he quit because Lemmy’s drug and alcohol was too much for Stasium to work with. Pete Solley was then hired to produce.
The Motorhead version featured Lemmy on bass and vocals, Phil “Wizzö” Campbell on guitar, Würzel also on guitar and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor on drums.
Yeah, the album has some full-on heavy, fracture-your-skull tracks in the ball-tearing “Going To Brazil” and “The One To Sing The Blues”, but Lemmy throws in a healthy slice of humour to the metal when everyone seems to be taking it all a little too seriously these days. Check out “I’m So Bad”.
Motorhead pays tribute to the Ramones in the song of the same name. Short, thrashy, trashy and mashy. It’s a killer.
“Nightmare/The Dream Time” is a dark, nightmarish song covered in possessed background sounds and waves of chilling guitars.
But here’s the big one. The song “1916” closes the album and it begins with a chorus of churchish organs before Lemmy comes in with a chilling tale of children going to war.
“1916” is going to finally pull Motorhead out of the ridiculous ‘cult band’ limbo world they are continually thrust into, and good on ‘em. After 16 years they deserve it.
Get this and load your brain with some power sounds.
And the album is full of Lemmy’s brilliant lyric writing.
“The One to Sing the Blues”
I can’t always say
Just what I want to say
I’m out-of-place again,
You’re on my case again
Bringing up the past
And sling it in my face again
Yes, even the great Lemmy might have felt they he was censoring himself in a relationship.
And that god damn past is the bringer of all evil on the world. No one is bringing up the future and slinging it at our faces. It’s that god damn past. The best part is when your other says, “you NEVER”. For me, that means, they want an argument.
“I’m So Bad (Baby I Don’t Care)”
Come round and pop your cork,
Wham, bam, thank you ma’am,
This is the tongue in cheek Lemmy I know, full of humour. The “No More Tears” album really brought Lemmy to the forefront as a great lyric writer. “I Don’t Want To Change The World” and “Mama I’m Coming Home” have lines in the songs that are cemented in metal and rock culture.
“No Voices In The Sky”
This is one of the Ed Stasium produced songs to make it to the final master tape.
Rich men think that happiness
Is a million dollar bills,
So how come most of them O.D.
On sleeping pills,
There is so much truth in the song. You think that having a lot of money will lead to happiness. How many CEO’s are onto their second or third relationship/marriage? How many ended up spending time with their children? How many ended up volunteering to coach their kids in a sport? A few might, but the majority are just focused on ensuring that what they have accumulated isn’t lost.
“Nightmare / The Dreamtime”
Evil lives within ourselves, We need nobody else
16 years old when I went to the war,
To fight for a land fit for heroes,
God on my side, and a gun in my hand,
Chasing my days down to zero,
“Nightmare/The Dreamtime” and “1916” are both about the Battle of the Somme in World War I…As Lemmy has stated and Wikipedia has the quote;
“Nineteen thousand Englishmen were killed before noon, a whole generation destroyed, in three hours – think about that! It was terrible – there were three or four towns in northern Lancashire and south Yorkshire where that whole generation of men were completely wiped out.”
I was born out of the wars in peaceful and laid back Australia. My father and mother were born in 1944 with the European war raging around them. My grandfather was just born after World War 1 ended, which meant that my great-grandfather survived WW1. I am here and my three boys exist because the generations before me survived. But a lot didn’t survive.
“Love Me Forever”
This is another song produced by Ed Stasium and to be honest, this song is a surprise with its clean tone arpeggio riff.
We are the system, we are the law, We are corruption, worm in the core,
There is no trust in our institutions. Our leaders serve the corporate lobbyists who fill up their coffers via campaign contributions or a nice job with them once they push laws through that benefits said corporation. It was bad when Lemmy wrote about it, but it’s exponentially worse today.
I wanna backstage pass,
Drink Bon Jovi’s booze for free,
I wanna be a star
And buy a hundred guitars,
Lay by the pool
And let the record company pay,
So where does a guy who’s just speaking his truth fit into the world of pretty boy MTV stars. If you want to know about Los Angeles, then get the lowdown from Lemmy.
Because the above lyrics are more or less the culture that MTV created.
How many interviews did you see on MTV where the artists are standing in a room with a collection of a thousand guitars.
I remember watching the “Decade of Decadence” video from Motley Crue and Nikki Sixx is being interviewed outdoors with the pool behind him, Tommy Lee and Mick Mars are in their home-built studio’s and Vince Neil is being interviewed in his man cave, playing pool/billiards by himself and the platinum and gold records are hanging behind him.
And I guarantee you that every struggling musician wanted all of that and more. But there was a reason why Motley Crue had the riches and the rest of us didn’t. Work ethic, luck, right place at the right time all play a part, but for Motley it was the lifestyle. They lived and breathed their lyrics.
For Motorhead and Lemmy his music was a lifestyle. He lived and breathed his lyrics.
I can’t say I was a huge fan of the album when it came out but I always have been a huge fan of how Lemmy can summarise a 20 page chapter into a four to eight line verse.