Motörhead – Bad Magic
"More invigorating that crack cocaine"
Lemmy will never quit. He will, as he wishes, die like Tommy Cooper; on stage doing what he does, going down to the cacophonous cheers of the audience. This is a man who, since his current health issues have shocked the world into the reality that he is in fact mortal, has ‘quit the booze’ by substituting a bottle of Jack a day for one or two bottles of wine. Rock n’ roll is in his blood, it is his blood, and it will stay that way until his ever-racing heart pulls in for an eternal pit-stop midway through a thumping rendition of Bomber somewhere on the road.
But here is an album more invigorating that crack cocaine. What Bad Magic proves however, is that, no matter what problems the bitch of life throws at Mister Kilmister, he will never stop writing and doing what he was put on the planet to do. Simply a flawless album, they continue to take the trad-blues template and bastardise it in the heaviest, most filthy ways.
Of course, the dissidents will give this record a listen and cast it off as sounding ‘like every other Motörhead record ever’ but those people are naive. From the rasping clarion call of Victory Or Die to the slow, demonic and almost sludgy take on the classic Sympathy For The Devil, this is one of the finest Motörhead releases yet – and the past 21 LPs sure as hell take some beating.
Since teaming up with producer Cameron Webb for 2004’s Inferno, the band have continued to flourish; they’ve found a real energetic and inspired mojo that takes fuck all prisoners. If we, the listener are soldiers, then these songs are the bullets that dart towards you on a kamikaze dash across No Man’s Land in the dead of night.
Shoot Out All Your Lights is led by Mikkey Dee’s stampede drumming, bringing to mind 1916’s live favourite One To Sing The Blues, but is married with the venomous grit of Kiss of Death era riff work, each passage a complete and utter shelling of your psyche. And the Swede continues to impress on Evil Eye with tribal drumming underpinning explosive guitars and a snarling Lemmy vocal performance. Electricity is just fun, swinging blues music in a metalhead’s denim and leather; Teach Them How To Bleed Chuck Berry with a steel toe-capped boot up his arse. Lemmy has always been insistent on the fact that the music he and his superbly talented cohorts write is not heavy metal and this proves it; the flesh and bone of all these songs, in fact have more in common with Little Richard and Muddy Waters than they do Metallica and Judas Priest. And that’s what makes the band so special – this is a ménage au trois, a holy trinity if bluesmanship played with the heaviness of metal and the rebelliousness of punk. The dirty savaged bass breaks that claps alongside Dee’s tom work here is like thunder and the harmonised descending blues run that ends the song are irresistible.
And they continue to push themselves as a band. Having already dabbled with slower numbers with Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me, God Was Never On Your Side and, more recently, Lost Woman Blues on this record’s predecessor, Aftershock, here they’ve built on those compositions and really hit a master stroke with Till The End. Dave Ling described Lost Woman Blues as “one of Motörhead’s best ever songs” but in many ways this tops it. Bare, vulnerable and throbbing, it’s an open book to a wounded soul, complimented perfectly by Phil Campell’s scattered and gut-wrenching lead lines. It’s a middle finger to those who see this band as a one trick pony; it sums up the brilliance of their vastly underrated modern era.
Their merciless romp continues on Choking On Your Screams and the rattling bass thump on Tell Me Who To Kill, which uses raises in chords to hit you where it hurts, a melody that’s joyously painful to listen to. This is rock n’ roll sadism and you can’t help but love every waking second.
The reality is that Motörhead will, by most people, only really be remembered for those early albums, for that song about gambling, but, since their relationship with Cameron Webb began, they have been one of the most scintillating and emphatic bands in the world. Consistently releasing world conquering music, refusing to bow down and die, they know exactly where to aim their musical crosshair and they shoot to kill. Bad Magic is exceptional continuation of their towering legacy.
This is Motörhead, and they play rock n’ roll.
Words: Phil Weller