Motorhead: ‘1916’

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After achieving great success in the late Seventies it all started to go wrong for British rockers Motorhead in the following decade. First, Fast Eddie Clarke left and Robbie Robertson from Thin Lizzy also came and went, then the unthinkable happened when the man who after Lemmy epitomized Motorhead most, Phil ‘Philthy’ Animal Taylor, left too (but he came back at the end of the Eighties.)

Court cases with record companies also became commonplace, making it difficult to get any new product out. The concerts were still moderately well attended, but not like before. Worst of all, the albums during the Eighties were just not up to the early recordings and sales suffered. There was still the odd track to suggest that the old magic might be lurking somewhere below the surface, but not enough to make people actually shell out their hard earned cash for the latest Motorhead platter.

After the quite frankly abysmal “Rock’n’Roll” album in 1987 (which achieved Motorhead’s worst ever chart position in Britain) the plug was nearly pulled. Lemmy, fed up with England in general, relocated to Los Angeles, near to his favorite Rainbow Bar & Grill. But Lemmy was nothing if not a trooper and the musical lust soon came back, and after all, he still had a band and a fine one at that. Phil Taylor, now back in harness, was perhaps coming to the end of his best period, but there were two hot guitarists in Phil Campbell and Wurzel.

Recording sessions took place and this hard core diamond of an album was unearthed. Motorhead badly needed an album like “1916”, but no one could have believed they would have done it in such style and panache. The release went in at No 24 in the British album charts and also broke the American Billboard Charts, reestablishing Motorhead as a major force.

Album opener “The One to Sing The Blues” is the perfect introduction with that classic Motorhead full-ahead blast to it. There are plenty of other great rockers on here too, like “Going to Brazil” and a tribute to American punk legends the Ramones, one of Lemmy’s favorite bands. There is also the threatening “Nightmare/The Dreamtime” with its almost Gothic feel, plus the nearest the band go to a power ballad in “Love Me Forever”.

The most emotional track on the album is the last and title track where Lemmy sings almost unaccompanied about a young boy going off to fight in the First World War, feeling it was his patriotic duty to do so, but not really understanding why either – until the bullets started to fly. It’s certainly the most moving track Lemmy ever put out.

Motorhead never paid any attention to passing fazes or tends, but this album fitted in perfectly with the times and still sounds great today.

Phil Taylor and Wurzel were soon to leave the band under different circumstances and varying stories, depending on who you talk to, but Motorhead brought in Mickie Dee and carried on as a trio, producing many more great albums and setting alight every concert hall they visited.

Sadly, Lemmy passed away in 2015 and it’s unlikely we will ever see his like again. He is joined in the great gig in the sky by bandmates Wurzel (2011), Philthy Animal (2015) and Fast Eddie (2018).

Album Rating: 5 Stars

Motorhead’s iconic frontman - Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister.
Motorhead’s iconic frontman – Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister.

Track List:

One To Sing The Blues

I’m So Bad ( Baby I Don’t Care)

No Voices In The Sky

Going To Brazil

Nightmare/ The Dreamtime

Love Me Forever

Angel City

Make My Dat

R.A.M.O.N.E.S.

Shut You Down

1916

Motorhead:

Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister – bass and vocals

Phil “Wizzo” Campbell – guitar

Michael “Wurzell’’ Burston – guitar

Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor – drums