Before we even get started I will answer your question in advance…WHY is this review so LONG? Simple really, it’s F**KING MOTORHEAD and THEY DESERVE IT! Now let’s have some fun…
Imagine how stoked I was when we got an email from the top dog from Motorhead’s publicist that they wanted US to make sure WE review the newest release from Motorhead, “Bad Magic”. Not to mention that I got the assignment to be the reviewer. Sure it’s tough shit for all of you that hate my writing, but it was a “winning” moment for me to annoy anyone within 5 miles of my stereo BLASTING “VICTORY OR DIE”! Ha-ha I guffawed in my Jack-n-Coke laughing!
As I downloaded the link for ‘Bad Magic’ I was originally going to take a few notes and just riff, but after the 4th listen, NOTE, FOURTH LISTEN, I wanted to do this disc justice for all the MOTORHEAD FANS out there (you know, the ones that own the discs AND not just the t-shirts). For better or worse, I decided to do this track by track and it took on a mind of its own
At my age, I’m lucky to have seen many a legend in their prime, so many bands, and so many wasted brain cells if you will. I can give you the kind of night a show was played on and most times I can tell you who the openers were. Just ask my buddy Bill Miller who lost a bet with me on who opened for Journey at the Leona Theater many, many decades ago. I told him THAT was the first time I was exposed to a true rock god and he laughed at me for thinking Sammy Hager could or would be considered a rock god, even by MY standards. So, after telling him he should be punched in the face to think that THAT particular thought would even enter my mind, I gave him a smug and firm, “Nope, Diamond Dave.” He looked at me like I may have lost my mind. I was adamant that this actually happened and ultimately, I was correct.. Mister Miller succumbed to the fact that Van Halen DID open the show on March 12, 1978. BOOM, cool victory for me cuz, Mills was a walking concert encyclopedia. But that’s got nuttin’ to do with nuttin’, other than I first saw and met one Lemmy Kilmister in October 1974 in Kansas City when Rush opened for Hawkwind at the lovely Memorial Hall. Ah, the virtues of having cousins that are not only older but have driver’s licenses, a sweet taste in music and the ability to score booze at a young age! It wouldn’t be till 1983 that I would see Mr. Kilmister and company headline their own show Aug. 2 with Helix opening. BOO YA. Old age, DOES have its virtues after all.
Ok, enough history, time to move forward dammit…
Motorhead have released approximately 21 studio albums in the course of 36 years. “Bad Magic” is numero TWENTY TWO in thirty-EIGHT years. And at #22, this one hits on all cylinders of that vintage Motorhead that spurned a generation of head-banging, black t-shirt wearing crazies. In case you are already bored, understand one thing…I LOVE THIS RECORD and you will too!! The punk meets speed trio of Lemmy, Mickey Dee on drums and Phil Campbell on guitar zips you back in time to the beginnings without being dated. This is some of the best playing of this cycle of Motorhead in a very long time!
I guess with the state of Motorhead of late or should I say with Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister and his less than stellar health, you can find some “personal” messages in the lyrics. But when your head is getting blown off from sheer volume and that gravelly Jack-n-Coke/Marlboro laden vocal, it’s a bit much to dissect the lyrical meaning. But…that’s what we do.
1. VICTORY OR DIE-The opening track begins with a battle cry of “VICTORY OR DIE” and proceeds’ to curb-stomp your eardrums ala “Overkill”. It’s hard not to listen to the lyrics and wonder if this is Lemmy’s way of telling us, life ain’t fair and who said it was. And by all means you either win your battle or lose, but you never go down without a fight.
2. WHEN THE SKY COMES LOOKING FOR YOU-Upon hearing this next track I think of a warped “Back to the Future “scene. Instead of Marty McFly ya have Lemmy McKilmister just kickin’ it old school rock-n-rolla with Marvin calling his cousin Chuck Berry telling him he just found that sound he was looking for. A kick ass rhythm with attitude and metal as Chuck Berry or Gene Vincent may have interpreted it.
3. FIRESTORM HOTEL- with its drum and guitar riff driven opening keeps the blood pumping. Again taking on a shit hitting the fan all around you theme, you better be PREPARED for whatever happens. No sleepwalking through life here; the warnings of destruction and praying your luck don’t give out tale with a kick ass metal soundtrack
4. SHOOT OUT ALL OF YOUR LIGHTS- Speed drumming and bass driven it’s time to “DIE, DIE/TIME GOES BY/WE WILL SHOOT OUT ALL OF YOUR LIGHTS”. I can hear this blaring through loudspeakers of ANY stadium or arena cheering on the underdog. It’s the final seconds and you’re down by a point, better show some hate to throw us off our game otherwise it’s LIGHTS OUT!
5. THE DEVIL- Basically a swaggering rock and roll warning that you’d better not get “his” attention or everything changes as you’d believe. Laugh at the preacher or live with the preacher, your choice. This tune shows some real interesting vocal scales on Lemmy’s part and is just pure enjoyment in a devilish kinda way.
6. ELECTRICITY-What can ya say, this song is pure electricity from start to finish. Fast and furious, great rhythm and lyrics to match. Sounds to me as if Lemmy has had enough of the repent or else corner preacher. Don’t tell me what you don’t know, I’ve seen it and you have no clue seems to be his message here. I’m sure Lemmy has seen the good and the evil and neither of those two are speaking Lemmy’s name for the fear of the Kilmister wrath.
7. EVIL EYE-Starting to see a real pattern yet? Perhaps it’s easy to believe Lemmy’s health scares have affected the writings, but even without that reason one shouldn’t be surprised. The disc continues with the speed demon’d rocker and is not only relentless, but repent-less as well. Once again seems Lemmy knows that dropping a buck in the collection pan ain’t gonna save your sole.
8. TEACH THEM HOW TO BLEED-Eight songs deep and it just keeps getting faster and harder. “Give the people what they want, blood and death and guts/ People so predictable, drive you fucking nuts/ Fall upon your sword now, nothing up your sleeve/ Let them see, let ’em be, teach them how to bleed” NUFF SAID!
9. TILL THE END-Who said Motorhead couldn’t write a POWER BALLAD? If this isn’t “personal” then nothing is. We all get to that age where we look back and this is Lemmy’s. A great man once said, “Growing old isn’t an option, growing up is.” Lemmy has lived the words of Walt Disney and this tune is the cherry on the sundae. If it wasn’t for Lemmy’s vocals, you’d be hard pressed to know this was a MOTORHEAD song. AMAZING!
10. TELL ME WHO TO KILL-The speed metal behemoth continues with this track. A testament to the soul with laying your life for your soul mate. Again showing a side of the ‘never say die’ Lemmy and his fight or die philosophy.
11. CHOKING ON YOUR SCREAMS-A world that thinks they know best? Hmmm I think by now we’ve all found out that “Lemmy knows best”. Heed the warnings as Motorhead are offering up a head-banging reality check that if don’t learn from history, it’s doomed to repeat itself. “We are your masters, we feel no remorse/ You have no chance against us, we live for war/ You will be gone forever, no fever dreams/Die then choking on your screams” When the whole shithouse goes up in flames, ya can’t say you weren’t warned.
12. WHEN THE SKY COMES LOOKING FOR YOU-Aaaaaah, facing the rapture with this little rockin’ ditty…SWEET. Look in the mirror and question yourself, what ARE you going to do when the sky comes looking for you. The words of inspiration close out this insanely good Motorhead release that is probably the closest that Lemmy has come to opening his heart and mind to us fans that have been there from start to finish and a the fan in between.
No “WtSCLfY” isn’t the FINAL track mind you. “Bad Magic” closes with a rather odd or apropos closing cover of “SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL”. Nothing in this version really stands out and makes you thank Beelzebub himself, BUT it does strike a chord. When Mick Jagger wrote this song it was an outlandish homage to the Devil himself. To me, Motorhead’s cover is more of Lemmy introducing HIMSELF to ol’ Scratch. Allowing Mr.” Fire& Brimstone Devilman” to understand one thing and one thing only…if THIS is where Lemmy is left off, be prepared; cuz hell has a NEW SHERIFF and his name is LEMMY KILMISTER<em>. NOW DEAL WITH IT BITCH!
Now go grab a Jack-n-Coke with a Marlboro in honor of LEMMY, toss them Dre Beat headphones on and CRANK IT UP…LOUD the way it was INTENDED~!