The crowd gets loud when the band gets right,
steel guitar cryin’ through the night.
Yeah, try’n to cover up the corner fight
but ev’rything’s cool ’cause they’s just tight
I’ve gone on record before saying that it should be a capital offence to cover either an AC/DC or ZZ Top song, because they are both such deceptively difficult bands to get right but still the suckers, pluckers and mother-cluckers keep on trying. Scrap that. I will allow one exception in my collection of perfection, my joint favourite trio, Motörhead. Anyone else … (makes spine-tingling throat cutting gesture).
Motörhead’s 1980 EP is, strictly speaking, untitled although it is sometimes given the title Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers, so that’s what I’ll call it. Basically this is a shameless bread-raking manoeuvre by Chiswick Records on the band’s ludicrous level of success that year, by releasing four tracks, two of them covers recorded during sessions for their debut LP, Motörhead, in 1977. Lemmy didn’t mind at all, basically saying that without Chiswick there wouldn’t have been a Motörhead around to cash-in on, so it just didn’t matter. Hurrah!
The title track is a lot of fun, vastly less-polished than the original Lemmy and Fast Eddie trade vocal lines just like the Top did on theirs and despite a far heavier bass and a divergent guitar solo, this is a pretty faithful cover. The band really get it, allowing the track to breathe and flex its funky undercarriage. You can really hear towards the end just how much ZZ Top’s proudly mutant blues rock influenced the Motörhead sound, even before the boys stole ‘Tush’ changed the number plates in some backstreet lock-up garage and put it back on the road as ‘No Class’.
‘On Parole’ is an interesting one too. The sole Larry Wallis composition recorded by the band, it has a fairly straight-forward boogie-rock quality, with heavy overtones – almost a bit of Status Quo and AC/DC in its DNA*. It’s an interesting evolutionary staging post in Motörhead’s development, an interesting evolutionary staging post with a really good guitar solo and some swearing – I always say they’re the best kind of interesting evolutionary staging posts. Basically, in a couple of years the band got good enough to play this sort of stuff at double speed and a legend was born.
On Side 2 of Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers we get ‘Instro’, which is (drum roll) an instrumental, good enough but not inspired although again you can hear just what the band were reaching for and would later grab, throw over their shoulder like an unchaperoned farm animal and ravish at their leisure; come on haven’t we all done that at times? Oh, umm, just me then. Again.
Closer is a cover of John Mayall’s ‘I’m Your Witch Doctor’, which shows Lemmy’s roots again but doesn’t add much at all to proceedings, apart from a couple of strange yelps halfway through**. I definitely view this one as a misfire.
So there you have it a historical curio produced by a member of Thunderclap Newman with some neat tracks on, which have been included as bonus tracks on every Motörhead CD re-release since the late Victorian era, not essential by any means but I’m pleased I’ve got it. As the men say,
Ev’rything’s cool ’cause they’s just tight.
* I know it was recorded too early for AC/DC to have influenced it, but give me some artistic licence please! Pedant!
**an unchaperoned farm animal again? I wonder.