… which was how Lemmy often used to introduce the opener of Bomber at gigs, ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’.  It always tickles me, that.

I think of Bomber, Motörhead’s third LP as a bit of a fan’s choice.  When all the Motörhead I owned was a greatest hits I asked my metal uncle* which I should go for next and he told me to go for Bomber because ‘it isn’t half as good as Overkill, or Ace of Spades but is still twice as good in some ways’.  Crystal clear.  I sort of get what he means now, sort of.

Bomber with the exception of the head-rushing title track is a slower, more considered LP than its’ predecessor.  Far more of a dirty rock album than an out-and-out metallic attack, you can hear Lemmy and chums picking their punches for maximum hurt, rather than just charging all arms flailing.  I think some of Lemmy’s best lyrics are here.  Look no further than ‘Poison’, a rebuttal of folk telling Lemmy to cut out the excess, he throws it back at ’em telling them it’s just the life he’s chosen and then the last verse is defiant and poignant, not a sentiment the ‘head are very big on usually**:

My Father, he used to be a Preacher
Never taught me nothing but scorn
If I ever catch him on the street, yeah
I’ll make him wish he’d never been born because
He was Poison (poison)
And now he poisoned my life
Yeah, he was Poison (poison)
I wish my mother wasn’t his wife, no

The sins of the fathers and all that. I also like the tough man tales of ‘Lawman’ and ‘Sharpshooter’, but my real nasty favourite on Side 1 is ‘Sweet Revenge’, a horror story told straight from the mind of a murdering, torturous villain – ‘Hello victims!’; it’s precisely the sort of unhealthy deviance that all decent metalheads should take twice a day after food.

For my money the best track on Bomber is ‘Stone Dead Forever’^ which just beats out the speed freakery of the title track by dint of some brilliant musicianship from all three of the ‘headers, the bass growls like no-one else has ever quite managed and Philthy’s drums are predictably great, but this is such a showcase for Fast Eddie – he gets to riff and roll to his heart’s content before taking us home in style with some great melodic playing.  Fast Eddie, pressed by Lemmy (introduced on one live recording as ‘where his larynx was first aired to the public gaze’!), sung lead on ‘Step Down’ too, the track has much more of a Thin Lizzy vibe to it and really stands out because of it, again the playing of all the tres hombres is really something else.

Hmm, I wonder why Philthy Animal Taylor autographed this copy as ‘Margaret’ …

I like penultimate track ‘Talking Head’ better than Lemmy does and the lyrics about propaganda and media stand muster today ‘Don’t be hypnotized by sugar-coated lies / Don’t switch it on today’, but it’s only ever going to be the lead up to ‘Bomber’.  By Crom, I love this track!  Anyone who doesn’t get off on the sheer pummeling speed of it should check their vital signs immediately – the fact that the chorus just repeats the phrase ‘It’s a bomber / It’s a bomber’ is just the icing on the cake.  Keep it simple – job done.

So overall a really great, classic Motörhead LP, the sound of a band carousing harder, getting more confident and even meaner, whilst trying out a few new tricks as well.  Plus you really have to love that LP cover too, just a mock-up of every Commando Comics story about the deadly skies I can ever remember reading.

Ironically it could have been even better too.  I have the Bomber single and the B-side^^ ‘Over The Top’ is a great raunchy, raw piece of rock ‘n roll that could easily have taken the place of ‘All The Aces’ or ‘Sharpshooter’ to make the LP even better.  Proof? from 2004, admittedly but still freaking great^*

782 Down.

PS. I originally wanted to review this as a tribute to Lemmy straight after his death.  I was prevented by good taste as bombing followed bombing.  Nice world we’ve made.

*so-called because he is made entirely of zinc-plated cadmium.  True story.

**’1916′ excepted.

^and one of my fave Motörhead tracks period.

^^included on most of yon fancy CD reissues.

^*Christ Mikkey Dee hits hard.

23 thoughts on “Dead Men Smell Toe Nails

  1. Yeeeeessssssss…. this is a great album! My “most underrated” Motorhead album! Stone Dead Forever is the choice cut for sure. Fun fact, back in the day when Sarca and I would jam (Her on drums, myself on guitar) Over the Top was one of our go to warm up songs.

    1. Thank you again Bruce – I’ve always loved the Bronze label, up there with Stiff, Vertigo, Apple and Harvest as my favourite label/logos. Sounds like a VC feature to me.

  2. Oh! I have this on those small silver discs… I can’t say I’ve even played it. Oooft. I’ll need to get around to rectifying that… not tonight, though, cause I’m listening to that Rory Gallagher, innit.

  3. No Sleep Til Hammersmith was my intro to Motorhead!
    So cool that your Uncle is actually made out of Metal!
    That back cover pic of Philthy is classic…

  4. Proper rocker right here. Love the “Bomber” track. I’ve never gone full Lemmy, but I’ve got some favorite tracks over the years. I think Lemmy was and always be one of the most interesting rock and roll icons. He was always himself from start to the very finish.

    I can’t imagine what those Top of the Pops folks were thinking when they hit the stage.

    1. I’m sort of like Nelson Mandela, but as a champion of lesser rock LPs (as opposed to the plight of wrongly subjugated races). A great human being, but he was lousy at reviewing albums.

      I’d put Stone Dead Forever up against anything they’ve ever done since.

      1. They weren’t a bad little band. I’ve just bought my first ever Motörhead T-shirt, it’ll go down a storm in court.

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