1980 was probably one of the most important years in Rock N Roll when you really think about it. First off, Bon Scott and John Bonham died, and it was also around this time that New Wave of British Heavy Metal came about, with Iron Maiden's self-titled debut. And where does Ace of Spades fit in during this year? Right on top.
Now after come off one of the best albums they have ever done, 'Overkill
', they released 'Bomber
', which while still being a good album, lacked the raw power that 'Overkill
' so vividly possessed. And it wasn't like these greasy loons sat down and said, 'Hey, we need to write a great album for everyone!'. It was more likely they showed up half-drunk, and Lemmy still tripping on speed, and said 'F**k this, let's play some damn music!'. And this, my friends, was how the wonder that is 'Ace of Spades
If you noticed the cover of the album showing 'Fast' Eddie Clarke, Phil Taylor, and of course, Lemmy Kilmister all dressed as old western outlaws in the desert, you might just think of this as a normal cover shot. Wrong. That cover represents the first handful of songs off this album. 'Ace of Spades
', 'Love Me Like a Reptile
', 'Shoot You in the Back
' and 'Live to Win
' are all great examples of this. Each feels as if it has it's own western badass personality. 'Ace of Spades
' and 'Shoot You in the Back
' both feature some slick-use of bended notes mixed with palm mutes to create it's western feel, while songs like 'Love Me Like a Reptile
' and 'Live to Win
' mix some blues and southern-rock for an intriguing sound. After those few songs, the album takes a dip into more of the 'Hard Rock' genre, with some thick palm mutes that include quick fills and pounding drums, such as on '(We Are) The Road Crew
', 'Bite the Bullet
' and 'The Hammer
'. Others, such as 'Fire, Fire
', 'Dance, Dance
', and 'The Chase is Better Than the Catch
' incorporate more of a blues feeling into their riffs. 'Dance, Dance
' would probably be the most unique out of those three, as the old-school 1950's rock-esque riffs remind you of when Rock'N'Roll first came out.
If I've said it once, I'll say it again. Lemmy sounds like he has been a smoker since age 12. This guy has a voice that's so gruff and so harsh that if it were with any other band, he would sound horrible. But here, mixing him in with tempo and rash playing of the band, he sounds like a vocal legend. Which he is, by the way. He actually has a devoted cult following. But anyway, his vocal range consists of gruff talking'and that's about it folks. And what he does, he does well. His lyrics are rude, offensive, and dirty, and he matches his voice to them perfectly. His quick talking about gambling on 'Ace of Spades
' really gives life to the song and makes it seem as cheap as the game he is betting on. Others, such as 'Jailbait
' have him yelling out things such as 'Love that young stuff!' as loud as he can. He never really tries to go out of vocal range here, so once you've heard the title track, you've heard all he does on this entire album.
As for his lyrics, which I mentioned earlier as being rude, offensive, and dirty, you damn well better believe, they are. And that's what makes it all the better. Lines such as 'I like to watch your body sway, I got no choice, I'm gonna twist your tail.', come off the sexual track 'Love Me Like a Reptile
'. And guys, the sex don't stop there. Tracks such as 'Fast and Loose
', 'The Chase is Better Than the Catch
', and especially 'Jailbait
', which includes lines such as 'I don't even dare to ask your age,
It's enough to know you're here backstage.', keep the sexual flow coming straight at you. If their not about sex, then they're about gambling ('Ace of Spades
') and boastful bragging ('The Hammer
'). The best lyrics come off the amazing '(We Are) The Road Crew
', which tells life through the eyes of the Roadie with some funny comments such as 'Another truckstop on the way, Another game I learn to play, Another word I learn to say.' The lyrics on this album are never meant to be taken seriously, they're just meant for a good time.
As for Lemmy's bass playing, the guy is a great enjoyment. Thumping bassline intros can be heard on the title track and 'Live to Win
'. While they are never anything amazingly technical (The intro to the title track is simply two notes), they're just played so simple that it feels entirely innovative. His bass is always clearly heard, and while he never throws many variations or fills on his own, it's because he has got his vocals to worry about.
Now, as for Eddie Clarke, the guy is superbly talented guitarist. His solos tend to follow the mood of the song, and only a few times he jumps into the mindless shred fest, such as on '(We Are) The Road Crew
', but he still attempts to keep it close to the feeling of the song. Also on that song, as well as on
'Shoot You in the Back
', he makes great use of his Wah pedal, and on '(We Are) The Road Crew
' it might remind you of something Tom Morello would do, except it doesn't really sound like a siren or a helicopter or whatever, but it's right up his alley. So for the most part, the solos stick to the mood of the song, which is a great course to take.
Overall, a great CD by a great band. I strongly urge you to pick this up if you a fan of any kind of hard rock. These guys know how to play, and how to make catchy, yet very simple riffs. Pick this up, you won't be let down. OVERALL RATING: 5/5
Ace of Spades
Shoot You in the Back
(We Are) The Road Crew
Alright guys, there you go. I re-wrote the whole thing, as the previous version IMO was horrible. Hope you enjoy!