Underrated. That's the word that can describe 'Bomber' by Motorhead. This album came out shortly after their big hit, 'Overkill', and was before 'Ace of Spades'. Many have said this album doesn't come close to the standards set by 'Overkill', and is vastly out-shadowed by 'Ace of Spades'. I beg to differ the first one.
'Bomber' features the classic Motorhead line-up of Lemmy Kilmister, 'Fast' Eddie Clarke, and Phil 'Philthy Animal' Taylor playing their classic mix of metal, rock, and punk, and even a little bit of blues.
Probably the main reason this album is so drastically underrated is the tempo of the entire album. Compare it to 'Overkill' or 'Ace of Spades', and it's a good bit slower. The opener, 'Dead Men Tell No Tales', is a great example of the entire album. It features slow, heavy-riffs with a bit of melody in the chorus, and it picks up speed in the chorus, only to go back to the same-pace when it goes back to the verse. Most of the riffs on this album can be very easily distinguish as to what genre inspired them. For instance, 'Sweet Revenge' has a nice blues influence going on for it during the main riff, 'Stone Dead Forever' shows their large punk influence, and 'Talking Head' is more of metal mixed with a good dose of rock. Simply put, these guys got their fingers in every jar of music, and they blend them together very well. However, sometimes the riffs seem a little bit bland, such is the case for 'Lawman', where there is almost no variation between the verse, chorus, and bridge for that matter.
You either love Lemmy, or hate him, from what I can understand. He has got one of gruffest voices you will probably ever hear in your life, and he really sounds like he started smoking when he was about 10. However, his voice fits perfectly with Motorhead's sound. Their brash playing mixed with his gruff vocals always produces great results. His lyrics, while not the best you will come across, are above average. 'Dead Man Tell No Tales' is actually supposed to be an anti-heroin song, and features some of the best lyrics off the entire album. Example: 'But if you're doing smack, You won't be coming back. I ain't the one to make your bail, Dead men tell no tales.' For those of you out there that don't know, 'smack' is slang for heroin. Also, I should probably point out that Eddie Clarke gets his shot at the microphone on the song, 'Step Down'. While most of the song is dominated by the band just playing, Eddie gets about a good 1:30 to show off his vocal talents. He ain't that bad either. He is nowhere near as gruff as Lemmy, and he has a slightly higher voice, but he certainly isn't a Bruce Dickinson or a David Lee Roth if you catch my drift.
'Fast' Eddie Clarke should be congratulated for his solos on this album. Not one of them falls below the 'Above Average' mark, and most of them are just plain amazing. This guy deserves a lot more recognition that he does in the music industry. His solos on songs 'Bomber', 'Dead Men Tell No Tales', and especially 'Stone Dead Forever' are flat out amazing. On 'Stone Dead Forever', he plays a few notes somewhat slowly repeatedly until he just unleashes on you and he travels that fret board better than most ever will in their life. His solos are probably the highlight of this entire album.
The only really big problem with this album is the lack of amazing songs. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of good songs on here. A lot of them. However, many of them seem to reach the 'good' mark and just want to stay there, instead of wanting to push for more. If I was to do a track-by-track here, 95% of these songs would be a 4/5.
Now, I'll give it to 'Ace of Spades'. It really did overshadow this album. Frankly, it still overshadows all of Motorhead's albums. Ask anyone if they have heard a Motorhead song, and if they say 'Yea, but only one.', and I bet 10 bucks it's probably 'Ace of Spades'. It's just that dominant. However, 'Bomber' has its own share of greatness, just in a different sense. Slower tempos, a little bit more melodic choruses, and great soloing. Don't let this one pass you up if you're a fan of Hard Rock or Metal.
Dead Men Tell No Tales
Stone Dead Forever