Review Summary: What are you waiting for?
In 1992, the rock n’ roll quartet Motorhead released their inconsistent and weak 10th album March or Die. Where were Lemmy Kilmister and his boogeymen to go from here" Would they go on to record another insipid, uninspired collection of songs" Hell no. Instead, Motorhead worked their (bad) magic and unleashed one of the premier albums of their 40 year career in Bastards.
Released in late 1993, Bastards served up 12 original tunes totaling nearly 48 minutes of greasy, heavy, undiluted, and hardcore rock n’ roll. Understandably, people who listen to Motorhead will label them under the vast category of “heavy metal” or “speed metal.” But Lemmy has always termed his band “rock n’ roll” and for good reason. The sound of blues and punk are mixed deliciously into their music. Motorhead happens to be rock n’ roll that is replete with a nasty attitude, ear damming loudness, and truckloads of testosterone. No objections can be raised about the production. Lemmy's warts and bass are the ace. The guitars of Phil Campbell and Michael “Wurzel” Burston are energizing and pummeling. Leaving his stamp on it, Mikkey Dee hammers, rips, and wallops the drums throughout this album.
Two fabulous examples of Mikkey smashing the drums and the rest of the band stomping the gas pedal are the opening rocker “On Your Feet or On Your Knees” and the intense, 150 mph “Burner.” “Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me” is the peculiar song of this album and Lemmy takes a short pause from raising hell to create a solemn lament for the horrors of child abuse. Ballad form with some acoustic guitar is the route here. It is a creepy tune and will polarize listeners, but the difference in vibe from the rest of the songs brings something new to the table. “Lost in the Ozone” also has a kind of ballad atmosphere to it but not as drastic as the former song. Another somewhat dissimilar yet grand song is “Devils.” It is 6 minutes in length whereas the rest are between 2 and 5. “Bad Woman” nearly has a “Johnny B. Goode” energy to it and one can slightly hear a jumping piano in the background. “I’m Your Man” and “We Bring the Shake” have a mid-paced beat to them and angry temper is spewed out in “Liar.”
The unmistakable wow factors are “Death or Glory,” with its war lyrics “blood and iron it’s the same old story,” “I Am the Sword,” and chiefly “Born to Raise Hell.” The latter headbanging tune is over the top with “Ace of Spades” and “Overkill” as the band’s anthem. No songs here bulge out as particularly defective. The reissue of Bastards includes a bonus cover song of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” by the Rolling Stones and it is not to be missed.
Bastards is Motorhead’s supreme record of the ‘90’s and near the top of the ladder as one of the foremost recordings of their wild career. Here, Motorhead lived up to the claim that they would kick your arse. Phil had this to say about the band’s 11th album in the documentary The Guts and the Glory - The Motorhead Story: “We spent a lot of time on Bastards. I’m so proud of that album. Nothing wrong with that album at all. Some great songs.” Amen.