Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lemmy - Damage Case

Everyone knows of Lemmy and his fantastic Motorhead, but the man was rockin’ for decades before he started that legendary group. This compilation shows the variety of music that Lemmy been involved with over the years, some of which will likely surprise anyone who is only familiar with Motorhead.

Opening with the Rockin’ Vickers – not his first band, but close to it – who supposedly created controversy by wearing dog collars in their live performances. The first cut is the surprisingly wimpy pop of their version of the Kinks’ “Dandy” – about as unlikely a number for Lemmy to be involved in as anything anyone could imagine! By contrast, the other two cuts included here are – I assume – more representative of the group. “I Don’t Need Your Kind” and “It’s Alright”, while poppy, are more similar to bands like the Birds or the Creation and are pretty cool beat numbers. In fact, the later was written by none other than Pete Townshend and was later revamped as “The Kids Are Alright”.

I was completely unfamiliar with Sam Gopol, a psychedelic, tabla-based conglomeration which was pretty fantastic, based on these two numbers. I am going to be looking for their full length release as I love this type of acid-drenched pop with wild guitars.

Next is the very logical step to Hawkwind, another psychedelic combo and the initial offering here is Lemmy’s lead vocals on his “The Watcher”, which wouldn’t surprise me if the idea was taken from the character in the Fantastic Four. This cut is mostly acoustic guitars and fairly quiet, though far from weak! Following this though is the metallic edge of “Silver Machine”, their hit in the UK (also sung by Lemmy) and an intense piece of space rock! Of course, he is highlighted on their version of his song “Motorhead” which named his famous group. This is a cool take on it, with sax throughout and even a violin solo! This was a crazy band!

Of course, his work with Motorhead is featured prominently here, though the compilers tried to avoid being too obvious and the tunes are interspersed with other collaborations. The title track is classic Motorhead and is as powerful as anything the group ever did. The band did break up briefly though and Lemmy joined the Damned just long enough to record an incendiary “Ballroom Blitz” with a rockin’ bass solo by the main man, which shows that he is as much punk as he is metal. “Over the Top” is credited to Motordam and while the liner notes oddly ignore this cut, I can only assume it is the Damned with Lemmy singing and is nicely vicious.

The extreme pop of “Don’t Do That” by the Young and Moody Band is another surprise, though I actually can’t hear Lemmy in here anywhere – either vocally or instrumentally, but apparently he is playing bass with a very different tone than usual.

CD 1 has several more Motorhead tunes – “Iron Horse”, “Born to Lose” and “Masterplan” as well as the terrific musical meet-up with Girlschool doing Johnny Kidd and the Pirates' “Please Don’t Touch” as Headgirl. There is also a very twisted “Stand By Your Man” with Wendy O Williams, which sounds about like what you would expect from those two reprobates in a studio together.

Motorhead starts off Disc 2 with the terrific “Killed By Death” and includes several others, including the unusually restrained “1916” and the tribute to the band “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.”. There are also a couple of heavy covers, credited to Lemmy alone, such as his take on Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down” and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”, both of which are superior to the originals!

He joins forces with the Pirates’ Mick Green under the moniker Lemmy & the Upsetters for a punk rock take on “Blue Suede Shoes” and the slower (but not wimpy!) “Paradise”. Green’s playing has influenced damn near everyone on the British rock scene (his band wrote “Shakin’ All Over”) and he is as high energy as ever here.

Even more retro sounding is his work with Slim Jim and Danny B (I admit my ignorance – I don’t know who Danny is) on classics such as “Matchbox”, “Big Rover” and “Learning the Game”. Lemmy grew up when 50’s r’n’r and rockabilly was just starting to hit and he has never forgotten his love for these sounds. He plays acoustic guitar and sings (not exactly pretty, but effective), while the other guys flesh everything out.

Even Dave Grohl works with the man in Probot on a tune called “Shake Your Blood”, which is heavy enough to sound like a Motorhead rocker!

This is a great comp of the various stages of Lemmy’s career and is pretty damn great from start to finish!