Motörhead (album)

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Motörhead - Motörhead (1977).jpg
Studio album by
Released21 August 1977
Recorded27–29 April 1977[1]
StudioEscape Studios, Kent, England[1]
ProducerSpeedy Keen[1]
Motörhead chronology
Singles from Motörhead
  1. "Motorhead"
    Released: 10 June 1977

Motörhead is the self-titled debut studio album by the band Motörhead, released on 21 August 1977, on Chiswick Records, one of the first for the label. It is officially regarded as the band's debut album, though an album was recorded in 1975 for United Artists which was shelved, and was only released in 1979 after the band had established themselves commercially.[1] This would be the first album to feature what would become the "classic" Motörhead lineup of Lemmy Kilmister, "Fast" Eddie Clarke and Philthy Animal Taylor and their only release under Chiswick, as they were signed to the larger Bronze Records by early 1978.


Motörhead hired lead guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke in early 1977, and he was originally to serve as the band's second guitarist along with Larry Wallis in what was intended to be a four-piece lineup, but Wallis left shortly after for his own reasons. Sensing that the fledgling band had dim prospects for success, Motörhead decided to disband after playing one final show at the Marquee Club in London that year.[1] Ted Carroll, founder of the upstart Chiswick Records label, knew Lemmy well from his rare 45 Record's store in London of which Lemmy was a frequent customer. Carroll decided to give the band a break and hosted what was to be their final performance at the Marquee. The decision was made to record the gig. As Clarke recalls in the documentary The Guts and the Glory:

It was going to be our farewell gig. I said, Let's get a mobile down at least to record the fuckin' year and a half we've been together and put something on the fuckin' tape, you know? The problem with the Marquee was they wanted 500 quid for doing a recording at the Marquee. Well, that was out of the question in those days.

Feeling that the band had already seen its share of adversity, Carroll offered the band two days of studio time at Escape Studios in Kent, England, to record a single with producer John "Speedy" Keen. As Clarke explained to John Robinson of Uncut in 2015, the band finished the gig at the Marquee and drove straight to the studio in Kent for a weekend of recording:

That was Friday night, so we had all Saturday and Sunday. We'd been playing these songs for a year, so we thought fuck it, we can do an album. In a few hours we had all the backing tracks down. Put the vocals down. Bit more speed, put some more guitars on. Few more beers – we were fucking steaming. Come Saturday night, we'd nearly finished it.

As biographer Joel McIver recalls in his book Overkill: The Untold Story of Motörhead:

As the story goes, by the time Carroll came back to the studio to hear the results, the band had recorded no fewer than 11 tracks. Impressed, he paid for more studio time to allow them to complete an album. The album did well enough to ensure the band would remain together, but it would be their next album, 1979's Overkill, that proved to be their true breakthrough.[2]


Due to the very limited studio time afforded the band, the decision was made to re-record the unreleased United Artists album almost in its entirety; only "Fools" and "Leaving Here" weren't re-recorded at the Kent sessions.[1] In addition, two new self-penned compositions, "White Line Fever" and "Keep Us on the Road", were added, as well as a cover of John Mayall's "Train Kept A-Rollin". Three tracks on the album were actually composed by Lemmy while he was still a member of Hawkwind, "Motorhead", "Lost Johnny", and "The Watcher", the latter a psychedelic acoustic piece. Like the band name itself, the song "Motorhead" (About this soundsample ) is a reference to speed – Lemmy's drug of choice at that time[3]- and was coupled with the non-album track "City Kids" (a Larry Wallis composition from his Pink Fairies' days) for release as 7" and 12" singles. In his autobiography White Line Fever, Lemmy recalls working with producer Speedy Keen and engineer John Burns and the challenges arising from a lack of time:

"(They) were speeding out of their heads because they couldn't afford to go to sleep – they didn't have time, and they wanted to make an album as much as we did. They mixed twenty-four versions of Motörhead alone!"

The band members were less than pleased with the finished product, and guitarist Clarke has referred to the album's muddled sound as "pretty dreadful". Four remaining tracks from the session were shelved until 1980, when they were released as the Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers EP. In his memoir Lemmy noted:

"Once again it was cash-in time – for the record labels, at least. I've never recorded more than we need since! But having said that, I don't begrudge Ted Carroll that – he saved my band."

The B-side and the EP tracks were later added as bonus material on the CD release.[2]

Cover artwork[edit]

The sleeve artwork featured the debut of Snaggletooth, the War-Pig, the fanged face that would become an icon of the band and would appear on most of the band's album covers. Snaggletooth was created by artist Joe Petagno, who had earlier worked with Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis and had designed the Swan Song Records logo for Led Zeppelin. According to its creator, Snaggletooth represents a combination of a bear, a wolf and a dog skull with boar tusks. The original Motörhead album cover contained a swastika on the spike of the helmet, though it was removed from future copies of the album.


The inner sleeve featured old and new photographs of the band and friends by long time friend Motorcycle Irene, who took most of the 70's pictures of Motörhead, plus letters of thanks from Lemmy, Eddie and Phil. Advertisements for the album, single, and tour bore the words "Achtung! This Band Takes No Prisoners".[2]

  • 21 August 1977 – UK vinyl – Chiswick, WIK2 – First 1000 printed black on silver foil sleeve. With inner sleeve.
  • 10 November 1979 – UK vinyl – Chiswick/EMI, CWK3008 – The first 10,000 copies pressed on white vinyl, with "White vinyl fever" written on cover. Later versions had a gold stamped promo sleeve.
  • 1981 – UK vinyl – Big Beat, WIK 2 – Red "Motörhead" lettering and "Includes inner sleeve with rare pix" written on cover. With inner sleeve. Black, clear and red (16,000 copies) vinyl editions.
  • Big Beat have also issued a Direct Metal Mastered LP edition.
  • One-sided test pressings (used in the trade; not mis-presses) escaped the pressing plant and are on the market.
  • 1988 – UK CD – Big Beat, CDWIK 2 – Red "Motörhead" lettering and "Plus 5 more headbanging tracks!!!" written on cover. With Bonus tracks.
  • 2 April 2001 – UK CD – Big Beat, CDWIKM 2 – Red "Motörhead" lettering. With bonus tracks. Liner notes by Ted Carroll.[4]
  • 16 July 2007 – UK vinyl – Devils Jukebox, DJB006LP – 180 g vinyl replica of original silver foil vinyl edition limited to 666 copies. First 100 with one sided 12" silver vinyl featuring the 5 bonus tracks, and poster.[5]
  • 8 October 2007 – UK CD – Big Beat, CDHP021 – CD replica of original silver foil vinyl edition limited to 3000 copies.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[7]
Classic Rock4.5/5 stars[8]

Alex Ogg of AllMusic wrote: "Though only a minor chart success, Motörhead patented the group's style: Lemmy's rasping vocal over a speeding juggernaut of guitar, bass, and wonder the punks liked them." Many critics have noted that the album is not as polished as later works like Bomber and Ace of Spades. Assessing the album and its debut single in 2011, biographer Joel McIver states: "with the benefit of hindsight it's glaringly obvious that neither comes close to capturing the group's mesmerizing live sound." Kris Needs of Loudersound praises the album, saying "Although the roller-coaster sound can be uneven and The Watcher still embedded in west London space-rock, Motörhead still sounds like the kamikaze rampage of desperate men granted one last shot, surging through speed-driven carnage to snatch triumph from oblivion."

Track listing[edit]

Side A[1]
1."Motorhead"Ian Kilmister3:13
2."Vibrator"Larry Wallis, Des Brown3:39
3."Lost Johnny"Kilmister, Michael Farren4:15
4."Iron Horse/Born to Lose"Taylor, Mick Brown, Guy "Tramp" Lawrence5:21
Side B
5."White Line Fever"Kilmister, Clarke, Taylor2:38
6."Keep Us on the Road"Kilmister, Clarke, Taylor, Farren5:57
7."The Watcher"Kilmister4:30
8."Train Kept A-Rollin'"Myron Bradshaw, Howard Kay, Lois Mann3:19
Total length:32:52
Big Beat Records 1988 & Chiswick/Ace Records 2001 CD reissues & remaster bonus tracks[1]
No.TitleWriter(s)Original ReleaseLength
9."City Kids"Wallis, Duncan Sanderson1977 ~ Motörhead (Single)3:24
10."Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers"Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, Frank Beard1980 ~ Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers3:27
11."On Parole"Wallis1980 ~ Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers5:57
12."Instro"Kilmister, Clarke, Taylor1980 ~ Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers2:27
13."I'm Your Witchdoctor"John Mayall1980 ~ Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers2:58
Total length:52:14
40th Anniversary Chiswick/Ace Records 2017 CD reissue & bonus tracks[9]
No.TitleWriter(s)Original ReleaseLength
14."Lost Johnny" (Mix 2)Kilmister, Farren1977 ~ Motörhead4:17
15."City Kids" (Mix 1)Wallis, Sanderson1977 ~ Motörhead (Single)3:23
16."I'm Your Witchdoctor" (Alternative Mix)Mayall1980 ~ Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers2:58
17."The Watcher" (Mix 3)Kilmister1977 ~ Motörhead4:32
18."White Line Fever" (Mix 7)Kilmister, Clarke, Taylor1977 ~ Motörhead2:35
19."Keep Us on the Road" (Mix 1)Kilmister, Clarke, Taylor, Farren1977 ~ Motörhead6:05
20."Motörhead" (Alternative Vocals & Guitar Solo)Kilmister1977 ~ Motörhead3:12
Total length:79:16


Adapted from the album liner notes.[1]




Chart Peak position
UK Album Charts 43[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Motörhead, Motörhead, Chiswick Records & Ace Records, CDWIKM 2, January 2001 Liner Notes by Ted Carroll, page 1 & rear coer
  2. ^ a b c Burridge, Alan (April 1991). "Motorhead". Record Collector (140): 16–18. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |quotes= (help)
  3. ^ "Lemmy's Last Days: How Metal Legend Celebrated 70th, Stared Down Cancer". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  4. ^ Ace Records Archived 24 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Devils Jukebox Archived 16 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Ace Records Archived 11 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ AllMusic review
  8. ^ Needs, Kris (27 December 2017). "Motörhead - Motörhead 40th Anniversary Edition album review". Loudersound. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Motörhead 40th Anniversary Edition". Ace Records. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  10. ^ "motorhead | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Retrieved 17 December 2019.