Rock 'n' Roll (Motörhead album)

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Rock 'N' Roll
Rock 'n' Roll (Motorhead album cover).jpg
Studio album by Motörhead
Released 5 September 1987
Recorded 1987
Master Rock Studios
Redwood, London, UK
Genre Rock and roll, heavy metal
Length 33:56 (Original) (1987)
45:31 (Reissue) (1997)
1:25:43 (Deluxe Edition) (2006)
Label GWR (1987)
Essential (1997)
Sanctuary (2006)
Producer Motörhead and Guy Bidmead
Motörhead chronology
Orgasmatron
(1986)
Rock 'n' Roll
(1987)
Nö Sleep at All
(1988)
Singles from Rock 'n' Roll
  1. "Eat the Rich"
    Released: 1987

Rock 'n' Roll is the eighth album by the British band Motörhead and the first album since the return of their now former drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor who would leave again in 1992. Reaching only 34 in the UK charts, it was, in that respect, the worst performing of all of Motörhead's Top 40 chart hits.

Background[edit]

In 1987, Motörhead appeared in the Peter Richardson film Eat the Rich, which starred the regular cast of The Comic Strip and Motörhead bassist/vocalist Lemmy Kilmister himself in a bit part as "Spider". The band supplied six songs for the soundtrack as well. As the band was about to film their cameo, however, drummer Pete Gill was fired and Phil Taylor rejoined the after having quit in 1984. In his autobiography White Line Fever, Lemmy states the sacking of Gill was a long time coming:

Peter was his own worst enemy, he was another one who wouldn't just be content in the band. He went up against me on a couple of decisions, and he was making Phil and Wurzel upset too. I got tired of him moaning, so when he kept us waiting while he hung around in the lobby of his hotel for twenty minutes while he read the paper or something, that was the proverbial last straw. I know it sounds trivial, but most flare-ups in families are, aren't they? And a band is a family.

Lemmy adds that he knew Taylor, who had been playing with Frankie Miller and ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian "Robbo" Robertson, wanted to come back. Rock 'n' Roll would be the final album recorded by Motörhead on the GWR label and the last before Lemmy would relocate from the U.K. to Los Angeles.

Recording[edit]

Rock 'n' Roll was produced by the band and Guy Bidmead at Master Rock Studios and Redwood Studios in London. In the Motörhead documentary The Guts and the Glory, guitarist Phil Campbell states, "I like it. It's not a great album but...there's things on there I like, a lot of good things I like". Campbell adds that the studio manager informed them that the studio they were recording in was owned by Michael Palin, and Motörhead – who were all huge Monty Python fans – invited Palin to come down and do a recitation for the album. Palin showed up dressed in a 1940s cricketer outfit, with a V-necked sweater and his hair all brushed to one side. Lemmy remembers Palin walking in and saying, "Hello, what sort of thing are we going to do now, then?" and Lemmy answering "Well, you know in The Meaning of Life, there was this speech that began 'Oh Lord —' ". Palin replied "Ah! Give me some cathedral!" and went in and recorded the 'Oh Lord, look down upon these people from Motörhead' speech". The song "Eat the Rich" was written specifically for the Richardson film and a music video was released as well (in addition to Lemmy, Koo Stark, Bill Wyman, and Paul McCartney also appear in the film).

In his 2002 memoir, Lemmy assesses the Rock 'n' Roll album:

Anyhow, with Pete gone, we gave Phil Taylor his job back. It was a mistake in retrospect...things weren't the same, and I should have known they wouldn't be...Rock 'n' Roll is a fair album, but it isn't one of our best...Our biggest mistake was choosing Guy Bidmead to produce it. He was just an engineer, really, so we were pretty much producing ourselves...And (guitarist) Wurzel was having a bad time personally...In addition to all of this, we didn't have enough time to do the songs properly and when that happens you're pretty much wasting your time.

Lemmy also writes that Rock 'n' Roll has some great songs, like Dogs, Boogeyman and Traitor, which they played "for years", but overall it just didn't seem to work.[1] According to Joel McIver's 2011 Motörhead biography Overkill: The Untold Story of Motörhead, a court case between the band and GWR was sparked over the choice of a summer single in 1988; the band wanted to release a live performance of "Traitor" from Rock 'n' Roll that was recorded at the Giants of Rock Festival in Hameenlinna, Finland, while the label had wanted to put out a live rendition of the Motörhead classic "Ace of Spades".

Album cover[edit]

Joe Petagno had other ideas for the cover of this album:

I had this great idea and nobody wanted to listen to me. The original Rock 'n' Roll sleeve was supposed to be going up. I said, "Look, the tongue goes up. This thing is lifting off... it was supposed to be rocketing. So it was like a bomb. A projectile of some sort. When I finished it, they said, 'We can't have it going up, it doesn't make any sense'. So it's coming down. Couldn't convince them. This fucking band...(laughs)"[2]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2/5 stars [3]
Robert Christgau A− [4]

While calling Motörhead "a rock & roll band in the purest sense", Eduardo Rivadavia of AllMusic concedes, "the songwriting here is rather uninspired for the band's standards, and the one-two punch of the phenomenal title track and the amusing 'Eat the Rich' (the album's only true highlights) are over too soon". In 2011 Motörhead biographer Joel McIver wrote, "Put bluntly, it's far from Motörhead's finest work, although like all of their albums it has some scintillating high points – Dogs, Traitor and Stone Deaf Forever among them". Rock 'n' Roll renewed commercial hope for Motörhead in the United States with Lemmy and company moving to Los Angeles. The fans in the States appeared willing to see this band live and buy their albums whereas Britain is criticized as having lost interest in the band.[5]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by Würzel, Phil Campbell, Phil Taylor and Lemmy unless otherwise stated.

No. Title Length
1. "Rock 'n' Roll"   3:49
2. "Eat the Rich"   4:34
3. "Blackheart"   4:03
4. "Stone Deaf in the U.S.A."   3:40
5. "The Wolf"   3:28
6. "Traitor"   3:17
7. "Dogs"   3:48
8. "All for You"   4:10
9. "Boogeyman"   3:07

Bonus CD (Sanctuary Records 2006 Reissue)[edit]

In 2006, the album was re-issued with a bonus CD, containing Motörhead's performance at the Monsters of Rock festival, recorded on 16 August 1986. This was a BBC Radio One recording and had been broadcast on the Friday Rock Show: it had not been commercially available until this 2CD 'Expanded' edition.

No. Title Length
1. "Cradle to the Grave"    
2. "Just 'Cos You Got the Power"    
3. "Iron Fist" (Eddie Clarke, Lemmy, Taylor)  
4. "Stay Clean" (Clarke, Lemmy, Taylor)  
5. "Nothing Up My Sleeve" (Clarke, Lemmy, Taylor)  
6. "Metropolis" (Clarke, Lemmy, Taylor)  
7. "Doctor Rock" (Clarke, Lemmy, Taylor)  
8. "Killed by Death" (Campbell, Würzel, Lemmy, Pete Gill)  
9. "Ace of Spades" (Clarke, Lemmy, Taylor)  
10. "Steal Your Face" (Campbell, Würzel, Lemmy, Gill)  
11. "Bite the Bullet" (Clarke, Lemmy, Taylor)  
12. "Built for Speed" (Campbell, Würzel, Lemmy, Gill)  
13. "Orgasmatron" (Campbell, Würzel, Lemmy, Gill)  
14. "No Class" (Clarke, Lemmy, Taylor)  
15. "Motörhead" (Lemmy)  

Credits[edit]

  • Joe Petagno - sleeve artwork
  • Produced by Motörhead and Guy Bidmead
  • Engineered by Guy Bidmead
  • Assisted by Roland Herrington, Arabella Rodriguez, Caroline Orme, and Phil Dane
  • "Eat the Rich" originally recorded by Bill Laswell and Jason Corsaro, remixed by Guy Bidmead
  • Mixed at Britannia Row, Eden Studios, and The Roundhouse, London.
  • Mastered at CBS Studios, London.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kilmister, Ian and Garza, Janiss White Line Fever (2002) — Simon & Schuster pp. 203—204. ISBN 0-684-85868-1.
  2. ^ About Joe Petagno – interview section with Joe Petagno, bonus DVD with Inferno 30th Anniversary edition SPV69748.
  3. ^ Allmusic Review
  4. ^ Robert Christgau
  5. ^ "Reviews for Motörhead's Rock 'n' Roll". Encyclopaedia Metallum. Retrieved 2007-03-09. 

External links[edit]