After my first listen to Under Cöver, I jokingly referred to it as the best wedding album ever. But like all good jokes, there is an element of truth to this statement. It would be the best, wildest wedding you have ever been to, but it’s a great mix of songs that have one strand that keeps them all in common: Lemmy obviously loves them and this love for the songs he is covering is prevalent throughout, and the enthusiasm and care that Motörhead has taken makes this a storming album. If this was my wedding band I definitely would be getting married straight away.
For the more discerning Motörhead fan you will probably already have all of these songs (except for the previously unreleased cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes”) but this is the first time they have appeared on an album together. The first thing that will probably strike you is how much we already miss Lemmy. He’s there in every growl and for the energy he produced but that only serves to make the gap he has left wider. Yes, we already knew that he was a legend but to an extent, I think we perhaps took him for granted. I mean, he was Lemmy wasn’t he? He just kept going so when he went, it shocked the rock and metal community. Albums like this were perhaps inevitable. So yes, it is a wedding album but at moments it is the end of the night type of wedding album where we toast our good friends who are no longer with us and remember the good times.
Lemmy may not have been the best ever singer but he has that voice; so distinct; a voice that has smoked a thousand cigarettes, driven a million miles, drank too many whiskies and been at every party from dusk to dawn since parties were invented. That type of voice, full of wisdom with a hint of humour but accepts no shit and it is this voice and the extremely bass-heavy style that Motörhead employs that is going to surprise and make you reevaluate just how good a band they were. They haven’t reinvented any of these songs but they have played them with a passion and faithfulness that is both extremely engaging and touching at the same time. Basically, these songs have been Motörized and they are awesome for it.
Track by Track Guide –
“Breaking The Law” (Judas Priest) – Great opening track. What immediately strikes you about this is that it is so Motörhead. It’s a brave move to cover such an iconic song in the first place let alone have it chosen as the opening track of a covers album. It has that essence of Motörhead throughout the track though that is almost hard to describe. It’s like the balls to the wall with a touch of melancholy. My album growing up was 1916 and this essence I am trying to describe is prevalent throughout that album.
“God Save The Queen” (Sex Pistols) – Tackling the Sex Pistols for a cover is almost as sacrament as trying out a Beatles cover, you just don’t do it unless you are American. That said, Motörhead totally and utterly nail it. It is without doubt one of the highlights of the album. The problem with covering The Sex Pistols is that ‘they mean it, man’. That anger of the time is very hard to recreate but who better than the figurehead of the outsiders than Lemmy himself. It fast furious and very, very meant.
“Heroes” (David Bowie) – If you have not heard this by now you should check it out. The coverage of the Wacken Festival crowd singing along in Germany this year (as featured on our Facebook page) is particularly moving. Not only is this a well-executed cover but it has that added resonance that it is two heroes who went too soon, too close together.
“Starstruck” (Rainbow) – I love a bit of Rainbow and what Motörhead manage to do here is catch the spirit of Rainbow as it would have undoubtedly have been like live. The trouble with Rainbow is that the recordings are very 70s safe whereas the Motorhead version is very raw and live. Just check out the difference on the drums between the two tracks to start to understand.
“Cat Scratch Fever” (Ted Nugent) – I’m not a fan of Ted Nugent the musician or the man so for me probably the weakest track here, but I can guarantee Motörhead have done it better.
“Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (Rolling Stones) – One of two Rolling Stones covers on the album. Both great choices. I mean you can’t really go wrong with that riff can you?
“Sympathy for the Devil” (Rolling Stones) – For me the more interesting of the two covers and mainly because I think it reveals a different side to Motörhead. As you can probably imagine, Lemmy’s half spoken, sounds-like-his-mouth-is-full drawl kills the opening sequence but it is the full epic-ness of the track and the guitar solos rarely seen in such ferocity on Motörhead tracks that you will love about this cover.
“Hellraiser” (Ozzy Osbourne) – Like two peas in the pod really isn’t it? Lemmy and Ozzy. Who else could convey Ozzy in highest pomp then Lemmy? A little bit like the Rainbow track, those tom-heavy drums give the track an additional kick. Of all the tracks this one for me shows a little more artistic freedom. Ozzy’s original was probably over-produced whereas this brings the track back to its core elements.
“Rockaway Beach” (Ramones) – Well this is simply going to go and make you happy. How can it not?
“Shoot ‘Em Down” (Twisted Sister) – Another track on the album that Motörhead own.
“Whiplash” (Metallica) – The album closes with probably the largest task of them all, an attempt to cover Metallica. They are not one of the most covered bands ever, really. It can be hard to pull off. This is, however, every bit as good as you want it to be. It’s dirty, it’s low, it’s fast. It is what Metallica were at the outset. It’s what Motörhead always remained.
So how do you sum this up? Motörhead doing covers of songs they obviously love? Awesome.
Under Cöver is out Friday 1st September 2017