The legendary Motörhead certainly made their mark on popular culture, lending their name to everything from beers to an online slots game. With Under Cöver – released almost two years after the untimely passing of the icon Lemmy Kilmister in 2015 – they do so once again, presenting their own idiosyncratic take on pop and rock classics.
This is the second posthumous release from the band, the first being 2016’s Clean Your Clock. This live album, which was recorded a month or so before Lemmy’s death, was the final performance by the band to be recorded professionally. Under Cöver is a mix of new and previously released covers with recording dates spanning from 1992 to 2015. In general, the tracks are a mixture of high points and some low performances, but this tends to go fairly unnoticed thanks to the familiarity of the songs. Diehard fans will have heard many of these tracks before, especially since we all know the band were particularly keen on including a cover tune or two on their albums.
So, let’s start with the best and work our way down!
The obvious high point of Under Cöver is a truly noisy, heartfelt and gorgeous rendition of David Bowie’s iconic “Heroes”. This previously unreleased track was recorded during 2015’s Bad Magic sessions, and its inclusion on this album is a touching testament to the careers of these two musical icons. Despite starting out the track sounding frail and grizzled, Lemmy manages to pull out one hell of a performance and revs things up both vocally and on bass. The band only performed “Heroes” live on one occasion, as an encore at the Aftershock Festival in Germany in 2015, and, as such, it’s the stand-out track on the album.
The concluding track, Metallica’s thrash classic “Whiplash”, comes in second. Yes, this blistering rendition that first appeared as a bonus track on 2006’s Kiss of Death may have won the band a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance, but as drummer Mikkey Dee notably commented, “it would have meant more” if it had been one of their own songs!
Rainbow’s “Starstruck” is an interesting inclusion here. First appearing on the Ronnie James Dio tribute album This is Your Life, the band are joined by Biff Byford of Saxon fame, who takes over the vocals. The Ramones’ “Rockaway Beach”, Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law” and The Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” get the full and gnarly Lemmy treatment and are all solid tracks.
The lowest points of the album include a cover of the Sex Pistol’s “God Save the Queen”, which has been done to death, resurrected, and done to death again so many times over that its inclusion here feels a little lazy. Similarly, Ted Nugent’s “Cat Scratch Fever” could have been left on the chopping block; sure, it’s still a good cover, but this reviewer can’t help but think that the album would have been a bit more interesting had it been replaced with that sludgy take on the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie”.
The full track listing is as follows:
- Breaking the Law (2008 Judas Priest)
- God Save the Queen (2000 Sex Pistols)
- Heroes (2015 David Bowie)
- Starstruck (2014 James Dio)
- Cat Scratch Fever (1992 Ted Nugent)
- Jumpin’ Jack Flash (2001 The Rolling Stones)
- Sympathy for The Devil (2015 The Rolling Stones)
- Hellraiser (1992 Ozzy Osbourne)
- Rockaway Beach (2002 Ramones)
- Shoot ‘Em Down (2001 Twisted Sister)
- Whiplash (2005 Metallica)
Cynics might take a cursory glance at this album and assume it to be a mere “cash-in” project. In truth, Under Cöver is more of a compilation of favourite moments – an album of remembrance if you will. Ultimately it reminds us just what a force of nature Lemmy Kilmister was, and should be played and enjoyed at a very loud volume!