(Silver Lining Music)
I hate it when bands do covers, or even worse, release a full record of cover songs. 9 times out of 10, it’s always a mistake. Most of the time the songs turn out bad and never live up to the glory of the original track, or, worse yet, the song is completely wrong for the band to do. But Motörhead proved me wrong and thank god they did because quite frankly, I don’t know if I could bring myself to write a negative review of anything that is…the almighty…the ever godly… Motörhead.
Under Cover is 11 songs handpicked, with reason and purpose, by the members of Motörhead to appear on this record. While Motörhead has covered quite a few tunes in the course of their career (anyone remember “Stand by your Man” that featured Lemmy and Wendy O?), these 11 tracks made the final cut. The golden rule when covering a song is this – make it your own without straying too far away from the song’s original identity. Take the listener with you, don’t get lost. If you can do that, you’re good to go. Motörhead does it. Handedly. Masterfully.
In the greater pantheon of rock ‘n’ roll, Motörhead are among the best of the best. If they chose to cover a song it was because they liked it, believed in it, as well as the band that wrote and performed that song too. And Motörhead didn’t have to do anything they didn’t want to do, hell, they set the standard other bands had to follow. They lived and breathed music and man, does it show on this record. Under Cover has a loose, almost garage band feel to it. This is Motörhead relaxed and having fun and that shines through loud and proud. You can always tell when a band is into something and when they aren’t. Hence these specific tracks on this record which Lemmy and his mates really dug, admired.
The standout songs on Under Cover include “God Save the Queen,” by the Sex Pistols; “Starstruck” by Rainbow; “Whiplash” by Metallica; and “Heroes” by David Bowie which is quite possibly the best song on this record and could still be a radio hit for this band too. “Heroes” is of particular interest since it’s one of the final recordings Lemmy made before his death in 2015. It was originally intended for inclusion on “Bad Magic” but got bumped for the Stone’s “Sympathy for the Devil” which appears on this record as well. Although “Sympathy…” is pretty damn good, “Heroes” blows it out of the water.
Bowie’s version of “Heroes” had a marked, emotive quality to it that believe it or not, Lemmy nails in his own, inimitable way, as only he could. There’s a rasp in his voice that gets inside your heart and tugs at your soul, as if he’s talking to you and you alone. Bowie would be proud. At the same time that it’s kind of touching, even somewhat of a departure for Motörhead, it also has this subtle jolt of raw, rock ‘n’ roll power that grinds through it, letting you know that, yeah, it’s Bowie’s song but Motörhead owns it now. Bowie, the consummate musician and gentleman he was, would’ve dug this version a lot. He would’ve been proud.
Another curious gem on “Under Cover” is Motörhead’s take on Metallica’s “Whiplash.” It’s no mystery that James and the boys worshiped at the altar of all that was Motörhead as well as the NWOBHM beginning with their first record, Kill “Em All, to the present day. “Whiplash” is a tough song to do because the song has to be played fast, almost too fast, and it requires more unbridled aggression and viciousness that most people can’t muster, but this is Motörhead, right? This band is the incarnation of all that rock N roll was meant to be, so of course they pull it off, in fact, they kill it. Hell, if you didn’t know this was ‘tallica’s song, you’d swear this was a Motörhead original, that’s how convincing they are. Fantastic.
If I haven’t given you enough reasons to buy this record then I don’t know what else to say except…this is Motörhead. Buy or die. Buy it for no other reason than that. But the Bowie and Metallica covers are worth the price alone. They’ll stick with ya…