Certain Songs #1205: Motörhead – “Ace of Spades”

Album: Ace of Spades
Year: 1980

What if heavy metal, but short songs played a punk speed?

Obviously the concept of metal bands playing quick bangers was nothing new, just ask Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin, but Motörhead did it on every fucking song.

With only three guys in the band — conceptualist, bassist & singer Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister; guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke and drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor — Motörhead created an ungodly racket on every single song, with Lemmy’s ragged low-register vocals perhaps the most significant sonic touchpoint.

With both Clarke and Taylor in about 15 places at once, it doesn’t even matter that Lemmy mixes up his gambling metaphors.

Seven or eleven, snake eyes watching you
Double up or quit, double stake or split
The Ace of Spades
The Ace of Spades

Of course, the lyrics don’t really matter in a song like this: what matters is the transfusion of the bands energy straight into your central nervous system, which is helped by the fact that “Ace of Spades” is catchy as hell. Not melodic, per se, but definitely catchy.

And just when you think it might get repetitive, there’s a clever stop-time part that breaks the song in half

You know I’m born to lose
And gambling’s for fools
But that’s the way I like it baby
I don’t wanna live for ever

That’s great enough, but Lemmy tops it, just before the guitar solo, by yelping “And don’t forget the JO-KER!” as Clarke’s guitar upends every single table in the joint with a rapid-fire flurry of notes.

“Ace of Spades” is great good fun, as perfect of a representation of Motörhead’s take on rock ‘n’ roll as any song they ever did, and it even made #15 on the U.K. pop charts, because why the hell not?

“Ace of Spades”

“Ace of Spades” official music video (muddy sound)

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