Saturday, 29 December 2012

Motorhead: Another Perfect (and thoroughly underrated) Day

I was watching a Motorhead DVD round at a friend’s house the other night when talk turned to the band’s criminally overlooked sixth album, Another Perfect Day, which he said he'd never listened to. 

And it wasn't the first time I'd heard a fan of Lemmy, Rickenbackers and all things sulphate make that admission.

For one reason or another, most of the Motorhead fans I've met as I've drifted through life have passed this little hum-dinger of a record by. So because I'm drinking Jim Beam at home on Saturday night, and life has no ultimate meaning, I thought I'd write a blog about why Another Perfect Day > most Motorhead albums. That's me and that's how I roll.

Anyway, this little-heralded record came out in 1982 and followed a run of five Motorhead albums, including Ace of Spades and No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith, which featured “Fast” Eddie Clarke of the band’s so-called “classic” line-up on guitar.

In his place for Another Perfect Day was a Scottish chap called Brian Robertson, whose six-string work and song-writing had graced five of Thin Lizzy's albums, from Nightlife in ‘74 to Live and Dangerous in 1978, before he joined Motorhead in 1982.

Known as a brilliant lead guitarist and boasting a history like that, it’s fair to say that “Robbo” was a substantial talent, someone who should have added a lot to Motorhead’s sound as a part of the group.

In fact, never mind 'should have'. He did. Another Perfect Day is by far the most melodic album in Motorhead’s discography. By the band’s standards it’s astonishingly complex, and it’s an energetic, memorable and exhilarating powerhouse of a record. If you’ve never heard it, have a listen to ‘Shine’ for a sample of its charms:

Good, no? So why isn’t the album up there with Bomber and the like? Why has hardly
anyone I know who’s into Motorhead bothered to give Another Perfect Day a listen?

Well, over the years Another Perfect Day’s been written off for being something of a failed experiment, specifically because it was “too pop” to be a “proper” Motorhead album.

Robbo’s Wikipedia page, for instance, says: "His relatively mellow playing style (by Motörhead standards) did not fit with Motörhead's music, resulting in sales of singles and the studio album coming in less successful than hoped for.”

Thing is, fans might not have bought into the work of the band’s post-Iron Fist line-up, but Lemmy certainly did. He adores Another Perfect Day. In a Metal Hammer interview from 2011, when asked about the prevailing negative fan reaction to the album, Mr. Kilmister said: “‘I know, I don’t get it.  I love that album too,  it’s just Brian [Robertson]that I couldn’t fucking stand. [grits teeth].”

Ouch. And you can sort of see why in this video interview of Lem and Robbo on Channel 4’s The Tube. Lemmy acts like a beered-up, uber-confident, laid-back, alpha-male metal oaf. Robbo, with his short hair, collared shirt and palpable fear (“I’ve never done this before!”) is clearly cut from very different cloth. And, alas, outside the world of sitcoms, odd couples rarely stay together for long.

So, yeah, the line-up was never going to last. In fact, Robbo only stuck around for a year and a half, playing his first gig with Motorhead in May 1982 and bowing out in November 1983. But, sod the personality clashes and tone-deaf masses! Another Perfect Day is well worth your attention. Indeed, if you enjoy Motorhead but you’re generally into catchier, more melodic music, it’s a dream come true.

It’s even a little soulful. Well, as far as Motorhead go, at any rate. I mean, just listen to this:

And if you keep digging through Another Perfect Day, you’ll soon notice that every track’s a gem. It the sequel Ace of Spades should’ve had! This is Motorhead at their most rewarding, and a lot of that is down to Robbo’s lead work.

In his autobiography, Lemmy mentions that Robbo spent an incredible amount of time in the studio overdubbing endless guitar parts and trying out different licks while recording Another Perfect Day, and this perfectionism clearly paid off no end. His melodic guitar parts are stunning, multi-layered and like nothing the band would ever see again. If you skipped the last tune, check out the last two minutes and you’ll hear what I mean...

It’s a shame that the Another Perfect Day line-up didn’t work out and Robbo’s been apparently written out of history by some Motorhead fans. But if you’re open minded and you already dig the band, I think you’ll find that that this lil rekkid’ll make another perfect soundtrack for your day. Ooh! See what I did there? Cor, I frighten meself, I really do.

Copyright be damned. Hear the whole ruddy thing here.


Anonymous said...

Hey! Right on, I feel the same way as this record made a tremendous impact in my life as it happened to come out, cause', 1) I had just got my first electric and just loved (still love) Robbos leads, and 2) The first concert I ever saw aged 13 at a bigger venue was Motörhead with this line-up! It's a great record and always will be. Amen.

Gregg Mather said...

"Dancing On Your Grave" is my favourite Motörhead song of all time. Cracking record. Love Robbo's tone.

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