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"The Many Faces Of Motörhead" Album Review

I've been an obsessed hard rock & heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.

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Music Brokers (Argentina), 2015
Disc 1: The Many Faces Of Motörhead, 14 tracks
Disc 2: Live & Originals, 14 tracks
Disc 3: The Songs, 14 tracks

To paraphrase an old potato chip commercial, you can't have just one Many Faces Of... rock tribute CD compilation. Since I randomly discovered this series of bargain priced triple-disc sets at my local Wal-Mart earlier this year, I've scored more than a half dozen of them (and reviewed them all on this site). My latest addition to that growing collection is The Many Faces of Motörhead, a salute to Lemmy and his crew of rock 'n roll marauders that was released in 2015.

As usual, the archivists at the Music Brokers label have compiled an odd but compelling mix of cover songs, "family tree" tracks (i.e. solo performances and guest appearances by Motörhead members), some vintage live cuts, and a disc of cover songs performed by a cast of obscure no-names. With a total of 42 tracks across three discs, there are bound to be some hard-to-find goodies that even the most dedicated Motör-fans have never heard, so let's dive in...

Disc 1: The Many Faces Of Motörhead

Disc 1 kicks off with a relatively recent Motörhead gem, the crunchy "Burner" (from 1993's criminally ignored Bastards album) followed by "Please Don't Touch," from 1981's classic St. Valentine's Day Massacre collaboration with Girlschool. Lemmy makes a guest vocal appearance on Saxon's catchy anthem "I've Got To Rock" alongside Angry Anderson of Rose Tattoo and Helloween's Andi Deris, and then he belts out a fine rendition of "Blue Suede Shoes" with Mick Green of '50s rockers Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, from an obscure 1990 single.

Elsewhere, The Many Faces spotlights some solo works by Motörhead's other members, like Fast Eddie Clarke's Clapton-esque "Heavy Load" and "Nothing Left," drawn from his 2014 solo album Make My Day - Back To The Blues, while Larry Wallis (guitarist on 1975's On Parole) offers the punk-ish "Police Car" from a 1977 solo single. Brian Robertson's (of Thin Lizzy fame) brief early '80s stint in Motörhead (he played on 1983's Another Perfect Day) is acknowledged by the title track of his 2011 solo album Diamonds and Dirt, which unfortunately sounds like bad Bryan Adams-style AOR.

Lemmy's former band Hawkwind makes two appearances, first with the original version of "Motorhead" and the spaced-out "Masters Of The Universe," and Lemmy's pals in the Plasmatics rock out on "Tight Black Pants." Disc 1 closes with two golden oldies - Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" and "Slow Down" by Larry Williams (both from 1958), which were presumably included due to their influence on Lemmy during his formative years.

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Disc 2: Live & Originals

The bulk of Disc 2 is made up of vintage live Motörhead performances, including such relative obscurities as "Iron Horse," "Keep Us On The Road," "On Parole," and "The Watcher." The CD's skimpy liner notes don't reveal the original source of these cuts, but after doing a bit of YouTube sleuthing, I'm 99 percent sure that they come from Motörhead's February 1978 set at The Roundhouse in London, which has been previously released under a variety of titles over the years like What's Words Worth?, Live, Loud & Lewd, City Kids, and England 1978... so if you don't already own any of those discs, their inclusion in this package provides a nice cheap short cut.

The tail end of Disc 2 consists of the original versions of songs that Motörhead have covered, like "Leaving Here" by Eddie Holland, the Yardbirds' "The Train Kept A-Rollin'," "I'm Your Witchdoctor" by John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, and "Please Don't Touch" by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates. Totally obsessed Motör-fans can play these versions back to back with Lemmy's and decide who did'em better.

Disc 3: The Songs

Disc 3 compiles fourteen Motörhead classics covered by a group of unknown (at least to me) bands like Extrema ("Ace Of Spades"), Dubby Dub ("Iron Fist"), Ripetenti ("Bomber") and NeroArgento ("R.A.M.O.N.E.S."). The only name on this entire disc that was familiar to me was bassist Billy Sheehan of Talas and David Lee Roth fame, who apparently plays on Rezophonic's cover of "Rock Out," for whatever that's worth.

It took some digging, but eventually I learned that all of the bands on this disc hail from Italy, and these covers were recorded for a tribute album called Lemmy Knows, which came out in 2013.

Aside from the heavily-accented English of a few of the vocalists, the covers generally don't sound radically different from Motörhead's originals, aside from Blunitro's speed-metal take on "No Class," Valve Drive's pop-punk "Stay Clean" and the hilariously awful version of "Born To Raise Hell" by Out Of Date, which sounds like Weird Al Yankovic trying to go cowpunk. Fortunately that's the last track on the CD so you can hit "stop" before you get to it.

Summing It Up

Like most of the Many Faces collections, there are a few clunkers here, but overall the track selection of The Many Faces Of Motörhead is pretty solid. The "family tree" and live tracks on discs 1 and 2 alone would be enough to please most Motör-bangers, but even the no-name cover bands on Disc 3 are mostly decent listens (though I doubt I'll ever seek out more material from any of them).

Thanks to their ultra-cheap retail price point, the Many Faces series certainly gives listeners a lot of bang for their buck, and this volume is no exception. Crank this up while raising a frosty beer in honor of Lemmy, Philthy Phil, and Fast Eddie. They were Motörhead, and they played rock n' roll!

© 2022 Keith Abt

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