A remastered deluxe edition of Iron Fist marks 40 years of the Motörhead album with additional demos, out-takes and a complete live set from the Iron Fist tour.
Whilst Motörhead carried on to do much more, the classic three legged stool line up of Filthy Animal Taylor, Fast Eddie Clarke and Lemmy was career defining. For my money, the title of The Golden Years EP featuring 4 live tracks from this era got it about right. Iron Fist was the last outing for the three amigos who had been pictured together on the front of Ace of Spades. Now they entered full on medieval cum fantasy warrior mode for the press shots and cover of the Iron Fist single from this album. Was this cashing in on the success of NWOBHM bands who played with such imagery or were they just having a laugh? My money is on the latter having seen the recently resurfaced promo trailer. Motörhead looked far dirtier and more dangerous than any of the spandex wearing metal bands doing the circuit. If they were involved in a good against evil battle they were likely to be the bad guys. The Iron Fist of the title sat perfectly alongside the Snaggletooth logo first developed by Joe Petagno and now cast in metal on the back cover.
Motörhead: Iron Fist 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition – box set reviewFrom the title track opener, the album is powered on by Lemmy’s trademark dirty Rickenbacker – all mids and treble through a Marshall up to 10. Filthy Phil hammers out the pace with all manner of extra beats and half beats thrown in. Fast Eddie’s guitar proves Lemmy’s claim that Motörhead were a punk band with long hair with his bluesy choppy approach. His spirited solos don’t descend into the extended cock rockery that too many in the world of metal were guilty of. Fast Eddie was perfectly happy to repeat a phrase rather than wander up and down the whole fret board. Check out the noisy way he closes the record on Bang To Rights.
Iron Fist has much of the same sonic fingerprint as Ace Of Spades on songs like I’m The Doctor, Go To Hell, or Sex and Outrage which could also sit easily on the band’s eponymous debut (or the 1976 On Parole that pre-dated it but hit the streets later). I’m a Loser continues a theme from Ace of Spades. “Born To Lose, Live To Win” accompanied Lemmy’s Ace of Spades tattoo and thousands of badges, shirts and backpatches. Heavy and dirty, overdriven. there is no doubt who you are listening to. The middle finger in-your-face defiance of Motörhead leers out on (Don’t Let ‘Em) Grind Ya Down and Don’t Need Religion.
America is one of many tributes from Lemmy to the land he would eventually call home, doubtless based on touring experience. He’d got booted out of Hawkwind after getting busted with some speed on the USA/Canada border so the line “Up to Canada, Crystal meth” always made me laugh. The locations, weather and drug intake are like a tour diary “get on the bus” he orders before Fast Eddie’s final little flourish. Somewhat connected, Speedfreak is another staple Motorhead subject. Lemmy’s embrace of amphetamines didn’t just lead to him having to form a new band, it gave them their name (although Bastard came first) and inspired a slew of songs.
Sex and Outrage might raise an eyebrow now when paired with Jailbait from Ace Of Spades. Now the proclivities of some high status individuals in the music industry have been revealed the lyric “Just Me and You. Teenage, backstage, sex and Outrage” raises questions that no-one is here to answer.
Moving onto the demos, some of these tracks have been out in the wild on various compilations but the full demo is gathered here together to tell the story of how Iron Fist developed. Recorded in October 1981 at Jackson’s Studio, it starts off with Remember Me I’m Gone, the B side to Iron Fist. Don’t worry, lads, all 3 of you now gone are never to be forgotten. What’s enjoyable about the demos is you can hear how the songs progressed, some of them in an early basic form, others virtually complete.
Doctor, complete with a sniff before the hoarse vocals start is proper demo stuff. Without the full production the bass sounding more like a regular Rickenbacker than Lemmy’s full on assault. The guitar is low down in the mix and missing most of the flourishes. That’s what demos are for…to allow the band to listen back and rewrite as necessary. It takes a different turn towards the end.
Young and Crazy, complete with a false start, is an early version of Sex and Outrage with a slightly different chorus. Filthy’s drums channel his work on Overkill. Loser isn’t far off what you get on the final album recording with the exception of the middle 8 and the closing sequence, which descends into chaos. The full bass treatment is present.
Iron Fist has the full Filthy Animal double kick drum treatment giving it the Overkill sound. Other than this, and the mix it’s, again, pretty much the finished article even down to the ending. Go To Hell features a count in and some extra drum beats on the intro that had been eradicated by the time the song made its way onto the album. Hearing a slightly different mix and sound is interesting. The slow start to the middle section (way more than 8) sounds more in the vein of Hawkwind than Motörhead but then kicks into the full Motorbeast with double kick drums and driving high octane tune.
The CD and digital version has 7 bonus tracks – outtakes and alternate versions recorded at Morgan and Ramport studios. Lemmy Goes To The Pub is not a safari recording of Mr Kilmister caught in his natural environment, the boozer, which I am sure would be absolute gold. It is an alternate, early, version of Heart Of Stone. Same Old Song, I’m Gone is similarly Remember Me I’m Gone before a chorus and title rewrite.
(Don’t Let ‘Em) Grind Ya Down and Shut It Down are straight up demo versions of album tracks. To finish, there are 3 instrumentals including Peter Gunn. Lemmy was always one to pay his dues to the originals who came before but this ain’t a spirited tribute to the Duane Eddy classic. It’s a bass heavy instrumental version of (Don’t Need) Religion. The other two, Sponge Cake and Ripsaw Teardown are typical of the output of this era.
Live at Glasgow Apollo 18/3/82 is previously unreleased and spread across 3 sides of the triple album and 1 of the double CD set. This gig was the second of the tour dates listed on the back of the Iron Fist single. The 19 song set showcased the new album opening with Iron Fist and Heart Of Stone but equally drew heavily on favourites from Ace Of Spades. In total there are 7 songs from Iron Fist and 7 from Ace Of Spades. They are complemented by other favourites Overkill (complete with double reprise) and Capricorn from that album, Bomber (the second B pronounced rather that silent) plus White Line Fever from their debut. They close the gig with the perennial Motörhead and Filthy Animal battering away at his kit, his alkaline batteries still running strong.
Overall its not a bad recording albeit with a little tape hiss, but this is a band for whom Dolby Noise Reduction was not created. Lemmy likes to playfully wind up the crowd. He berates them for failing to shout enough, at one point accusing their roar of sounding “like Leo Sayer”. In rock’n’roll style he encourages the audience to “cut some rug”. He also draws attention to a collapsed ending of Loser “it could have been a better ending but that’s the one I’m afraid you got”. There are of course a few dedications, including Jailbait….
To the Motörhead uber fan there is no such thing as too much Motörhead which is why there are already plenty of live albums to choose from – No Sleep Til Hammersmith, No Sleep At All, What’s Words Worth? etc. Each one tends to capture the band at a point in their career, and this is the Iron Fist tour!
Motorhead Iron Fist Box SetThe 20 page booklet sounds like it will be full of delights for all you Motorheadbangers. To quote the press release “There will be hardback book-packs in two CD and triple LP formats, featuring a hammer fist blow, remaster of the original album, previously unreleased demo bonus tracks and a full concert, originally broadcast on Radio Clyde from 18th March 1982. Plus the story of the album and many previously unseen photos. There’s also a limited edition, blue and black swirl of the original standalone album.”