Classic Recordings: Motorhead – 1916

Motorhead – 1916

Pure Pleasure/WTG Records (LP)

By Paul Rigby

Motorhead has always managed to maintain an appreciable song-writing output. The only drawback with a largely high quality catalogue is that, when considering a band’s discography, the very best albums tend to be cherry picked for attention and hailed as classics while other, still excellent, works are often ignored. This is what has happened to 1916, a sort of comeback release and late career classic, which tends to be trampled under the weight of earlier releases such as Overkill and Ace of Spades.

1916 was issued in 1991, 16 years after the band had been first formed. This fact, alone, is a clue to the album’s lack of attention. Motorhead, as a band, lost a lot of their novelty value after the album, Iron Fist, was released almost 10 years earlier and was often accused of meandering into  pointless projects and infighting. 1916 was a ‘back to form’ release for a band that, some thought, had lost their way yet the content of the LP never dipped under the high standards that Lemmy had created for himself. Mind you, the style of the band had not changed too much either. This can be a problem, on occasion, when time and fashion move onwards, sometimes leaving an artist open to temporary ridicule (witness Status Quo, Cliff Richard, et al). However, this has never happened to Motorhead and, to be fair, Motorhead’s fans would probably never allow it to happen.

So, what 1916 gives you is the band’s full-on, typically hammer-like power performance. Lyrically, the songs are up to scratch and diverse in their subject matter. From the rather serious examination of World War 1 within the title track (to which the word ‘beautiful’ can be applied for the first time to a Motorhead track) to the cheeky humour in songs such as Going To Brazil.

In 1916, the songwriting had improved, the production values seemed more in tune with the band ethos and even Lemmy’s voice – hardly Pavarotti at the best of times – appeared to be more expressive, more connected with the material. 1916? A bit of a stormer.

Stand-out track: Going To Brazil

Bass, bass, bass! This track is all about passion and power and the quality of the build of your speaker cabinets. You may be wise, half-way through the check, just to check if the seams have not begin to split. Check out, too, the ability of your speakers to handle and control the flailing bass on this track.

Stand-out track: Angel City

All Motorhead tracks have energy to burn so it would be easy to just place ‘ditto’ here and move on. However, Angel City has a more funky, swagger about it with a blues feel that reigns in Lemmy’s natural speed-freak style. Hence, your mid-range speaker performance will be called upon here to help transcribe Lemmy’s rasping vocal, transcribing the bluesy-like emotion in his voice.



One to Sing the Blues

I’m So Bad (Baby I Don’t Care)

No Voices in the Sky

Going to Brazil

Nightmare/The Dreamtime

Love Me Forever

Angel City

Make My Day


Shut You Down


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