We Are Motörhead was unleashed upon the world 20 years ago, on May 15, 2000. It holds its ground as one of the absolute best from the last half of their career.
The first thing worth mentioning is the outstanding production. Motörhead was such a deafening band, who played with so much ferociousness, that this could have easily become part of the dreaded “loudness wars.” Instead, we were treated to a metal album that is bursting at the seams with a big fat wall of sound, without destroying our precious eardrums. This was all thanks to Bob Kulick, Bruce Bouillet, Duane Barron, and the band themselves. I guess Motörhead was so badass that they needed three producers to help capture their raw power. Hey, whatever works.
“See Me Burning” kicks off the record with crisp, hard-hitting snare drums. Double-bass joins the party almost immediately, and Mikkey Dee barely takes his feet off the pedals for the three-minute duration. Phil Campbell’s nasty riffs match the drumming in both rapid-fire speed and intensity. This one is great for metalheads to throw on at the gym if they’re trying to squeeze in some cardio. Lemmy seemed to be in a high-speed pursuit of his own, with a woman playing extra hard to get. “What’s the matter, baby?” he asks. “Don’t you wanna play?”
“Stagefright/Crash & Burn” and “(Wearing Your) Heart On Your Sleeve” are also anthems for a heart-pumping workout. Lemmy’s relentless bass playing combined with Mikkey’s pounding rhythm is a locomotive that’s impossible to derail.
The boys reeled back the pace a tad with the appropriately titled “Slow Dance,” but don’t worry, there’s no chance this made its way to any junior proms. This blues-laden rocker has more bite than a tiger and more swagger than Mick Jagger. “Woman!” shouts Lemmy, followed by, “Orgasmatron, drive me out of my mind.” It was a nice callback to their 1986 album Orgasmatron, and it showed that ol’ Lem was still out on the prowl.
“Stay Out Of Jail” put the pedal to the floor again, while offering sound advice for the rock ‘n’ roll youth. The blistering guitar solos probably inspired many kids to pick up an instrument, rather than getting caught on the wrong side of the law.
Midway through, they tackled The Sex Pistol’s “God Save The Queen.” It’s a fun cover of a basic song, which sticks pretty close to the original. It fits nicely though within this 38-minute collection of rockers, which at times feels more like a punk album than a metal offering. Of course, if Lemmy read that, he would say, “We are Motörhead, and we play rock and roll!”
Speaking of God, it’s funny that Lemmy’s only comment in the liner notes was, “As you get older, you get slower—I do apologize!” No need to apologize, Mister Kilmister. I wonder why he felt the need to say this. It’s possible he was worried about the way people would react to the song “One More F*cking Time.” If that was the case, his fears were completely unjustified. This crawling, heavy ballad is a shining star, not just on this album, but in their entire catalog. Lemmy sang his heart out, and his words dripped with pain, wisdom, and brutal honesty:
“And so all our years together
weren’t worth a f*cking dime
So go on and find me guilty
Just one more f*cking time”
More woman trouble, perhaps? The frontman always came across as a rough and tough renegade, but here he sounded so vulnerable that I just wanted to give him a big, Warpig-sized hug.
The title track/finale is as close as you can get to classic Motörhead. In other words: rock ‘n’ roll perfection. And I don’t care what anyone says, the lyric “We burn like motherf*ckers, spit right in your eye,” is pure metal. In some ways, it feels like they could have retired with this record. However, in true Motörhead fashion, they kicked our asses for seven more albums and rode the train until the very end of the tracks.