“If you like to gamble, I tell you I’m your man
You win some, lose some, all the same to me”
The opening words of a rock’n roll classic, Motörhead The Ace of Spades is forty years old this year. Both the song and the album it shares its title with are regarded as hugely influential in shaping the so-called New Wave of British Heavy Metal, as well as crossing over into pop culture lore. Ian Kilminster, better known as Lemmy, was a rock music icon, having played in space rock pioneers Hawkwind before Motörhead stormed onto the scene.
To celebrate the anniversary of an iconic heavy metal album, Motörhead are releasing a deluxe edition of the record, as well as launching a virtual exhibition, showcasing memorabilia and rare photographs spanning the four decades of the band’s career.
In 1971 Lemmy joined Hawkwind as a bassist and occasional vocalist as part of the ‘classic’ line up of the band. After some success he was fired after being arrested for drug possession on the Canadian border. A free agent, he decided he wanted to make wilder “speedfreak rock’n roll, and formed Motörhead with Larry Wallis and Lucas Fox. However, these two were quickly replaced by Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor on drums and “Fast” Eddie Clarke on guitar.
The band’s line up would change many times over the course of its career, but Taylor and Clarke made up what fans consider the ‘vintage’ line up – and it was this incarnation of Motörhead that recorded the album ‘The Ace of Spades’. While that song is considered the most prominent and iconic Motörhead song, a symbol of rock ‘n’ roll, and a gambling anthem, Lemmy himself thought that the band recorded their best material after the departure of Clarke in 1982.
Motörhead continued tirelessly over the next decades, with Lemmy gaining legendary status in the pantheon of rock’n roll – seemingly indestructible despite a life of wanton excess. His personality made him a popular figure in British music, and his death in 2015 inspired an outpouring of emotion, from metal fans and much further afield.
Motörhead had a great influence on popular culture, its music, fashion, art, gaming and gambling. There is even a video game Motörhead Through the Ages created in cooperation with Haemimont Games Included as part of Victor Vran: Overkill Edition.
Also, being an inspiration to many online gambling studios, there are slot games dedicated to Motörhead only. For example, online versions of slot machines have all of the band’s details on the pay icons ranging from Lemmy offering the top pay-out, through stars, bells, sevens and lucky objects such as horseshoes and clovers, which are the band’s symbols. The game reels are set on a rock stage, the win sequences punctuated by flashing lights and strobes with a generous amount of riffs from the songs and bespoke animations of Lemmy. True metalhead paradise.
Other than that, as Rob Halford commented for Louder, Lemmy was a fashion icon: “Cowboy boots, Levi’s jeans, t-shirt, leather jacket and sunglasses, which summed up him, Motörhead and their music perfectly. And it became a uniform for all upcoming metalheads!” As Louder further reports, while first three albums – Motörhead (1977), Overkill and Bomber (1979) – defined the future of fast paced and heavy music, 1980’s album Ace of Spades, didn’t just contain the single that brought them worldwide fame, but its cover started a true heavy metal fashion revolution. The image of three desperados dressed in leather, bullet belts, boots to match and cowboy hats, was an image that dominated the wardrobe for bands, fans, and all of the posers out there for a good part of the decade.
The band played their last show on 11th December 2015, just two weeks before Lemmy died and they stayed and will stay influential for many years to come.
The Ace of Spades
Considered the definitive Motörhead anthem, The Ace of Spades burst onto the UK singles chart in October 1980, and stayed there for 13 weeks, peaking at number 15. Pairing Lemmy’s distinctive distorted power chord bass technique with blistering drumming and wild guitar soloing, the song caught the imagination of the public and remains the band’s best known song.
A performance on the cult BBC sitcom The Young Ones cemented it into British popular culture, and it enjoys global recognition as an iconic anthem of rock’n’roll, and a gambling song.
The album with which it shares its name is the band’s most successful record, peaking at number 4 on the UK albums chart. Despite Lemmy’s insistence that Motörhead played good old fashioned rock’n roll, the record was a major influence on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) movement, as well as the emerging genre of thrash metal.
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the album’s release, a deluxe edition is being issued, including a box set and a triple LP. The digital editions have been remixed in 360 Reality Audio, a cutting edge format which makes use of Sony’s spatial audio technology. This offers Motörhead heads a chance to enjoy a more immersive experience while listening to the record, highlighting the different nuances of the music and boosting the sound quality.
As if a deluxe remaster of The Ace of Spades wasn’t enough, Motörhead announced a virtual exhibition to celebrate the release, featuring an archive of photographs, set lists and memorabilia for fans to enjoy. Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, it is only available online, but fans are sure to enjoy the exhibit, documenting the band who created some of the most blistering, high octane rock music of the 20th century. Check it out here.
Forty years later and The Ace of Spades still gets temperatures rising among fans of rock’n’roll. They won’t forget the joker.