Motörhead bit the bullet and pushed up the ante to bring the hammer down in this fast and loose rock and roll conflagration. The trio had established themselves at the forefront of the new wave of heavy metal in the UK with their high octane sound. Bassist and founder Lemmy Kilmister had been ousted from Hawkwind and wanted to "concentrate on very basic music: loud, fast, city, raucous, arrogant, paranoid, speedfreak rock n roll ... it will be so loud that if we move in next door to you, your lawn will die."
Their first album On Parole was recorded in 1976 for United Artists, but not released until 1979 because the label thought it would not sell. Motörhead came out in 1977 on Chiswick. In 1979, they moved to Bronze Records to record Overkill and Bomber with producer Jimmy Miller.
For 'Ace Of Spades' they worked with Vic Maile at Jackson's Studios in Rickmansworth, England. The sessions lasted just over a month and featured Lemmy Kilmister on bass and lead vocals; "Fast" Eddie Clarke on guitar, backing vocals on "Emergency"; and Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor on drums. Maile's soft-spoken approach defused the band's typically wild studio behavior and helped to create a sleeker sound.
Taylor: "Even if he was angry, [Vic] was angry like this: (assumes soft-spoken tone) 'You're not supposed to do it like that', or 'Stop that boys' ...He got me playing more solid"
Clarke: "[Vic] didn't drink, he didn't smoke, and he was very delicate because he was diabetic. He had to have his Ryvita at six o'clock. We couldn't get heavy with him, couldn't fucking shake him, you know what I mean? He might die! So we had to listen to him...We only thought of ourselves as a good time rock 'n' roll band, really...But we weren't trying to get a message across, apart from have a good time, you know: get pissed, get stoned, and fuck a chick. And that'll do...[On 'Ace of Spades' you can finally hear everything that's going on."
Kilmister: "He used to own a mobile studio — Hawkwind hired it out to do Space Ritual and he came with it...Vic was a great man and a great producer, really brilliant...Those were good times; we were winning, we were younger, and we believed it...Vic was great. He was the first one who told us we were all cunts and work harder. He had a very dry personae: 'Is that really the best shot you've got?'...Vic got me singing instead of just shouting all the time"
'Ace Of Spades' went to number four in the UK and helped to break the band around the world. It became an influential cornerstone in the development of thrash metal.
"Ace of Spades"
Lemmy says: "I used gambling metaphors, mostly cards and dice — when it comes to that sort of thing, I'm more into the slot machines actually, but you can't really sing about spinning fruit, and the wheels coming down. Most of the song's just poker, really: 'I know you've got to see me read 'em and weep, Dead man's hand again, aces and eights' — that was Wild Bill Hickock's hand when he got shot. To be honest, although Ace of Spades is a good song, I'm sick to death of it now. Two decades on, when people think of Motörhead, they think Ace of Spades. We didn't become fossilized after that record, you know. We've had quite a few good releases since then. But the fans want to hear it so we still play it every night. For myself, I've had enough of that song."
If you like to gamble, I tell you I'm your man,
You win some, lose some, all the same to me,
The pleasure is to play, makes no difference what you say,
I don't share your greed, the only card I need is
The Ace Of Spades
Playing for the high one, dancing with the devil,
Going with the flow, it's all the game to me,
Seven or Eleven, snake eyes watching you,
Double up or quit, double stake or split,
The Ace Of Spades
You know I'm born to lose, and gambling's for fools,
But that's the way I like it baby,
I don't wanna live for ever,
And don't forget the joker!
Pushing up the ante, I know you wanna see me,
Read 'em and weep, the dead man's hand again,
I see it in your eyes, take one look and die,
The only thing you see, you know it's gonna be,
The Ace Of Spades
'Ace Of Spades'
All tracks composed by Ian Kilmister, Phil Taylor, Eddie Clarke
1. Ace of Spades
2. Love Me Like a Reptile 2:48
3. Shoot You in the Back 6:12
4. Live to Win 8:50
5. Fast and Loose 12:30
6. (We Are) The Road Crew 15:52
7. Fire Fire 19:03
8. Jailbait 21:49
9. Dance 25:22
10. Bite the Bullet 28:00
11. The Chase Is Better Than the Catch 29:40
12. The Hammer 33:57
13. Dirty Love 36:45
14. Please Don't Touch 39:41
15. Emergency 42:31