Originally released on 24 March 1979, Motorhead’s second album, Overkill, continued the bands penchant for loud and dirty rock n’ roll that they first released onto the world in 1977 on their self-titled debut album. Taking things up a notch on all levels, Overkill still features some fan favourites which considering they released 22 studio albums and five EPs in little over 40 years, shows the quality and longevity in this rebel-rousing, rock n’ roll monster.
Featuring the classic line-up of omnipresent, iconic and God-like frontman Lemmy on bass and vocals, of course. With guitarist ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke and Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor on drums completing the line-up, Overkill kicks things off in bone-rattling fashion with it’s title track. The double-kick drumming of Phil Taylor in the song has been credited as a direct influence on the thrash scene that began in the early 80’s in the Bay Area of the US and later, the extreme metal scene (Black/Death/Speed Metal, Grindcore etc) over the world in general. Also armed with a few false endings, Overkill, the song, really begins the album in style and fortunately this continues throughout as Motorhead offer up more battering ram rock n’ roll in the shape of Stay Clean, No Class and Damage Case.
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Now, while the above songs are all bone fide ‘head classics, Lemmy and co also prove they could slow things down a bit (just a bit, mind) when they wanted. The slightly bluesy appeal of (I Won’t) Pay Your Price and album closer Limb From Limb making the listener nod their head consistently as opposed to bang their head proving that Motorhead did actually know their way around their instruments. Further proof of this comes within the songs Capricorn and Metropolis. The band proudly showing off their influences throughout both tracks, the darker and brooding moments of Metropolis showing off the type of song writing that Lemmy and Motorhead would use regularly throughout the bands career and like Metropolis, these songs wouldn’t be front and centre in an albums track list but instead be buried around the middle or towards the end, like hidden gems waiting to be discovered. This says a lot about a band that have been accused of being a one trick pony band; just relying on speed and aggression. Dig deeper and you will discover there’s more than meets the eye.
Peaking at number 24 in the UK album charts on release, Overkill was actually the first of two albums Motorhead released in 1979. The second being the almost equally as good Bomber, which was released on 27th October and reached number 12 in the UK album charts proving that there was a healthy appetite in the UK for dirty rock n’ roll. A fact confirmed when Motorhead released what many consider to be their masterpiece: 1980’s Ace of Spades, which of course contained the classic title track and reached number 4 in the UK albums chart. The rest is rock history but on its 40th anniversary, Overkill remains a powerful statement of intent and one that more than honours the truth behind the late, legendary Lemmy Kilmister’s words from the stage at every Motorhead show: “We are Motorhead. And we play rock n’ roll.”