Motorhead were an absolute staple of British rock and metal for over 4 decades. Headed by that greased-up, boozed-up icon of living fast and rocking out even faster, Lemmy, Motorhead were one of the most original bands the UK had ever produced, and their legacy of music is one that continues to entertain and inspire to this day.
The lineup may have changed over the years, but the music they gave us was always 110% pure Motorhead. With 22 studio albums to their name, it’s been pretty hard to narrow down their top ten songs; but after careful analysis and gratuitous headbanging, here’s our list of the Top 10 all-time greatest Motörhead songs!
Kicking us off at #10 is (We Are) the Road Crew. This tribute to roadies everywhere (which is also a nod to the hedonism of touring life) is no doubt inspired by Lemmy’s first hand experiences of touring in the late 60’s with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. With lyrics that cover life on the road (aka gigs, beer and broads), together with that classic Motorhead aural assault, this track is required listening for any aspiring rockers out there!
Step Down, that sleazy, bluesy track from 1979s Bomber, comes in at #9. Showcasing the ultimate rock band’s versatility and willingness to experiment with new sounds, Lemmy steps aside for the vocals on this track and lets Fast Eddie Clarke take the lead.
His voice is perfectly-suited to the somewhat laid back vibe of the track, and once you’ve listened to it, there’s no denying what a fantastic group of musicians this band was.
The eponymous track from 1982’s Iron Fist is our #8 pick. Coming in at just under three minutes long, this wall of sound is a textbook example of a great thrash song.
This was the final album recorded by the “classic” Motörhead line-up: Lemmy, Fast Eddie Clarke and Phil(thy Animal) Taylor. And even though the cracks were beginning to show throughout some of the other tracks on this album, this one was (and still remains) an absolute corker!
What we like to think of as Motörhead’s take on a love song, All for You stands at #7. With its melodic harmonies, its sentimental lyrics, and the pure conviction in Lemmy’s voice as he belts out “Tried to fly and climbed too high”, this heartbreaker of a track is enough to leave even the hardest rocker blubbing into his pint glass!
Fast, furious (well, this is Motörhead we’re talking about!), and a fine mix of Lemmy’s grizzled voice and grinding metal, Killed by Death is our #6 Motörhead song.
In typical British press style, by the mid-1980’s Motörhead were written off as a bunch of has-beens—that was until No Remorse was released and Killed by Death, with its gnarly sound and inspired lyrical wordsmithery, put the tabloids in their place.
At #5 we’ve chosen Orgasmatron, the title track from Motörhead’s 1986 studio album. Inspired by Woody Allen’s Sleeper, Lemmy’s literary genius really comes into its own on this one. Quite possibly one of the most underrated lyricists in the history of popular music, Lemmy twists and spins his lyrics to call out perpetuators of political crimes.
It’s also one of the most riff-worthy songs the band ever released; it was covered by the equally socially-aware Sepultura in 1991 and black metaller’s Satyricon in 1997.
Just missing out on a spot in the top three, we’re placing Overkill at #4, from their 1979 album of the same name. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the birth of speed metal! Blistering and defiant, both the album and the song take no prisoners and cement the trio as a powerful and explosive musical force to be reckoned with.
The combination of Lemmy’s thundering bass, Fast Eddie’s strangled riffs and Phil Taylor’s barrage of double-kick drums marked a turning point in the band’s songwriting abilities, displaying an almost quantum-like leap forward.
What kind of top ten list would this be without “Motörhead”, by Motörhead, from Motörhead somewhere in the top 3? Even though it was a hard choice between this and our eventual #1 track, we’ve had to place this in bronze place at #3.
This is undoubtedly the song that started it all! “Motörhead” was originally written for prog-rocking space lords Hawkwind, and it was Lemmy’s last composition for the band, which also dropped a big hint as to why the rock god was fired.
Although we can’t spell it out here, let’s just say that there was a difference in opinion on mood enhancers! Anyway, dusting himself off with a new band and a new name, Lemmy reworked this formerly-somewhat-indulgent-and-dreary space epic into an urgent, turbo-charged anthem that was dripping in punk and featured that guitar solo as its centrepiece.
Coming in at #2 is the anthem of card players everywhere: Ace of Spades. One of the most iconic songs to feature poker as its subject matter, every second of Ace of Spades is perfectly crafted, from its clever gaming metaphors to Lemmy’s raspy vocals and those relentless riffs.
It’s an absolutely flawless example of everything we know and love about Motörhead: the punk pacing, the “who gives a f***?”ethos, the riffs, the garage sound, the metal production and that overall hard rock genius-ness.
This rip-roaring and riff-roaring tune is quite possibly the most iconic thrash/speed metal/punk rock anthems of all time. However, this is our list and it doesn’t quite take the top spot. Instead that honour belongs to…
Built for Speed, another track from ‘86’s Orgasmatron, is our #1 greatest Motörhead song of all-time. It’s not just a great song; to us it’s the greatest Motörhead song because it serves as a touching tribute to the deeply-missed Lemmy.
This song is Lemmy in a nutshell, summarizing his attitude to life and even his moral code: “I was born to rock n roll, everything I need. I was born with the hammer down, I was built for speed.” Although the sound, the riffs, the guitar solo and the classic Motörhead song-structure are all there, it’s the lyrics that take centre stage on this track.
It was 32 years ago that Lemmy first sang, “I’ll be here for a long, long time babe, I’m here to stay”, and even though he’s no longer “here” in the physical sense, he will always be here and will always be louder than life!