Sunday, September 8, 2019
"Born To Raise Hell" - Motorhead
Going to tell a story below, so feel free to either click on or just enjoy the video. Up to you.
From the 1993 album Bastards, which was fairly non-existent outside of Germany. This came after the slicker albums of the '80s, sort of a return to the band's grungy-blue-jeans roots on the ZYX label. I interviewed Lemmy almost 20 years ago, & he said it was probably the best album they ever made. However, the label did almost no promotion, so it was rarely seen outside Europe, much less the in the States.
I found a copy, though. It may've been the first CD I bought after I moved to Gainesville in 1995 to finish the journalism degree & get the hell out of Mississippi for as long as I could get away with. I can't remember the name of the store, but it was the last one down University as you turned right from my apartment at the time. University was full of used CD & record stores, from hippie places to punk places to music nerds of every shape, form or fashion. It was wonderful.
I did not realize it was difficult to find, I just knew I hadn't seen it in Tupelo. I came late to Motorhead (& no, I'm not going to screw with the umlaut at this juncture). As a matter of fact, this was the first album I ever bought from them. When I told Lemmy this, it blew his mind. He was genuinely surprised I'd found it.
For the record: sweet cat, sharp as a tack. I got to do a sit-down interview with him just before the 2000 election before a concert at (I believe) the Tabernacle in Atlanta. One of the openers was Nashville Pussy; I had just recently did something on them & got friendly with a couple of the band members (as well, beautiful people). So, after the show, I went backstage (press pass) to howdy & shake, & Lemmy asked me as he headed to the dressing room, "You're coming to the after party, right?" Just a solid dude, a guy who if he couldn't pull you off a stump, he'd bring a sixpack until someone came who could.
Anyhow, the reason I wanted a copy of Bastards so badly was because of this song, "Born To Raise Hell", the lead-off track. Not this version, though. I don't know which came first, the video or the movie, but for the 1994 movie Airheads, a single was released of this song but with Ice-T & Whitfield Crane from Ugly Kid Joe cut in on vocals. I'm not going to subject you to that - you're on your own - but I just listened to it again & it reminded me why I hated Body Count so much. Do your thing, but whew boy.
One Sunday after noon when I was visiting home (I'd moved to Fulton full time go to ICC & work at the Itawamba County Times), I saw the video on The Box (remember The Box?). I don't know what it became, but this the early days off satellite. Just played videos, maybe you could call in if you paid, one of those 976-things. Never in my life had I heard that band or even cared for anything heavier than Black Sabbath & louder than AC/DC. Didn't care for Metallica, preferred Skynyrd or Willie & Waylon, that sort of thing.
I fell in love with Motorhead right then & there. I was familiar with the band (first heard about in conjunction with the first Ghost Rider, which was a reason the Nicholas Cage movies put me off) but I had previously been warned off of them by friends & relations. It would not be my cup of meat, they implied. They were just as shocked as I was.
Come to think of it, I might have bought that first greatest hits record after Orgasmatron. In any event, that song spoke to me. It's probably why I like the band's heavy boogie rock tunes over their heavier thrash stuff. Motorhead's still as hard as I'll go, as heavy as I'll go, & mostly as fast as I'll go. I'm comfortable calling them a "true rock & roll band", though some would quibble on the definition. That's their business, but if your oeuvre is basically songs about fuckin' & songs to piss off your parents, then baby, that is rock & roll.
I'm going to get a little maudlin, gang, so bear with me. Moving to Gainesville was a big step. It was on my own, truly on my own, for the first time. There wasn't a person within 500 miles that gave a tinker's damn about me so long as I paid my bills. I don't do homesick, but I ain't going to lie, it was a tremulous experience, indeed, & I more or less stumbled my way through college & the four years I was there.
But "Born To Raise Hell", as well as the rest of Bastards, gave me a little something. I don't know what - the heady rush of freedom, the confusion of being a country mouse for the very first time, a touch of untapped wildness - but it helped me bullshit my way through Gainesville, if nothing else, & had a good time before coming to Athens to calm down. A bit.
I've since become a pretty big fan, saw 'em live at least twice more, & was genuinely saddened when Lemmy passed away. Like I said, he was a good dude in a business full of jackasses, juiceheads, backstabbers, & buffoons. That is always a nice extra.
This is a quintessential Motorhead song, like "Ace Of Spades" or "Overkill", a necessary song. More brash & snottier than any punk song, a solid groove, a few good solos, & a pause that'd do George Jones proud. Tight songwriting & clever lyrics, apt for a guy who'd nod to Lennon & McCarthy as his favorite songwriter, but as heavy & fast as, well, the name implied.
So, I hope Lemmy's last days were easy & know he had no regrets. I hope Phil Campbell & Mikkey Dee are doing well, whatever they're doing. Take it or leave it.