Iron Fist. A seminal Motörhead album or the runt of the litter from the classic line-up? Over the past 40 years, Motörheadbangers the world over have argued long into the night over pints of Roadcrew and shots of Jack about the status of Motörhead’s fifth album – the last to feature the legendary line-up of Clarke, Kilmister and Taylor.
Motörhead – Iron Fist 40th Anniversary Reissue
Release Date: 23 September 2022
Words: Paul Hutchings
It was almost doomed to failure. As Lemmy commented on the Ace Of Spades charting at number 4 in the UK top 40, “We thought we’d made it. And actually, we had. And that’s when we started to fuck up!”
When No Sleep ’til Hammersmith crashed into the number one spot (I can genuinely remember that!), the big question was where the band went next. Reception to the album back in 1982 was variable, with the change of producer from Vic Maile to Fast Eddie resulting in unhappiness in the ranks. Regardless, listening to Iron Fist now suggests it is a much better album than its reputation indicates.
Lemmy’s immediately identifiable bass riff opens the album with the title track ripping out of the speakers. It’s prototype thrash with Filthy Animal battering seven shades out of his kit, Lemmy driving the song forward and Fast Eddie’s lead work all over the song. At 2:55 in length, it’s an ideal track to start the album and one that would remain a staple in the live set until the very end.
Iron Fist is barely restrained in tempo, certainly for the first few songs, which charge at a velocity that still surprises. The writing is solid, with the pulsing power of Heart Of Stone, Go to Hell, and Speedfreak, all sating the need for sheer pace.
Elsewhere, there isn’t a lot of filler. The songs may be relatively short, with the longest song being Loser, still under four minutes, but they all pack a punch. The anthemic (Don’t Let Them) Grind Ya Down symbolised the band’s approach to life, whilst (Don’t Need) Religion continued Lemmy’s stance about the fallacy of the church, organised religion of all forms and its influence on society. Two huge middle fingers symbolising Motörhead’s approach before, then and always. Listening to Iron Fist today is a joy.
This deluxe release provides fans with plenty of additional material. A selection of demos from Jackson’s Studio recorded in 1981 are interesting, along with several bonus tracks, including the fabulous Lemmy Goes to the Pub and a trio of instrumentals.
In the tradition of all the 40th-anniversary releases, there’s a bonus disc with a full show from the Iron Fist tour. Recorded at Glasgow Apollo on 18th March 1982 and originally broadcast on Radio Clyde, the set is crammed full of Motörhead classics, as well as a good smattering from Iron Fist. In fact, seven of the 19 tracks are from Iron Fist, and this is a rare opportunity to hear Loser, Heart Of Stone and Go To Hell in a live setting, albeit with a rather rudimentary quality of recording.
But you get the sound of the band still in form. Lemmy is in fine fettle, cajoling the Scottish crowd to make more noise. Opening with Iron Fist and finishing with Motörhead, including gems like Jailbait, White Line Fever, and Bite The Bullet, this is another recording of one of the rock and Heavy Metal world’s finest bands at their peak, and that alone is worthy of a listen.
As with previous releases, there are plenty of options for the collector and casual fan alike. There will be hardback book-packs in two CD and triple LP formats, featuring a hammer fist blow, all the music, the story of the album and many previously unseen photos. There’s also a limited edition, blue and black swirl of the original standalone album. Pre-order and merchandise available at https://motorhead.lnk.to/ironfist40thPR
In 1982, Motörhead filmed a wonderfully over-the-top short movie which was to be shown as the band entered the stage at gigs. Directed by Nick Mead and shot in a Hertfordshire forest, the film was originally cut to Gustav Holst’s ominous Mars, Bringer Of War.
The film has been digitised and features the previously unreleased instrumental demo Ripsaw Teardown. In the film below, you can see a medieval, battle-hardened Motörhead stomping around a darkened forest, fuelled by vodka and brandishing weapons.