Review: Motörhead – Iron Fist (40th Anniversary)
Sanctuary Records (Spetember 23rd, 2022)
Reviewer: Chris O’Connor
Yes, it really has been 40 years since the three amigos cut loose with what would prove to be their final studio outing, and here it is remastered for your aural delectation. This album has always held a special place in my heart, why? The ‘Iron Fist’ tour was the first time I got to experience them ‘live’ at the Birmingham Odeon, supported by the brilliant Algy Ward fronted Tank (the REAL Tank – not the pale fiasco that exists today).
However, I digress. I am a Motorheadbanger – from memory, my club member number/ID was MHB1668, and alongside Rush, they have always been my favourite band. After the magnificent ‘Ace Of Spades’ studio album, and the timeless ‘No Sleep Til Hammersmith’ live album, the unholy triumvirate had the world in their grasp, but this album would prove to be a massive turning point, and not for the better, in the bands career, and would lead to the utter disintegration of the legendary line-up.
Where did it all go wrong for Lemmy, Fast Eddie, and Little Philthy? Well for a start, Messrs Clarke and Taylor decided that producer Vic Maile was surplus to requirements, with Philthy persuaded Eddie that he could do a better job. He couldn’t. Where Maile gave the ‘head a razor-sharp aural attack, to my ears, Clarke simply blunted their sound. As if that wasn’t bad enough, frankly the quality of the band’s writing dropped markedly. Yes, the title track remains magnificent, but for too much of the album, the songs are simply indifferent, and it pains me to admit it. Very few of the other songs from the album made it into the ongoing ‘live’ sets over the decades – which in itself speaks volumes.
The tour was fine (well to these young ears and eyes it was) however, in retrospect, the band was already falling apart, and by the end of the tour, the line-up would disintegrate, with the infamous ‘Stand By Your Man’ single (a duet with the late Plasmatics Goddess Wendy O Williams – for the uninitiated, allegedly the nail in the coffin. With Clarke jumping ship, it would lead (for my money) to the head’s finest moment, 1983’s ‘Another Perfect Day’ (but that’s another story entirely).
So, what do you get for your money? That depends on your budget. My wonderful daughters Hannah and Emma (I happen to know) have generously bought me the ultra-deluxe box for Yule/Christmas, which includes four vinyl albums, two cd’s, a hoodie, t-shirt, and two books! There are all sorts of other permutations on offer though, At the moment though, my promo pack has just two cd’s, the remastered album with extra songs).
CD1 of the promo Cd has twenty-five studio tracks, including the remastered album itself, instrumentals, alternate versions, and outtakes. It’s CD2 where all the ‘fun stuff’ is. Here is a rousing live album which features a full nineteen song set from the classic trio, delivered with the usual belligerent swagger we all know and love. It’s not as riotous as the immortal ‘No Sleep…’ album, but you still get the band at their ear-shattering loudest, delivering the goods as only they could in front of a rabid Glaswegian audience. What more could you possibly ask for?
This box stands as the final eulogy for the ‘ultimate’ Motörhead line-up (well, to certain fans anyway. I disagree, the Lemmy/Mikkey Dee/Phil Campbell axis was superior). It’s the sound of a band barrelling towards breaking point, yet unbeknownst to us or them back then, it wouldn’t be the end of the legend, just the closing of a chapter, and the start of something even louder and prouder. As the clarion call goes: ‘’You know me, evil eye, you know me – prepare to die, you know me, the snakebite kiss, devil’s grip …. The iron fist!’’ Here endeth the lesson brethren. Goodbye, farewell, and Amen.