Totally Unexpected + Badass Cover Songs by Motorhead
Motorhead are a band known for their largely linear style — an unforgiving roar of powerfully noisy bass, speedy, bluesy guitars, over-caffeinated drumming and Lemmy Kilmister's gravely vocal rasp. They'd covered plenty of dirtier rock songs throughout their career, but the ones here were totally unexpected and badass.
Since Kilmister's passing, there's been a hole in the hearts of the rock and metal community, having lost a beloved figure who perhaps epitomized the spiritual essence of rock 'n' roll more than anyone from his era or since.
Now, every year we celebrate Motorhead on particular on the 8th of May, a clever pun feeding off the band's biggest hit, "Ace of Spades." It's important to remember our departed rock and metal heroes to keep their names alive in the hearts of everyone, especially as this list of fallen heroes continues to grow year after year.
READ MORE: 10 Reasons Why Lemmy Is God
To celebrate this years Motörhead Day, the band released a new animated video for their Grammy Nominated cover of Metallica's "Enter Sandman," which you can see below.
Motörhead Cover Metallica's "Enter Sandman
There's 22 studio albums to celebrate with and any casual or diehard fan can pick through those as they please and be rewarded with the timeless music of Motorhead. But digging deeper into their collection of cover songs, either released in some official capacity or only ever played live, there's even more Motorhead music to salute!
That's why we've picked out songs that many may be surprised to learn the band covered and even though it's a bit outside of Motorhead's usual style, they're still badass.
"The Trooper" (Iron Maiden)
First, let's make note of a technicality here: this cover appears on an all-star Iron Maiden tribute album (Numbers From the Beast). The lineup features Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister and Phil Campbell as well as bassist Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot, Alice Cooper) and drummer Chris Slade (AC/DC, Tom Jones).
Even though it's not purely a Motorhead track, where the hell else are you ever going to hear Lemmy sing or Phil play on anything this melodic? Lem looks like he's dressed as a war general, so might as well jump on a Maiden track about a fierce battle, right?
"Enter Sandman" (Metallica)
Motorhead have released two Metallica covers. First came "Enter Sandman" in 1998 followed by the Kill 'Em All favorite "Whiplash" in 2004.
The late '90s wasn't the greatest era of Motorhead's career and perhaps tackling a decade-defining song would have been seen as a potential boon, but none of that really matters a quarter century later and beyond.
By today's standards, even thinking about covering a song of this magnitude feels like an exercise in masochism (Ghost pulled it off nicely however). And for Motorhead, it's more so that their style isn't pounding mid-tempo meaty riffs, making this all the more interesting.
Unapologetically heavy — among Motorhead's heaviest recorded moments ever — this just sounds plain mean.
"Heroes" (David Bowie)
David Bowie's "Heroes" is remarkable for many reasons, including its pop shimmer despite its dirty, rumbling undertones. It's the latter element that fits Lemmy even better than a new pair of custom, embroidered boots.
Released after both Kilmister and Bowie had died, it was a big surprise for fans of both artists, each of which were rewarded with version that thumps quite a bit harder.
"Shoot 'Em Down" (Twisted Sister)
It's well known how tight Twisted Sister were with Motorhead as Lemmy vouched for them while they were still clawing their way to rock superstardom through a sea of naysayers and never-believers.
How often does a band cover an artist that has such reverence for them the way Twisted Sister did? It's almost always the other way around.
The lyrics on "Shoot 'Em Down" feel like they were written for Lemmy to sing, so that helps, but it shows that dear ol' Lem wasn't putting himself on a pedestal and viewed Dee Snider and the rest of the Twisted Sister crew as equals.
"Sympathy for the Devil" (The Rolling Stones)
Motorhead have covered a couples Rolling Stones songs throughout their career. The more fitting of the two is definitely the riff-driven "Jumpin' Jack Flash," but their version of "Sympathy for the Devil" more neatly checks the "unexpected" and "badass" boxes necessary for our purposes here.
Lemmy, best known for his gravelly voice, possessed a genuinely beautiful voice when he chose to apply a more somber touch and encroach what most would consider to be more traditional "singing." That's clear on this Stones cover and, additionally, we get to hear the band in more of a jam phase, which just never happened with Motorhead's raucous, rowdy rock 'n' roll.
"I'm Waiting for the Man" (Velvet Underground)
Of course, if Motorhead are going to cover anything by New York art rock pioneers The Velvet Underground, it's one of the noisier offerings off their legendary debut (the one with Andy Warhol's painting of a banana on the cover).
Motorhead only played it live eight times between late July and late October of 1975, the same year the group was formed after Lemmy split with psych-rock icons Hawkwind. So, really, at that time, nobody knew what to expect from Motorhead!
Nearly 50 years later, the live recording still offers plenty of intrigue, especially because of the two bands' very opposing musical styles.