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Motorhead - "Ace Of Spades (slow version)" (Digital Single)

Motorhead - "Ace Of Spades (slow version)" Digital Single cover image

"Ace Of Spades (slow version)" track listing:

1. Ace Of Spades (slow version)

Reviewed by on October 26, 2010

"On this slower go-round, there's definitely the opportunity for the nearly 65-year-old Lemmy to add a little more of a wink to the old 'I don't want to live forever' line."

Beer and Motorhead go together like well, to be perfectly honest, speed and Motorhead. So, when I heard that Kronenbourg had contracted with Lemmy and the boys to re-record "Ace Of Spades" — only stripped-down and acoustic — for an ad, it didn't seem like such a stretch to me.

After all, Lemmy's no stranger to the acoustic guitar these days (and, frankly, if you've ever heard the original Hawkwind version of "The Watcher," you'd know that he's never been afraid to go mostly unplugged). His rockabilly album with the Head Cat (featuring a superb version of Johnny Cash's "Big River") featured Lemmy on acoustic guitars. And, starting with the Ozzy Osbourne duet "I Ain't No Nice Guy" on the 1992 album "March Or Die," Motorhead's often had at least one track featuring acoustic guitars on their albums, with the harmonica-laced "Whorehouse Blues" on the "Inferno" album especially standing out.

"Whorehouse Blues" definitely seems to serve as the template for this new "Ace Of Spades," with Lemmy wailing away on harmonica, while ax-slinger Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee (who usually plays drums) trade licks on the guitar. Unlike "Whorehouse Blues," this outing is a bit of a mixed bag.

On the plus side, the underrated Phil Campbell lays down some great bottleneck blues, particularly in the solo, which has a frenetic energy that's missing from the rest of the song. I also like the way he and Lemmy replicate "Fast" Eddie Clarke's guitar parts during the verses.

I also like the boozy swagger that Lemmy brings to the lyrics. When the song's played at its usual tempo, there's the sense that he's spitting them out as fast as he can. On this slower go-round, there's definitely the opportunity for the nearly 65-year-old Lemmy to add a little more of a wink to the old "I don't want to live forever" line.

On the other hand, I find myself missing parts of the original that could've been replicated. I get leaving out the drums (which always have the energy of a freight train right about to jump the tracks, no matter how slow you play the song), but where's that great bass intro? In fact, where's the bass line at all? Without much in the way of a low end (other than Mikkey Dee's rhythm guitar), the song can't help but to feel a tad lifeless, except in the solo.

Then again, what am I complaining about? Even with the changes, this is a pretty listenable version of one of heavy metal's defining songs. Sure, unlike the high-stakes hand of the original, this slower "Ace Of Spades" is more of a penny-poker game over beers with buddies — and I have the feeling that's what the folks at Kronenbourg were aiming for. Plus, did I mention that it's free (at www.k1664.co.uk — though they do want your e-mail address)? You can't do much better than free Motorhead, folks.

Highs: Excellent guitar playing and a little more playfulness in the vocals.

Lows: The slow playing and lack of bass make the song feel a little lifeless in spots.

Bottom line: An interesting re-do of one of metal's best tunes — and it's a free download.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)