The 50 best Motorhead songs

40. All The Aces (Bomber, 1979)

Motorhead were barely four years into their career and had already dealt with their fair share of snake-oil salesmen, two-bit chancers and rapacious thieves. Label troubles had prevented the release of their first album until the band were already well underway and more than once they considered jacking it all in. 

The Bomber record caught Lemmy in particularly furious form, All The Aces directing that ire towards the bastards that had tried to grind the band down in their then-short career. Motorhead might have relished playing the villains, but on this record they made the switch into anti-heroes fighting for the little guy, like a three-piece recreation of The Magnificent Seven

39. Listen To Your Heart (Overnight Sensation, 1996)

The first album to feature Motorhead's final (and longest-serving) line-up of Lemmy, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee after the departure of guitarist Wurzel, 1996's Overnight Sensation was a soft reboot for the band. Though they didn't push the boat out too drastically, some of the experimentation that had begun to creep in at the start of the 90s rears its head again towards the end of the record as the band incorporated acoustic guitars into the massive Listen To Your Heart

Though the band would take the acoustic route more directly later in their career, Listen To Your Heart uses its guitars as a subtle support to the song's rich tone, sounding decidedly more showy than the band's usual blitzkrieg of grease and whisky. 

38. Hellraiser (March Or Die, 1992)

Originally written for Ozzy Osbourne and released on his 1991 record No More Tears, Motorhead opted to record their own version of Hellraiser when it came to recording their 1992 record March Or Die. Souping the track up to match Motorhead's beefier sound, Lemmy delivers the song's chorus with enough ferocity to give Pinhead himself pause. It's telling that the 2021 re-release of No More Tears re-cut the song with both Ozzy and Lemmy's vocal tracks, the pair working perfectly as a duet. 

The track also gave the band a chance to try out a new drummer after the firing of Philthy early in the recording process, sticksman Mikkey Dee locking in tight with his future bandmates to take his rightful place as the rhythmic engine at the heart of Motorhead's sound going forwards. 

37. Dead Men Tell No Tales (Bomber, 1979)

Motorhead might have been partial to their pharmaceuticals – and just about anything else they could pump themselves full of – but the band presented a consistent front when it came to the brown stuff. The slick rock'n'roll of pre-Ace Of Spades-era Motorhead is put to great use on Dead Men Tell No Tales, Lemmy's disdain for heroin (and junkies) seeping through in lyrics like 'You used to be my friend/But that friendship's coming to an end'. 

Ironically (or perhaps not) Jimmy Miller, the band's producer at the time, had originally connected with the band on Overkill as something of a comeback for the producer after he was fired by the Rolling Stones after 1973's Goats Head Soup, having become unreliable due to drug use. Though clean for Overkill, the band suspected he was using again by the time they went in to record Bomber as he would turn up late to sessions and was found one day asleep at the wheel of his car. 

36. Dead And Gone (Snake Bite Love, 1998)

Most Motorhead fans (and many who aren't) are familiar with the fact Lemmy was in Hawkwind before forming Motorhead. Fewer will be aware of his stint in psychedelic rockers Sam Gopal in the late 60s – not helped by the fact Lemmy went by the name 'Ian Willis' in the record's credits as he considered taking on his stepfather's surname). How does this tie in to Motorhead, you ask?

Dead and Gone was a re-write of the song The Sky Is Burning he wrote on the band's 1969 album Escalator. More melancholic in tone than the fuzzier production on the original track, Motorhead fire both barrels just shy of the two-minute mark to make the track their own, giving it a fresh life that transported it forward almost 30 years with minimal anachronisms. 

35. Thunder & Lightning (Bad Magic, 2015)

The insistence on releasing a live recording of the band's final tour smacked of grotesque voyeurism, 2016's Clean Your Clock capturing Lemmy in extremely ill-health and a pale shadow of his former self. Conversely, the band's final studio album Bad Magic still singes with the reliable thunder (& lightning) the band had brought to bear in their final decade. 

Thunder & Lightning is proof positive of this, taking off like a jet engine and roaring along like all Motorhead standards should. Rock'n'roll warriors to the very end, this track shows Motorhead weren't about to relinquish their claim to being the loudest band on the planet so long as they could still stand. 

34. (Don't Need) Religion (Iron Fist, 1982)

Growling and grinding low-end sets the perfect tone for (Don't Need) Religion, taking melodies from the heavens and chucking them right in the muck. Lines like 'I don't need no Santy Claus/And I don't believe in fairies no more' made it entirely unambiguous what Lemmy's views on religion were (as if the track title didn't give that away), to the point you can practically hear the grin beneath the gravelly tones. 

The last album of the 'classic trio', Iron Fist might not have hit the highs of its predecessors, but tracks like (Don't Need) Religion speak to the immense quality that line-up were able to churn out at almost production line pace.

33. (I Won't) Pay Your Price (Overkill, 1979)

With a whisper of "...So drunk" Motorhead lunge into one of their punchier rock'n'roll numbers, as no-nonsense sonically as it was lyrically. Lines like 'You're really a nasty piece of work/Thought you was a hero/But you're really just a jerk' and 'You can't stop me/Don't you even try/Gonna stick my finger in your eye' might be hilariously simple, but they're also Kilmister gold. 

The track itself has an irrepressible bounce that speaks to the sheer magnitude of what Philthy and Fast Eddie brought to the table, the tightness of the unit reflective of the fact that Overkill truly was the album where Motorhead came together as a band. 

32. Deaf Forever (Orgasmatron, 1986)

The almost militaristic drum-beat of Deaf Forever betrays the fact this song transcended its parent album (1986's Orgasmatron) to become a rallying cry for Motorhead fans worldwide. The band might have balked at being lumped in with the NWOBHM but by Orgasmatron they were up to their elbows in heavy metal imagery, smoke and blood palpable in Deaf Forever's lyrical content.

That this was the first Motorhead album to feature the band as a four-piece, owing to the arrival of both Wurzel and Phil Campbell, lent an extra heft in the tonal stakes that made Motorhead's late-80s and early-90s output feel more metal-aligned than ever before. The MVP here though is one-and-done drummer Pete Gill, making his presence felt in thunderous fashion whilst not losing the groove Philthy had established over the prior decade.

31. Doctor Rock (No Sleep At All, 1988)

"Are you ready for some rock'n'roll?" Getting straight down to business, Lemmy and co kicked off their 1988 live record, No Sleep At All, with a howling rendition of Doctor Rock taken from Orgasmatron. Playing the song at about twice the pace it goes on record, the track flies along sounding like everything is going to come off the rails at any second, tapping into that almost punkish arena of anarchy whilst just barely keeping the lid on.

Listening to this, it's hardly surprising the band ended up supporting Slayer in support of the release, though disputes between the band and the label and poor sales ultimately caused Motorhead to split from GWR Records after release, tanking any prospect of a bright future.

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.