Motor Sister: Ride

Anthrax’s Scott Ian and friends pay tribute to cult LA rockers.

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Sometimes, through no fault of their own, fine bands fall between the cracks. Such was the case with Mother Superior, a Cream/Hendrix/Zeppelin-influenced power trio who cut eight studio albums of heavy blues-based hard rock in LA between 1996 and 2007 without ever troubling music historians. Chances are that if you know the band at all, it’ll be as the group Henry Rollins recruited to back him on the Rollins Band’s muscular Get Some Go Again and Nice albums (and indeed on the Rollins-produced Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three compilation album), which is how Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian first discovered, and fell in love with, Jim Wilson’s band 15 years ago.

Such is Ian’s fondness for Mother Superior that when his wife Pearl Aday enquired as to what gift he might like to receive for his 50th birthday, the guitarist asked if Aday might help him to resurrect the defunct LA rockers for one night only, so that he could jam on his favourite songs with the band. With this challenge accepted, on January 4, 2014, the couple threw a party at their LA home with musical entertainment provided by Motor Sister - a one-off group featuring Wilson, Ian, Aday and friends Joey Vera (Armored Saint) and John Tempesta (The Cult) - playing twelve Mother Superior tracks selected by the Anthrax man. And there the story might have ended, had not the word-of-mouth buzz on the private gig reached Metal Blade records, who offered to make a studio recording of the Motor Sister set available for general release.

Ride, then, is both a surrogate Mother Superior greatest hits collection, and a labour of love for Wilson and some of his old band’s biggest fans. Recorded in just two days, it’s a raw, earthy collection which serves to shine a spotlight on Jim Wilson’s songwriting, and perhaps shame those who never gave his band a chance first time around. There’s much to admire here in a diverse, powerful set, from the punchy, riffy power-pop of Get That Girl through to the elegant Head Hang Low (introduced by Wilson at Motor Sister’s recent New York debut gig as “a depressing song about suicide”) and the Zeppelin-esque gallop of Devil Wind. Fool Around sounds like the sweetest Black Crowes ballad this side of Southern Harmony…, This Song Reminds Me Of You is barn-storming blues rock with a gorgeous floating chorus and the downright filthy Whore finds Wilson and Aday letting rip at the mic in a full-blooded fashion of which Aday’s father Meatloaf would surely approve.

Exactly where Motor Sister go from here should be interesting. While in the post-grunge era Mother Superior might have sounded out-of-step with the prevailing musical climate, in 2015 Wilson’s songs will resonate strongly with anyone who’s fallen in love with the likes of Rival Sons or Black Stone Cherry in recent years, and it’d be nice to think they’ll have a life beyond this one-off recording. Whatever, on its own terms, Ride is a great hard rock record, and a worthy tribute to a band that might never otherwise have got their dues. Excellent work everyone.