“Overkill” is the 2nd studio album by British heavy metal band, Motörhead. It was released in 1979 on Bronze Records and produced by Jimmy Miller. The line-up for the album was Lemmy (vocals/bass), Eddie Clarke (guitar) and Phil Taylor (drums).
This album is one that a lot of musicians point to when naming their most influential. Bands like Metallica, and, of course, the thrash metal band which took their name from it. It reached No.24 in the British album charts, and the titular song was released as a single, breaking the UK Top 40.
The title song was, at the time, possibly the heaviest song to have ever been recorded. ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor’s drumming is sublime on this record with the double bass pedals going throughout, Lemmy’s bass sounds angry and ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke’s guitar is impressively loud. The highlight of the track is the way it presumably stops twice then restarts as part 2 and part 3. This is the trio of Lemmy, Clarke and Taylor at their very best, bar none.
In complete contract to the previous song, “Stay Clean” is much slower number with the subject matter about keeping off drugs, something which Lemmy can’t really talk about doing in his life. Although it is slow, the track is noisy with an impressive bass solo part-way through, followed by a guitar solo near the end which the heavy metal fan will enjoy.
(I Won’t) Pay Your Price
This is one of those songs which is a bit hit and miss. Lemmy likes the blues, and he manages to combine the genre with rock and roll, but many fans will say it doesn’t really work. The lyrics suggest that the song is about a man who finds a drug dealer who’s cheaper than his former dealer and so he goes to him for his needs.
I’ll be Your Sister
This is another rock and roll infused song, with a heavy edge to it. It’s basically a love song in the only way Motörhead knows how, and is a surprisingly good song. Lemmy’s vocals are backed with Clarke’s simple riff throughout. It’s definitely the surprise song on the album, in that it’s good but you just don’t know why… a bit like White Castle, for those who have been there.
This is a song Lemmy wrote about his astrological star sign. He makes certain references to star signs in his autobiography and has some sort of interest in astrology, although it’s never made clear as to how much. It is a slower song with a heavy bass line, not unlike the style of Lemmy’s previous band, Hawkwind. The guitar solo steals this song and makes it much better than it really is.
Many fans would say that this is one of the best songs on the album. It is about people in the music business that don’t fit in, but it could also be about groupies who don’t match up to Lemmy’s standards. Musically, the lyrics are some of the best the band has ever written and the song is a staple live favorite, guaranteed to get heads banging.
This is another very heavy song and one of Metallica’s favorites, having recorded it as a B-Side for their 1995 single, “Hero of the Day”. It’s very bluesy with a little bit of good old rock and roll thrown in, and a really good sounding track to start the sprint to the finishing line of the album. Once again, Lemmy’s bass sounds powerful here, which is always a good thing.
Tear Ya Down
This track crosses Motörhead with punk rock which rolls along at a fast-moving pace, accompanied by a classic ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke solo. Lyrically, it’s another song about Lemmy getting his way in the bedroom with yet another woman. The things rock stars have to do because of fame can be daunting!
This is the dark horse of the album. It’s slow and almost bluesy, and is sung with passion. It could be likened to ZZ Top if it was less heavy, with its solo infused bars and catchy bass and guitar riffs. Some will like the band like this, but most will much prefer the heavier Motörhead.
Limb From Limb
On to the final song off the album, and if you imagine John Lee Hooker on-stage playing heavy metal, “Limb From Limb” is what you’d get. It’s another song about Lemmy’s apparent luck with women, and ends the album with a bit of rock and roll. It has catchy guitar riffs which help it over the line.
Lemmy has talked about having recorded music after the band’s heyday, and how he feels most of that is better than before 1986, and he may have a point. But, and this is the crucial part of things, most Motörhead fans will always point to those early albums, including this one, as the band’s best work. Whenever someone mentions Motörhead, it is often the double-bass on “Overkill” that could be your first thought.
- Stay Clean
- (I Won’t) Pay Your Price
- I’ll be Your Sister
- No Class
- Damage Case
- Tear Ya Down
- Limb From Limb