Album Review: Motörhead - Another Perfect Day
Reviewed by Dan Barnes
Coming off the one-two-three of Overkill, Bomber and Ace of Spades would be a daunting prospect for any band, and with a lukewarm (relatively speaking) Iron Fist record, which saw the departure of Eddie Clarke mid-tour, Another Perfect Day was always going to suffer from its difficult birth. When even the press blurb from the record company, on the fortieth anniversary of its release, describes Another Perfect Day as “Motörhead’s most controversial album” you know the scars still run deep.
So, let’s address the elephant in the room from the get-go. Brian Robertson is a fine guitar player. His decade with Thin Lizzy proves that beyond doubt, and his contribution to Lizzy’s Jailbreak, Johnny the Fox and more is sealed in the annals of Rock history. That Robbo is an inspirational player goes without saying.
He was not, however, a good fit for Motörhead, as the disparate approaches to the core ‘head sound clashed from the outset. To this point there had always been the collision of punk and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, alongside Lemmy’s older influences; but the addition of Robbo’s extraverted guitar performance became too much for many fans to take and so, Another Perfect Day was shunned as an aberration.
In the autobiography, White Line Fever, Lemmy makes three observations on the album: firstly that producer, Tony Platt was “Brian’s boy”; secondly that Robbo was a “pain in the arse”; and thirdly, that there’s a “bit too much guitar” on it.
Cannot comment on the first two, but Lemmy is right about the guitars. Damn-near every track on Another Perfect Day is saturated with too much of the noodling and not enough of the crunching grind for which Motörhead were best known.
The rhythm section of Lemmy and Philthy are as efficient as ever – with five previous records under their belts, you’d expect nothing less – and Mr Kilmister’s gravelly yarl is as affective as ever. When the guitars are locked into this they are as you would expect on a Motörhead album, giving tracks like Back at the Funny Farm, Shine and Rock It a sprinkle of the old magic.
Away from the over-reliance on filling every space with guitars, fan backlash centred around Motörhead’s move to a more ‘commercial’ sound on songs like Dancing On Your Grave, One Track Mind and I Got Mine. While not exactly Pop songs, they do show a divergence from the stock head-down-and-blast ideas of the past, but many of the seeds planted on Another Perfect Day would come to fruition on albums later down the line.
In the autobiography, Lemmy even mentions, despite the fan reaction, the record was good for the band and that “maybe it was a mistake not to experiment earlier.” Those experimentations led to the bluesy vibes of the title-track and, possibly, the confidence to draw in other influences moving forward.
In addition to the main album, this reissue comes with seven extra tracks; Turn You Around Again was the B-side of I Got Mine and is a classic Motörhead stomper, albeit with the Robbo flourishes, and Hoochie Coochie Man and (Don’t Need) Religion are the live versions from the flip side of Shine. There are also four demos, including two versions of Shine, one an instrumental, a rough and ready version of Die You Bastard! and One Track Mind.
There’s a version that comes with a disc featuring a live show from Hull City Hall in June 1983, including eight of Another Perfect Day’s ten songs. The remainder of the set is your standard Motörhead set of the time, though curiously, there’s no Ace of Spades, Overkill or Bomber to be found.
Re-evaluating Another Perfect Day, after forty years and with the benefit of hindsight, it all seemed like a storm in a teacup. No, the album isn’t perfect, but it does give an interesting insight into the creative process and, who knows, without this one, Motörhead might have run dry long before Lemmy was called onto the stage at the great gig in the sky. Unfairly maligned, Another Perfect Day is ripe for a reappraisal, so if you’ve shunned it since ’83, give it another go, you’ll be glad you did.