By 1982, Motorhead had made a name for themselves in the world of hard rock and heavy metal. Just two short years prior, the group released the Ace of Spades record; the title track becoming one of heavy metal's true anthems. With Hawkwind’s Lemmy Kilmister on bass and vocals, teamed up with drummer “Philthy Animal” Phil Taylor and guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke, the trio was poised to take over the world of rock and roll.
Unfortunately, it was around this time that inner turmoil within the band between Kilmister and Clarke culminated, resulting in Clarke’s departure; he was subsequently replaced by Brian Robinson from Thin Lizzy. Immediately prior to Clarke’s parting ways with the band, they finished work on their fifth studio album; Iron Fist (which Clarke also produced). Following his departure, Clarke formed the band Fastway, but that is a story best saved for another day.
As such, this album marks the end of an era, and it is still fairly popular amongst fans of the band. How does this one stack up to gems like Overkill, Bomber, and Ace of Spades? Is it in the same league, or a disappointment? Let us take a look back at 1982’s Iron Fist.
With the recent passing of “Philthy Animal” Phil Taylor, this fan thought it seemed like a good time to revisit this album, which marks the end of Motorhead’s classic period, as a result of Clarke leaving the band (Taylor would remain on board longer, and drum for the band on an “on again, off again” basis until the early 90s).
Iron Fist is a good Motorhead album, though admittedly not a great one. There are some solid cuts to be had here; the title track is unadulterated classic Motorhead. “America” is a classic anthem that deserves more credit. “Loser” features some of “Fast” Eddie Clarke’s best riffage. “(Don’t Need) Religion” is another gritty rock classic with memorable lyrics as only our pal Lemmy could deliver. There are definitely a handful of solid cuts to be had here, as a listener will discover.
That said… if you have listened to Overkill, Bomber, or Ace of Spades, you are bound to be underwhelmed. On those albums, almost every single track was a killer. On this album… there are some good cuts, but there are a lot of “ho-hum” moments where you will find yourself waiting for something to recapture your attention. Honestly, it is a good album with its share of solid cuts, but it just feels bland and uninspired compared to the stuff from the band’s “golden years” that came prior. There were better albums before… and better albums after, too.
Like most of the Motorhead albums, this one was reissued on CD twice, in a single disc reissue with bonus tracks, and a two disc version with a bonus disc. Both versions include the track “Remember Me, I’m Gone” (the B-Side to the “Iron Fist” single). The remainder of the bonus content on the single disc version consists of alternative versions of songs from the album, while the two disc version features a live show from Toronto. If you decide to buy the album I would recommend the two disc version; the sound quality of the live disc is weak, but it is more interesting than the “alternate version” bonus cuts available on the single disc.
Iron Fist is a good Motorhead album, it is just not a great one. This is especially true when you stack it against the trio of heavy metal masterpieces that came prior. If you are a newbie to the Motorhead camp, Overkill, Bomber, and Ace of Spades are all must buys. Iron Fist? Not so much so. As is, I can only recommend this one for seasoned Motorhead fans and completists.