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Motorhead: 25 & Alive Boneshaker (R0)
THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister has never tried to gussy up his style for mass-consumption. His warts-and-all approach to rock-and-roll has allowed him to ignore genre definitions and just play what he wants. Sometimes the band sounds punk, sometimes metal, sometimes the songs could be recorded by Chuck Berry. Lemmy's alligator rasp of a voice and the ceaseless rumble of his music have a distinct sound that no imitators have ever been able to equal. On the concert DVD 25 & Alive Boneshaker the band runs through a large number of their memorable (and memorably titled) songs including "Orgasmatron," "Killed by Death," "Iron Fist," and the immortal "Ace of Spades," inarguably the greatest metal song ever written. Stop protesting! I said "INARGUABLY" and that's that!
Excuse me. Motorhead is one of those bands that can cause rising heartbeats and increased adrenaline. There is something pumping and alive in their monster beats and Lemmy's unstoppable bass riffs. They never take themselves too seriously, which is the key to their never having become a total joke. Long after his contemporaries have either become cartoons of themselves or have simply disappeared, Lemmy has held tightly on to what made him interesting in the first place.
And don't think for a second that Lemmy will lower himself to parading around the stage making faces. He stands, stock still, in his white boots, head cocked upwards, bellowing into his mile-high microphone throughout the show. When the band brings out special guests, like Queen's Brian May and former Motorhead guitarist Fast Eddie on "Overkill" or Doro Pesch and Whitfield Crane on "Born to Raise Hell", the noise level gets raised, but it's not musically necessary. Rarely does a three piece create such a full, diverse sound. "Going to Brazil," one of the most rocking songs from their masterpiece album 1916, boogie-woogies with the best of them, while the recent "Overnight Sensation" has a tunefulness that surprises. As far as 25th anniversary shows go, this is a particularly spry one. Still, Lemmy must be feeling the passage of time. After all, he's amended his famous "Ace of Spades" lyric "You know I'm born to lose/ and gambling's for fools/ But that's the way I like it baby/I don't want to live forever" with "But apparently I have." Maybe he'll turn out to be right. If 25 years of hard living on the road doesn't do him in, perhaps nothing will.
The anamorphic widescreen video looks good. There are moments of overt compression artifacting, but overall the picture is sharp and clear.
Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 tracks are provided. The 2.0 track is warm, if a bit muddy, while the 5.1 track is crisp and clear but a little lacking in bass. Still, the sound is great.
Nothing was left off this disc: An entertaining behind the scenes piece packed full of great archival footage, four songs (including "R.A.M.O.N.E.S.," Lemmy's ode to the punk godfathers) from a German show, an acoustic performance of "Ain't No Nice Guy" that's amazingly tender without being wimpy, photo galleries of the past members, and a gallery of rare releases. "I'm So Bad" features multi-angle control. Two weak music videos are included. Also, the disc is encoded as Region 0 and should play on all DVD players.
The only complaint is that the menus are frustratingly unlabeled and the chickypoo transitions are long and repetitive.
Fans of Motorhead will gobble this up. Even though the band has gone through more personnel changes than Spinal Tap, Lemmy has lent it a sense of stability and the current line-up has been around for a decade. This performance is energetic, loud, and fun.
Email Gil Jawetz at [email protected]