Book Review: Motorhead Book Deals A Winner

In his book “Beer Drinkers And Hell Raisers: The Rise of Motorhead” (ECW Press, out May 2017), Martin Popoff takes the reader through an entertaining and informative journey through the early years of the Metal Band Motorhead.  The book focuses on the classic lineup of the band from 1977-1982, featuring members Lemmy Kilmister, Phil Taylor, and Eddie Clarke.

The book begins by examining the early days of how each member ended up in the band, including how Kilmister was a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, along with his time in the band Hawkwind. His trouble at the border in Canada led to his dismissal in Hawkwind, and started his creation of Motorhead, which eventually led to hiring Clarke and Taylor.

There are many entertaining stories in the book, including Clarke’s audition for the band, which he had to pay for the audition space, and was told (several days later) he got the gig when Lemmy showed up at his door with a leather jacket and a bullet belt. Clarke says that Lemmy told him that he got the gig, “turned around and off he went.” Other stories involve Lemmy’s first show where he played only 20 minutes, the band becoming the loudest band in music, and the band’s jokes with media reporters, including walking out on a female journalist, and an interview session that involved a fire hose.

The “Classic” lineup: Clarke, Kilmister, and Taylor.

The book follows each of the band’s recordings, with a track by track commentary about the songs, along with interviews by the early band members and fellow musicians that were around the band at the time.  Popoff intertwines the interviews from magazines along with his own personal interviews to make the book feel like the reader is sitting right next to those speaking.

One of the most entertaining parts of the book is towards the end, where Popoff covers the breakup of the classic lineup.  He gets the perspectives of Clarke and Taylor during each step of the separation, including the relationship between Kilmister and Plasmatics lead singer Wendy O. Williams, which had a major impact on the breakup. The flow of the book during this part feels like a VH1 “Behind The Music” episode, with the author doing a great job of getting as many sides of the story as he could.

The book, at the beginning, dealt a little too much on discussing the argument if Motorhead was a Metal Band or just a Rock Band, but the rest of the book was an easy and wonderful read. There are some great stories told by Dee Snider of Twisted Sister about Lemmy helping Snider’s band gain respect right before Twisted Sister’s major breakout. There is also a small part covering Clarke and Taylor’s music careers after they left the band, including when Clarke formed the band Fastway, as well as the last lineup of Motorhead before the deaths of Taylor and Kilmister.

My limited knowledge of the band Motorhead was their song “Ace of Spades,” Lemmy’s recording the entrance music for WWE Wrestler HHH, and seeing the movie about Lemmy, but Popoff’s book was such an entertaining read, it makes someone who does not know much about the band become educated, along with wanting to dig into the band’s recordings.  The book is very detailed with the track listings going through the years, along with Popoff’s writing coming from a fan of the band, and not just writing a historical piece. A true fan of the band will enjoy this book as well as the casual one. Martin Popoff and ECW Press have a must-read book for metal fans in “Beer Drinkers And Hell Raisers,” whether or not the reader is a Motorhead fan.

A special thanks to ECW Press for the Advanced Reading Copy of the book. For more information about ECW Press, go to www.ecwpress.com.

For information about Martin Popoff and his other books, visit www.martinpopoff.com

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