Motörhead

Ace of Spades

Composed by "Fast" Eddie Clarke / Lemmy / Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor

Song Review by

A masterful hunk of raw, blistering speed metal, "Ace of Spades" would become Motörhead's signature song. This title track from the group's third album provided the prototype for countless headbangers and speed metal bands alike, responsible for creating the foundation for a new heavy metal subgenre that would be known as thrash or speed metal. "Ace of Spades" would prove to be a timely blend, combining the furious speed of hardcore that had mutated from earlier punk rock and the menacing power of early-'70s heavy metal.

"Ace of Spades" storms out of the gates, both guns blazing, as a quick buzzing riff is joined by a tight machine-gun snare roll for drummer Philthy Animal setting the pace at a break-neck gallop. "Fast" Eddie Clarke fashions the songs biggest hook, a simple descending three-note riff that gnaws its way into the brain, cutting through the din. Main Motörhead bassist and lead singer Lemmy (b. Ian Fraiser Kilmister) has described his vocal style as sounding like a "gorilla on Valium." The lyrics focus on Lemmy's admitted vice of gambling (he reportedly owns his own slot machine to help satisfy his obsession). "Ace of Spades" celebrates risk-taking in all aspects of life, as Lemmy grumbles slowly in a leathery, whiskey-soaked growl, "If you like to gamble, I tell you I'm your man/You win some, loose some, it's all the same to me/The pleasure is to play/Makes no difference what you say/I don't share your greed, the only one I need is/The ace of spades/The ace of spades." Clarke holds huge rousing chords under Lemmy's vocal, then filling the space between lines with a fantastically hooky bending guitar riff. The tempo pushes on unrelenting until reaching a middle breakdown, the band slamming to a full stop for Lemmy impart some more road-weary wisdom, growling, "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 for ever/And don't forget the joker." The band provides the perfect quick stomp accents before building back to the rapid-fire pace, then releasing into a scorching solo from Clarke. The song comes to an abrupt halt following the last repeated chorus, stomping firmly on the song's three basic chords with impressive power. The whole thing clocks in at less than three minutes.

The song and album would become Motörhead's most commercially successful, the album reaching number four and the single reaching number 15 on the U. K. charts, though the record was released as the band's debut in America receiving only cult status, but eventually proving to be hugely influential. If one were to search for the very roots of bands such as Metallica, "Ace of Spades" would be the most logical place to start.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Ace of Spades 1980 Sanctuary 3:02
No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith 1981 Sanctuary 2:49
No Remorse 1984 Sanctuary 2:46
Orgasmatron 1986 Sanctuary / Sanctuary Records / Universal 2:53
Rock 'N' Roll 1987 Noise / Sanctuary / Sanctuary Records / Sanctuary Records Group Ltd. / Universal Distribution 2:53
No Sleep at All 1988 2:51
Dirty Love 1989 Receiver 3:01
Welcome to the Bear Trap 1990 Castle Music Ltd.
Speed Metal 1991
Various Artists
Priority Records
Metal Age: The Roots of Metal 1992
Various Artists
Rhino
Marquee Metal 1993
Various Artists
Alex 2:46
Metal Mayhem 1993
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
The Best of Motorhead: All the Aces/The Muggers Tapes 1993 12:03
Kerrang!: The Album 1994
Various Artists
Alex 2:51
Stardust: Metal, Vol. 1 1994
Various Artists
Stardust Records
Rocktastic 1994
Various Artists
2:47
The Best Rock Album in the World...Ever! 1994
Various Artists
Virgin
The Best of Rock on Stage, Vol. 2 1995
Various Artists
Alex
18 Headbangers from the 80's 1995
Various Artists
Rhino / JCI Associated Labels 2:45
Archive 1997 Rialto 3:04
Super Hits of the 80's 1997
Various Artists
L & D 2:46
Protect the Innocent 1998 Essential Records 2:48
Take No Prisoners 1998 Snapper
The Singles Collection 1998 Cleopatra 2:48
Rock Legends [MCI] 1998
Various Artists
MCI 2:46
Monsters of Rock [Boxsets 1998] 1998
Various Artists
Boxsets 2:50
Three Classic Albums: Overkill/Bomber/Ace of Spades 1998 Essential Records 3:07
No Image 1998
Various Artists
Excelsior Recordings
Heavy Metal Thunder [Rhino] 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 2:49
Everything Louder Than Everyone Else 1999 Fontana / Sanctuary 4:49
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Telstar TV Records 2:47
Golden Years: The Alternate Versions 1999 Cleopatra 3:00
Now: 1980 [2 CD] 1999
Various Artists
Virgin/EMI 2:46
Born to Lose, Live to Win 1999 2:49
Aces: The Best of Motörhead 2000 Phantom Import Distribution
The Best Of 2000 Sanctuary 2:46
The Chase Is Better Than the Catch: The Singles A's & B's 2000 BMG / Castle Communications / Sanctuary 2:47
The Best Pub Jukebox in the World...Ever! 2000
Various Artists
Virgin 2:46
Maximum Heavy Metal 2001
Various Artists
CMC International 2:46
Bite the Bullet 2001 Recall (UK) 3:04
Big Hits 1980-2000: Rock 2001
Various Artists
Big Hits
Heavy Metal: Geomatrix 2001
Various Artists
Sanctuary 2:49
You Will Be Rocked! 2001
Various Artists
Warner/ESP / Rhino 2:48
25 & Alive: Boneshaker 2001 Steamhammer
Best of Motörhead [DVD] 2001 Panorama Music / Panorama Records
Big Hits, 1980-2000: Rock 2001
Various Artists
Disky 2:45
Monsters of Rock [Boxsets 2002] 2002
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:49
Rock Hit Box 2002
Various Artists
BMG International 2:46
Bronze Albums 2002 Castle Music Ltd. 2:48
Tear Ya Down: The Rarities 2002 Castle Music Ltd. 3:02
The Very Best of Motörhead 2002 Sanctuary / Metal-Is 2:48
Extended Versions 2002 BMG Special Products 3:02
Born to Be Wild [Music Club] 2002
Various Artists
MCI / Music Club Records 2:47
Rock Monsters 2002
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Speed Not Comfort 2002 Eagle Records 3:04
Rock Classics: The Heavyweights 2002
Various Artists
Repertoire
Commercial Break: Songs from TV Adverts 2002
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd.
Comprehensive School Classics 2002
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd. 2:46
Totally Heavy Metal 2002
Various Artists
EMI 2:47
The Best of Motörhead: Deaf Forever 2002 Sanctuary Fontana 2:47
Motor Mania: UK Edition 2003
Various Artists
SPV 3:47
No Image 2003 Victor Records 2:45
World's Greatest Air Guitar Album 2003
Various Artists
Hollywood 2:47
Stone Deaf Forever! 2003 Castle Music Ltd.
Permission to Rock 2003
Various Artists
WSM
Elite: Rock 2003
Various Artists
Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd.
High Voltage 2004
Various Artists
Disky 2:44
Rock Oldies [Quality] 2004
Various Artists
Bellaphon Records 3:09
Skate to Hell 2004
Various Artists
Warner Music 2:46
Car Classics: Driven Rock 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:48
Death Disco LTD: The Club Soundtrack 2004
Various Artists
Discotheque 2:44
Going Underground: Teenage Kicks, Vol. 2 2005
Various Artists
Sanctuary 2:47
Essential Noize: The Very Best of Motorhead 2005 Metro 2:48
Classic Rock Anthems 2005
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:47
Headbanger's Bible: 45 of the Biggest Headbangers 2005
Various Artists
WEA International 2:45
Best of Hard Rock [Disky] 2005
Various Artists
Disky
Ace of Spades 2005 Sanctuary 2:49
Stage Fright [Video] 2006 Steamhammer
The Best Pub Album 2006
Various Artists
MSI Music Distribution / Gut / Gut-Active 2:47
Heavy Metal: The First 20 Years [Time Life] 2006
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:46
Greatest Ever!: Eighties [2006] 2006
Various Artists
Greatest Ever / Union Square Music
Heavy Metal Masters 2006
Various Artists
Immergent 2:48
Smokin' Aces [Original Soundtrack] 2007
Original Soundtrack
Universal Music 2:47
The Essential 2007 Metro Doubles 2:48
Starter for 10 2007
Original Soundtrack
Rhino 2:48
No Image 2007
Various Artists
Politur 2:54
Kings of Rock 2007
Various Artists
Music Club Records 2:46
Old Skool of Rock 2007
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:47
Old Skool of Rock [DVD] 2007
Various Artists
UMVD
Better Motorhead Than Dead: Live at Hammersmith 2007 SPV / Steamhammer
Greatest Ever School Days 2007
Various Artists
Greatest Ever / Union Square Music 2:47
Heavy Metal [Box Set] 2007
Various Artists
Rhino 2:47
Heavy Metal Box [Rhino] 2007
Various Artists
Rhino 2:47
Rockland Radio: Welcome To Classic Rock Chapter 1 2007
Various Artists
Toptrax 2:47
Ultimate Collection 100 Hits: Eighties 2008
Various Artists
Union Square Music 2:47
Early Years [IMV/Blueline] 2008 IMV Blueline 3:11
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Eva
I Love Metal [Central Station] 2008
Various Artists
Central Station Records 2:46
Ultimate Collection 100 Hits: Rock 2008
Various Artists
Union Square Music 2:47
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People 2008
Original Soundtrack
Mercury / Interscope 2:47
100 Hits: Drive Time 2008
Various Artists
100 Hits 2:48
Christmas Jukebox 2008
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:46
The Best of Hard Rock, Vol. 2: 20th Century Masters the Millennium Collection 2008
Various Artists
Universal Distribution / Universal Music 2:48
Rock Heroes, Vol. 2: Metal Edition 2009
Various Artists
Thrive Records 2:45
Dad Rocks! 2009
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:46
Burner: Best of Motörhead 2009 Blueline / IMV / IMV Blueline / XXL Media 2:47
Total Drivetime 2010
Various Artists
Universal 2:46
Icon 2010 Sanctuary / Sanctuary Records 2:48
Rock Anthems [Universal 2010] 2010
Various Artists
EMI / Universal Music TV 2:46
Gods of Guitar [Universal] 2011
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing / Universal Music Canada 2:48
No Image 2011
Various Artists
Universal 2:46
Greatest Ever! Rock Anthems 2011
Various Artists
Greatest Ever / Union Square Music
The Ultimate Collection: Running Songs 100 Hits 2011
Various Artists
Ultimate 2:49
The Ultimate Collection: 80s School Days 2011
Various Artists
Universal 2:47
The Wörld Is Ours, Vol. 1: Everywhere Further Than Everyplace Else [DVD] 2012 UDR 5:22
The  Best the Rest the Rare 2012 IMV / IMV Blueline / Starline 2:49
Ace of Spades/Dirty Love Sanctuary / Sanctuary Records 2:46
Beer Blokes & BBQs, Vol. 3
Various Artists
Universal Music 2:46
No Image
Various Artists
Steamhammer 2:49
No Image
Various Artists
Mixed Repertoire 2:47
No Image
Various Artists
Universal Music 2:46
No Image
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing 2:48
No Image
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing 3:01
No Image
Various Artists
Wea
No Image
Various Artists
Dino Entertainment
No Image
Original Soundtrack
Rhino 2:47
Steal Your Face
Tales of Glory/Best Of Motorhead 404 Music Group / IDS 2:47
No Image
Various Artists
Universal 2:47
The Loudness: Rock Hits Turned Up to 11
Various Artists
Warner Music
No Image
Various Artists
Phantom Import Distribution
We Will Rock You [Crimson]
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:49
You'll Get Yours: The Best of Motörhead Noise / Sanctuary 2:48
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