With the 1980 release of Ace of Spades, Motörhead had their anthem of anthems -- that is, the title track -- the one trademark song that would summarize everything that made this early incarnation of the band so legendary, a song that would be blasted by legions of metalheads for generations on end. It's a legendary song, for sure, all two minutes and 49 bracing seconds of it. And the album of the same name is legendary as well, among Motörhead's all-time best, often considered their single best, in fact, along with Overkill. Ace of Spades was Motörhead's third great album in a row, following the 1979 releases of Overkill and Bomber, respectively. Those two albums have a lot in common with Ace of Spaces. The classic lineup -- Lemmy (bass and vocals), "Fast" Eddie Clarke (guitar), and "Philthy Animal" Taylor (drums) -- is still in place and sounding as alive and crazed as ever. The album is still rock-solid, boasting several superlative standouts. Actually, besides the especially high number of standouts on Ace of Spades -- at least relative to Bomber, which wasn't quite as strong overall as Overkill had been -- the only key difference between this 1980 album and its two 1979 predecessors is the producer, in this case Vic Maile. The result of his work isn't all that different from that of Jimmy Miller, the longtime Rolling Stones producer who had worked on Overkill and Bomber, but it's enough to give Ace of Spades a feeling distinct from its two very similar-sounding predecessors. This singular sound (still loud and in your face, rest assured), along with the exceptionally strong songwriting and the legendary stature of the title track, makes Ace of Spades the ideal Motörhead album if one were to choose one and only one studio album. It's highly debatable whether Ace of Spades is tops over the breakthrough Overkill, as the latter is more landmark because of its earlier release, and is somewhat rougher around the edges, too. Either way, Ace of Spades rightly deserves its legacy as a classic. There's no debating that.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier