Under Cöver

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Motörhead were never a band known for their stylistic range -- they sounded like a thousand Harley Davidsons roaring down the highway that somehow learned to growl in tune, and they made a certain glorious noise better than anyone on Earth. No matter what they did, it just about always sounded like Motörhead, and they were smart enough to play to that strength throughout their career. Given that, Motörhead's covers tended to blend in comfortably with the originals on their albums, but they did attack the songs with a genuine enthusiasm, and they offered an insight into the sounds that spoke to Lemmy Kilmister and company. The latter notion is certainly on display on 2017's Under Cöver, a collection of 11 cover tunes Motörhead recorded between 1992 and 2015. Most of these tunes are big and loud as you would expect, with the band tearing into numbers by Judas Priest ("Breaking the Law"), Rainbow ("Starstruck"), Twisted Sister ("Shoot 'Em Down"), Ozzy Osbourne ("Hellraiser"), and Ted Nugent ("Cat Scratch Fever," which sounds even dirtier filtered through Lemmy's nicotine-ravaged howl). But the album also shows off Motörhead's fondness for the Rolling Stones, the only band that contributes two numbers here, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Sympathy for the Devil," the latter of which turns out to be especially well suited to Lemmy's vocal style. There's also a brief detour into punk rock as Motörhead tip their hat to the Sex Pistols ("God Save the Queen") and the Ramones ("Rockaway Beach"), and it's hard not to hear a satisfied snarl as they blaze through Metallica's "Whiplash" and remind all in earshot who invented that trademark sound. The biggest surprise is a version of David Bowie's "Heroes" that aims for something subtle and makes it actually work, with Lemmy's craggy vocals lending the track a curious but genuine dignity. Many of these tracks have been released before, and there are few revelations for loyal fans, but Under Cöver is an enjoyable reminder of Motörhead's ability to bend any song to their will, even as they let some of the personality of the originals shine through.

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