Released August 1992
The 25th anniversary of Motorhead’s 10th studio album, March Or Die, came and went with the same lukewarm fanfare it did upon it’s initial release. Now I’m not going to start preaching to you about how about how underrated this album is and that it’s just as good as the album that came before it (1916) because I don’t believe it to be true myself. What I will tell you is that ‘March Or Die’ is an important moment in Motorhead’s history plus it contains a lot of cool pop and rock culture references that are instantly recognizable, even to those who never got past ‘Ace Of Spades’.
In what should have been a time of Lemmy Kilmister & Co. riding a wave of positivity and celebration (1916 earned a Grammy nomination plus multiple videos from the album had been featured consistently on Headbanger’s Ball during the record’s cycle) instead found Motorhead recording in the depths of Los Angeles right smack dab in the middle of the Rodney King trial,verdict and ultimately the L.A. riots. As if that weren’t enough, they were facing the decision of having to sack both on-again off-again drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor before production and guitarist Wurzel post recording. This led to Tommy Aldridge (Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, Ted Nugent, BOA, etc.) playing the majority of percussion on the record with “Philthy” only in retrospect credited on “I Ain’t No Nice Guy”.
Getting back to the positivity, adding to the pre-release accolades of Grammy noms and late-night MTV love was the Ozzy Osbourne connection. Lemmy had contributed co-writes to four of the more important songs to Ozzy’s multi-platinum “retirement” album, ‘No More Tears’, “I Don’t Want To Change The World”, “Desire”, “Mama, I’m Coming Home” and “Hellraiser” (which was subsequently recorded by Motorhead on ‘March or Die’ as well) and had garnered more money and residuals than Lemmy had ever seen in his fifteen years plus in the business. In what seemed as a token of his appreciation and friendship, Ozzy sang a duet with Lemmy in the form of ‘I Ain’t No Nice Guy’. You would think that the novelty of Ozzy and Lemmy singing a heartfelt ballad with Slash cameoing on lead guitar would be a homerun on radio and MTV but as Lemmy lamented in his memoir ‘White Line Fever’, Sony records would not only flat out refuse to support the song for rock radio much less pay for a video on MTV but go out of their way to sabotage the release after stations began playing it independently. Vigilant to the end, the band took eight grand of their own money and shot the video with Ozzy and Slash appearing in the clip for free, light rotation followed because Sony waited an entire month(!) to sign the release for MTV.
All internal struggles aside, it’s a miracle that the album is even remotely listenable but the years have been kind to ‘March Or Die’. In this writer’s opinion, Motorhead’s version of ‘Hellraiser’ is the definitive version, ‘Stand’ is a strong opener, ‘Nice Guy’ remains endearing especially in light of Lemmy recent passing and ‘You Better Run’ has been heard more by this latest generation of kids than any Motorhead song ever due to its re-recording as ‘You Better Swim’ on the Spongebob Squarepants Movie and soundtrack. Lastly and most importantly, with the last minute addition of ‘Hellraiser’, this served as the maiden voyage for what would finally become the longest running and ultimately solidified final lineup for Motorhead in Lemmy, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee and THAT ALONE makes ‘March Or Die’ an important milestone in ‘Rock and Roll’ history.
Wrtten by Joey who thinks you should buy your records legit because both you and the artist will appreciate iT more and that Motorhead’s ‘Inferno’ is the best Motorhead album you haven’t heard.
Joey is also the host of of the Rock Strikes Ten podcast, co-host of the Talking Rock podcast w/Mark Strigl and co-owner of CNJRadio.com