35 Years Ago: Motorhead Shake Things Up With ‘Another Perfect Day’
The early '80s were a time of upheaval for the heavy metal heroes in Motorhead. "Fast" Eddie Clarke quit the band mid-tour in 1982, splitting up what many still consider the definitive lineup of the group and leaving founding bassist Lemmy Kilmister and drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor to find a new guitar player quickly.
They settled on Brian Robertson, whose work on Thin Lizzy's high-water marks (from 1975's Fighting through the classic Live and Dangerous in 1978) had impressed Taylor. "I didn't really know him that well," Taylor said of Robertson in the Motorhead documentary The Guts and the Glory, "but I always thought he was one of the best guitar players in the world."
Lemmy invited Robertson to join Motorhead permanently at the end of the tour, and Robertson accepted, though not without some trepidation ... and a condition or two.
"I said, 'If I’m going to be part of the band, then we really need to change the direction here, because I can’t play that old Motorhead stuff; it’s just too in your face,'" Robertson told PennyBlackMusic in 2011. "I wanted to do something a little bit more melodic with it and they told me to go ahead, so I started writing."
Watch Motorhead's 'I Got Mine' Video
What resulted from that writing was 1983's Another Perfect Day, a more polished effort than previous Motorhead releases, and one some fans initially disowned as a result of that polish. That's not to say that fast and furious rockers like "Rock It" and "Die You Bastard" don't bear that signature Motorhead crunch — there's plenty of that on the album. But some elements — like the heavy chorus effect and arpeggio riff that run through "I Got Mine," or the overdubs that make the title track sound like a perfunctory FM radio production — were like foreign elements injected into healthy tissue. And, true to form for Robertson, they came as a result of meticulous efforts in the studio.
"Making Another Perfect Day was fucking torture," Lemmy said in The Guts and the Glory. "Brian would take 17 hours doing a guitar track. It fuckin' took so long compared with the other albums. And then when it was released everybody fucking hated it."
"I had a lot of effects," Robertson told PennyBlackMusic, "because what I recorded on the album I obviously overdubbed quite a lot. I had pitch transposers and all sorts of stuff. I was more or less tied to the pedal boards. It was like doing a little dance."
Watch Motorhead's 'Shine' Video
Still, both Lemmy and Robertson proclaimed an affection for the end result, and critical reassessments have been kind to the album. Allmusic calls it "one of the most unique (albeit misunderstood) albums in the entire Motörhead catalog," and the metal site Blabbermouth gives it a 9 out of 10 rating, calling it a "hellacious rock 'n' roll record in its own right, as well as an impressive transitional album."
The band's toughest critic of all – Lemmy himself – probably best summed up the Robertson and Another Perfect Day period for Motorhead, which ended when the guitarist left the band in late 1983. In a 2011 interview with Metal Hammer, he noted, "I love that album ... it’s just Brian [Robertson] that I couldn’t fucking stand.”