Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Motörhead, "(We Are) The Road Crew"

A guitar teacher friend of mine was telling me about a student who brought in "The Load-Out," Jackson Browne's interminable ode to his roadies that's best-known for the live version that works in Maurice Williams' doo-wop staple "Stay."

I can't tell why anyone likes this song. Its melody and arrangement are the worst of dad rock sap, making the Eagles sound like Alice Cooper. The lyrics are even worse, coming across like a third-rate, unintentionally funny "Turn the Page" (Jackson's noble roadies are "working for that minimum wage"--well, who's paying them that?) One can imagine Richard Pryor, whom Browne proudly claims to have "on the video," gagging in earshot of this tripe.

Thankfully, it took just a few years for someone else to give roadies the tribute that they deserve.

"(We Are) The Road Crew" was written in the studio in ten minutes and recorded almost as hastily. Guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke accidentally crashes into feedback halfway through the solo, but the band kept it in the studio version. Lemmy, a roadie for Jimi Hendrix and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd before he'd earned his metal god status, sounds like he's been itching to scream this one since his days of unpacking Hendrix's Fender. His restless delivery is perfect for the stories of Another Town, Another Place, Another Girl, Another Face, Another Truck, Another Race. As Mr. Kilmister remembers in his autobiography:

"One of our road crew cried when we first played that song for them. I'm not going to say who it was. We took the lot of them up to the studio one day and played them the track. And this one guy cracked and broke down right then and there. He was weeping, 'Oh, that's a great one. That's great.' It was really nice that it affected somebody that deeply. Bands as a rule don't treat their crews too well. I try to."

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