Ace of Spades is the fourth album by the British heavy metal band Motörhead. Released on 8 November 1980, it peaked at No. 4 on the UK album charts and reached Gold status by March 1981.[1] It was preceded by the release of the title track as a single on 27 October, which peaked in the UK singles chart at No. 15 in early November.[2] It was the debut release of the band in North America, with Mercury Records handling distribution in the region.


 [hide*1 History


The album was recorded in August and September 1980, produced by Vic Maile at his Jackson's Studio in Rickmansworth. This is the first of what would be a series of projects with Maile, and members of the band commented at the time about finding the right producer. Whereas the band had previously had an input at the mixing stage, Maile took sole responsibility here, Clarke explaining that the result was that "you can finally hear everything that's going on".[3]

Of the performances, Lemmy claimed that "Vic got me singing instead of just shouting all the time", while Taylor added "and he got me playing more solid".[3]


It was the second of the band's studio albums to feature a photograph of them on the front cover, dressed as cowboys. The 'Arizona desert-style' pictures used on the album sleeve and tour programme were taken during a photo session at a sandpit in Barnet.[4]

Promotion and tour[edit]Edit

Motörhead appeared on Top of the Pops twice in October to promote the single "Ace of Spades", and were guests on the ITV children's morning show Tiswas on 8 November.

The band undertook a UK tour from 22 October through to 2 December under the banner Ace Up Your Sleeve, with support from Girlschool and Vardis. After the Belfastshow on 2 December, hijinks resulted in Taylor breaking his neck forcing him to wear a neck-brace and curtailing any further band activity. The other members of the band took the opportunity to collaborate with Girlschool for the St. Valentine's Day Massacre EP.

Critical reception[edit]Edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [5]
Robert Christgau B[6]
Sounds [7]

The album has been described as "one of the best metal albums by any band, ever"[8] and has become a significantly influential 'hard rock classic'.[9] Despite the band always referring to their music as rock 'n roll,[10] the album, and particularly its title track have been considered amongst the most influential in the development of thrash metal.[11] The title track is, for many, the definitive Motörhead anthem.[12] The album is listed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Classic albums documentary[edit]Edit

On 28 March 2005 the documentary about the album (a part of the Classic Albums series) was released on DVD by Eagle Vision. The in-depth look at the making of the album includes interviews with and performances by Lemmy, Phil Taylor and Eddie Clarke.[13]

Track listing[edit]Edit

All tracks composed by Ian KilmisterPhil TaylorEddie Clarke except where noted.

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "Ace of Spades"   2:49
2. "Love Me Like a Reptile"   3:23
3. "Shoot You in the Back"   2:39
4. "Live to Win"   3:37
5. "Fast and Loose"   3:23
6. "(We Are) The Road Crew"   3:13
Side B
No. Title Length
7. "Fire, Fire"   2:44
8. "Jailbait"   3:33
9. "Dance"   2:38
10. "Bite the Bullet"   1:38
11. "The Chase Is Better Than the Catch"   4:18
12. "The Hammer"   2:48
Deluxe Edition (Sanctuary Records 2005 Reissue): Disc 2
No. Title Length
1. "Dirty Love"   2:55
2. "Ace of Spades" (Alternate version) 3:03
3. "Love Me Like a Reptile" (Alternate version) 4:16
4. "Love Me Like a Reptile" (Alternate version) 3:31
5. "Shoot You in the Back" (Alternate version) 3:11
6. "Fast and Loose" (Alternate version) 3:06
7. "(We Are) The Roadcrew" (Alternate version) 3:24
8. "Fire Fire" (Alternate version) 2:41
9. "Jailbait" (Alternate version) 3:33
10. "The Hammer" (Alternate version) 3:11
11. "Dirty Love" (Alternate version) 1:02
12. "Dirty Love" (Alternate version) 3:51
13. "Fast and Loose" (BBC Session) 4:18
14. "Live to Win" (BBC Session) 3:33
15. "Bite the Bullet/The Chase Is Better Than the Catch" (BBC Session) 6:05

The 2CD version does not include the Girlschool St. Valentine's Day Massacre tracks that are on the single-disc remaster.


Release history and variations[edit]Edit

Date Region Label Catalogue Format Notes
8/Nov/1980 UK Bronze BRON531 vinyl Peaked at #4 in the album chart
8/Nov/1980 UK Bronze BRONG531 Gold vinyl
8/Nov/1980 Italy Bronze BROL 34531 vinyl
8/Nov/1980 Germany Bronze 202 876-270 vinyl some mispressed with side 1 on both sides.
8/Nov/1980 US Mercury SRM-1-4011 vinyl Different track running order
1986 UK GWR GWLP6 vinyl
1986 UK Legacy Records LLMCD 3013 CD
1988 US Profile Records PCD-3243 CD
1988 US Profile Records PRO-3243 vinyl
1991 UK Castle Communications, Castle Classics CLACD 240 CD Liner notes by Mörat from Kerrang!
1996 UK Essential, Castle Music ESM CD 312 CD 3 bonus tracks
2003 Italy Earmark 41003 Red vinyl
28/Jan/2003 UK Silverline 2881339 DVD-Audio[14] Surround Sound format
2005 US Sanctuary 06076-86408-2 2xCD
  • The labels on the 1986 GWR re-issue had the GWR logo and "A" on one side, and Side Two on the other. The tracks were also erroneously listed in the order of the North America release.

Use in popular culture[edit]Edit

The band performed the title track on the episode "Bambi" from the first season of "The Young Ones" on BBC during the interlude where the boys rush to the train station to get to "University Challenge" on time. The guitar solos were shot backwards so that while Wurzel played the camera was on Wizzo and vice versa. The episode is famous not only for the first performance of the song on UK TV, but also for appearances by Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie, and Stephen Fry.

  • The title track was used in the video game Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3.
  • The title track was also used in the 1997 film Grosse Pointe Blank during a shootout at a convenience store between rival hitmen Martin Blank (John Cusack) and Felix La PuBelle (Benny Urquidez).
  • (We Are) The Road Crew was used in the video game Brütal Legend, in which Lemmy was also in, voicing the "Kill-Master".
  • "Fast and Loose" was featured in the The Walking Dead third season episode, "This Sorrowful Life", on the car radio while Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) is sitting in the driver's seat of a car drinking whiskey, both attracting and teasing "walkers", and before finally turning up the song and driving off with the walkers following his car.
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