I might not have mentioned this to you before. I quite like Motörhead. I think they’re a good band. I think, they’re the most perfect embodiment of what can be done with rock and roll. I think they were the best band I ever saw, heard and followed. With the possible exception of The Ramones. It’s odd. You’d have thought it would have come up sooner. But here we are.
Motörhead were not shy of a cover version. They had them in their rep from day one, from record number one. Hell, they’re named after a cover version. But they went out the same door they came in. I know it’s been a couple of years since Lemmy passed. There’s been a couple of cash in releases since. A cardboard pop up sleeved live album called Clean Your Clock and a covers compilation that picks tracks from their studio albums and pulls them together under the banner Undercöver. Sympathy is on there. More importantly it is the final track proper on their final studio album.
Lemmy knew he was going to die. He knew the end was very close. He knew Bad Magic would be the bands final album. That’s why it has ‘Till The End on it. A musical goodbye letter from Lemmy to his friends, his family and his fans. But he didn’t want to end the album with it. So it’s right in the middle of the record surrounded by typical Motörhead titles like Teach Them How To Bleed and Tell Me Who To Kill. Always back to business. The first time I heard it I knew. He’d written his own eulogy.
Motörhead were a party band though. Right to the end. Standard bearers of this thing called Rock And Roll. So they finished on an old favourite. Of the genre. Possibly the most unifying anthem of the perma-denim clad you could hope for. The Stones big bad. The one that divides Stones people and Beatles people into dark and light. It’s why bands like Jane’s Addiction and Guns N’ Roses have covered it and other lesser acts have not.
See that’s what Sympathy for the Devil is. It’s the dark mark. It’s the ultimate rock song for the others in the world. The ones for whom Bohemian Rhapsody is too posh, All You Need Is Love is too naïve and everything else too pop. Sympathy For The Devil is a real dirt under the fingernails, whiskey on the breath, motor oil on the leather jacket anthem.