Epic Showdowns: AC/DC VS Motörhead 

For this edition of Epic Showdowns I have picked two bands that have a lot in common. But the one thing above all else these two bands have in common is CONSISTENCY. You know what you’re getting when you pick up an album by either band. They have both had their peak output. But their valleys aren’t too far below their best. Neither band has put out a clunker of an album. Let’s roll up our sleeves and prepare to get your hands dirty

AC/DC


AC/DC are an Australian hard rock band, formed in Sydney in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. They have always dubbed their music simply “rock and roll”. AC/DC underwent several line-up changes before releasing their first album, High Voltage, in 1975. Membership stabilized when bassist Mark Evans was replaced by Cliff Williams in 1977 for the album Powerage. Within months of recording the album Highway to Hell, lead singer and co-songwriter Bon Scott died on 19 February 1980 after a night of heavy alcohol consumption. The group considered disbanding, but with  support from Scott’s parents, decided to continue and set about finding a new vocalist. Ex-Geordie singer Brian Johnson was auditioned and selected to replace Scott. Later that year, the band released the new album, Back in Black, which was made as a tribute to Bon Scott. The album launched them to new heights of success. Johnson would go on to record 9 more albums with the band. Many of them are classic, if not all time greats. AC/DC are the best bar band in the world. They took gritty Rock n Roll and made it stadium worthy. Bon Scott is a legend, Brian Johnson is an icon, Angus Young is a legend. Malcolm Young and the rest of the rhythm section are criminally under rated. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

My top 5 AC/DC songs

  1. Hell Ain’t a Bad Place To Be
  2. Problem Child
  3. The Jack
  4. It’s A Long Way To The Top
  5. Back In Black

 

Motörhead 


Motörhead were formed in June 1975 by bassist, singer, and songwriter Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister, who was the sole constant member,  and included guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox. The band are often considered a precursor to the new wave of British heavy metal, which re-energized heavy metal in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Though several guitarists and drummers have played in Motörhead, most of their best-selling albums and singles feature the work of “Fast” Eddie Clarke on guitar and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor on drums. Lemmy was dismissed from Hawkwind in May 1975 after being arrested in Canada for drug possession; he said himself the band dismissed him for “doing the wrong drugs”. Now on his own, Lemmy decided to form a new band called Motörhead, inspired by the final song he had written for Hawkwind. Lemmy wanted the music to be “fast and vicious, just like the MC5”. His stated aim was to “concentrate on very basic music: loud, fast, city, raucous, arrogant, paranoid, speedfreak rock n roll … it will be so loud that if we move in next door to you, your lawn will die”.   After recording several albums and touring Europe through the end of the 70’s, the band would enter the studio in 1980 and record their masterpiece, the Ace of Spades album. Motörhead would go through many lineup changes through the 80’s and 90’s. But Lemmy and company continued to make stellar albums. Saving some of his best work for last, in 2013/2015 they released their final two albums. Aftershock and Bad Magic are both strong albums. 

My top 5 Motörhead songs

  1. Ace of Spades 
  2. Whorehouse Blues
  3. Motörhead 
  4. We Are The Road Crew
  5. Heartbreaker

The Debate

This is as close as you can get. It’s hard to separate the music from the people who made it. But that’s what this is about. The MUSIC alone. Motörhead established themselves as Rock n Roll bulldozers over the course of 22 albums. Never wavering from Lemmy’s vision or bending to trends. People argue that all their songs sound the same. But any true fan will laugh that notion away. Loud and fast is what you get. Every time. But Lemmy had a good ear for song writing and melody. He could bash you in the head, but in such a way that you are singing away the whole time. Motörhead are a juggernaut live. Living up the the moniker Loudest Band on the Planet. AC/DC had the same ethos. Play gritty rock music that did not compromise. They harnessed the energy of early rock icons like Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis, and amplified it. Put some dirt under its fingernails. But AC/DC aren’t just dumb guy rock. They are simple, good time music, but they know how to write a hook. Their songs work their way into your head like a brain worm. You shake your ass and sing at the top of your lungs to every song at their live show. It’s a marathon of all time great songs. And the stage show itself is legendary. 

The Verdict 

I could almost flip a coin between these two. I have a deep passion for both bands. But it all comes down to the songs. And I feel that AC/DC has a deeper catalog of great songs. Nearly unbeatable. So I give the narrow victory to

  • Mr. Perfect
  • Its AC/DC for me. Own every album and listen to them all consistently. I dig Motorhead too but haven’t gone much past the classics. I don’t even think I’ve listened to the Ace of Spades album the whole way through. I do have their two recent released in my collection but never listened past the first few songs.

    • Mr. Perfect

      Led Zepplin is a damn good band. But I never considered them hard rock. In fact, I’ve always had a hard time pinning a genre on them. And usually I can peg a genre on a band quite easily.

      • I agree, Led Zeppelin 3 is one of the most varied albums ever. Its hard to put them into one specific group or really compare them to any other bands because they have so much more of a range of style.

      • One Mat Gang

        So many bands from the 70’s would mix it up. Hard rock song followed by a folk ballad or a piano driven honky tonk. That got lost somewhere along the way

  • Steve
    • One Mat Gang

      That’s about at the top of the Rock n Roll mountain

  • mikezippy

    I give the win to my ears.

    • One Mat Gang

      Especially after you see these bands live. You have that winning ringing noise in your ears

      • mikezippy

        That is why I refuse to wear ear plugs. I want the ringing to last for days.

      • One Mat Gang

        It’s been 6 years and I can still hear Hells Bells clear as day ringing in my ears. Tinnitus is so hip right now

      • Jerry Eldini

        I could not hear anything at all after AC/DC for about 15 to 20 minutes, just the ringing. Then the hearing started coming back real slow. Everybody was tripping out trying to talk to each other but nobody could hear shit!

      • One Mat Gang

        I saw them inside a hockey arena. Acoustics were horrible. Everything reverberated around. But is was AC/DC so fuck yeah!

  • Jerry Eldini

    That was straight up sadistic bro. How you could pit those two against each other, holy fuck me!! AC/DC was one of if not the most substantial, thoroughly ass kicking shows I have ever seen. Every song, song after song was either as good as the album or better, every fucking song for like two hours straight!! And then Lemmy, I was blessed enough to see Lemmy play just a couple months before he passed. It was a smaller venue and we were about 20 feet from The Kilmister for over an hour and I swear to fuckin God, he just came off as the coolest, nicest most badass fuckin guy you ever saw all at the same time. The music was a little rough but Lemmy seemed super happy and everyone was smoking joints inside the Riverside city auditorium and security didn’t stop anyone, it was fuckin awesome!! Gang old man, I call this one a tie!

    • One Mat Gang

      Yeah buddy. That’s an awesome story! I saw MH twice. Once in a small club and once at an amphitheater. They were intense. AC/DC blew the lid off our hockey arena. Both amazing bands. That’s the point of these Showdowns. I pick two bands I consider equal and then try to figure out for myself who is better. Good thing we don’t have to choose. We can listen to both

      • Jerry Eldini

        Yeh, AC/DC really was amazing live. I saw them at the Long Beach sports arena and like you said, they blew the fuckin roof off the place!! It was in like ’92 or something and people were openly smoking joints there too. I saw Foo Fighters there in like ’05 and it was super bitchin but even they did not out do AC/DC for pure power and clarity. That is what amazed me about AC/DC, for as loud as it was everything was perfectly balanced. Nothing interfered with anything else, it was flawless. So fuckin cool!!