Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.


Ace of Spades

First: It feels dumb to write about music this week without writing about Lou Reed. Back before I had music nerds feeding me music, when I was trying to map out the landscape of hipness all alone in the forest without letting anyone find out what a dork I was, I whispered to a friend working at a record store that I wanted to buy a copy of "that album with a banana on it." He helped me do that, and I listened intently, and I didn't love it. But I kept going, and it led me to Transformer, and that album married my brain and took up residence in my head forever. It just sits there and chimes at me sometimes, a reminder. If you're facing Reed's death like I would've a few years ago—going, "Oh no, I should've gotten to that by now"—try out Transformer. Trap yourself with it in the car, in your room, on a long walk. Your ears will say yes, you'll have checked off an important box, and it won't for a second have felt like a chore for music knowledge, just a quiet new present from the world.

Anyway, on to Motörhead! (Rock dots!!!) When this album was chosen, everyone was giggling at me, so I assumed it would be shitty.

No way! This is belt-buckle-grabbingly awesome. Sure, it sounds so, so silly. You can't be tough when you spend that much time on your hair and oiling your leather clothes! But for a newbie like me, the straightforwardness of the guitar and drum lines makes it palatable and easy. Grrrrrroowwl, go the men, and their instruments come lumbering along with them, in a relatively orderly fashion.

Let's start at the top: "Ace of Spades," which is apparently their biggest hit—I'd heard it at karaoke, but not for real. Chugga-chugga-chugga guitar, sandy drums, and then it's a song about gambling. (Or it's a metaphor, which most gambling songs are.) The album doesn't really rev up until the fourth track, "Live to Win." Everything up till then sounds like something that would be playing at a construction site. But suddenly that one is odd, creepingly smart and braided a little looser and breathing more. It's not for blindly nodding along to, it's for really digging in. The next one, "Fast and Loose," is great, too. And listen to the lyrics! It's a song all about waking your baby up at two in the morning for a bone session, and then he goes: "I'm coming over and I won't be long/Just let me finish writing this song." (It's okay if you can't stop laughing.)

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"Fire, Fire" is just "Ace of Spades" again. "The Chase Is Better Than the Catch" is fun, with more laugh-worthy mustache-man lyrics. "C'mon, honey, touch me right there!"

I give this a "turn it up, laugh it out" out of 10. recommended