"Ace of Spades
" is a song by the English heavy metal
, released in 1980 as a single and the title track to the album Ace of Spades
. The song spent 12 weeks in the UK Singles Chart
, peaking at #15.
Initially issued as a 7" vinyl single
on 27 October
, 1980 as a preview to the album Ace of Spades
and autumn tour, Bronze Records also released a 12" vinyl pressing in special Christmas picture sleeves, limited to 50,000 copies. The picture of the band in Santa outfits used on the cover was taken at the Aylesbury
Fair, while the band were on tour.
Bronze also issued German and Spanish 7" vinyl versions which had a different sleeves, as well as a Japanese release, with a colour picture insert with song lyrics in English and Japanese. One sided test pressings (not mis-presses, but used in the trade) escaped the pressing plant and are on the market.
For the lyrics, Lemmy said he "used gambling metaphors, mostly cards and dice - when it comes to that sort of thing, I'm more into the one-arm bandits actually, but you can't really sing about spinning fruit, and the wheels coming down".
On 6 September, 1980 Lemmy was interviewed by Graham Neil on BBC Radio 1's Rock On Saturday show, "Bomber", "Ace of Spades" and "Love Me Like a Reptile" were played. The following month, on 6 October and 20 October, the band played the song on BBC TV show Top of the Pops.
The song is considered to be the definitive Motörhead anthem, and "put a choke on the English music charts and proved to all that a band could succeed without sacrificing its blunt power and speed".
The song ranked in at #10 on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs. In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at #27 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks, stating "This song has an intro which wouldn't be out of place ushering in the end of the world".
- "Ace of Spades" (Ian Kilmister, Eddie Clarke, Phil Taylor) - 2:49
- "Dirty Love" (Kilmister, Clarke, Taylor) - 2:57
- Fast Eddie Clarke – Guitars
- Philthy Animal Taylor – Drums
- Lemmy (Ian Kilmister) – Bass, lead vocals
The song became a staple of the band's live set, with Lemmy acknowledging that despite becoming "sick" of performing it, they "can't ditch Ace of Spades, it wouldn't be right. If I go to see Little Richard, I expect to hear Good Golly Miss Molly or I'd be pissed off". Live versions have appeared on the albums No Sleep 'til Hammersmith
(1981), Nö Sleep at All
(1988), Everything Louder than Everyone Else
(1999), Live at Brixton Academy
(2003) and Better Motörhead than Dead: Live at Hammersmith
The 1988 live version from Nö Sleep at All was released as a single "Ace of Spades (live)", although later withdrawn.
It was the first song that Phil Campbell and Wurzel played with the band - on the Bambi episode of The Young Ones. The line up is particularly rare until 1987: Lemmy, Campbell, Wurzel and Taylor. Taylor had already left the band by the time the filming started, but kept to his promise of making the performance.
In September 1993 WGAF Records re-released the original 1980s track on CD-single, cassette single, 12" vinyl picture sleeve and picture disc versions, the song was coupled with "Louie Louie", "Dirty Love", and "Ace of Spades (The CCN Remix)", and although the band were not too pleased with the CCN Remix version, this single peaked at #23 in the UK charts.
- Hardcore punk band Blood for Blood covered the song as a hidden track on their album Livin' in Exile, and has been featured on several Motörhead tribute albums.
- The song is covered by three psychobilly bands, Batmobile, The Young Werewolves, and Three Bad Jacks.
- The song is covered by sludge metal pioneers "Crowbar"
- The song is also covored by a rockabilly band called Union Ave.
- This song has been covered by The Reverend Horton Heat during live performances.
- A Dutch version of "Ace of Spades" (Called "Schoppen Aas") is covered by the Dutch Hard Rock band Peter Pan Speedrock. Dikke Dennis performs the vocals on this version.
- Southern Metal band He Is Legend has covered the song live.
- The song has been covered by the band Ween at live concerts.
- San Diego hardcore band "Battalion of Saints" covered the song "Ace of Spades" on their 1984 album "Second Coming."
- Italian metal band Extrema plays this song at the end of their live concerts, and included it in their Set the world on fire record in 2005.
- The Swedish Viking metal band Bathory covered it with a much slower pace than the original.
- German thrash/black metal band Sodom did a cover on their 2003 live album One Night in Bangkok.
- Swedish metal band Drain STH released a droning 5:02 cover version as a bonus track on the 1998 reissue of the album Horror Wrestling and have played it live.
- Hayseed Dixie, a satirical bluegrass band has covered the song, appropriating the piece for acoustic guitar, mandolin, bass, banjo and vocals.
- Is covered by the Chilean band "Mox" in their album "Con Cover".
In popular culture
- The song was featured in the popular skateboarding game Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3.
- A cover version of "Ace of Spades", containing an extended guitar solo in the climax of the song, was featured in the 2005 music video game Guitar Hero for PlayStation 2. It was included in a downloadable 3-song pack for the Xbox 360 version of its successor, Guitar Hero II, as well.
- The song also appears in 2K Sports Baseball title The Bigs.
- A rerecording of the song, "Ace of Spades '08", is in the setlist of Rock Band 2.
- This song is also in Rock Revolution.
- "Ace of Spades" also appears in the PlayStation 2 karaoke game SingStar Amped.
- In an episode of the Men Behaving Badly television sitcom, Gary and Tony play air guitar to the track.
- In the Black Books episode Party (the last of series 3) the three main characters have a very drunken dancing competition to a portion of this song, with no clear winner (everyone just gets tired out and sits down, nursing their drinks).
- The song was chosen to appear in the documentary Metal: A Headbanger's Journey.
- In comedy Give My Head Peace episode Canada, the beginning scene the alarm clock shows 5.59 then it turns to 6.00 and ace of spades starts playing full blast, from uncle andys radio station,thus waking everybody in the house.
- The song was used in the majority of the Creamy Muck Muck scenes of the CBBC children's programme, Dick and Dom in da Bungalow.
- The song was used in an episode of BBC's motoring show, Top Gear, that featured the Lotus Exige attempting to avoid missile lock from an Apache helicopter.
- The song is often played in the background in previews of Sports Tonight, an Australian news program on Channel Ten, Australia.
- The song was used in the movie Grosse Pointe Blank, during a gunfight in a convenience store between hitman Martin Blank (John Cusack) and another hitman sent after him, a teenager is playing an arcade game to the sound of Ace of Spades at maximum volume in his headphones and escapes unharmed, completely oblivious to the destruction unfolding around him.
- This song is feature in the opening credits of Zombie Nightmare.
- The song is used in the introductory scene for The Tremor Brothers in the movie Smokin' Aces, as well as in the teaser trailer.
- The song appears in the 2007 Judd Apatow comedy Superbad starring Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill.
- The song appears in the 2007 film Shoot 'Em Up during the shootout in Mr. Smith's hideout. It appears on the film's soundtrack as well.
- The song is used in the 1998 Golden Wonder Pot Noodle, the 2000 IKEA furniture, the 2003 Clark's Marathon Boy, and the 2005 Walkers Crisps television advertisements.
- The song was used in commercials for 2K Sports' video game, The Bigs.
- In a recent AT&T Wireless commercial, "The Ace of Spades" is sung by a guy in bar who has no signal for his cellphone - the premise is that his friend has tried to call him over 30 times because he has managed to get Motörhead tickets for the show later that night.
- Between 8pm and 2am on November 9, 2005 at The Boat nightclub in Toronto, the song was played 128 times consecutively.
- After a 15 year career with the network, DJ Simon Mayo played the song to end his final show on BBC Radio 1 in 2001. The comedian, Noel Fielding, described the song as the sound of his childhood, as his parents would play it constantly.