Let’s get this out of the way: I have the Motörhead warpig tattooed on my ass. Shortly after Lemmy’s death, I decided that I was going to get ol’ Snaggletooth inked into my skin a place that Lemmy would find hilarious and appropriate. I bring this up in part because I love to brag about it (it’s like the joke about the Jewish man at confession revealing his sordid sex life — Why are you telling me this, my son? Padre, I’m telling everyone!), and in part to elaborate on how diehard a Motörhead fan I am. That’s why you should believe me when I tell you that the band’s new deluxe 40th anniversary box set for 1980’s Ace of Spades is one of the coolest things any Motörhead fan could ever own.
Large, stylized like it was made in the Old West, and sealed with a paper bulletbelt, the Ace of Spades deluxe 40th anniversary box set is a nonstop treasure trove of goodies that Motörhead fans will drool over. Just when you think you’re through it, something new pops out. And between the five vinyl records, three books and b0oklets, one DVD, and set of dice that come with it, this box set does justice to the groundbreaking record to which it’s dedicated.
First, the packaging. Going all-in on the album’s western themes, the box itself is designed to look as though it were created in a Denver tannery about 160 years ago. The interior has a similar motif, with the bottom printed like an old steamboat poker table, and the inside lid designed as a game board with which to use the dice included. The many records inside can all be lifted out with a rough canvas bookmark of sorts, while the many books and booklets are held in a ‘MotörExpress’ envelope, apparently delivered by Agent of MotörExpress No. ‘Fuck You.’
The records are a phenomenal array. Sure, there’s the original Ace of Spades in all its glory, but then there’s live albums from Orleans and Belfast in 1981. There’s The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, a collection of outtakes, alternate versions, and rare B-sides. There’s A Fistful of Instrumentals, a 10″ EP of previously-unreleased instrumental versions of the classic tracks from Ace of Spades. Each is solidly heavy and packaged with awesome new art and throwback gatefolds, making the box set a day-long experience at least.
True beauty also lies in the booklets within the envelope. The first is a deluxe history of Ace of Spades whose cover makes it look like one found it on a dead skeleton in a Nevada mine. The Ace of Spades story is a collector’s dream, full of rare photos and stories about the album’s creation. The Ace Up Your Sleeve tour program is also excellent, but arguably the coolest piece is the Motörhead Rock Commando comic, which features an old-school Bay Area comix-style tale of Motörhead drinking and riding their way through the bombed-out shell of earth (we think? It’s really the gnarly throwback art that counts). All of these immediately strike a chord with the teenage fan inside us all, who is always down to lock their bedroom door, sprawl out on their sheets, and read about metal until they’re blue in the face.
It’s tough to think about any complaints one could have with this incredible collector’s item, but two come to mind. The first is the Aces on your Screen DVD, which is awesome — only that most people don’t have a DVD player. The second are the collector’s dice, which are also rad as hell, but whose poker-themed game feels a little more complicated than a round of craps. That said, we all know the dice aren’t really for playing the poker-style game on the box’s inside lid — they’re for handling, cooing over, and swallowing with a shot of Jack on a dare.
At the end of the day, Motörhead are about the music rather than pricey collectibles, so it’s totally understandable if your average headbanger doesn’t want to shell out the $175 for this. But 40 is a big birthday, and with an album as timelessly powerful as Ace of Spades, only a big fuckin’ roll-out will do, and the Ace of Spades 40th anniversary deluxe box set brings that and more, and while it’s a little pricey, the contents feel genuinely worth it. There’s no better tribute to the loudest band of all time (except a five-hour ass-tattooing session — but hey, we can’t all be perfect).
The Ace of Spades Deluxe and Super Deluxe box sets are available for preorder from Motörhead’s website.
Words by Chris Krovatin