By Tate Bengtson
Another Perfect Day is many things to many people. I prefer to consider it thusly: the quintessential dark horse album.
Another Perfect Day (1983), which saw Brian (Thin Lizzy) Robertson step into the guitar spot vacated by Fast Eddie Clarke, marked a change for Motörhead that went far beyond the names on the roster. Songs such as “Shine” and “Dancing on your Grave” brought a melodic refinement to Motörhead that was a striking departure. Tempos slowed (relatively speaking) to a midtempo swagger. Guitar leads proliferated. Lemmy’s raspy snarl posed an odd-but- compelling juxtaposition to the variegated musicianship. This was not the Motörhead that fans knew and loved. Reaching consensus on the question of whether Another Perfect Day was intrinsically good would take a decade to achieve.
In a move that surprised nobody, Brian Robertson would soon depart (taking drummer Phil Taylor with him) due to interpersonal friction and musical differences. His decision to appear in concert wearing a tutu and leg warmers did little to help his case.
Stung by the backlash and lacking a band, Lemmy would assemble a new line-up and release the redemptive Orgasmatron. All was well in the world again. Another Perfect Day was forgotten, cast aside as the tangible remnant of a bad dream. Another Perfect Day was effaced from history for more than a decade; it was not until 2004 – twenty-one years after Robertson exited – that Lemmy re-introduced choice songs into Motörhead’s set list. Even then, Lemmy prefaced the songs with grudging comments suggesting he is still wrestling with this album and its relationship to Motörhead’s history and discography.
There are three reasons why this album is important.
First, the songs smoke.
Second, in reaction to this album, Motörhead would swing back to a more orthodox approach for its next few albums, which restored its standing among fans and proved that it still had a lot to say without abandoning its signature sound.
Third, and the reason why this album is my quintessential dark horse album, is the fact that Motörhead’s subsequent musical development re-introduced much of what Another Perfect Day first tossed into the fray. While claiming Another Perfect Day as the template for future developments would be an overstatement, it demonstrated proof of concept and offered a valuable lesson. Albums such as Bastards and Inferno were the successors, beneficiaries, and redeemers of Another Perfect Day.
Literally, a “dark horse” is an unexpected or unknown victor, a competitor that defies the odds, mocks the prognosticators, and pulls off a win that nobody saw coming. While its short game may have fizzled and its medium game may have been relegated to disowned curiosity, Another Perfect Day’s long game has proven durable and significant to an extent that nobody could have anticipated.