Motorhead vs. Talking Heads – Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame, Round One
It isn’t uncommon for our Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame battles to pit dissimilar bands against each other, but this round might feature the most unlikely-seeming matchup of all: Motorhead versus Talking Heads.
While they may not share much in the way of musical direction, both bands have proven immensely influential in their own right, with Motorhead’s stripped-down speed metal inspiring waves of headbangers and Talking Heads’ arty post-punk New Wave sound continuing to reverberate through the indie rock of today. And although Motorhead is the undisputed winner in terms of longevity, both acts broke out at the same time, getting their respective starts way back in 1975.
Founded by bassist and frontman Lemmy after he was fired from Hawkwind, Motorhead gigged and recorded for a fairly lengthy stretch before releasing their self-titled debut in the late summer of 1977. The first of 21 (and counting) studio LPs, ‘Motorhead’ quickly laid down the ground rules for the band’s “fast and vicious” sound, and audiences were quick to respond; although record sales in the U.S. remained fairly minimal for decades, Motorhead’s U.K. fanbase exploded in the early ’80s, regularly sending the band’s albums into the Top 40 and giving them a pair of Top 10 records with ‘Ace of Spades’ (1980) and ‘Iron Fist’ (1982).
Talking Heads, meanwhile, rose out of a musical bond developed between David Byrne, Chris Frantz, and Tina Weymouth during their years at the Rhode Island School of Design. Adding fourth member Jerry Harrison in 1977, they released their first album, the aptly titled ‘Talking Heads: 77,’ the same year. Although that album wasn’t a major hit, they broke the Top 40 with their second LP, 1978’s ‘More Songs About Buildings and Food,’ which started a string of bestselling records that lasted through their eighth and final studio album, ‘Naked,’ in 1988.
Byrne remains devoutly uninterested in pursuing a Talking Heads reunion, although you can hear strains of the band’s sound in modern-day bands like Vampire Weekend; meanwhile, Motorhead are set to begin a fresh round of tour dates in support of their most recent release, 2013’s No. 22 U.S. hit ‘Aftershock.’
Both bands are deserving of inclusion in the Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame, but only one will make it past this round of 100 percent reader-decided voting. Can’t decide? Don’t worry — you can vote once an hour between now and Sunday, July 13 at 11:59PM EST, so feel free to divvy your ballots up however you see fit. The next inductee will be announced on Aug. 1. Be sure to read our official rules.