September 10, 2016

For years people have wrangled bitterly over which ten songs involving motorcycles should be included in a list of songs involving motorcycles.

Let the bitter wrangling cease: here is the definitive list!

 

1. Motor Bikin’, Chris Spedding

A glut of jarring key changes, and some marvellously literal-minded descriptions of the experience of riding a bike, make mean-and-moody Spedding’s 1975 hit as instantly memorable as what’s that thing again?

“I’ve been doing ‘bout 95.

Whoo – so good to be alive!”

Somebody give this former Pistols producer and suspiciously competent session guitarist a spedding ticket!

Spedding ticket… see what we did there?!

 

2. Motorbike to Heaven, Salad

Vocalist Margarine van Vliet might look fetching in skin-tight black plastic, but it’s pretty obvious she knows b*gger all about ‘motorbikes’.

In the very first line of this distinctly unbikerly choon she claims she intends to ‘drive’ her motorbike to heaven (clearly not a practical proposition), and later claims she plans to ‘fly’ it (still less so).

Riding, is what one does with motorcycles. That, and nothing else!

At least the subsequent lyrics “I’m going to shine my bike instead, cause that’s what the notice said” betoken some basic level of concern for the art of motorcycle maintenance.

 

3. Ezy Ryder, James Marshall Hendrix

Speaking of people with Dutch surnames, who could forget this classic slice of squealin’ freewheelin’ southpaw guitar jeeeeeenyus from Jimi’s posthumous 1971 album Cry of LV=.

His spelling might have been bad enough to make Slade blush, but this breezy paean to the siren allure of the open road vividly evokes the sunnier passages of Dennis Hopper’s 1969 film of the same (only better spelt) name.

Since Hendrix hadn’t got round to writing this when the film was made, Hopper had to content himself with “If 6 was 9” off Axis Bold as LV= on the soundtrack.

 

4. Wheels of Steel, Saxon

Thankfully, by the early 80s everyone had got the message that riding a motorcycle has nothing to do with free love and grooviness – and everything to do with rape and pillage.

Hard rockin’ racially-defined Yorkshire metallists Saxon perfectly encapsulated that realisation in this demin-clad classic.

“Do not stop me, do not try, ‘cause I’m a motorcycle man” warns shouty vocalist Peter Rodney Byford, adding for good measure, in a powerful evocation of the essentially ad hoc pleasure-seeking strategies favoured by riders of the steel horse ”I get my kicks just when I can. Motorcycle man. Motorcycle man.”

 

5. Tequila, The Champs

Not so much a song about motorcycles, but clearly a big hit with bikers, as demonstrated in this clip from acclaimed 80s documentary Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (as full-blooded and heartfelt an homage to the joys of two-wheeled travel as you will ever see).

This sax-driven rock-mambo classic from 1958 remains widely appreciated to this day, thanks to the regular opportunities it affords for shouting the name of a popular alcoholic drink.

It is important to remember, however, that despite the attractively hearty conviviality so evident among the patrons of the biker bar depicted in the accompanying video, alcohol and biking should never be mixed.

 

6. Ride Like The Wind, Saxon

Yes, them again (well, they’re Yorkshire lads, aren’t they), back from the other end of the 80s with a cover of the Chris Crops classic Ride Like The Wind (obviously), which may or may not really be a song about riding a motorcycle (hard to say for sure, because Mr Crops was allegedly on something called acid when he wrote it).

It certainly sounds like its about riding a bike – especially if you dispense with the official video – in which (to the dismay of true friends of music everywhere) the band are rescued from a high-security steam-powered prison by a bunch of lovely lasses in lycra – and enjoy the appended footage of some bloke cruisin’ the desert highways of Utah and Arizona.

 

7. Harley, The Jacksons

Ditching the weird one who kept grabbing at his cods certainly paid off for the famous brothers with this high-energy excursion into new jack swing territory with hogs roaring in the back of the mix.

“Can I take you for a ride on my motorbike. It’s a Harley and she’s bad, say yeah. Got on top of her. I cool her out. We cruise about the town, etc etc.”

Sounds like Bankstone News and Mrs Bankstone News of a friday night. Apart from the bit about getting on top. Not quite sure what they mean by that bit.

 

8. Motorcyle Emptiness, The Janet Street Porters

Some people argue that the Janet Street Porters were an endlessly tedious and predictable waste of time, combining, as they did, corny hook-laden sub-Guns-N’-Roses (yes, that is just possible) MOR with incoherent teenage-bedroom-angst lyrics.

“Orthodox dreams and symbolic myths. From feudal serf to spender. This wonderful world of purchase power”, bellowed singer-guitarist J D Bradfield as if he really believed that gibberish added up to something.

Some people said it was all a bit rubbish.

They were right.

Plus: this lot don’t even appear to like bikes!

Miserable b*stards.

 

9. Leader of the Pack, Twisted Sister

Trust ponderous 80s eyeshadow enthusiasts Twisted Sister to turn an ephemeral scrap of 60s girl bandage into a timeless epic of true artistic integrity.

Dee Snydey and pals remake the Shangri-Las’ original, with more bikes (and more hair) than you can shake a stick at – plus a surprise happy ending!

If this doesn’t make you feel like oiling up your old leathers and/or signing up for your CBT right now, Bankstone News is baffled beyond all measure.

 

10. Born to be Wild, Steppenwolf

Here it inevitably is then, the song that gave us the phrase heavy metal. Actually, it gave us the phrase heavy metal thunder, but why drag meteorology into it.

Written for the band (fact fans) by some Canadian bloke called Mars Bonfire, this chugging 1968 rock-out perfectly encapsulates [insert the usual b*ll*cks here] and is legally required to be played whenever persons riding motorcycles are shown on screen, as in the accompanying video.

We hope you liked our list.

Perhaps you have favourites of your own that we’ve missed out.

Tell someone else.

We’re busy.


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