Motorhead – No Sleep ’til Hammersmith

10 Overall Score
Motorhead's classic lineup: 10/10
Choice of songs on the record: 10/10
Motorhead-ness: 10/10

Well recorded live album

It is not for everybody

Motorhead
No Sleep ’til Hammersmith
Bronze Records
1981

As many of you may know, Ian Fraser Kilmister, much better known as Lemmy, lead singer and bass player of British hard rock band Motorhead, passed away at age 70 on December 28, 2015. Lemmy, who acquired his nickname because he was always being asked to lend money, ie. lemmy have some money, and his passing had a huge impact on the rock and metal scene and there are tributes all over the Internet. Lemmy was a character – the real deal. He started out as Jimi Hendrix’ roadie, got kicked out of Hawkwind for drugs (!) and never let up until that December 2015 day. Motorhead’s most widely known song, Ace Of Spades, features the line “that’s the way I like it baby, I don’t wanna live forever” and he meant it. However Lemmy will live forever through the music and story upon story that he left us. This review of an old album is, therefore, yet another tribute to Mr. Kilmister and just as much about Motorhead as an actual record review.

Motorhead’s live LP, No Sleep ’til Hammersmith, was released on June 27, 1981 and cruised to the number one spot on the British charts.  At the time Motorhead was hardly known in the United States.  I recall Motorhead opening for Heart and Blue Oyster Cult in 1981 and nobody I knew (except for me!) was familiar with them, and even then the tour did not spark much U.S. interest in the band. What finally caused them to break in the U.S.A. was a combination of them being featured on the BBC television show The Young Ones, and the show being aired on MTV in the mid 1980’s, and the release of the album Orgasmatron (originally titled Ridin’ With The Driver, which explains the album’s cover art) featuring Deaf Forever (the closest thing to a pop song that Motorhead ever recorded) and the thoroughly monstrous title track. I recall the Orgasmatron tour as well, and I am glad that I was able to see Motorhead in their prime.

No Sleep ’til Hammersmith features the classic lineup of Lemmy on bass and lead vocals, “Fast” Eddie Clark on guitar and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor smashing the drums (himself recently passed.) This album, in my opinion, and for the uninitiated, is the best way to hear what Motorhead is all about. Should you be unfamiliar with Motorhead or their songs this is where you start. It features the aforementioned classic three piece lineup and all of the songs that Motorhead built their canon upon. It is where the legend really began, and gives the listener a fair chance to decide if they like Motorhead’s music or not.

Ace Of Spades starts off the show like a firecracker in a nunnery; it immediately slams the listener to the wall. There is no buildup. The song explodes out of the speakers and straight to the listener’s Motorhead receptors.  But there will be no breaks here; no calm respites. It is balls out for the entire ride. Ace Of Spades is followed by ten more Motorhead classics, culminating with the song Motorhead (the last song Lemmy wrote for Hawkwind before being ditched at the Canadian border and before Motorhead existed; Lemmy named the band for the song.)  It is the perfect track to close the show. For those who made it there. Because some may not be able to handle the sheer intensity of the music, and others may have turned it off after one track. If you made it I hope you played it loud, as that is the only way to listen to Motorhead. This is not easy listening or elevator music! You will feel a primal urge to loot and plunder; you will draw upon the collective unconscious of the human race and become a troglodyte. This is not heavy metal. It is hard rock stripped down and sped up and it is relentless. You cannot hide from this record.

Motorhead is over. There can be no Motorhead without Lemmy. Lemmy IS Motorhead. Sort of like Elvis, but without Elvis. The man lived rock and roll to the fullest for seventy years. His sudden death, which came only several days after he announced that he had a “very aggressive cancer,” left a void in rock music that will never be filled again.

R.I.P. Ian Fraser Kilmister

R.I.P. Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor

You are both missed.

 

 

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Jeff Strichart
Author: Jeff Strichart View all posts by
Jeff Strichart has been a frustrated musician for almost forty years. He is also a producer and has mixed and/or mastered many local Colorado bands. Aside from his music and production he enjoys his dogs, motorcycles, collecting vintage BMX bicycles, reading and his new found love of sound design using hardware synthesizers and has licensed material to the BBC for use in their television programs.

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