Album review: Motörhead “No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith” deluxe box set

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

The best-ever live album gets released in an expanded 71-song deluxe box set format! It doesn’t get any better than this! This is gold for both casual Motörhead fans and devoted Motörhead archaeologists.

Motörhead’s live album “No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith” was released four decades ago and it has never been equalled. How can one possibly improve the best live album to ever be released? Well, adding a shit load of extra material and release it in a mega box set is one way to do it and that is what BMG is doing. “No Sleep” is getting a special box set release with no fewer than 71 songs! If you, like me, consider this album, originally released in 1981 via Bronze Records, as the best-ever live album, the sixty bonus tracks that are included in this box set are a terrific gift to mankind. This is gold for both casual Motörhead fans and devoted Motörhead archaeologists. This is a fab opportunity not only to hear what was arguably the band’s best-ever line-up at the peak of their creative abilities. It is also a historical document that gives some fantastic insights into where the band was at in 1980 and 1981. The band line-up for this tour was Lemmy Kilmister on bass and vocals, Fast Eddie Clarke on guitar and Philthy Animal Taylor on drums. With all members of that powerful line-up now dead, this is a terrific way to remember how good they were as a live act at that specific point in their career. They had a magnificent combination of great songs, terrific performances by fab musicians and an excellent raw energy. Motörhead was a band that always delivered throughout the years and the different line-ups, but 1980-81 was certainly one of the band’s absolute peaks. One of the best-ever hard rock bands recorded live when they were at their absolute best!

Despite name-dropping the legendary London venue Hammersmith in the album title, Motörhead didn’t play there on the “Short Sharp Pain in the Neck” tour. The original live album (which reached number one on the UK album chart) consisted of eleven tracks, most of which were recorded during shows in Newcastle and Leeds on 28th-30th March 1981 (the exception being “Iron Horse/Born to Lose” which was recorded at an unspecified location in 1980). The original live LP included two songs from their 1977 self-titled debut album (“Iron Horse/Born to Lose” and “Motörhead”), five songs from 1979’s “Overkill” (the title track plus “Stay Clean”, “Capricorn”, “No Class” and “Metropolis”), the title track from 1979’s “Bomber” and three songs from 1980’s “Ace of Spades” (the title track plus “(We Are) The Road Crew” and “The Hammer”). In addition to the songs from the original live album (here presented in remastered versions), this terrific 71-track box set offers us a couple of bonus tracks from earlier CD reissues (“Over the Top” and “Train Kept A-Rolling”) as well as the full two Newcastle shows and the Leeds show from that 1981 tour of the UK. There are also three terrific songs recorded during a soundcheck in Newcastle: “Stay Clean”, “Limb from Limb” and “Iron Horse”. Among the bonus material we get raw versions of the songs “Shoot You in the Back”, “Jailbait”, “Leaving Here” (a cover song that was the band’s debut single in 1977), “Fire, Fire”, “Too Late, Too Late”, “Bite the Bullet” and “The Chase Is Better Than the Catch”.

They were Motörhead. They played rock’n’roll. Don’t forget them.

Motörhead’s four-CD deluxe box set “No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith” will be released on 25th June via BMG. The deluxe edition includes a 28-page book, poster, plectrum, tour pass, ticket, flyer and badge. Alternative 3-LP and 2-CD editions feature the new remastered songs from “No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith and the full Newcastle show from 30th March 1981.

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The Official Motörhead website

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