Motorhead - No Sleep 'Till Hammersmith

This is a classic live metal album, speed and dirt and all. But before I start kissing its ass, let me just tell you one thing: if there ever was one band whose sheer power in the studio could be comparable to the live power, it's Motorhead. I mean, when we're dealing with hard rock/heavy metal, live albums usually present us with a chance to see the band let its hair down and sacrifice some of the meticulousness, precision and clean production in favour of aggression, energy, and spontaneity. This principle is theoretically unapplicable to Motorhead, because the band was never about meticulousness and precision in the studio, and as for the production, well, production on your average Motorhead record is usually as "clean" as a brontosaurus' bowel movement. Thus, No Sleep won't offer you much of a shock if you've already sat through the previous recordings, although if taken as your introduction to the classic epoch of Motorheading, it'll surely blow every fuse in existence. For me, the biggest shock was Lemmy's spoken intros to the songs - apparently, the guy speaks with the exact same voice as he sings. It's not too clear to me how even an incessant use of drugs, nicotine and alcohol can reduce a human being's voice to the sound of a choking truck engine; I guess the guy probably spent his childhood swallowing red hot branded irons or something. Well then, I mean, it's none of my business, I kinda dig Lemmy anyway. Few singers in the business can hit less notes than he can, and that's something to be proud of, especially when you actually have got an ear for music. Forever on, Mr Kilmister. As for the songs themselves, well, it's the classic Motorhead line up at the peak of their power, so what do you expect? They tear. It's pretty amazing how just a trio of guys can make so much noise, and make it melodic noise at that. Special props go to Mr "Philthy Animal" Gillicuddy, whose sledgehammer drumming on the fast numbers totally annihilates your eardrums. Hey, the intro to 'Overkill' as captured on here is a goddamn goddamn classic! In fact, it's probably one song that really reduces the original to shreds. One step forward and you'll fall into hilarious or, worse, dumb profane parody; as it is, it's the sound of you and your favourite band venting out your frustration to the absolute, unprecedented max. Lightning speed, terrific sledgehammer on the drums, and none of those "rock'n'roll has to be so very simple" presuppositions - these guys respect technique when they find it, with Eddie Clarke delivering some of the most fluent and exciting solos in the business that have nothing to do with either punkish one-note solos or self-indulgent hair-metal wanking. Just great old Chuck Berryesque rock'n'roll pumped to the brim. Gosh, I've probably said it all a million times already, but then if Motorhead don't find it beyond themselves to record the same album over and over again, why should I be ashamed of rewriting the same review over and over again? It's interesting to note that the album is actually pretty diverse. Okay, "diverse" as far as Motorhead go with diversity. They certainly play their hearts out on the fast numbers: 'Overkill', 'Ace Of Spades', 'Bomber', and 'Motorhead' are the rightful classics and they're done perfect justice. But then the band also digs into some of the 'slower' numbers, going as far back as 'Iron Horse', for instance, an early number that's been polished, tightened up, given the "harsher" treatment of early Eighties Motorhead and graced with Lemmy's ever worsening "iron hoarse" vocal treatment. But you know, the worse Lemmy sings, the better it actually turns out; as long as he doesn't hit any particular bum notes, he's all right with me. Funny how everything's relative - the exact same "hoarse throat" that serves as a major boost to Motorhead nearly ruined Brian Johnson's fortune with AC/DC. Talk about expectations! Maybe I could really do without 'Capricorn', but then again, we do need some reminder of Lemmy's Hawkwind past (even if from whatever interviews I've read with the guy, he is still way pissed off about how the band unceremoniously dumped him after his drug bust). Not that 'Capricorn' is a Hawkwind song, it just has a couple of those sci-fi motives, both in the music and lyrics, that were so typical for Hawkwind. And even the minor numbers like 'No Class' and 'Metropolis' sound perfectly all right in the overall setting. You also gotta love how the album starts with a few of those pompous orchestrated sounds that are often used to open a performance and then immediately, without a warning, slips into the deafening bass intro for 'Ace Of Spades'. And maybe you'll also dig the wailing sirens at the show's end, but then again, maybe not. Maybe to you, it sounds like a GLAM element! And you can't imagine anyone less glammy than Motorhead. Lemmy Kilmister, the cute-looking teenage idol. Yeah, right.


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