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- No Sleep ‘till Hammersmith
Review No: 295
Ian “Lemmy’ Kilmister: Bass and Growls
Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor: Drums
‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke: Guitar
Now with all these extra tracks laid onto the CD, this is an absolute must for all fans of hard drivin’ rock, but it all started over thirty years ago, with a slight misunderstanding.
In 1975 Space rockers Hawkwind made the nearly terminal mistake of firing their charismatic bass player Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister in the middle of a North American tour. ‘Hawkwind’ brought in a replacement and still keep going to this day with original guitarist Dave Brock still at the controls.
Meanwhile Lemmy slunk back to England with his tail between his legs, which lasted about ten minutes and a bottle of his favorite Jack Daniels, before he decided to form his own band.
When asked what the new band would be like Lemmy replied, “We will concentrate on very basic music, loud, fast, raucous, arrogant, paranoid, rock ‘n’ roll... It will be so dirty that if we move in next door to you, your grass will burn”. Not forgetting this was a full year before anybody like The Damned or The Sex Pistols were even formed.
At first the name Bastard was chosen, but after their first management pointed out it might not be that easy to get on Top Of The Pops with that name Motorhead was chosen. Which just happened to be the name of the last song that Lemmy wrote for Hawkwind.
Lucas Fox was selected on drums, and ex Pink Fairy Larry
Wallis selected himself on guitar. If Deep Purple, the loudest band in
the world, and played at ten, and Spinal Tap played at eleven, Motorhead
were a definite twelve, and would still get fans like Trevor Masters and
Mark Winslade down the front with their heads in the bass speakers screaming
Ace Of Spades
The Melody Maker reviewed their first concert as “Avoiding any potentially confusing variation in tone and key ... You won’t enjoy this band until you have had a frontal lobotomy.” No one gave them a remote chance of success / popularity / playing in tune.
Nevertheless, United Artists signed them up and put them in the studio. During the recording of this album Lucus Fox was pushed off the drum seat by a chap by the name of Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor. When United Artists heard the results of the recordings they completely freaked, and shelved the whole project. (These recordings were later released four years later as ‘On Parole’ when the scene had changed somewhat and jolly good they are to.)
The band starts gigging almost every night to keep body and soul together to an ever growing loyal, but going slightly deaf fan base.
The next major change was brought about by the band deciding they needed a second guitarist, so ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke was brought in for an audition. The facts have never been made exactly clear, but when the session finished ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke was the guitarist for Motorhead, and Larry Wallis went back to the Pink Fairies. Motorhead carried on as a trio.
With such a large following packing out all their concerts, somebody had to swallow the bullet and sign the band up on a recording contract. Bronze records got the band to sign on the doted line. The first release, Motorhead (1978) went top 50. A year later and after their first headlining tour, with an appearance on Top Of The Pops, their second album Overkill (1979) reached the top thirty. In the same year they released Bomber (1979), which went to the top half of the top twenty. The following year they released their trump card The Ace Of Spades (1980), smashing its way up to number four in the charts. The band was now huge, still totally unfashionable, but with an ever growing army of fans.
In 1981 they toured the world and its neighboring planets, headlining everywhere they went and inspiring a whole new generation of heavy metal hard rockin’ bands. Recordings from the tour were put out as a live album No Sleep ‘till Hammersmith. It entered the charts at number one, Motorhead’s first number one and the first live album to enter the charts at number one.
It simply roars from start to finish. All the classics are there from the first four albums, starting at break neck speed with Ace Of Spades and staying that way until the band finally thunder into Motorhead. After you have listened to this album, you know why Lemmy dedicates the song The Hammer to Philthy Animal, and why Eddie Clarke is called ‘Fast’. As for Lemmy, his bombastic bass leads from the front and his graveled vocals leave you wondering if he can make it all the way to the end of the show. (Of course he does, as he has done now at over a thousand shows.) Definitely one of the best Live rock albums ever put out. As it says in the Tahitian Queen, “If It Is Too Loud, You Are Too Old.”
After one more album, Iron Fist (1982), another top tenner, ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke threw a wobbler and left, being replaced by firstly Brian Robertson of Thin Lizzy fame then by two guitarists Phil Campbell and some bloke called Wurzel who also left, leaving Phil Campbell in charge of all things six stringed. Philthy Animal left, then came back, and then left again to be permanently replaced by Mickey Dee. There have been another thirteen studio albums, plus numerous live albums, compilations, DVDs etc., along with too many concerts to count. Lemmy is now in his seventh decade and his only signs of slowing down are a few more ice cubes in the Jack and Coke to help with the dehydration.
Motorhead are always good. Inferno from 2004 is a class rock album, but always at the pinnacle for me will be their 1981 live album No Sleep ‘till Hammersmith.