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The Old Wolf: No sleep 'til Hammersmith

After this album no Live will ever be enough...
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Found in their possession:

Side A
1. Ace Of Spades
2. Stay Clean
3. Metropolis
4. The Hammer
5. Iron Horse (Born to lose)
6. No Class
Side B

1. Overkill
2. (We Are) The Road Crew
3. Capricorn
4. Bomber
5. Motorhead

Recorded because:

After this album no Live will ever be enough.

But let's take things from the beginning:

In the early '70s in the ranks of Space Rock band Hawkwind we find Ian Kilmister and until '74 they had had a very good carrier but the intractable nature of Kilmister did not let this cooperation continue. After the arrest of the latter at Canada's borders, for possession of amphetamines, during a tour of the band Lemmy was fired from the band and returned to England. He has stated that when he came out of jail and returned to the band he thought that everything was as before. But one fine morning he woke up and the rest of the group had just left him behind.

He returned then to England determined to set up his own band. He recruited Lucas Fox on drums and Larry Wallis on guitar and thought to name the band "Bastards", but the manager convinced him to change the name and so they ended up with MOTORHEAD from a song he wrote when he was with Hawkwind. The song was released as a B-side to the single "Kings of Speed".

But this line-up was not going to last long. They recorded the album On Parole, but their company (United Artists) refused to release it. Later it was released in the early '80s when Motorhead had won quite a reputation and sales were assured. Following successive changes, firstly Lucas Fox, who was considered inadequate, was replaced by Phil Taylor, and the need for a second guitarist in the band brought in Eddie Clarke. But Lemmy and the last two realized they worked better as a trio. The basic and to many the best lineup was a fact.

Their second start, again was not the best. They tried to approach Stiff Records with two songs, but it did not give them much attention, even though they were partially released. The band was ready to be dissolved when they asked the head of Chiswick Records Ted Carroll to record their last show. Carroll failed to respond, but attended the Live and gave the band two days in the studio to record a single. But the band grabbed the opportunity and instead of a single recorded the entire first album which was titled with their name. The album certainly was not the best, at least in terms of production, but gave reason to the band to continue even though things were still bleak. The band at that time was critiqued as the worst band that existed.

A period with so many setbacks, but they still managed to sign with Bronze, for a single again but that led to the creation of the masterful OVERKILL. An album that manages to bring out what Motorhead really were. Powerful, aggressive, fast and very intensive pure Rock 'n' Roll. The course of the next few years would be towards the top as the albums "BOMBER" and "ACE OF SPADES" followed. The key to these records is good production that as opposed to the early attempts, knew what to do with the material in hand. Especially Vic Maile's production for ACE OF SPADES is flawless. Kilmister has stated that Vic finally "caught" him singing and not just screaming into the microphone.

At the same time the prestige of the group grew, partnerships multiplied and the tours became endless. Over these years the very good albums, were accompanied by even better lives. The band proved that it was basically a Live band and their friends slowly transformed to fans-followers. After the release of ACE OF SPADES, follows a tour of America along with OZZY.

The moment had come therefore when all this energy of the live performance would be printed on vinyl. In the spring of '81 the band was on a mini tour that consisted of five dates and named Short, Sharp, Pain In The Neck Tour. The recordings of three out of five appearances form the bulk of the first Live album of the band titled No Sleep Till Hammersmith. These three performances were on March 28 at Leeds Queens Hall and on 29 and 30 March at Newcastle City Hall. All the songs of the album were recorded then, except Iron Horse that was recorded in a Live in 1980.

An avalanche is probably the only classification that will fit, while the implementation of the songs and the production is flawless, so in result all the songs sound even better than the studio performances. Beginning of course with the most classical piece of the band even today Ace Of Spades. The song was written for the endless hours that Lemmy and Clarke played Poker in a van during a tour somewhere in Europe. The title of course has to do with the Ace of Spades which has the highest value in a deck, at least in most games. It also has importance for the superstitious since in many traditions it is referred to as the card of death. It also was one of the four cards that Wild Bill Hickok, the legend of the American West, was holding when he was shot in the back. Those four cards (Ace and eight of spades, ace and 8 of clubs) since are referred to as dead man's hand, a title used in a verse of the song.

It continues with the more rhythmic Stay Clean and Metropolis. The latter was inspired by the film with the same name of 1927 by Fritz Lang. Followed by The Hammer one of the fastest tracks of the band and the best performance of Iron Horse that has been released so far. The side closes with the song No Class which has an introduction borrowed from Tush by ZZ Top.

The other side opens with Overkill a song that could last 45 instead of five  minutes and not be boring for a moment. And then the track that thanks all the unsung heroes who make each Live happen.We Are The Road Crew. It has been written that only someone who has carried even an amplifier at a concert can fully appreciate that piece, and the only one who could write it is Lemmy. It should be emphasized here that he was among the crew on tours of well-known names such as Jimi Hendrix, for years in the 60's.

Then we have a 'Slow' as its creator calls it track Capricorn. It deserves attention to understand the meaning of "slow" for the band. But the remarkable part is that Taylor actually makes the drums speak. The album closes with the Bomber a song inspired by the similarly titled book by Len Deighton, and of course Motorhead. Although the track that named the band has been recorded with Hawkwind and in the first album of the band, this performance has become classic and widely known and is of course better.

Lemmy has described the album as the beginning of the fall since they would not manage to ever top it. Yet they have not once stopped trying since then. If they made it ....? The truth is that this is one of the best Live albums of all time that has ever come from any group. A record that for someone who does not know Motorhead is pure experience.

Other elements:

The album was released on 27 June '81 by Bronze with Vic Maile as producer.

All tracks were signed by Eddie Clarke, Ian Kilmister and Phil Taylor except Motorhead signed by Ian Kilmister and Iron Horse by Taylor, Mick Brown, Guy "Tramp" Lawrence.

The original idea was to release the album as a double, but they had tracks for only three sides so it was limited to a simple album with two sides.

There have been two reissues with extra material, one in 96 with three extra tracks and a double album in 2001. Most of the songs however are just different executions and not additional live performances that were not on the original album.

The album is the first by the band, which reached No. 1 on the English charts.

The first version contains an insert with photos of the band.

Whatever the album's title, the mini-tour where the songs were recorded did not include Hammersmith Odeon.

The group with this line-up released another record IronFist that although had a few very good moments was not on par with the previous ones. Soon the line-up changed and great moments were not long from happening again.

The star in almost every cover of the band is war - pig, a creation by Joe Petagno who has worked with many other well known names such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Nazareth and others.

A controversial, contradictory and certainly provocative figure, Lemmy is currently one of the most recognizable figures in the world of Rock music. He has been called by many names from patriarch of hard music to God or one who could beat God. Exaggerated characterizations that show just how fanatical followers he has.

The certain and essential thing is that his band has been for 35 years in studio releasing albums or on the road ripping everything in their way apart (Born to raise hell as the title of one of the later songs). Although several members have changed in all these years you will find no record below par. While their music has changed from time to time they have never fallen and declarations of admiration and respect from the entire rock community are really common. Respect they have earned all these years on their own without compromise and without ever being in fashion.

Also notable is that they managed to be equally loved by punk and metal fans. How is that managed? Perhaps the explanation is very simple, as Lemmy exclaims at every start of a Live: Hi We Are Motorhead And We Play Rock 'N' Roll

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