Review Summary: Plain and simple one of the best live albums of all time.
The truth is that Motorhead needed this album as much as any living organism needs water in order to survive. It was a necessity. Having been on the road for almost 6 years, while constantly releasing new material and touring endlessly, the rebellious power trio had to capitalize somehow the commercially successful Ace Of Spades
and St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
EP. The three previous albums might have not been commercially successful but nevertheless supplied the band with a huge, irresistible catalog of classics. As history indicates, Motorhead were on lethal form in the late 70’s/early 80’s and the albums from that period are all still regarded as classics. So, the release of a debut live album seemed like the next most logical step to take.
Thankfully, their decision was not a misjudged one. No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith
was released in 1981, reaching at No.1 on the UK charts. It became Motorhead’s biggest success and rightfully so, since it stands out as the band’s ultimate live, Rock ‘N’ Roll-injected offer. A storming album, right from the beginning to the end, No Sleep
will not let you blink your eyes, not even for a moment’s pause. One of the main difficulties the artists face with live albums, is capturing and creating the atmosphere of the concert. Their aim is to transport the listener to the surrounding place where the concert is being held and their best bet is to create an illusion and make you believe that you’re actually there. With No Sleep
that bet is won from the moment the very first note of Ace Of Spades
is struck and the illusion connecting the listener with his imaginative world doesn’t cease to exist until the last note of the album.
Another merit of this record is that it captivates a flawless performance by the band. The road crew unleashes a crazy, no holds barred-attack, overcoming the efforts of their own studio versions. The trio, consisted of Lemmy, Eddie Clark and Phil Taylor, absolutely breaks loose, playing so hard and so fast like it’s the last day they’re alive. A true celebration of Rock ‘N’ Roll, the album is really fast as it is also long, since 40-50 minutes of overwhelming velocity might be too much for some folks. With it’s merciless assault, it will drag you into a pit that you will be forced to create, as most of you (even the oldest listeners) will find a hard time trying to resist from headbanging or playing air guitar.
The album recaps the highlights from the three previous classics (Overkill, Bomber, Ace Of Spades) with only two inclusions from the debut album making it to the final draft, thus making the album all the more noteworthy for being also a good (but not great) live-compilation disc. Motorhead’s choice, of Ace Of Spades
as an opening song is a great idea, serving perfectly the band’s main aim towards the listener: To grab your attention from early on, forcing to listen without pushing the pause button.
At some point of their career and mostly out of misguided obligation, every single band out there is making a live album. They try to capture a notable performance that will serve as a memorable proof for what they deserved as a live act. The hard truth is that many have tried but very few have succeeded. Motorhead’s No Sleep “Til Hammersmith
is successful not only for historical reasons, but also because it offers you the experience of a live concert like very few live albums have done before or since. Yes, there are some flaws, for example there are many great tracks missing from the catalog and the production might sound a little shabby for today’s standards. But still, the opportunity to witness Motorhead in their prime is priceless. The breakneck performance, the intensity and the raw energy these guys put through back in their days of glory will not leave you unmoved. Motorhead made no mistake with this release and No Sleep Til Hammersmith
became rightfully one of the best live records of all time regardless of its genre.