You never forget your first encounter with Motorhead. I vividly remember mine; I was around 12 years old and I had been regularly raiding my mate’s older brother’s vinyl collection. I had already been turned into a metalhead after blasting his copy of UFO’s classic live album ‘Strangers in the Night’ over and over and had my Dio virginity taken by Rainbow’s ‘Rising’ and his pristine copy of ‘Holy Diver’. I was flicking through to see what else would grab my attention when I came across his copy of ‘Ace of Spades’. I assumed they must be some sort of mad Mexican bandits judging by the cover with Lemmy and the boys resplendent with bullet belts, guns, and cowboy hats in the hot desert. (I was gutted when I found out years later that the photo was taken in High Barnet, London). Anyway, I feverishly took the LP out of its sleeve and put it on my mother’s crap hi-fi system. The opening bars of the title track was enough to have the speakers flapping, the neighbours complaining and this teenage scribe’s metal morphosis was complete.
This time in Motorhead’s history was to prove to be their most successful, ‘Ace of Spades’ reached number four on the UK album chart, and the ensuing ‘Ace Up Your Sleeve’ tour was their most lucrative to date, taking Bronze label-mates Girlschool out with them as support. This tour was documented in the loudest possible way with the release in 1981 of one of the best live albums ever recorded: ‘No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith’. Confusingly, the album wasn’t recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon as many people think but was made up from material recorded at the Newcastle City Hall and the Leeds Queen’s Hall in 1981. The album’s title came from a mural painted on one of the band’s tour trucks. It was the band’s only number one in the UK and showcased a band at the peak of their deafening powers. The line-up of Lemmy, ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke, and Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor is the most revered for good reason, the chemistry on stage is palpable and every track is performed as if their lives depended on it. It literally rips out of the speakers. I loved it as a spotty teenager, and I love it even more now.
This 40th-anniversary release of ‘No Sleep’ is hot on the heels of last year’s fantastic ‘Ace of Spades’ anniversary release. There’s so much here for Motorheadbangers to get their teeth into with the deluxe editions. You can choose from a remastered double CD or triple LP set, both come with bonus tracks, soundcheck recordings, and the previously unreleased Newcastle City Hall concert in its entirety. You also get hard books with the story of the album and brand-new photos, posters, a tour pass, and loads of other goodies.
There’s also the option of a four-CD box set with all three concerts that make up ‘No Sleep’ here in all their eardrum demolishing glory. Seventy-one tracks in total! The new remaster sounds incredible and you get all the thunderous bass runs, amphetamine-induced double kick drum mania, and full-throttle guitar riffs in crystal clear sound. The soundcheck recordings are a delight to behold, make sure you check them out!
40 years is a long time, give this reissue all the attention it deserves, turn it up as loud as you possibly can (fuck the neighbours), pour yourself a JD and Coke, and plunge yourself (Motor) headfirst into the audible delight that is ‘No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith’. It’s what Lemmy and the boys would have wanted. We all miss you. RIP.
Author: Kenny Kendrick