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Motorhead’s rather impressive collection of live offerings can be safely assessed as a mixed bag, loaded with differing flavors, and not all of them are necessarily pleasing to the taste buds. Although I’d argue that there are no bad songs on this little collection from 1983, and it is quite refreshing to see a live album that doesn’t have “Ace Of Spades” or “No Class” on it for a change, “King Biscuit Flower Hour” does come up a bit short in the quality department. Part of it could be blamed on production, particularly the way the guitar and bass are mixed, but the truth is that everyone on here sounds like they’re a little off their game.
Right from the opening of “Back At The Funny Farm”, which is essentially a slightly more methodical rehash of the proto-speed metal work heard on “Ace Of Spades”, Brian Robertson’s guitar tone introduces itself in the typical Thin Lizzy vain, ergo just a tad to mellow and lacking in crunch to really cut it in this outfit. Naturally Motorhead is to be noted for its greater blues/rock tendencies than most other bands associated with the development of heavy metal at this juncture, but Robertson’s guitar tone, soloing and general approach to riff interpretation essentially pulls back from the punk tendencies heard on their 79-82 material in favor of something more along the lines of Eric Clapton meets AC/DC, and it comes through doubly so in the live format as opposed to the studio album where most of these songs were drawn.
Ultimately this effects the way Lemmy’s bass comes through, particularly on slower, more rock oriented songs such as “I Got Mine” and “Marching Off To War”, both of which didn’t come off quite as mellow on “Another Perfect Day” as they do here. Pile on top of this the use of a auto-harmonist during some of the solos and some quirky, hippie-like guitar effects here and there, and one is left to wonder whether Lemmy’s sporting bell bottoms and a tie dye t-shirt while pounding out those thick bass lines and shouting into the microphone in his low tone, nicotine roughened growl.
Whether or not someone will like this album has a little bit of bearing on whether he/she likes the Robertson era of the band, and I generally view this time period as among the weaker of their eras, though not necessarily an all out bad time for the band. This performance doesn’t fully do justice to the album that the band was touring on, particularly insofar as capturing the tone of the guitar. There is a little bit of a silver-lining in the Lemmy interview from the mid 90s that was included on here, which features the opinionated front man setting a semi-knowledgeable interviewer straight over and over again. My only gripe about the interview is Lemmy’s defense of Metallica’s “Load” era, but thankfully this only constitutes a small part of the interchange and usually tends to focus around peoples’ obsession with image rather than the lackluster music that Hetfield and company have continually shelled out since then. This is a good collector’s item for someone, but in terms of a total live album package, there’s definitely better stuff out there.