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Motorhead’s lengthy career has had its fair share of ebbs and flows, although their version of ebbing is a fair bit ahead of what most bands would consider their version of free flowing greatness. The most extreme examples of both ends of the spectrum of greatness to simply cutting it minimally can be found in the band’s impressive collection of live releases, of which “Live At Brixton ‘87” cuts towards the bottom end of the band’s abilities. While none would think to question the live credentials of the almighty Lemmy Kilmeister and his band of outlaws, I find myself in that awkward position for the same reasons that I did for Sabbath’s “Live Evil”.
This album could be summed up as an average performance of the obligatory classics, coming up short in the raw energy usually expected out of these mainstays. With heavily recognizable classics fit for the live venue such as “Eat The Rich”, “Dr. Rock” and “Built For Speed”, all of them essentially grittier throwbacks to the days of the 70s when some were revisiting the earlier roots of rock music via Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, and several others, surprises are few and a superior performance becomes essential. Sadly, apart from Lemmy being as viciously hoarse as can be and Phil Campbell essentially pulling out a solid lead guitar slot here and there, things just seem to squeak by without hitting the overdrive button too often.
The biggest let down on this album, and it could be largely to do with the fact that it’s the original 1994 release of this album, is the less than stellar production. Between the very distant sound of the entire band, and the fact that the bass and guitar almost turn into mush for all the lack of balance between the arrangements that it all comes off like a legitimized bootleg album. There are points in some of the songs where it’s difficult to hear Lemmy’s vocals and even more difficult to hear the bass, particularly on the faster songs like “Rock N’ Roll” and “Ace Of Spades” where the drums get too loud and only seem to back off when Campbell’s solos chime in.
Barring some radical differences in the production quality on the rerelease that was put out in 2005, this is one of those few skip worthy out of Motorhead. Even with a better production, these songs can be found on other live releases, performed with much more enthusiasm. Completists and other worshipers of all things Lemmy might want to seek this out at discount price, but speaking for myself, I’ve had this for about 2 years and I’ve listened to it a couple times, and each time I’m left wanting for something with more punch, clearer dimensions, and a set of songs that I haven’t heard more than 30 times.