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Party till you puke up your liver. - 86%

hells_unicorn, June 13th, 2010

Opinions vary, but as far as I’m concerned the greatest era of Motorhead was with the Campbell/Wurzel dual guitar era of the mid 80s to mid 90s, with their climax being at around the time “Orgasmatron” came out. In the midst of this glorious era, several live concerts were recorded, or which this is one of the better to get released to the masses. It features a full arrangement that fills the arena in a manner that only the likes of Manowar could ever hope to match, and Lemmy at the top of his game, slamming out those garbled, raspy shouts in a manner that has since been widely emulated, but never fully matched.

In terms of a set list, “The Birthday Party” packs a pummeling iron fist (no pun intended) of vintage, fast as hell heavy metal, trading blows between speed metal classics such as “Iron Fist”, “Mean Machine”, “The Hammer”, “Ace Of Spades” and “Bomber”, and a veritable legion of slightly slower, but still far too hard to handle anthems. Throw into the mix the tightness and precision of Saxon drummer Pete Gill and what emerges is a perfect storm of metallic majesty, free from the clutter that would occasionally come out in earlier live performances. In fact, among the releases from the 80s, this is among the more neatly crafted yet still gritty as hell performances out of the band, due in some part to both Campbell and Wurzel avoid getting too muddy with their guitar tone and Lemmy restraining his tendency to strum his bass like it’s a guitar.

Perhaps the only area where this album kind of suffers slightly is that essentially the band is going for the jugular over and over again, pumping out one speed metal song after another with little time for the listener to recover from the previous annihilation. Just about every fast song between the band’s early singles up through “Iron Fist” has been thrown into this pot, while some of the band’s more mid paced classics have either been left out, or are mashed in between 2 or 3 of “Overkill’s” many offspring. This would almost be the equivalent of Metallica doing all of their material from the first two albums but leaving out “Fade To Black”, “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, “Escape”, “Seek And Destroy”, “Jump In The Fire” and one or two other slightly less than full out thrashers in an attempt to make their audience mosh each other to death.

Nevertheless, this is a solid live album that comes in pretty high on the priority list for the rank and file Motorhead fanatic. It’s not quite the best one out there, and given that it was to commemorate the band being in existence for 10 years, it is understandable that Lemmy wanted to literally throw everything at the audience, starting with the kitchen sink. If you like speed, if you like plenty of dueling leads, if you like hearing Lemmy bust speakers with his gravely ravings, definitely give this a listen.