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Motörhead > No Sleep 'til Hammersmith > Reviews
Motörhead - No Sleep 'til Hammersmith

Live, Raw, Uncut. - 95%

Megatokyo, April 6th, 2022
Written based on this version: 2015, 12" vinyl, Bronze Records (Reissue, US)

Motörhead have always been a relatively simple band. Lemmy has always called them plain-and-simple "rock 'n' roll" but technically they're a mix of speed metal, punk rock, and hard rock. The band's first No.1 album "No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith" leans more into the speed metal side, with songs like "Stay Clean", "Iron Horse", and "Motörhead" all sounding more distorted and heavy than their respective album versions. Over 40 years after No Sleep was first released, how does it hold up?

Let's start with the first song, a Motörhead staple, Ace of Spades.

What much is there to say about Ace of Spades at this point? It's fast, it's catchy, and it was destined to be a "hit single" type song. They start the album with this song and deliver it well. While It's not necessarily my favorite version, it's in no way bad. The band plays 2 songs from their self-titled release, and I think these performances greatly demonstrate Motörhead's transition from hard rock to speed metal. Play the album version of Motörhead and the No Sleep version side to side, and you can immediately tell a big difference in both the bass tone and Lemmy Kilmister's vocals. I believe starting with "Ace of Spades" he fully embraced the deep, growl-like vocals he's known for. Of course, this applies to the self-titled songs, but what also applies is Lemmy's crunchy, distorted bass tone.

I can only imagine what hearing the bass tone on this album would've sounded like live, but hearing it from my turntable makes me realize how well-calibrated Motörhead's roadcrew was. Speaking of, the entire band is TIGHT on this recording. Everyone plays in time with each other, but still maintains that raw, punk feeling I get with many Motörhead releases.

Ace of Spades and Overkill get the most love on the band's setlist, with Overkill songs taking up 5 songs on the setlist, and Ace of Spades songs taking up 3 songs. A bit disappointing, as songs like "Stone Dead Forever" from Bomber and "Keep Us on the Road" from Motörhead would've been welcome additions, especially combined with the aggressive tone Lemmy and Eddie have on their instruments (and anyways, one more song to make each side of the record even would've been nice.)

Despite this, the band plays the songs from Overkill and Ace of Spades exceptionally. Overkill's title track deserved the tone it has here on it's album version, and (We Are) The Roadcrew hits all the right spots for an enjoyable Motörhead listen. I would argue this album is one of the best answers you can give for a definition of "speed metal".

With a band like Motörhead who have so many releases that can (admittedly) start to blend in with each other, it can be a bit difficult to pick out where to start with the English rockers. However, if you ask me what to start with, I would usually recommend No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith, as there's a good reason why it's the band's first No.1 album.


They play rock and roll - 100%

Face_your_fear_79, October 14th, 2021

Black clad, rickenbecker-bass wielding, rock and roll enthusiast Lemmy spent much of his post-Hawkwindcareer fronting Motorhead, a band that could play slow, medium and fast-paced numbers, as long as they were loud. No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith was a well-received live album which cast a long, often mutton-chopped shadow over the band’s studio output. Put it this way, if you ask a rock fan to name a Motorhead release, the chances are, the first things they’ll say is “Ace of Spades”, and the second is No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith.

It takes a certain level of confidence to open a live album with your widest known hit, yet “Ace of Spades” strides in and pummels any unbelievers in earshot into submission. This is Motorhead in all their leather-clad, biker-booted, and above all loud glory. You may not be the biggest Motorhead fan, but as statements of intent go, it’s impossible to take No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith lightly. Actually, it’s difficult to take anything that Motorhead did lightly. Motorhead were not a band that did subtlety then, but what they did was fly the flag for loud and roaring rock and roll played at thunderous volume. This is hard rock in its purest sense, with the emphasis on a cavalier attitude to personal hygiene, grunted vocals, audible sweat, dedications to the audience, bandmates and roadies, and the sense that, even if many of their songs follow a tried and true pattern, their fans wouldn’t want it any other way.

Is it a work of art? No, but Motorhead weren’t about the art, they were about delivering their idiosyncratic brand of rock and roll to their faithful fans. The sense of passion you get from the audience is palpable, and the same goes for the band too, as they’re evidently in love with what they’re doing. No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith is the sound of a band at the top of their game and absolutely nailing it at break-neck speed. Okay, so there’s precious little in the way of sonic variation, but this is Motorhead, so how much sonic variation do you expect?

In an era when musicians are still desperate to convince us all how rock and roll they are by repeatedly telling us how rock and roll they are, it’s refreshing to put on No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith and remind yourself that the true rock and roll legends never have to tell us how rock and roll they are, we just know.

This would get a 100 if Metropolis was... - 97%

TrooperEd, June 9th, 2018

...replaced with something good.

I know, I know. I just can't past that crappy song. Why it was a staple for 40 fucking years when there was at least 2 or 3 better choices from Overkill, let alone Motorhead's 22 record discography? Even the filler songs from Bomber that I slagged in that review I'd welcome here, on the off chance that maybe, just maybe the track in question would come out listenable here. Stranger things have happened (see the studio and live versions of Priest's Genocide).

That aside, No Sleep Til Hammersmith is every bit the legend it's been made out to be over the decades. The incomparable lineup of Lemmy, Fast Eddie and Philthy come together for a live performance NWOBHM statement that would transcend the ages. Hell, this is the quintessential NWOBHM experience. On the Ace of Spades tour no less. Strangely enough, despite being their current album at the time, it's the Overkill record that gets the most exposure here with 5 samples. The most frightening of which is the title track, played at a chain chomping double speed (someone must have tipped Lemmy off to the fact that Priest did it first and faster). I personally always preferred that song at its studio speed, with it's more controlled fire, but I can't deny that at this speed, it suits Motorhead's modus operandi perfectly. Fast, loud and dirty. Yes, one should definitely adjust their expectations in terms of musical finesse with No Sleep. Philthy's off time hi-hat rhythm within the first few seconds of the album ought to set that tone swimmingly.

The highlights of this particular outing include Bomber, which is played at 1.25 speed and ends before that glorious riff is driven into the ground like its studio counterpart; We Are (The Road Crew) which turns the day-to-day monotony of the unsung heroes of rock bands everywhere into a true do-or-die frenetic fling (and yes, Eddie does have the good sense of humor to replicate his feedback fall-down of the studio track). The grand finale of the band's eponymous song, is also worth a mention. Already a garage-romp in the studio, No Sleep turns "Motorhead" into a "kid in the candy store already hopped up on Pop Rocks and Coke" meditation on hyperactivity that makes rock & roll such an essential component to the human experience.

No Sleep Til Hammersmith is a must own. One of the greatest live albums in music. If you don't own this, you'd better run to get it.

Another Great Album - 100%

ballcrushingmetal, March 3rd, 2017

Motörhead's live album compiles some of the best moments from the "Short Sharp Pain in the Neck" tour, basically, their concerts in Newcastle and Leeds. Featuring some of the best songs from their earliest years, "No Sleep" is much more than the typical album that a band releases just to have a live album making up their discography. Rather, the album is pretty much a step forward in many senses, since the songs are shown at their best, and even the production work was greatly done for the standards at that time.

Nevertheless, what really makes the album a quite valuable and memorable item is the performance itself, which was frenetic and somehow unforeseen, outweighing the insanity already displayed in the studio. In other words, what "No Sleep" offers is a very unique set of songs played in a quite accelerated fashion and just with the dose of speed that is required to blow your speakers away. Of course, all the credit goes to the combination resulting from Taylor's energetic drumming, the loud and powerful bass notes played by Lemmy and the harsh riffs from Clarke.

From the very beginning, things get quite explosive through the opener "Ace of Spades", which is exactly the way in which a Motörhead concert should begin due to its energetic atmosphere. Going forward, things get even more interesting, as this album is mainly focused on songs from "Overkill" (their most effective release by far), especially since once again, these songs were played at their best. "Overkill" gets somehow thrashy thanks to the riffs featured in the same and the even more insane drumming (if compared to the studio version), while "Capricorn" sounds more solid and powerful than the studio version, although Lemmy heralded the same as a "slow number". On the other hand, numbers like "Motörhead" and "Bomber" were not less than remarkable, mainly the latter.

Based on the above, it is more than obvious that regardless of Lemmy being born to lose, the listener would rather win. If the studio songs resulted quite relevant and influential, the songs included on this album went far beyond, bearing in mind that by 1981 many ideas began to flow and the NWOBHM bands like Motörhead provided a different idea any time they played something, whether on the studio or the stage (isn't that true Metallica?), thus if 1979 many ideas were flowing, by 1981 those ideas were either reinforced or renewed. The latter is precisely why this album is essential and an unskippable item for those who love Motörhead.

The one live album every rockfan should listen to! - 98%

Daneels, March 9th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Essential Records

Before getting this album, I wasn't very big into live albums. I mean, ok, you simply hear the band playing the same songs you already heard before but this time, the songs are played during a live performance instead of in a studio. But man, I'm so happy to be proven completely wrong by the God almighty Lemmy himself.

Motörhead's legendary live album No Sleep 'Till Hammersmith features all of Motörhead's hit songs up till 1981. It therefore includes such classics as Ace of Spades, Overkill, Bomber and No Class among others. And when compared to the studio versions of these songs, these live versions are simply a ton better. For example, compare Ace of Spades' opening riff from this album with the original studio version and hear how much more powerful the former sounds. The same goes for everything else on this album and I really mean everything. The drums, guitars, Lemmy's vocals, the performance's overall speed and intensity, it's all jacked up on steroids for this release. Faster, heavier, louder, absolute passion and strength! Just like Motörhead should be!

Personal favorite track is this album's version of Overkill (my personal favorite Motörhead song, by the way). It's the perfect proof that Motörhead truly shine when they play on stage. The drums sound heavier, the guitars sound more crisp and Lemmy's voice is full of power and aggression. Another top track for me is We Are The Road Crew, just another awesome track that you cannot help but sing along to and once again, this album's version easily outrocks its studio counterpart!

There's actually nothing negative for me to say about this album at all. I've already listened to the entire album quite a few times but I cannot find anything bad to comment about. The album is just a true roller coaster ride from beginning to end! But ok, you could say that after listening to the album, I really wished that I could travel back in time and experience the show live! Oh well, nothing that imagination and a glass of bourbon can't fix!

This album features Motörhead's classic lineup of Lemmy, Eddie and Filthy Phil in their absolute prime! I would even daresay that you should get this masterpiece before buying any other Motörhead album. So go buy this album, get a bottle of Jack Daniel's and prepare yourself for an unforgettable ride!

Simply one of the best live albums ever made. - 95%

erickg13, December 10th, 2006

Motörhead's “No Sleep 'til Hammersmith” is quite simply, amazing. At the height of the live album movement in the late 1970’s the market was saturated with them, some good, some not so good, and the occasional great one. Well “No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith” falls under that great category.

So what makes it so great? Well there’s something special about a live album when a band connects with the energy of the crowd and uses it to play more ferocious and vigorous than ever before. Well sometimes this happens on individual songs for certain bands such as “Do You Feel Like I Do” with Peter Frampton on “Frampton Comes Alive”, or for a majority of the album, as with AC/DC’s “If You Want Blood…” does. But with “No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith” this connection happens when the first note of “Ace of Spades” is struck and doesn’t give up until the last note of “Motörhead” subsides. This makes for one of the most awesome performances recorded for a live album.

Another merit of this album is the production. It is near perfect for what the band is going for. It possesses enough crowd noise to sound raw, but never becoming a nuisance. And each instrument sounds clear and crisp, and none ever gets muffled. To put it in simple terms, the production is raw without sounding bad, in other-words, great live production!

And as for song quality, this delivers with wall to wall hits! This includes of requisite favorites (most coming from “Bomber”, “Overkill”, and “Ace of Spades”, but also includes two from their self titled debut.). Another smart move on their behalf is putting “Ace of Spades” up first instead of packing it in the middle. Why is this such a smart move? Simple, it grabs your attention and doesn’t let go. All these songs on here are worthy inclusions and none will have you scratching your head as to why it was on here. Another note, is the performance: in a word, it's breakneck.

So, as you can clearly see, Motörhead's “No Sleep 'til Hammersmith”, is, with no overstatement, one of the greatest live albums ever. Period. Not only is this an essential for their fans, but listening to it will make you become one. You can’t go wrong with Motörhead's “No Sleep 'til Hammersmith”.

Right in your face - 89%

Estigia666, March 29th, 2003

Pretty much every metal band out there does the obligatory "live album" thingie, but only a small fraction of them comes right out of it in flying colors, Motorhead being one of them.

Now, there are two kind of live albums: a) The "live" ones, which need to be overdubbed because of bad interpretations and/or need to make them sound as close as the studio versions as possible and b) The REAL live ones, the kind that makes you feel you're right there between the audience, living the concert experience to the fullest. Needless to say, "No Sleep 'till Hammersmith" belongs to the last cathegory, and that's why is so fucking cool in the first place.

I mean, you can tell by listening to this that Motorhead was (still is?) a very competent live band, there are no major flaws in the execution of the songs except on "We are the Road Crew" were Eddie's guitar fucks up during the solo. But that's a minimum complain, after all, if you want a REAL live album you should cope with the fact that there are gonna be some mistakes. This isn't Dream Theater, this is fucking Motorhead, the fastest, ugliest rock 'n roll band in the world.

Obligatory highlights: "Overkill" slays. Pure and simple. Just listen to the solo, the absolute peak of this album. Good old Eddie is flaming, someone bring the fire extinguisher!!! Negative, just let him burn 'till the song finishes. "Ace of Spades", which doesn't come too different compared to the studio version, but rules, nonetheless. It is "Ace of Spades" i said, it is supposed to fucking rock. "The Hammer", also the two finishers "Bomber" and "Motorhead". You'll enjoy this album, in fact, you're gonna love it. Motorhead owns your soul.

(Special mention goes to the band themselves, for being so fucking intense on stage, but also to "the rawest any road crew". Hahahaha, you'll know it when you hear it :)

Classic speed metal, live! - 94%

UltraBoris, December 1st, 2002

I got this album way back in the day for twenty cents. I am not making this up... it was on tape, and I wore it right the fuck out after a few years. Yes, it is that good. Imagine the typical Motorhead sound, with all the nice melodies combined with Lemmy's gruff vocals, all played at a reasonably fast pace, just like it should... now, add "one more". Yes, this Motorhead goes to eleven.

There's just something to be said about an album being live - when the crowd gets into it, and the band feeds off that, it's so much more interesting than sitting in a studio and hoping that the engineer is rocking out and having a good time spinning the dials. This is a pretty good quality recording - a bit on the raw side, but hey, it's Motorhead, not Sonata Craptica.

We have here most every Motorhead you would need to hear... it's a very good introduction to the early years of the band. "Ace of Spades" is their ubiquitous opener, that everyone knows, and then we get into the headbanger "Stay Clean", the slightly slower and thrashier "Metropolis", and then "The Hammer", "Iron Horse" all classics.

"No Class" is pretty nice, and then we have the awesome "Overkill", which named a band that spawned an entire genre... fuck yeah! And yes, that's the BASS that's playing that burner of a main riff. And then the song ends, and no it doesn't, and it ends, and NO IT'S BACK FOR MORE!!! Overkill indeed!

"We Are the Road Crew" is blazing fast, and "Capricorn" a bit slower but... Lemmy introduces it as a nice slow song, yeah right. "Bomber" and "Motorhead" close the album - all done excellently well, with great raw energy.

Highlights... Fucken "Overkill" and "The Hammer" are my faves, but pretty much everything on here is indispensable... Ready! Set! Bang! You need this one!