Released in 1981, the live album No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith recaps the highlights from the legendary run of albums Motörhead released during the prior few years, namely Overkill, Bomber, and Ace of Spades. The band's lesser self-titled debut album is also accounted for here with two inclusions ("Motörhead" and "Iron Horse"), but by and large, the focus is on the standout songs from the aforementioned trio of classics. This alone makes No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith noteworthy, for it plays like a greatest-hits set, opening perfectly with "Ace of Spades." But what makes it all the more noteworthy -- and more than simply a run-of-the-mill, gap-filling live album -- is the performance: in a word, it's breakneck. The trio of Lemmy (bass and vocals), "Fast" Eddie Clarke (guitar), and "Philthy Animal" Taylor (drums) absolutely rips loose through this 11-song set, upping the intensity and speed of the already intense and speedy studio recordings. Yes, believe it or not, these performances are even more crazed than their studio-recorded counterparts. Of course, the fidelity isn't as clear and the instruments aren't nearly as in relief, since this is a live recording (and while it's of high quality for live recordings of its day, it's relatively lo-fi by today's standards). Still, the breakneck nature of this performance distinguishes No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith from its studio predecessors, making it an excellent, recommended complement to those essentials. Moreover, it's an important release because it captures Motörhead live during the peak of the classic lineup's rise to fame. Motörhead could do no wrong at this point in time, as they were laying the foundation for the coming thrash movement, in a way, and their winning streak continues here on No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith, one of the best live metal albums of all time.
No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith Review
by Jason Birchmeier