No Sleep At All


Enigma, 1988

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It's not often that Lemmy Kilmister declared a Motörhead release to be a mistake, but in his autobiography White Line Fever, he declares their 1988 live album No Sleep At All to be one, the fault being more in the mix than necessarily the release itself.

Admittedly, this has never been one of my favorite albums from Lemmy and crew. And while my position regarding this disc has softened over the years, there is still something about it which makes it just feel like Lemmy was correct – but more along the lines that it was just the wrong release at the wrong time.

Recorded in Finland during the tour supporting Rock 'n' Roll, the band – Kilmister, guitarists Wurzel and Phil Campbell and drummer “Philthy Animal” Taylor – blast through 12 songs at an almost breakneck pace. There's no doubt that the performances are solid, but at times, it just doesn't feel like they're totally into the moment – in short, it has the feel of being phoned in.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Their more recent work is well represented, with seven songs coming from No Remorse, Orgasmatron or Rock 'n' Roll – but the three songs from the most recent album are the ones which seem to be performed by rote, almost as if they had to. Even “Eat The Rich,” one of my all-time favorite Motörhead songs, just doesn't seem to have the humorous punch that the original studio version does – and, honestly, that's a bit disappointing.

I also have to admit that I've never been a fan of the song “Just 'Cos You Got The Power.” No Sleep At All was the debut for this one, and even though it's been included in many other shows, I've just never warmed up to it. Why? I don't know.

This isn't to say that every song in this show suffers the same fate. “Killed By Death” remains a fun one to listen to, and the lyrical ad-libs that Kilmister throws into the end of “Built For Speed” keep the listener on their toes.

Was Kilmister correct, and is the mix the problem with No Sleep At All? Not to my ears, at least. If anything, one just wonders why it was thought that it was a good idea to release a live album two discs into Motörhead's “comeback.” (I'm not including No Remorse in that sum, as it was essentially a compilation album, the four new tracks notwithstanding.) I'd have preferred hearing Lemmy and the boys cranking out new music in the studio, building up their already impressive arsenal of songs to choose from in concert before committing another live show to vinyl. (In all fairness to the lads, The Birthday Party – the album capturing their 10th anniversary show, and yet another one Lemmy and crew fought against release – hadn't come out yet, and that one featured drummer Pete Gill instead of Taylor.)

I understand that any document capturing Motörhead in concert is momentous, though I've heard enough bootlegs to know that even Lemmy had an off night now and again. While there are no musical mistakes in No Sleep At All to qualify as a bad performance, it just has the feeling that their hearts aren't 100 percent into this particular performance. That feeling comes forth on the recording, leaving this as a disc that only Motörhead completists need add to their collection.

Rating: C+

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