BBC Live And In Session


Sanctuary, 2005

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Let's be honest here: Motörhead was a band that didn't get a lot of radio airplay, especially here in the United States. Damn shame, really – but, then again, how many music directors would have had the stones to program songs like “Iron Fist” or “I Am The Sword” in between the latest pre-packaged teeny-bop music, when we all know Lemmy and crew would have eaten them for breakfast?

At least in the UK, Motörhead got a little more respect, as BBC Live And In Session, a collection of tracks from 1978 to 1986, proves. For fans on this side of the pond, this is a nice picture of both the classic Motörhead lineup and the “comeback” four-piece band from the mid-'80s that covers a nice swatch of tracks.

The first disc is the most interesting historically (and is fun to listen to as well). Going as far back as 1978, around the time of the release of Overkill, four tracks from the late John Peel's well-respected BBC program (or should I call it “programme”?) offer up two selections of new material, one early hit single (“Louie Louie”) and one chestnut (“Keep Us On The Road”). For the neophyte not as familiar with Motörhead's catalog, this might be a little confusing; for the diehard Motörheadbanger, this will be like opening an unexpected Christmas gift. So many Motörhead songs over the years either never saw performance on-stage or simply got dropped from set lists, so it's nice to hear a selection from the self-titled release performed here.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The bulk of the first disc is pulled from an in-concert appearance (which sounds like it was recorded for radio) in London back in 1979. Straddling the time between Overkill and Bomber, this mostly pulls songs from Overkill (with one holdover from the self-titled release, “White Line Fever”), and showcases a band young, hungry and eager to take over the world. Simply put, it's a lot of fun to listen to, and ends far, far too soon.

Disc two is all performances for radio audiences, with no live crowds anywhere – not that this is a bad thing, mind you. For the five tracks recorded in 1981 for the David Jensen show, Lemmy and company lean heavily on material from Ace Of Spades, their most current studio album at the time… though the inclusion of “White Line Fever” is a pleasant surprise. By this time, the lineup of Lemmy, “Fast” Eddie Clarke and “Philthy Animal” Taylor were a well-oiled machine, and they plow through these tracks leaving the listener wanting much, much more.

The final selections are pulled from a “Friday Rock Show” appearance in 1986, and it captures the newly-retooled lineup of Lemmy, Wurzel, Phil Campbell and Pete Gill very well, as all the selections they play are from this lineup's recording history. Three of the four performances promote their then-new release Orgasmatron, and they show why this album is so underrated.

The only question mark raised is the inclusion of the spoken-word performance of “Orgasmatron” to close the disc. It's not that it's bad… rather, the sound quality is much weaker than anything else included on this disc. I'm at a loss to explain why – it just sounds like it was recorded off of a telephone call.

Admittedly, there is nothing on BBC Live And In Session, aside from the spoken-word piece, that makes this set collectible; there are no songs here that can't be found on another album. Yet it is the fact that Motörhead gets the chance to perform these in their most natural setting – namely, live – that sets this apart as a special release. True, a lot of the performances were done to an audience of probably a handful of people, all of whom worked for the BBC in some guise, such as a sound engineer. But hearing these thrashed out, without the benefit of overdubs or any studio polish, makes them raw and ready to attack the listener's senses. This is one to definitely consider adding to your collection.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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