Review written for www.13thfloor.co.nz
Lemmy Kilmister’s Untimely death left a huge hole the music world, that’s for sure. Since I first saw them playing Ace of Spade on an episode of the Young Ones they’ve been in a secret joy to behold. With his handle bar moustache, warts and high tilted mic and hard drinking, womanising grunt machine Lemmy was the sort rocker every 13 boy wanted to be. In his late years he hadn’t changed a bit, perfectly preserved in the formaldehyde of the late 70’s metal. He was unique alright, with a larger-than-life persona who had legions of fans and friends. This album is more than a testament to all that.
Just over a month before Lemmy’s departure last year Motörhead played two sold-out shows at Munich’s Zenith theatre. These were caught on tape and compiled into this live collection – Clean Your Clock and put out in every conceivable format from standalone CD, CD/DVD, Blu-ray/CD, vinyl and a limited edition box set.
Motörhead have release over a dozen live albums over the years starting with 1981‘s classic No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith. Nearly 35 years later, five songs from that album were also included on Clean Your Clock, showing the staying power of those classic songs and the band themselves. ThIs 15 song line up is classic Motörhead, and to be fair it could have been lifted from nearly any show from their 20 plus year career. It’s a mix of the expected classics – Ace of Spades, Bomber, Dr Rock (Dedicated to the late deported Filthy Animal) and Overkill, which gets the machine percussion treatment and classic OTT live rock wind up and release. There’s also a few more modern songs like Lost Woman Blues (from Aftershock, 2013) and When the Sky Comes Looking for You, which appeared on last year’s Bad Magic album and fully shows that his band had plenty of black blood still flowing in it. A quieter moment includes the almost acoustic, and delightfully scruffy Whorehouse Blues from 2004’s Inferno.
To call this concert collection bombastic would be an understatement both guitar whizz Phil Campbell and ace drummer Mikkey Dee get their cliché solo moments, showing off like there’s no tomorrow, and Lemmy’s bass artillery fire is on constant attack mode. Their performance is a perfect mix of grunt, grizzle and rock till yer drop, This ain’t the London Symphony Orchestra. This is the eternal trade Mardi of Motörhead, as it’s always been. Who knew that day would come when the guns would be silenced? None the less the 13 year boy in me was totally loving every moment of it. I was air drumming the couch pillows and whipping imaginary frantic chord thrash sand shreds all over the shop. When the family’s home I’m banished to the garage to thrash this or I take it on my mountain bike. It makes a perfect soundtrack for downhill mud runs – all energy and fury. Clean Your Clock is raucous and raw, with the set captured as it was played, with a lot of energy and passion along with some minor imperfections. Ok, so the cracks are there. You can audibly hear Lemmy getting weaker on tracks like Orgasmatron but it also cements how badass determined he was. Even though fighting cancer, and refusing to get it checked out, he continued to striding every stage with those big cowboy boots and massive Rickenbacker – seeking to destroy. Lock’n’Loaded. What’s amazing is that even though he was nearly 70 he’s rockin’ harder than many performers half his age. Ailments aside, that gravelly rasp and cheeky mongrel Brit accent is still fatally charming.
If you’re lucky to get hold of the DVD/Blu-ray edition lookout for the accompanying documentary, which has interviews with Lemmy, Campbell and Dee along with a collection of musicians talking about Lemmy (including Girlschool and Biff Byford from Classic Brit band Saxon.
Motörhead concert were always a joyous occasions, fans always left pumped, energised and happy. So this is something of a slightly sad celebration of and amazing band that refused to follow trends, fashion or attitudes. They were limited in style and genre but they did it well, in fact pretty much owned it. The will always be a small corner in every good record collection that is forever Motörhead, and that is reason enough to get this album. RIP, Lemmy.