It’s undeniable that the volume of releases since Lemmy passed in late 2015 has far outstripped even the band’s formidable output. There have been some stellar packages of those early classics (Ace Of Spades, Overkill and Bomber) and a plethora of live recordings that have spanned much of the career of rock and Heavy Metal’s most missed band. I’ve said before that it’s even sadder that Motörhead are appreciated more since they finished than they were by many when they were in their prime. But at least there are plenty of memories to cling to.
Motörhead – The Löst Tapes: The Collection (Vol 1 – 5)
Release Date: 23 February 2024
Words: Paul Hutchings
This collection is the latest set of live recordings to be released in a combined CD box set, with Vol 1-4 already available digitally and on limited edition vinyl and are a set of cassette soundtracks to some of the band’s phenomenal live shows.
Transferred from the sound desk tapes at many gigs over the years, The Löst Tapes: The Collection (Vol 1 – 5) brings us full shows from Madrid, Norwich, Malmo, Heilbronn and 2008’s Download appearance. The shows span three decades, from 1984 through to 2008 Download set.
First up is the show from Sala Aqualung in Madrid on 1 June 1995. For each of these sets, it’s worth looking at the songs that were included from the most recent album release. 1995’s Sacrifice is one of Motörhead’s heaviest albums, and this show features the bruising title track as well as rarities Sex & Death, Dog Faced Boy and Over Your Shoulder.
Motörhead were back to a three-piece for this tour, Wurzel having left after the recording of Sacrifice. Vol 1 is another demonstration of the power of the band, with Mikkey Dee’s drumming, the bluesy lead work of Phil Campbell and, of course, Lemmy’s inimitable bass and vocals. Just listening to the power of the bookend tracks, Ace Of Spades and Overkill, makes you rather wistful, reflecting on those annual autumn tours and festival appearances that we took for granted.
Other tracks that rarely got outings include Liar, the ferocious Burner, and You Better Run. There’s even a cover of Silver Machine, as well as Dee’s drum solo, to soak up.
Move forward three years, and an appearance at the University Of East Anglia, Norwich, in support of the Snake Bite Love record (the tour was called No Speak With Forked Tongue). Whilst this was the first Motörhead show in Norwich since 1989, they would regularly return to the venue over the next decade.
The recording of the album had, by all accounts, been a bit chaotic. Lemmy said at the time, “Unfortunately, I was sick for some of the rehearsals, and when you leave two guys together who aren’t singers, you end up with some weird arrangements.” But the band are slick and together on this show. Highlights include the reappearance of Shine, a blistering opening with Bomber, No Class, and I’m So Bad (Baby, I Don’t Care).
Plenty of staples feature here, but what is always delightful is the interaction on stage between Phil and Lemmy, the slightly shambolic style, supplemented by cohesive playing and a few traditional elements, such as the introduction of the band. It’s all rounded off by Overkill, which I could listen to all day without getting bored.
Vol 3 sees the band in Sweden, in the middle of their We Are Motörhead European tour and throwing in a few variants on the standard set list. Unsurprisingly, the band kicked things off with the title track of their latest album, something that became traditional for many years to come, albeit with a slightly comical “good evening, Malmo, we are Motörhead, with feedback on the vocals … and we’re going to brush your hair,” before that riff kicks in and no doubt the headbanging started.
Nestled amongst the likes of Ace Of Spades, Orgasmatron and Killed By Death is the rarity Burden from Overnight Sensation, only played 40 times in total, along with Stay Out Of Jail, another track played fewer than 60 times in the entire Motörhead tour schedule. Vol 3 is another vibrant and robust demonstration of Motörhead at their imperious best. It’s a great listen.
Vol 4 sees us travel back in time over 16 years to Heilbronn in Germany, 1984, and the No Remorse tour. With Brian Robertson and Phil Taylor out of the band, this line-up features Campbell, Wurzel, and drummer Pete Gill. This is a set crammed full of the early classics but nothing from Another Perfect Day, the studio album that preceded the No Remorse compilation.
It’s a hard and heavy approach, with the twin guitar work adding heft to the songs. Lemmy showed his sense of humour as always, introducing Killed By Death as “our last single, though not many of you have bought it. Go out and buy it on Monday,” he says.
The tempo is fast, even by Motörhead standards, with (We Are) The Road Crew, Motörhead, The Chase Is Better Than The Catch, and Bomber played at lightning speed. It does not have the same sound quality as the other recordings, but given the 1984 date, that isn’t really a surprise.
And that leads neatly into the final set in this fine collection of live recordings. Vol 5 takes us to Donington Park on 13 June 2008, and Motörhead plays before special guests Judas Priest and headliners KISS on the Friday. This is probably the best the band sound in all these recordings, from the piledriving opening of Dr Rock, the rare outings for Be My Baby and Killers (from Kiss of Death and Inferno, respectively) and the smattering of classics, including Over The Top, Metropolis, Going to Brazil and a stonking but probably unnecessary cover of Bob Seger’s Rosalie.
This is Motörhead at their finest, in my opinion, with Mikkey Dee’s drumming top drawer. Listening to this through headphones, one can really appreciate Lemmy’s bass playing, and I’ve always been a fan of Phil’s guitar work. Here, he is once again stunning. The crowd reaction is fantastic, which is what you would expect, given that 90% of the 2008 bill was awful. This was one of the few chances on the weekend to shake the dandruff.
Topping it off, we get turbo charged versions of Aces Of Spades and Overkill, with a certain Wurzel joining the band for their big finale. It’s a great listen.
This is certainly a package that I would be happy to own and listen to time and time again. There are songs that you only got to hear on those tours featured here. There are songs to bring a smile and maybe even the odd tear.
What is clear is that Motörhead were a formidable force live. For someone who saw them many times between 1983 and 2014, this is a package well worth spending plenty of time with.
Pre-orders are available from motorhead.lnk.to/losttapesvol5PR.