Words By: Gerrod Harris
Release Date: June 10th, 2016, via UDR
The death of Lemmy Kilmister still feels like a fresh wound. The seventy year old rock and metal pioneer passed away due to a long battle with prostate cancer on December 28th, 2015, leaving fans both incredibly sad but grateful he made it this far, despite his lifestyle which embodied the mantra of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. Clean Your Clock, the first posthumous release from Motörhead following the death of their founding vocalist and bassist, is an electrifying live record taken from the bands two performances in Munich, Germany, on November 20th and 21st, from two of what would have been among Kilmister’s final performances.
Opening to the sound of air raid sirens, Motörhead kicked off their set with the hard hitting “Bomber”. Their set continued with older numbers, including 1979’s “Stay Clean” along with newer tracks of the likes of “When The Sky Comes Looking For You” from 2015’s Bad Magic. Taking a break between thrashing numbers, guitarist Phil Campbell lays out a lengthy guitar solo which covers much musical ground, from soulful melodic lines to moments propelled forward by intense shredding. Throughout the rest of the near hour and a half play though, highlights include the sludgy “Orgasmatron”, Mikkey Dee’s blistering drum solo in the middle of “Dr. Rock”, the heavy “Metropolis”, and their classic “Ace Of Spades”. To top off a set of the likes of this, Motörhead closed the record with an extended and incredibly strong performance of “Overkill”. Clean Your Clock shows Motörhead at a level of cohesiveness and flow that many bands never quite reach. Their endurance and precision are admirable, and to be able to blast through such material with such ease is an impressive feat.
If you had not known that Lemmy was sick, listening to Clean Your Clock would not have hinted at such an uncomfortable truth. In fact, quite the opposite! Lemmy sounds powerful, energetic, and as tough as ever as he puts on a killer performance. Without a doubt, he went out on what I would call a career high- not the career high, but a peak among his many- and sadly, he likely expected to be doing this for a little while longer. Lemmy sounds like an unstoppable titan among mortals; a determined and driven beast -hardly weathered by a lifetime of chain smoking, heavy drug use, and immense drinking- who will not stop, no, can’t stop, until when he decides when his welcomed rock ‘n’ roll barrage is over. Believe what you want of all the folklore and mystery which surrounds his image, but Lemmy was, and still remains, the real deal.
Touring off the release of last summer’s Bad Magic (you can read my review here), Clean Your Clock showcases a career spanning set, including classics as well as newer tracks. At the very least, Clean Your Clock is a very surreal record guaranteed to spark envy of those lucky enough to see him perform; to hear the distinctively gravelly voice of Lemmy and his larger than life- and often blunt personality, as heard in onstage banter- is enough to send a remorseful sigh along with a chill down the spine. However, this record does not in any way rely on its emotional significance as a means of appearing better; Clean Your Clock is a raw, hard hitting, and highly combustible record and can easily stand among Motörhead’s best live records- even when compared to their classic 1981 release, No Sleep ‘Till Hammersmith. From Motörhead super fans to even the most casual of listeners, there is much to enjoy when listening to Clean Your Clock; a record that is as impressive musically, as it is a fitting tribute to the memory of Lemmy Kilmister, so turn your speakers to eleven, pour out a jack and coke, and belt along to “Ace Of Spades”. Long live Lemmy Kilmister.
2: Stay Clean
4: When The Sky Comes Looking For You
5: Over The Top
6: Guitar Solo
7: The Chase Is Better Than The Catch
8: Lost Woman Blues
9: Rock It
11: Dr. Rock
13: No Class
14: Ace Of Spades
15: Whorehouse Blues