It’s become known in certain circles as “The Year of Motörhead.” In fact, 1979 saw the release of two epic slabs from the legendary band — their sophomore record, Overkill in March of that year and the celebrated follow-up, Bomber in October.

Given the pop-driven global music climate of the day, it was rather unlikely that the rabid new combo exploding on the European underground scene in 1979 would, decades later, become embraced by the corporate world — featured in international commercials, hocking everything from candy bars to fancy cars. Yes, little did many of us realize at the time, but the band being crafted by British bassist, Lemmy Kilmister (d. Dec. ‘15) back in 1979 would someday become an iconic brand. Survival of the fittest, indeed.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of “The Year of Motörhead,” Sanctuary Records / BMG released individual commemorative LP reissues of both Overkill and Bomber in recent months. However, on October 25, the label drops a doozie — a massive, multi-disc set, that’s available in various configurations. Simply put, it’s such an expansive presentation — it’s enough to make one’s (motör) head spin.

Produced by Jimmy Miller (Rolling Stones, Traffic, Plastmatics), the 1979 Box Set (order here) contains both the original Overkill and Bomber albums, half-speed mastered and pressed on 180 gram vinyl.

Arguably the only thing ever “Overkill” about Motörhead was the volume of there absolutely insanely-loud performances.


Founding members, Lemmy, guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke (d. Jan. ‘18) and drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor (d. Nov. ‘15), were revving on all cylinders in 1979. And from the opening lyrics of the title track, The only way to feel the noise is when it’s good and loud. So good you can’t believe it screaming with the crowd, the Overkill record makes a strong statement in short order — the boys meant business and they couldn’t be confused with ABBA. This vinyl reissue shows longtime staples, including “Stay Clean” and “Metropolis” holding up famously over the decades. The “Tush”-style favorite “No Class” and the Wolfmother-flavored “Damage Case” still crunch with classic rock groove, while “(I Won’t) Pay Your Price” and “Limb from Limb” reveal the band’s authentic blues-based roots.

As for Bomber, the lead-off track “Dead Men Tell No Tales” and the break-neck title track remain rib-cracking. The Hendrix-inspired guitar work on “Sweet Revenge” still zings. And featuring “Fast” Eddie on lead vocals, the “Have a Cigar”-scented “Step Down” also is a stand-out.

Capturing all the abrasive, sweat-soaked authenticity of a vintage-era Motörhead show, the two double-live albums are a particular treat. Containing previously unheard concert performances from the 1979 tours, the live discs help make the experience fresh and exciting.

And speaking of exciting, this mammoth collection also includes a 40-page magazine featuring photos and interviews from the era, unseen previously. The Rest of ‘79 disc features B-sides, outtakes and rare tracks. Add to all that, there’s an array of other goodies included, such as the “No Class” 7-inch single (with gatefold art), a Bomber tour program, an Overkill sheet music book and a ‘79 badge set — all fitted fabulously in a smart-looking black biker jacket box.

In sum, this collection is exhaustive and impressive — capturing the sights, the sounds and the smells from “The Year of Motörhead.” For the band’s dedicated drooling disciples (myself included), this set makes for an amazing and absolute “must-have.”

A press shot of this legendary power-trio back in 1979:

1979 Track Listing:

Overkill
01. Overkill (5:11)
02. Stay Clean (2:42)
03. (I Won’t) Pay Your Price (2:58)
04. I’ll Be Your Sister (2:56)
05. Capricorn (4:12 )
06. No Class (2:39)
07. Damage Case (3:03)
08. Tear Ya Down (2:40)
09. Metropolis (3:36)
10. Limb from Limb (4:54)

Good N’ Loud (Live at Friars, Aylesbury – 31st March 1979)
11. Overkill (5:26)
12. Stay Clean (2:43)
13. Keep Us On the Road (5:54)
14. No Class (3:10)
15. Leaving Here (3:37)
16. Iron Horse/Born to Lose (6:10)
17. Iron Horse/Born to Lose (3:49)
18. Metropolis (6:06)
19. The Watcher (4:46)
20. Damage Case (4:08)
21. (I Won’t) Pay Your Price (5:48)
22. Capricorn (3:59 )
23. Too Late, Too Late (5:01)
24. I’ll Be Your Sister (3:31)
25. Train Kept A-Rollin’ (3:08)
26. Limb from Limb (6:45)
27. White Line Fever (3:50)
28. Motorhead (3:54)

Crank it up; this is “Bomber!”


Bomber
29. Dead Men Tell No Tales (3:05)
30. Lawman (4:02)
31. Sweet Revenge (4:09)
32. Sharpshooter (3:18)
33. Poison (2:53)
34. Stone Dead Forever (4:56 )
35. All the Aces (3:26)
36. Step Down (3:43)
37. Talking Head (3:43)
38. Bomber (3:44)

Sharpshooter (Live at la Rotunde, Le Mans – 3rd Nov 1979)
39. Overkill (5:35)
40. Stay Clean (2:46)
41. No Class (2:59)
42. Metropolis (3:37)
43. All the Aces (4:15)
44. Dead Men Tell No Tales (4:15)
45. I’ll Be Your Sister (3:38)
46. Lawman (4:43)
47. Too Late, Too Late (4:02)
48. Poison (3:45)
49. (I Won’t) Pay Your Price (3:16)
50. Sharpshooter (4:03)
51. Capricorn (4:56)
52. Train Kept A-Rollin’ (2:38)
53. Bomber (3:56)
54. Limb from Limb (6:29)
55. White Line Fever (1:00)
56. Motorhead (4:22)

No Motörhead “Retro Review” would be complete without some “Ace Of Spades.”


The Rest of ‘79 (B-sides, Outtakes and Rare Tracks)
57. Too Late, Too Late (3:22)
58. Like a Nightmare (4:25)
59. Over the Top (3:20)
60. Stone Dead Forever (4:34 )
61. Sharpshooter (3:16)
62. Bomber (3:35)
63. Step Down (3:28)
64. Fun on the Farm (2:59)
65. Treat Me Nice (3:53)
66. You Ain’t Gonna Live Forever (3:10)

Run Time: 259:28
Release Date: October 25, 2019
Record Label: Sanctuary / BMG

Christopher Long is a celebrated author, entertainment writer, TV / radio contributor, award-winning musician and international missionary. Referred to once as "the rock and roll Erma Bombeck," Long is known for his conversational, common sense writing style and possessing a passion for sharing his unique pop culture perspectives. Raised in Missouri's rugged Ozark Mountains and on Florida's sunny Space Coast, Christopher Long currently lives near Cocoa Beach. (AuthorChristopherLong@yahoo.com)