On Parole is the debut recording made by English hard rock band Motörhead. Four of the songs appearing on the album were recorded in a single session at Rockfield Studios in September 1975, while the rest were taped in December, with various overdubs laid down in January and February 1976. Originally intended for a 1976 release date,United Artists was not convinced of the album's commercial potential and did not want to release it. As a result, it would remain unreleased for over three years.
Motorhead signed with United Artists when Andrew Lauder, A&R man for Lemmy's old band Hawkwind, secured them a record deal. This is the only album to feature the band's original line-up of Lemmy on vocals and bass, Larry Wallis on guitar and vocals, and Lucas Fox on drums. During the sessions, original producer Dave Edmunds relinquished his duties being replaced by Fritz Fryer. Drummer Fox was then replaced by Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor, a casual acquaintance of Lemmy's who had been persuaded to drive him to Rockfield Studios. Taylor overdubbed all of Fox's tracks except for "Lost Johnny" as he was being held in custody following an arrest for alleged drunk-and-disorderly conduct when that session was due to take place.
Intitially, the band recorded some demos with producer Dave Edmunds at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales, with Lemmy later telling Geoff Barton of Sounds, "Dave Edmonds and us got on OK, it was just that at the time he was negotiating a record deal or something for himself and was kind of preoccupied. These people kept arriving in big cars to talk to him - most of the time his mind seemed somewhere else." Of the tracks, three ("Motorhead", "The Watcher" and "Lost Johnny") were re-recordings of songs Lemmy had written and recorded with Hawkwind, "City Kids" was a re-recording of a Wallis track co-written and recorded with The Pink Fairies, "Leaving Here" was a cover version of a Holland/Dozier/Holland Motown song Lemmy had learned whilst a roadie for The Birds. "On Parole" was recorded and released by Larry Wallis, who was backed by two members of Eddie And The Hot Rods; bassist Paul Gray, and drummer Steve Nicol as a b-side to the Stiff Records "Police Car" single in 1977, after this album had been recorded but prior to its release. In his autobiography White Line Fever, Lemmy recalls of drummer Taylor tried singing "City Kids" but "he sounded like two cats being stapled together." Kilmister was also impressed by Taylor's ability to overdub drums, adding that it was "quite a feat, because the drums are what you usually base a song on - it's kind of like going ass-backwards."
At the time United Artists were not convinced of the album's commercial potential and shelved its release despite the band [shooting] down to the label every day saying: "What the fuck's happening? When's the album coming out? When are you gonna get us some gigs? What's happening about getting us an agency?' All we'd get was bullshit about the sleeve, you know, photographs and all that. When we got back from Rockfield with the masters, of course, we got the big: 'Oh, great, fantastic', but in the ensuing weeks it was just excuses and bullshit". After the band's profile had risen with the commercial success of the albums Overkill and Bomber in 1979, United Artists re-appraised the album and gave it a belated release at the end of that year. In his book Overkill: The Untold Story of Motorhead, biographer Joel McIver quotes Lemmy: "United Artists were a bunch of twats in the final analysis. Yeah, they cashed in on us. We had the Bomber album out and were already big. But I don't care about these people. Record companies are a hindrance to rock 'n' roll, not a help. They dilute the real thing down to the lowest common denominator."
Due to the record company's initial refusal to release this album, when a reconfigured Motörhead (featuring Eddie Clarke on guitar) were given studio time by Chiswick Records in 1977, they chose to re-record the album in almost its entirety (only "Fools" and "Leaving Here" were not re-recorded) leading to their debut release Motörhead.
Dave Thompson of AllMusic calls the arrangements on the LP "devastating, steeped in blues, drenched in booze, the highest octane pub rock of all. No matter how well you think you know Motörhead, still it's nothing like you're expecting. A true sonic symphony, this is Wagner with whiplash."