Overkill (Motörhead album)

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Motörhead - Overkill 1979.jpg
Studio album by
Released24 March 1979
RecordedDecember 1978–January 1979[1]
StudioRoundhouse Studios and Sound Development Studios, London[1]
ProducerJimmy Miller, Neil Richmond[1]
Motörhead chronology
Singles from Overkill
  1. "Overkill"
    Released: 10 March 1979
  2. "No Class"
    Released: 30 June 1979
Singles from Overkill (1996 reissue)
  1. "Louie Louie"
    Released: 30 September 1978
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[2]
Blender5/5 stars[3]

Overkill is the second studio album by the band Motörhead, released 24 March 1979, on Bronze Records, their first with the label, and it peaked at #24 on the UK charts. Kerrang! magazine listed the album at #46 among the "100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time".[4]


Bronze Records signed Motörhead in 1978 and gave them time in Wessex Studios in London to record Richard Berry's "Louie Louie" and a new song by the band, "Tear Ya Down." The band toured to promote the single "Louie Louie," which became a modest hit, while Chiswick released the Motörhead album in white vinyl, to keep the momentum going. In the Classic Albums documentary on the making of Ace of Spades, Gerry Bron of Bronze Records admits:

"..The first time I heard Motörhead was when I listened to a single that I put out without hearing, which is "Louie Louie," and when I heard it I was absolutely horrified. I thought it was the worst record I've ever heard, so it was a bit of a shock. The bigger shock was, having put out a record I thought was terrible, it went straight into the charts at #72. But I actually put the record out as a favour.."

Sales of the single brought the band their first appearance on BBC Television's Top of the Pops, which gave Bronze the confidence to get the band back into the studio to record a second album.[5] In the 2011 book Overkill: The Untold Story of Motörhead, biographer Joel McIver quotes guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke:

"..We had so many false starts and disappointments by the time Overkill came around in 1978 we had stored up a lot of energy and ideas – and we were just waiting for the opportunity to show what we could do. Also we had a great following, and we always felt we owed the fans who had been with us from the beginning.."

Speaking to James McNair of Mojo in 2011, vocalist and bassist Lemmy concurred:

"..by the time of Overkill we were getting our sound together.."


Overkill was co-produced by legendary producer Jimmy Miller, who had previously worked with Traffic and the Rolling Stones, and recorded at Roundhouse Studios and Sound Development Studios in London. '"Damage Case" was co-written by the band and Mick Farren of The Deviants. In his autobiography White Line Fever, Lemmy claims that he wrote the words to "Metropolis" "in five minutes" after seeing the movie of the same name at the Electric Cinema in Portebello Road, and also claims that he always wanted Tina Turner to record "I'll Be Your Sister," insisting:

"..I like writing songs for women. In fact, I've written songs with women. I've been called a sexist by some factions of radical, frigid feminists (the kind who want to change the word manhole to personhole, that kind of crap), but they don't know what they're talking about.."

The title track is notable for Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor's use of two bass drums. In the documentary The Guts and the Glory the drummer recalls:

"..I always wanted to play two bass drums but I always said to myself, 'No, I'm not gonna be one of these wankers who goes on stage and has two bass drums and never even fuckin' plays 'em'. Not until I can play 'em. So I got this other bass drum and I used to get to rehearsals a couple of hours before the other guys and just practise, you know, just sit there going (mimes kicking with both feet) like running, or something like that...I was actually playing that riff, just trying to get my coordination right, when Eddie and Lemmy walked in, and I was just about to stop and they went, 'No, don't stop! Keep going!'...And that was how Overkill got written.."

Sleeve artwork[edit]

Joe Petagno, the sleeve artist, had this to say about the cover of the album, which he felt rushed into because the band could not find him:

"..I had about a week and a half to get it finished... But it was always a disappointment for me, personally. It should have been multi-layered. It was supposed to have a feeling that there was more to it, there were going to be more bits and pieces. In a way, I kind of did it on the Inferno thing. I sort of took my revenge on the new trinity. In a way.."[6]


The first release from those sessions was the single release of the title track backed with "Too Late, Too Late" in 7" and 12" pressings. In June 1979, "No Class" was lifted from the album as a follow-up single, backed with a previously unreleased song, "Like a Nightmare." While the Chiswick album Motörhead had been a hasty affair (although it had a sub-bootleg quality which some fans found appealing) Overkill had more spring and bounce, and a thundering title track that would become a show-stopper for years to come. Three weeks after the initial release of the album in black vinyl, the album was released in a limited edition of 15,000 in green vinyl.[5] With a view to increasing the sales, the single was released in three different covers, one each of Lemmy, Clarke and Taylor.[7] The album was reissued on Cassette, CD and vinyl by Castle Communications in 1988, coupled with Another Perfect Day, Bronze having issued a cassette of the album coupled with Bomber in 1980.[8]


Overkill was an unexpected success, reaching #24 on the UK albums chart. It is considered by many to be a vast improvement over the band's debut and the album where they laid the foundation for their classic sound. AllMusic: Motörhead's landmark second album, Overkill, marked a major leap forward for the band, and it remains one of their all-time best, without question. In fact, some fans consider it their single best, topping even Ace of Spades. It's a ferocious album, for sure, perfectly showcasing Motörhead's trademark style of no holds barred proto-thrash – a kind of punk-inflected heavy metal style that is sloppy and raw yet forceful and in your face." In 2005, Overkill was ranked number 340 in Rock Hard magazine's book of The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time.[9] However, it has also been criticised for being one dimensional, sloppy and unskilled[10] Writing in the 2011 book Overkill: The Untold Story of Motörhead, biographer Joel McIver calls the LP "a revelation. To this day it contains six all-time classics, which is saying something from a band whose career has lasted 35 years or more."

Track listing[edit]

Original release[edit]

All tracks written by Kilmister, Clarke, Taylor[1] except where noted.

Side A
2."Stay Clean"2:40
3."(I Won't) Pay Your Price"2:56
4."I'll Be Your Sister"2:51
Side B
6."No Class" 2:39
7."Damage Case"Kilmister, Clarke, Taylor, Farren2:59
8."Tear Ya Down" 2:39
9."Metropolis" 3:34
10."Limb From Limb" 4:54
Total length:35:15
Castle Communications 1996 CD reissue bonus tracks
No.TitleWriter(s)Original releaseLength
11."Too Late, Too Late" 1979 ~ Overkill (Single)3:25
12."Like a Nightmare" 1979 ~ No Class4:27
13."Louie, Louie"Richard Berry1978 ~ Louie, Louie2:47
14."Tear Ya Down" (Instrumental Version)  2:39
15."Louie, Louie" (Alternative Version)Berry 2:52
Total length:50:56

Sanctuary Records 2005 2CD deluxe edition[edit]

Disc one includes the original album without bonus tracks.[1]

All tracks written by Kilmister, Clarke, Taylor except where noted.

Disc two
No.TitleWriter(s)Original ReleaseLength
1."Louie Louie"Berry1978 ~ Louie, Louie2:47
2."Louie Louie" (Alternative Version)Berry1979 ~ Overkill (1996 Reissue)2:52
3."Louie Louie" (Alternative Version 2)Berry1997 ~ Stone Dead Forever2:45
4."Tear Ya Down" 1978 ~ Louie, Louie2:41
5."Tear Ya Down" (Alternative Version) 1997 ~ Stone Dead Forever2:41
6."Tear Ya Down" (Instrumental Version) 1979 ~ Overkill (1996 Reissue)2:39
7."Too Late, Too Late" 1979 ~ Overkill (Single)3:25
8."Like a Nightmare" 1979 ~ No Class4:27
9."Like a Nightmare" (Alternative Version) 1997 ~ Stone Dead Forever4:13
John Peel In-Session (Aired 25 September 1978, recorded 18 September 1978)
No.TitleWriter(s)Original ReleaseLength
10."Louie Louie"Berry1978 ~ Louie, Louie2:46
11."I'll Be Your Sister" 1979 ~ Overkill3:15
12."Tear Ya Down" 1979 ~ Overkill2:39
In-Concert - Live From Paris Theatre, London (16 May 1979)
No.TitleOriginal ReleaseLength
13."Stay Clean"1979 ~ Overkill3:03
14."No Class"1979 ~ Overkill2:43
15."I'll Be Your Sister"1979 ~ Overkill3:35
16."Too Late, Too Late"1979 ~ Overkill (Single)3:24
17."(I Won't) Pay Your Price"1979 ~ Overkill3:19
18."Capricorn"1979 ~ Overkill4:14
19."Limb From Limb"1979 ~ Overkill5:26
  • The track list in the liner notes incorrectly have 18 tracks listed, as they have repeated tracks 9 & 10 as track 9 twice. They also have Richard Berry incorrectly credited for Disk 1 tracks 1, 5 & 9, – when correctly it is Disk 1 tracks 1-3 and Disk 2 track 10. The rear of the cover has all this printed correctly though.[1]


Per the liner notes.[1]



  • Jimmy Millerproducer, remixer
  • Neil Richmond – producer ("Louie Louie", "Tear Ya Down")
  • Ashley Howe – engineer
  • Trevor Hallesy – engineer
  • Giovanni Scatola – mastering (2005 remaster)
  • Joe Petagno – cover design
  • Curt Evans – cover design (2005 remaster)

2005 deluxe edition remaster[edit]

  • Steve Hammonds – release coordination
  • Jon Richards – release coordination
  • Malcolm Dome – sleeve notes
  • Mick Stevenson – project consultant, photos and archive memorabilia


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Overkill, Motörhead, Sanctuary Records, SMDD242, 2005 Liner Notes, page 10 & 11
  2. ^ AllMusic Review
  3. ^ Blender Review[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Jeffries, Neil (21 January 1989). "Motörhead 'Overkill'". Kerrang!. 222. London, UK: Spotlight Publications Ltd. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  5. ^ a b Burridge, Alan (April 1991). "Motörhead". Record Collector (140): 18.
  6. ^ About Joe Petagno – interview section with Joe Petagno, bonus DVD with Inferno 30th Anniversary edition SPV69748.
  7. ^ Burridge, Alan Illustrated Collector's Guide to Motörhead Published: 1995, Collector's Guide Publishing ISBN 0-9695736-2-6.
  8. ^ "Bastards strona o Motörhead". Polish Motörhead fan site detailing Overkill's releases. Retrieved 8 March 2007.
  9. ^ [...], Rock Hard (Hrsg.). [Red.: Michael Rensen. Mitarb.: Götz Kühnemund] (2005). Best of Rock & Metal die 500 stärksten Scheiben aller Zeiten. Königswinter: Heel. p. 73. ISBN 3-89880-517-4.
  10. ^ Starostin, George. "Motorhead".

External links[edit]