Overkill (album)

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Overkill (Motörhead album).jpg
Studio album by Motörhead
Released 24 March 1979
Recorded Roundhouse Studios and Sound Development Studios, London
Genre Heavy metal, speed metal
Length 35:15
Label Bronze (UK) (1979)
CMC International (1996)
Sanctuary (2005)
Producer Jimmy Miller, Neil Richmond
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
For the 2013 electronic album, see Overkill (Savant album).

Overkill is the second album by Motörhead, released in 1979. It was their first for Bronze Records, and peaked at #24 on the UK charts. The album had a big impact in the British punk culture of that time, paving the way for UK82. Kerrang! magazine listed the album at #46 among the "100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time".[1]


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 favor". 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.[2] 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".

Recording and composition[edit]

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 practice, 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.

The first release from those sessions was the single release of Overkill 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.[2] With a view to increasing the sales, the single was released in three different covers, one each of Lemmy, Clarke and Taylor.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars [6]
Blender 5/5 stars [7]

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 Spaces. 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.[8] However, it has also been criticised for being one dimensional, sloppy and unskilled [9] 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]

All songs written and composed by Ian Kilmister, Phil Taylor and Eddie Clarke

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Overkill"   5:12
2. "Stay Clean"   2:40
3. "(I Won't) Pay Your Price"   2:56
4. "I'll Be Your Sister"   2:51
5. "Capricorn"   4:06
Side two
No. Title Length
6. "No Class"   2:39
7. "Damage Case" (Clarke, Kilmister, Taylor, Mick Farren) 2:59
8. "Tear Ya Down"   2:39
9. "Metropolis"   3:34
10. "Limb from Limb"   4:54

Sanctuary Records 2005 reissue 2CD deluxe edition[edit]

Disc One includes the original album without bonus tracks.

All songs written and composed by Kilmister, Taylor and Clarke, except where noted. 

Disc two
No. Title Length
1. "Louie Louie" (Single A-side; Richard Berry) 2:47
2. "Louie Louie" (Alternative version; Berry) 2:52
3. "Louie Louie" (Alternative version 2; Berry) 2:45
4. "Tear Ya Down" ("Louie Louie" B-side) 2:41
5. "Tear Ya Down" (Alternative version) 2:41
6. "Tear Ya Down" (Instrumental version) 2:39
7. "Too Late Too Late" ("Overkill" B-side) 3:25
8. "Like a Nightmare" ("No Class" B-side) 4:13
9. "Like a Nightmare" (Alternative version) 4:27
10. "Louie Louie" (BBC Radio 1 John Peel Session '78; Berry) 2:46
11. "I'll Be Your Sister" (BBC Radio 1 John Peel Session '78) 3:15
12. "Tear Ya Down" (BBC Radio 1 John Peel Session '78) 2:39
13. "Stay Clean" (BBC Radio 1 In-Concert '79) 3:03
14. "No Class" (BBC Radio 1 In-Concert '79) 2:43
15. "I'll Be Your Sister" (BBC Radio 1 In-Concert '79) 3:35
16. "Too Late Too Late" (BBC Radio 1 In-Concert '79) 3:24
17. "(I Won't) Pay Your Price" (BBC Radio 1 In-Concert '79) 3:19
18. "Capricorn" (BBC Radio 1 In-Concert '79) 4:14
19. "Limb from Limb" (BBC Radio 1 In-Concert '79) 5:26


  • Joe Petagnosleeve artwork
  • Recorded December 1978 – January 1979 at Roundhouse Studios and Sound Development Studios, UK (except "Tear Ya Down", originally recorded at Wessex Studios)
  • Produced by Jimmy Miller (except "Tear Ya Down", produced by Neil Richmond, remixed at Roundhouse Studios by Jimmy Miller)
  • Engineered by Ashley Howe and Trevor Hallesy


  1. ^ Jeffries, Neil (21 January 1989). "Motörhead 'Overkill'". Kerrang! 222. London, UK: Spotlight Publications Ltd. 
  2. ^ a b Burridge, Alan (April 1991). "Motörhead". Record Collector (140): 18. 
  3. ^ Burridge, Alan Illustrated Collector's Guide to Motörhead Published: 1995, Collector's Guide Publishing ISBN 0-9695736-2-6.
  4. ^ "Bastards strona o Motörhead". Polish Motörhead fan site detailing Overkill's releases. Retrieved 2007-03-08. 
  5. ^ About Joe Petagno - interview section with Joe Petagno, bonus DVD with Inferno 30th Anniversary edition SPV69748.
  6. ^ Allmusic Review
  7. ^ Blender Review
  8. ^ [...], 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. 
  9. ^ http://starling.rinet.ru/music/motor.htm

External links[edit]