There's been a bucket load of MOTÖRHEAD live albums and videos over the years, including bonus live sets and radio performances scattered upon the Sanctuary Records remasters from 2005 and '06. Frankly, it was easy to take them for granted while Lemmy Kilmister was still alive. Last December, the widely beloved Lemmy took his last breath, and people from suits to grits felt its sting. We saw the headlines of shortened sets and postponed gigs but refused to believe what we naturally suspected. If the ROLLING STONES, now in their seventies, could keep punching onstage, why not assume Lemmy, the apparent ageless wonder who wore his principles as gospel instead of merely professing them, would live, deaf forever?
"Clean Your Clock" represents MOTÖRHEAD's last recorded concerts prior to Lemmy Kilmister's death. Dropping a pair of sets November 20th and 21st in 2015 at the Zenith in Munich, Germany, MOTÖRHEAD fans are wont to gobble this up in a hurry as much as they might initially cower from it as the painful listening experience it is.
This album contains a set list filled with the staples (i.e. "Stay Clean", "Ace of Spades", "The Chase Is Better Than the Catch", "No Class", "Just 'Cos You Got the Power" and "Overkill") plus a couple of pleasant surprise cuts that don't surface often, "Orgasmatron" and "Rock It". "When the Sky Comes Looking for You", from MOTÖRHEAD's final studio album, "Bad Magic", checks in, along with "Lost Woman Blues" from its predecessor, "Aftershock".
From the opening air sirens and whirling plane propellers setting off "Bomber", if you don't feel at least a twinge in your heart, you never truly loved this band. It's a spirited and rowdy jumpstart to a show one has to suspect was immediately taxing upon Lemmy. The evidence rings as soon as "Stay Clean" starts. You can hear fatigue evident in his vocals, though not in his instrumentation.
It's not the tightest MOTÖRHEAD's ever sounded on a live document, but Mikkey Dee's rumbling fills and rolls on "Metropolis" override the flung-about squelches and grunts around him. Feedback peals resound throughout the early portion of the set, which is endearing to a point, and forgivable, considering that in 2015 Lemmy was exhaustively pushing himself. The squeaks to his otherwise calibrated machine resound with the honest grime he and his mates have chewed upon for decades.
Nonetheless, the band plays at a high level, including Lemmy's enormous bass thwacks. The set is measured out instead of sent in a flurry. "Overkill", "Ace of Spades" and "Rock It" being the only real speedy jams, it's a marvel how Lemmy and the band efficiently moved a set along, and with no shirking of their emblematic volume. Phil Campbell continues to make his case as one of the greatest guitarists on the planet. Listening to him peel the paint on his solo for "Just 'Cos You Got the Power" never gets old. Campbell's blues solo within this set, tastefully contained to an exact two minutes, is so poignant it hurts. Nobody could've interpreted it that way back then, but less than a year later, it haunts as a swan song to his departed comrade. Campbell's solo not only cuts deep, it spurts blood and tears.
Lemmy's between song banter doesn't betray too much lethargy, particularly when he and Phil Campbell play with the Munich crowd. In fact, this seems to give Lemmy a charge after getting the audience to roar before launching into a raucous take of "Over the Top". Lemmy hilariously pokes at his hollering throng when introducing "Rock It" from the criminally underrated "Another Perfect Day" album by nattering, "Ahh, didn't buy it then, did ya?"
When MOTÖRHEAD shambles through the lazy blues drawl of "Lost Woman Blues", Lemmy's vocals give equally slow chase. As he growls through "Orgasmatron", one has to wonder how much discomposure it gave Lemmy to coax those guttural, liquidy rasps. Worse, did he see his own writing upon the wall that fateful November?
The most agonizing moment of the set comes when Lemmy dedicates "Doctor Rock" to Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor, who had died the week prior to this show, unintentionally summoning his own forthcoming epithet. God bless Lemmy: despite his own personal toils to get onstage, he belts out "Doctor Rock" from "Orgasmatron" as if it was 1986 again. It's appropriate that Mikkey Dee chooses this song from which to drop his drum solo, saluting Taylor with his own brilliant animalistic sprawls and clouts.
Wonderful how "Just 'Cos You Got the Power", a B-side to "Eat the Rich", became a trusty MOTÖRHEADset haunt. Lemmy hollers all over it as he does on "No Class". Lemmy has a discernable rip through the delta shucks of "Whorehouse Blues", and it eases the initial discomfort of having to accept that this live album represents his last stand.
Assuming the set list of "Clean Your Clock" plays close to how MOTÖRHEAD delivered it in November of 2015, Lemmy Kilmister rose to his own occasion, even if "Ace of Spades" trips over its marks. This is no fault of Mikkey Dee, who pummels it and "Overkill" like the professional he is. Lemmy sounds winded on "Ace of Spades", but spares no ounce of his bass rhythm, which is what we should take from "Clean Your Clock". It's a final exhibition of a rock 'n' roll legend whose determination to entertain was all but insurmountable. Only until killed by death did this man quit, and we'll never see a performer of Lemmy's caliber again.