Leaving Here b/w White Line Fever picture sleeve (BUY 9)
Motörhead was formed in 1975 after Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister was sacked by his previous band, Hawkwind, for spending five days in a Canadian prison for drug possession. Lemmy decided to form a new band, to be called Bastard, but their manager, Doug Smith, suggested that they use a different name, so Lemmy chose the name Motörhead, the name of the last song he wrote for Hawkwind, and a British slang term for a speed freak (and the subject of the song). The first version of the band had Lemmy on bass and lead vocals, Larry Wallis (formerly of the Pink Faries) on lead guitar, and Lucas Fox on drums. They played their first gig at The Roundhouse in London, and after ten gigs, they became the supporting act for Blue Öyster Cult at the Hammersmith Odeon. After several more gigs, the band landed a contract with United Artists in 1976. By now, Fox was deemed unreliable and was replaced by Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor. During the first recording sessions for United Artists, Motörhead recruited a second guitarist, “Fast” Eddie Clarke, but Larry Wallis quit, and the idea of having two guitarists was dropped. The band recorded a version of “Leaving Here” for their debut album, “On Parole”, but United Artists refused to issue it. Jake Rivera, a casual acquaintance of Lemmy’s and co-founder of Stiff Records, offered to have Stiff Records issue “Leaving Here” as a single (with “White Line Fever” on the B-side) as BUY 9. No formal agreement was signed and the band paid for studio time while Rivera paid all other expenses. United Artists intervened, causing Stiff to shelve distribution, but the single was issued in France on Skydog Records and in Sweden on Blitz Records. This is today’s featured single.
“Leaving Here” is a 1963 song written by the Motown songwriting team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Edward Holland, Jr. (Holland-Dozier-Holland). It was written at the beginning of their partnership, and was released as a single by Eddie Holland. The original version peaked at #76 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Who recorded two versions of the song in 1965, but they didn’t get an official release for decades. The Byrds released a version of the song. This is what inspired the Motörhead cover version. “Leaving Here” starts with a three chord riff repeated twice in dramatic fashion by Clarke’s unaccompanied guitar before the rhythm section joins the melody. About 30 seconds into the track, Lemmy’s vocals begin: “Hey, fellows have you heard the news/The women in this town are being misused/Seen it all in a dream last night/You’ll be leaving this town ’cause you don’t feel right/’Cos I’m leaving, leaving here”. About one and a half minutes into the song, there is an instrumental break that includes a brief guitar solo, and the very end of the song features a very brief bass guitar solo. Overall the song is a pretty straightforward heavy metal tune, without any real hint of the blistering speed metal which would make the band famous. Nonetheless, “Leaving Here” is a good introduction to the band.
The B-side of the single, “White Line Fever”, is an original composition (credited to Clarke, Lemmy and Taylor) which opens with a drum fill, followed by a relatively simple riff, before Lemmy’s vocals begin. “White Line Fever” is also the title of a Merle Haggard song, but while the earlier song is about traveling, Motörhead’s white line fever is drug-related: “We can move around now/You know it’s so good/But I know you wouldn’t come clean now,baby/Even if you could”. The reverb used on Lemmy’s vocals complement the song well, allowing him to rise above the bass-heavy sludge that is the Motörhead wall of sound. The lyrical theme that resurfaces in many of the band’s songs, in which the protagonist is on the road to self-ruin but is unwilling or unable to change his behavior, is here, and is deployed fairly effectively, as Lemmy notes that white line fever is “a slow death”. This is a worthy addition to the Motörhead catalog.
This single (catalog #: BUY 9) was issued on Stiff Records in early 1977, but was not commercially released due to legal action by United Artists. If released, it would have gotten a picture sleeve (shown here on the left). The single was issued in France (on Skydog Records, catalog # MH001, black on white sleeve) and Sweden (on Blitz Records, MH001, purple on white sleeve). The tracks were included on two Stiff Records compilations, “A Bunch of Stiff Records” (catalog # SEEZ 2, released on April 1, 1977) and “Hits Greatest Stiffs” (catalog # FIST 1, released on September 16, 1977). The single did eventually see release as part of a box set of the first 10 Stiff singles, released in 1979 (and limited to 5000 sets), and both tracks were on the “Stone Deaf Forever!” CD box set. Not too long after this single was recorded, Clarke and Taylor wanted to call it quits, and they agreed to perform one last concert a the Marquee Club in April 1977. Ted Carroll of Chiswick Records showed up backstage and offered Motörhead two days at Escape Studios to record a single. Instead of recording two tracks they recorded eleven unfinished tracks, eight of which were released on the “Motörhead” LP in November 1977, which reached #43 in the U.K. They were signed to Bronze Records in 1978, for which they recorded a single (“Louie Louie”/”Tear Ya Down”), and eventually another full-length album, “Overkill” (1979). They released another album later that year, “Bomber” (1979), which reached #12 in the U.K. The next album, “Ace of Spades” (1980), provided what many consider to be the definitive Motörhead anthem in the title track and became the first Motörhead album to reached the Top 10 in the U.K., peaking at #4. Their first live LP, “No Sleep ’til Hammersmith” (1981), reached #1 in the U.K. and provided a Top 10 single, a live version of “Motörhead”. The following album, “Iron Fist” (1982), was another U.K. Top 10 album, and the last album with the Lemmy-Clarke-Taylor lineup. Eddie Clarke left following the release of this album, leading to his replacement by ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson for the “Another Perfect Day” (1983) album (U.K. #20, U.S. #153). Robertson only lasted for one album, and the band returned to the twin lead guitar concept by recruiting Würzel and Phil Campbell (ex-Persian Risk). This lineup recorded “Ace of Spades” for the comedy series “The Young Ones”, after which Taylor left the band, leaving Lemmy as the only remaining member from the “classic” Motörhead lineup.