HAWKWIND PRESS CUTTINGS – VOLUME TWO
ALBUM & SINGLE REVIEWS
More Winners for Liberty / Leamington Spa Morning News / 20 September 1970
Hawkwind – Liberty LBS83348 / The Derbyshire Times / 18 September 1970
Pick of the Records / Barnsley Chronicle / 19 September 1970
Hawkwind (United Artists) / Creem / 1 November 1971
HURRY ON SUNDOWN
Hawkwind – Hurry on Sundown / Sussex Express / 25 September 1970
Hawkwind: “Hurry On Sundown” (Liberty) / Melody Maker / 8 August 1970
IN SEARCH OF SPACE
Hawkwind: “In Search of Space” (United Artists) / Melody Maker (UK) / 23 October 1971
In Search of Space Review / Creem / 1 April 1973
In Search of Space Review / Rolling Stone / 22 June 1973
Hawkwind: “Silver Machine” (United Artists) / Melody Maker / 17 June 1972
DOREMI FASOL LATIDO
Hawkwind: A Good One / NME / 9 December 1972
“Doremi Fasol Latido” (United Artists UAG29364) / Melody Maker / 16 December 1972
Hawkwind: A Few Surprises “Doremi Fasol Latido” / Sounds / 16 December 1972
Hawkwind In Earth Orbit / Melody Maker / 19 May 1973
Live Goods from The Sonic Assassins / NME / 19 May 1973
Ride the Hawkwind! / Sounds / 26 May 1973
Space Ritual / Sounds / 19 May 1973
Hawkwind’s Space Ritual and Kosmik Muzak / Strait / 15 November 1973
Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters: “Ejection” (United Artists) / Melody Maker / 14 July 1973
WARRIOR ON THE EDGE OF TIME
Kosmic Clash / Melody Maker / 10 May 1975
ASTOUNDING SOUNDS, AMAZING MUSIC
“Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music” / New Musical Express / 6 November 1976
QUARK STRANGENESS AND CHARM
Hawks Get Back in Gear / Melody Maker / 25 June 1977″Quark, Strangeness and Charm” (Charisma CDS4008) / Sounds / 9 July 1977
Hawkwind Back on Course / New Musical Express / 9 July 1977
Hawkwind – Live Seventy-Nine (Bronze BRON 527) ** / Sounds / February 1980
Freq Album Review (rating: 4/5) / Sounds / 17 November 1984
More Winners for Liberty
Leamington Spa Morning News – 20 September 1970
One of the most interesting and up to date labels around these days is Liberty, who in the last few months have released a string of albums by exciting new talent.
High Tide, Cochise, Clover – and so the list goes on. And their latest addition is to my mind their best offering to date – Hawkwind.
Comparisons may be invidious, but they are usually inevitable, and many people who hear Hawkwind for the first time are bound to raise the name of the Pink Floyd.
Similarities are certainly there. Like the Floyd, Hawkwind feature electronics – constructively, not just as a gimmick.
Like the Floyd they vary considerably during the life of their album – sometimes warm and gentle, sometimes soaring, sometimes pounding.
But they are not just a copy. Their music is unique, in my experience at least. A record I think you’ll enjoy listening to.
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Hawkwind – Liberty LBS83348
The Derbyshire Times – 18 September 1970
Is a promising debut album from a group who use an audio generator, which fuses the sounds from the instruments played by the group. Contrary to what one might expect, the result is not cacophony, but a highly original and entertaining sequence of sounds.
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Pick of the Records
Barnsley Chronicle – 19 September 1970
Hawkwind are a group who use electronics as a musical instrument. And it’s a very successful utilisation. Their talents are amply displayed on an album entitled “Hawkwind” on the Liberty label (LBS83349).
The group say they are trying to “levitate peoples minds in a nice way, without acid, with ultimately a complete audio visual thing. Using a complex of electronics and lights and environmental experiences”. So now you know where it’s at! you’ll get a better idea by listening to the album as a whole with electronics held tightly under control, merging with guitars, drums and saxophone. The whole exercise has a slightly Floydish feel about it, but the group have sufficient individuality to make them a potent force in the music business. And the album is only the beginning. I liked it immensely.
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Hawkwind (United Artists)
Creem – 1 November 1971
THE COVER, IN BRILLIANT colours, shows these creatures that seem to be part reptile, part human, and part falling leaves. The songs have titles like ‘The Reason Is?’ and ‘Seeing It As You Really Are’ and ‘Mirror of Illusion’. Says Hawkwind: ‘We started out trying to freak people (trippers) and now we are trying to levitate their minds in nice way, without acid…’
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I do believe that what we have here is an album of psychedelic music, the real stuff, right here in the middle of 1971, and a good one at that. Hawkwind tries to levitate your mind in the same way all those bands did a few years ago. Take a basic rock unit and augment it with something like an alto sax. Most of the vocals are non-verbal. Lots of electronic sound effects. Lots of echo and studio tricks. Lots of percussion and, most of all, repetition – play a line, then play it again faster and louder, play it again, then play it still faster and louder.
The crazy thing is, it all works with Hawkwind. They’re not just experimenting, they obviously know that they’re doing. This album works as a complete package, and is fun and captivating from beginning to end. The repetition and rhythmic edge creates the desired other-worldly effect, instead of just batting away at your ears. Plus there isn’t a hint of pretension here, as is often the case with Pink Floyd, the only other group I can think of, off hand, still doing anything like this. Hawkwind reminds me of Steve Miller’s Song For Our Ancestors, and that music sounds as good now as it did then.
A couple final notes: the album is co-produced by Dick Taylor; is that the same Dick Taylor who was the original bassist in the Rolling Stones and later formed the Pretty Things?
And don’t flip out towards the end of side one, when it sounds like somebody pulled the plug and your turntable is grinding to a halt. That’s part of the show, too!
Hawkwind – Hurry on Sundown
Sussex Express – 25 September 1970
I must admit to being very out of touch recently.
There are so many good records coming out at the moment that it’s impossible to lend an ear to all of them. Hawkwind’s album and this single are just two of the sounds that I’ve missed out on.
Hawkwind are a strange band, indeed. They rarely seem to appear down this neck of the woods so it’s extremely difficult to judge just how much of their impact on record really comes across on stage.
At the South Sea Bubble they were good, but perhaps just a little too self indulgent. However, since then the band’s line up appears to have changed considerably, with two members of Skin Alley joining them.
Hurry on Sundown is a nice enough single and shows their imaginative use of electronics. Few bands I’ve heard have successfully mixed rock with electronics – Hawkwind may well prove to be the most successful yet.
Hawkwind: “Hurry On Sundown” (Liberty)
Melody Maker – 8 August 1970
Rather boring, very obvious words. It does nothing for me and I cannot see it doing anything for you.
– Chris Welch
Hawkwind: “In Search of Space” (United Artists)
Melody Maker (UK) – 23 October 1971
In the rush to applaud the Amon Duuls and Cans from across the water, we’ve all tended to forget the prophets n our own backyard. Hawkwind have been chipping away at the problems of Space Rock for some time now, and this, their second album, is a pretty fair stab. I don’t feel they quite read the heights of “Dance of the Lemmings” in their instrumental playing, but they yield precedence to no-one in their use of electronics. It’s very uplifting and, as with the colliding puns in “You Shouldn’t Do That” (“You get nowhere/you get no air/you’re getting aware”), it can occasionally even be thought provoking. DikMik, Del Dettmar and Nick Turner are responsible for the various synthesisers, audio generators, and ring modulators, and although their techniques may for all I know be facile, the results are just the ticket to trip on. Incidentally, ex-Amon-Duul bassist Dave Anderson is credited on the sleeve, but not on the U.A. hand-out which accompanies the album to reviewers – maybe he’s left. The same hand-out described the music as “imaginative”: yes, not unduly so, but well worth perusal.
– Richard Williams
In Search of Space Review
Creem – 1 April 1973
Have you ever felt the urge to visit the distant reaches of the galaxy? I don’t mean in some freaked-out 2001 Pink Floyd acid trip, naw, forget that – it’s no fun to take the universe that solemnly, nobody cool wants to be the psychic mad scientist. Instead, imagine yourself Danny Dunn, Junior Space Cadet, making a run to the teenage stars. Maybe you don’t have enough imagination, but that’s OK because Hawkwind supplies that and all the visual aids you need. Inside this bizarre interlocking cover with pictures of strange figures in control rooms throbbing with unearthly lights comes a little booklet (it came in my copy anyway – they do sometimes deprive you peasants out there in Retail Land of these goodies) called “The Hawkwind Log.” (Every cadet worth his rocket insignia knows a starship must carry a log.) Inside are all kinds of nifty pix of star clusters and a lot of random quotes from scientific pamphlets. Also a generous serving of hogwash about chakras and mantras and plenty of mystical pieties, but you see the captain of the Starship Hawkwind is a crypto-Buddhist, chasing the Tao through space like Ahab’s whale.
You can even sneak into the captain’s cabin and read the log while you listen to the record, if you find that helps. You shouldn’t need much help though, with songs like “Master of the Universe,” which combines the swirling electronic gibberish sound effects of every 1957 science fiction flick from War of the Doom Zombies to Journey to the Center of Uranus with a melodramatic voice intoning “I am Master of the Universe”. Go on, don’t be ashamed to say it, every cadet does on his first trip out. Being in space does sort of give you that feeling anyway, especially if you’ve got one of these new modem souped-up jobs that can whisk you from here to Betelgeuse before you can say, “Warp factor eight, Mr. Sulu.”
But you should’ve realized you’d get caught reading the captain’s log, and now you must sit still for one, of the old coot’s tiresome lectures, this one titled “We Took the Wrong Step Years Ago”. Man, you think if only those stupid hippies back in the 20th century hadn’t loaded the ancient teachings down with all this moralistic self-righteousness, and if only Captain Kilo hadn’t been raised in one of the last psychebiotic communes, I wouldn’t have to listen to this dreck today! But then, youth is always impatient with the foibles of the elderly. Just remember, all things must pass.
Luckily for you the sermon is cut short by a red alert – a real outer space rock ‘n’ roll emergency! Freddie the Friendly Computer is desperately trying to explain his malfunction as circuits overheat into the danger zone and his voice starts going faster and faster until it peaks off the deep end, pleading frantically, “adjust me, adjust me!!” There are tense minutes ahead as the crew work swiftly and bravely to repair the damage and you revel in the excitement of it all, power chords and churning guitars in your head along with the ever-present synthesizer noise.
But the day is saved of course and you spend the rest of the voyage perched before the big screen on the Bridge, daydreaming the light years away with fantasies of bold explorations and heroic achievements in quadrants where no man has gone before. And like every kid, your head is also full of rock ‘n’ roll, for the most part (since after all you’re concentrating on other things) those same repetitive chords and distant muffled drums that have been identified with deep space ever since Pink Floyd first recorded them way back sometime in the last century on a song called “Interstellar Overdrive”. Nobody’s captured the romantic aspects of space travel any better in all the years since then, and besides the music does go awfully well with that cauldron of synthesizer stuff every starstruck junior cadet likes to pour into his head.
Side two (labeled side one but they mixed ’em up somehow) of the Hawkwind album provides 23 minutes of this, and if that’s enough for you (or so the old spacehand’s saying goes) you’re probably too much of a dreamer to ever make it through the Space Academy.
Final note to the weary record buyer: this album is exactly the same as their first one except that it didn’t have as many sound effects. Both provide good energetic background music. The new one is better if you’re getting into the Psychedelic Nostalgia movement, however – it even comes with a big beautiful art nouveau poster (copied from one of Mouse’s 1967 Avalon jobs, I think) that says – get this – “Love & Peace” These guys don’t miss a trick.
In Search of Space Review
Rolling Stone – 22 June 1973
It all started with Pink Floyd … No! It hardly started with Pink Floyd, though it may have started with Jules Verne or Cyrano de Bergerac. Musically, the rock & roll edition of the extraterrestrial impulse probably began somewhere long about Chuck Berry’s “Our Little Rendezvous”: “We’ll build a spaceship / with a heavy payload / and we’ll go beep! beep! beep! way out in the wide open blue!”
But that was only the Fifties when the rocket roll was just beginning, fertilized cross-idiomatically by the movies, which were grinding out such certified brain-busts as Forbidden Planet, Destination Moon, The Angry Red Planet, etc. etc. etc.. With the coming of the Sixties the real age of the Starship commenced in rock & roll. Pink Floyd were first to couple it with the new sonic zoom technolorock, of course, but such hardy perennials as the MC5 (“Starship”), Black Sabbath (“Into the Void”) and Deep Purple (“Space Truckin”) wasted no time in jumping on board. And, lest we forget, Wild Man Fisher himself honoured the genre with an entry called “Rocket Rock,” whose singular lyrics (“The sun rocks / The moon rocks / Everybody’s doin’ the rocket”
There were also the broadsides of Paul Kantner, who tended to come off in his mellower moments like Bing Crosby: “Have you seen the stars tonight? / Would you like to go up on A deck and look at them with me?”
Well, Sun Ra was into this stuff when some of these wimpoids were still wettin’ their knickers, but Sun Ra at his best was no match for Pink Floyd at their best, because Sun Ra had too many notes, always too many notes just like a lot of these jazz cats, whereas Pink Floyd only had about three. At their best, that is; later they wandered off down the garden path, with symphony orchestras and such, becoming altogether too prolix and a lot less nifty than in the days when they were writing songs with titles like “Set The Controls For The Heart of the Sun.”
And Pink Floyd still take the sweepstakes in the rock race for space, but hold onto yer Buck Rogers beanies, kinder, because Hawkwind are coming up fast. If Pink Floyd were setting the controls for the heart of the sun, Hawkwind have the consummate sense of the present decadent state of astropolitics to stick to their rayguns in maintaining that “We Took the Wrong Step Years Ago.”
This is music for the astral apocalypse, and even if it does contain ‘Master of the Universe,” their sound as well as their message is much closer to Pink Floyd than Black Sabbath, with a little bit of Sun Ra thrown in even, as in “You Shouldn’t Do That” with its sonic squiggles that I am not at all sure are alto sax rather than audio generator or synthesizer.
Meaning to say that what this album, friends, is Psychedelic from the cover to the fadeout of the last groove. The music itself mostly sounds pretty much the same: monotone jammings with hypnotic rhythms and solos, unravelling off into… well, space. The synthesizers warble, woof and scream and gurgle like barfing computers, the drums pound, and the singers chant Unknown Tongue rebops reminiscent of such blasts from the past, present and future as the first Mothers album, Hapsash and the Coloured Coat featuring the Human Host and the Heavy Metal Kids, and Germany’s great psyche-overload band Amon Duul II. of Yeti and Dance of the Lemmings fame. As well as the Stones’ “Sing This All Together (See What Happens),” which may be at least as much a source point as Pink Floyd.
If you’re glad that most of that stuff is part of the past now, you’ll probably think this album is a pile of dogshit. If, on the other hand, you remember the absolute glee of filling your skull with all those squawks and shrieks and backwards-tapes and telegraphic open-tuned bridges between indescribable inner worlds conjured best neither by this music nor psyche-deliteful elixirs but rather by a fortuitous combination of the two – if that was one of your favourite eras in the decline of Western Civilization, then you’d better glom onto this album, which features not only the previously described musical treks but the most beautiful packaging I have seen in some time and an elaborate 24 page booklet called “The Hawkwind Log,” enclosed to give you something to read while blowing out a few more chromosomes and chock full of prose, poetry, robots, DNA molecules, marijuana, novas, Stonehenge, 2001, gurus, phallic rocketships and tits’n’ass, which may not be rock ‘n’ roll. but certainly beats “Fire’n’Rain.”
– Lester Bangs
Hawkwind : “Silver Machine” (United Artists)
Melody Maker – 17 June 1972
Freak out man, it’s all back to the Roundhouse. Recorded ‘live’ at the old engine shed, it sounds like a trip back to 1967. After the trad revival, rock revival, etc., now it’s the psychedelic rebirth. Lovely sound effects, a straining back beat and “look out, the Earth is about to collide with Mars,” type singing. Over to our elderly hippie correspondent Zeke Smith, now an accountant and indoor decorator. “Well, man, back in the old days we used to dig the Giant Sun Trolley down Tottenham Court Road, and smoke them unusual cigarettes, when most kids thought a joint was what they had for Sunday dinner. If the wife don’t mind, I think I’ll skip the weeding this Sunday, dust off me old kaftan and beads and nip down the Roundhouse to see this group I keep reading about – whatsit, Hawkwind?”
Hawkwind: A Good One
NME – 9 December 1972
Hawkind: ‘Doremi Fasol Latido’ (United Artists)
In one of the more inspired rambling conversations I’ve been involved in over the last few weeks I happened to stumble upon this pretty spiffy theory that the true art of pure, undiluted artistry behind producing heavy metal rock-a-boogie lies not in the amount of glitter-eye embellishment a band uses.
The vital element lies in direct proportion to the number of chords the musicians have at their collective control. Now a band who know more than eight chords usually feel compelled to get arty-crafty, while a three-chord band seem only capable of one classic gem.
What’s the magic number then, I can hear all you devoted readers implore. Well, I reckon on six chords as the exact ingerient for the endless performing of good solid brain damage fodder.
So where does all this relate to Hawkwind’s new album?well I’ll tell you. Except for some sneaky minor chords thrown in on Dave Brock’s ‘Space Is Deep’, the boys have a stalwart five chords at their constant disposal which isn’t perfection, but surely makes their latest offering the strongest contender for the strongest high energy cosmic hubcap this side of the Metal Zone I’ve heard so far this year.
For proof, simply slam the needle down on track one, side one. ‘Brainstorm’ is the title, which means it must be good. The lyrics are indistinguishable, which is no loss, and it’s all down to the riff – which is the best primal fibre-shaker since… well, since ‘master Of The Universe’, I suppose. It carries on for a good 12 minutes with the electronics souning like space-ships that pass through the night.
Next up is ‘Space Is Deep’, which has the only real melody distinguishable throughout the album. It’s a nice song, even if it does have to rhyme ‘tomorrow’ with ‘sorrow’. Side one ends with ‘One Change’, an innocuous piece of Del dettmar keyboard doodling.
Side two has three Dave Brock heavy metal power-drivers: ‘Lord Of light’ with fantastic Moorcock-esque imagery; and ‘Down Through The Night’ and ‘Time We Left’ – two Space Ritual highspots.
Finally we arrive at ‘The Watcher’ – some good hippie paranoia with psychedelic Troggs overtones from the skull of one I.F. Kilmister (better known as Lemmy the Lurch to his fans).
All that needs to be said is – look out for the next hawkwind album, by which time they should have mastered that extra chord and thus be able to provide constant heavy metal epiphanies. Until then, ‘Doremi’ should do just fine. I’d be ashamed to say I didn’t love it.
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Melody Maker – 16 December 1972
It’s not melody and it’s not harmony, and it’s not really rhythm. Remember that the self-styled “lords of the Hawk” have always talked in terms of ambiguity.
So if their musical ideas can be reduced to one definitive word it is that one – ambiguity. It is the spaced out slipstream, the rushing, gurgling torrent of weightless sound that first turns the circle of mental pictures, associations and impressions picked out from space, time and earth. And if nothing comes, if the mind remains blank? Then the point of the music has been missed. It’s demanding, confusing even, to be faced with so many signs and directions. But that’s the challenge. The listener is as much a traveller as the musician.
While it’s true that space sounds (for the want of a better description) are prominent and perhaps form the key to the music Hawkwind have at last begun to combine them imaginatively with more orthodox qualities. The group’s musicianship is catching up with its visionary thought. Intelligent use is made of contrast, in the rhythm and in the instrumentation. As in the last LP “In Search Of Space,” but with increased impact, changes from heavy electric to fantastic acoustic have their parallel in the effects upon the listener. There’s a well balanced continuity in the order of tracks and moods, beginning, with the initiatory “Brainstorm” (Turner) and proceeding through a varied spacescape.
The music may have its share of ambiguity, but the lyrics are often relatively detailed and not to be shrugged off as up-dated ” windmills of your mind.” Unfortunately the words can’t always be heard through the music. A lyric sheet would have been a nice idea, but with great deference of ambiguity they’ve left you on your own. Lemmy’s ominous, brooding “The Watcher ” is the only track which allows Nik Turner’s vocal to filter through completely intelligibly. Other tracks repay contemplation: Dave Brock’s “Lord Of Light” for instance. Listen carefully, and think in straight lines.
Finally consider, this is a mere third album. Can Hawkwind go on from here? Can they speed towards even greater heights, or have they progressed so fast that inspiration has burnt out? Only the fourth will tell.
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Sounds – 16 December 1972
THE HAWKWIND sound will be familiar to most of our readers: loud, insistent, not particularly noted for its brilliance or its technique but technically brilliant at creating an impression of a continuous rush. And this album holds a few surprises for them, which is perhaps a good thing.
Hawkwind have got down here their sound more closely than ever before on record. The bass and drums batter on with unflagging pace. synthesisers swirl and whistle around the thunderous block riffs whose endless repetition generates that numbed hypnosis, tuneless and menacing voices incant largely incomprehensible lyrics. This is not to knock Hawkwind : the sound they are getting is thicker, fuller, more convincing than ever before. Its total effect is pretty devastating. but the means by which the effect is achieved is no revolution in sound.
None of it adds up to one “Interstellar Overdrive”. Dave Brock seems to be using an acoustic at various points, which does help to point the tone contrasts, but for the most part the album rushes furiously ahead. Play it loud as you like. Incidentally, the cover art is magnificent.
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Melody Maker – 19 May 1973
Hawkwind: ‘Live at Liverpool Stadium and Brixton Sundown’ (UA)
A ‘Space Ritual’ they call it and I’m inclined to agree. For the motive of such an electronic cum cosmic creation could be little else.
It takes time to adjust to this monstrous foursided, eighty-eight minute long sound journey. Side one is, by Hawkwind standards, subdued. ‘Earth Calling’ falters on lift-off, while Dave Brock’s ‘Down Through The Night’, sweeps along on an electronic carpet of near melodic sound.
Side two shows a slightly more varied Hawkwind and perhaps gets you into the album more quickly than the opening side. ‘Lord Of Light’, ‘The Black Corridor’ and ‘Space Is Deep’, really begin to thrill in an eerie kind of way. This side throws out a sinister feel.
Stage three opens with a cosmic rocker, ‘Orgone Accumulator’. It is perhaps the most ‘human’ track on the album – the band have applied reverse thruster rockets to ease the pace but it still rocks. The album swims and blows along and contains a tasty bass solo, which grabs you by the retro-rockets. This side closes with Brainstorm which in spite of how it may sound does little to create the effect.
Side four drifts onto something solid in outerspace in ‘7 by 7’. How strange the effect of this particular track. One can almost imagine landing on an unknown planet. ‘Sonic Attack’, the band’s next single, follows. It is certainly suitable for the album, but not as a single. The closer, ‘Welcome To The Future’, is a series of cheering and marching sounds. Either an invasion force or an army of liberation – I’m not exactly sure. However, it seems an ideal was of closing this strangest of strange electronic journeys. What I am sure of though is that Hawkwind addicts will treasure it. As for the other kinds of rock fan – well I’m not sure because it’ll depend on how much they value their sanity.
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New Musical Express – 19 May 1973
Hawkwind: “Space Ritual Alive At Liverpool Stadium And Brixton Sundown” (United Artists). Well, these cosmic tacos ain’t about to make you wet yourself, but it’s still a fact that, contained on these four sides, are the very best examples of H. Wind’s ability to titillate the old earlobes with their inimitable sledgehammer finesse.
I could go straight on to say that this is Hawkwind’s equivalent to “Live Dead”, only no-one listens to the latter any more except hippies and this album is geared to a strong Mandrax market. For a start, the tracks were recorded in Liverpool and Brixton, two accepted murk-pits of England’s green and pleasant laud, which gives a strong indication of the sounds at hand. The two-album set covers the extension of the “Space Ritual” multi-media experiment the lads took around the country very successfully.
If you purchased the “Greasy Truckers Party” album you won’t need me to tell you that the band function best on black vinyl when recorded live. In fact, that fourth side of the aforementioned record was a masterpiece of British heavy metal music, cutting the likes of Black Sabbath down to a frazzle.
Throughout their career, Hawkwind have established themselves as prime movers of the heavy-metal brigade, surpassing Pink Ftoyd and their artsy-fartsy, totally superficial cosmic wallpaper moods, while never embracing the ritualistic Twilight Zone scenarios conjured up by the German bands.
This live album is a distillation of their finest characteristics – Brock’s riffs repeated and surrounded by amateur but effective electronics. The first number is “Born to Go”, recorded only on the “G.T.O.” album and here cleaned up considerably. The sound throughout this album is superior to previous efforts, particularly the “Doremi” album which suffered from a muddy, bleak overall feel. So much so, in fact, that the numbers used from that last album are rejuvenated by the complete improvement in texture.
The album’s real bonus, however, is the extensive appearance of the band’s sometime poet/lyricist Robert Calvcrt, as well as help from Hawkwind enthusiast Michael Moorcock. The last time I saw Mike he was playing Woody Guthrie songs on the banjo and talking about forming a Country ‘n Western band, but his two poems “The Black Corridor” and “Sonic Attack”, are both performed here by Calvert. There are also several new numbers performed here, including Calvert’s excellent “Orgone Accumulator”.
On this album, Hawkwind have achieved the feeling of space, of creating a total environment which has been their vision from the beginning. They’re still Britain’s best psychedelic band and a great combo to take cerebral depressants to.
Hold back the money you were going to squander on that horrendous Yes triple and get this goodie. For a start, it’s infinitely cheaper and will give you almost enough to purchase Iggy and the Stooges’ “Raw Power” or “Blue Oyster Cult” and remember, after “Space Ritual”, everything else is just horse tranquilliser.
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Sounds – 26 May 1973
Ride the Hawkwind! That’s the message from our music critic. Sounds goods, according to him.
Time was when Hawkwind were called, with some justification, ‘The poor man’s Pink Floyd’. A band in search of identity – a group questing for a musical oasis they could colonise and call their own – that’ was Hawkwind. Times, fortunately, change. And Hawkwind have changed with them and emerged as their own men (and one woman).
Their latest album, Space Ritual (United Artists UAD 60037/8) is a double set recorded live in concert at Liverpool Stadium and The Sundown, Brixton, and is a fine concentration of proof that Hawkwind have gelled into a superior musical team and an important performing one. The two don’t naturally go together – many fine writers shrivel and die before audiences, and many a great performer has emerged ball-less from recording studios with no buzz from an ecstatic audience to pull the adrenalin from him.
Hawkwind’s recordings to date have suffered from that latter complaint. They’ve been filling British and European halls for a couple of years now, and if those halls haven’t literally gone into orbit, thousands of Levi’d bums have lifted from seats by the end of earth-shattering sets. These two albums show why.
As the title suggests, Hawkwind are heavily into things astral. Correction: things astral/scientific. Friendship with best-selling sci-fi writer Michael Moorcock (who gets composing credits for two songs) has added weight to their writing and maybe even his. Moorcock’s classic Jerry Cornelius books have a heavy pop influence which could be credited to Hawkwind.
No matter, that’s an argument for academics. What of the music? If I may be forgiven comparisons in order to help you judge before hearing, and continue the Pink Floyd parallel, Hawkwind emerge as a Floyd-plus. Plus overdrive, maybe? They certainly speed through their particular region of space, pausing only from time to time to deliver commentary / illumination / instruction. This is certainly not easy listening time, by any stretch of the imagination. But if you can stretch your imagination, you’re in for a helluva ride across the universe.
Line-up of the band, which has been together now in its present form for some two-and-a-bit years, is Bob Calvert (poet & swazzle), Dave Brock (guitar, vocals), Lemmy (bass, (vocals), Nik Turner (sax, flute, vocals), DikMik (audio generator, electronics), Del Dettmar (synthesizer) and Simon King (drums). Not to forget, lest you don’t know and they come your way and you are. thinking maybe of seeing them, the delectable Stacia. She’s their dancer and the owner, if unabashed male chauvinism may be excused, of the most incredible pair of boobs since Jayne Mansfield. Cross my heart (which is more than she can, probably!)
Space Ritual is contained in a great poster / cover assembled by Ladbroke Grove’s own Barney Bubbles in which, I suppose, you can enclose the records, or stick up on that blank space on the wall. Having made up the cigar box out of Jefferson Airplane’s Long John Silver cover and subsequently had no sleeve for that album, this one stays wrapped round the LP. Brilliant graphics which encapsulate both the mood of the album and the philosophy of Hawkwind. If the word “philosophy” immediately puts you off, don’t worry. At root Hawkwind rock like hell, and as it takes some time to unravel the lyrics, you can quite cheerfully boogie with them and discern words when you feel like it. They’ve done a superb job of capturing most of what has made Hawkwind one of Britain’s top groups. So even if you don’t see Stacia flaunting those mammaries, or the fascinating light show which is an integral part of the Hawkwind attraction, the essence is there. You could do much worse than fork out the special low sum of £3.10 for this double set.
It could be worth your while, if only for Sonic Attack. One of the Moorcock numbers, it’s an instruction manual on what to do in case of such a bombardment. “If you are making love, orgasm in unison is imperative” intones the voice. Right. It’s pretty good that way anyhow, sonic attacks or not.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –Space Ritual
Sounds – 19 May 1973
Hawkwind: “Space Ritual” (United Artists UAD 60037/8)
OK CAPTAIN, wind up the audio generator, switch on the synthesiser, push the lever for the throb of rhythmic energy, and off we go.
I fear I find myself remarkably out of sympathy with Hawkwind’s ideas -I wouldn’t presume to criticise either them or the band’s execution of them, but listening to their albums or seeing their gigs I feel completely the outsider. This presumably constitutes the objectivity which reviewers are always being urged to adopt, but in practice such an attitude – feeling little or no involvement with the music – makes comment virtually impossible.
To me, these live recordings of their “Space Ritual” show seem not unlike the rock and roll equivalent of a couple of episodes of “Star Trek”, without Dr. Spock. There is jargon, there is atmosphere, there is technology, and there is consistency – admirable in their own way, but not things that I can really feel a part of.
On a purely, technical level the albums have been recorded fairly well, the band obviously achieve what they set out to do, and the bass has been mixed to a prominence which it deserves.
The basic approach of tight, driving rhythm section with guitar and bass occasionally sparring riffs, overlaid with, electronic effects, sax lines and vocals, works well. There are a couple of moments that I found quite stirring, more than a couple that reminded me uncomfortably of the Pink Floyd in certain moods, and many that sound well in the mould of “Silver Machine”.
Doubtless, people who are into Hawkwind will thoroughly enjoy the album, in which case it hardly matters what I think.
Hawkwind’s Space Ritual and Kosmik Muzak
Strait – 15 November 1973
AS YOU ALL KNOW, the prime force, the “essence” if you’ll permit, of good rock has always been Energy. Rock Energy is created through two different methods. One is Energy through enthusiasm: an excitement and freshness created humanly through youthful, joyfully unrestrained vocals and fresh pop arrangements, things like the Beach Boys, Wackers, Big Star, early Hollies, Blue Ash, early Stories, Stealer’s Wheel, etc.
The second method is Energy through electricity: raw electric rock power which, in its throbbing pulse and relentless, continuous drive forces you to react, groups like the Stooges, Black Sabbath, Dust, Groundhogs, early Grand Funk, Pink Fairies etc. The electricity that seeps into your system can be absorbed and channelled, which supersedes you initial reaction to it. The fact that voltage enters your system is much more important than whether you belch, tap your feet or sit frozen, mesmerised by the sound itself.
Embracing this electrical umbilical cord are Hawkwind, innovatively Neanderthal, obscurely familiar and radically redundant. All in a positive sense, you understand.
Hawkwind have been together four years and Space Ritual makes their fourth album. Noted as a people’s (read “hippie”) band, they’ve attracted a wide following in England through their concerts (many of them free) and two singles, ‘Silver Machine’ (No. 3 in England; not on any album) and ‘Urban Guerrilla’ (a new release; not on any album). The first three albums, Hawkwind, In Search of Space and Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do, while not always following a storyline as often as they’d have us believe, were conceptual in their initial inspiration, dealing with space themes, cosmic battles and intergalactic voyages.
The line-up of Hawkwind fluctuates as often as Marvel Comic’s Avengers, but the basic five are: Dave Brock (guitar), Lemmy (bass), Simon King (a truly inhuman drummer), Nik Turner (sax) and Del Dettmar (synthesizer). Playing a crucially important role in the presentation is DikMik, whose audio generator creates a range of sounds from subsonic to ultrasonic frequencies; it is DikMik who helps one to feel the music so much more kinestheticly. Icing on the cake, are Stacia, whose extraordinary costumes and seductive dancing serve to cement those urges the music stimulates and Bob Calvert, a poet and narrator whose worthiness in the band is questionable.
Hawkwind is space muzak, oscillated heartbeats; an energy level that seeps into your body as well as into your ears. At first, they were regarded as a poor man’s Pink Floyd, but Hawkwind has surpassed any physical impact Pink Floyd has foisted on us with swipe of Brock’s guitar. Comparing Hawkwind to Pink Floyd is like comparing Fellini to Walt Disney. Pink Floyd gives the impression of being elitist in their conservatism; even their free form playing was highly structured. Pink Floyd programs their electricity so as to almost expect a certain reaction from their audience; but they know when to stop whereas Hawkwind doesn’t. Pink Floyd is far from being an approximated risk which is one way of talking about Hawkwind.
These solar beings are pulsating, raw, blood-red energy. Hawkwind are the ultimate heavy metal urgists with cosmic frills transmitted through oscillators and synthesisers. As there is a sense of morbidity and an attempt at escapism in their themes (lyrics); there is this same morbidity evident in the, seemingly redundant sound they throw at us.
Even the packaging for Space Ritual has a cold, inhuman quality about it. A six-part cover that folds out to the size of six album jackets (one up on Blue Cheer’s Outsidelnside) is covered with mid-60’s acid-rockfreakism photography, cosmic fantasy drawings and a nude Stacia (a space goddess indeed) with Andromeda Strain computer printout type for related phrases over the pictures.
Space Ritual, recorded live in England, is a musical representation of a story so ambiguous that it forces the listener to do all the work in interpreting it. As a double, album of heavy attacking rock and formless experimentation (a minor part), it implies a conflict between their two styles. But it is the heavy metal aspect that dominates and it’s Hawkwind’s mastery of it that makes them so special.
Space Ritual is helped along by fantasy writer Michael Moorcock who contributed themes, passages and poetry. Calvert’s readings sound a bit ridiculous in context with the energy of the music, but supply quiet breaks from which Hawkwind’s dramatic song openings can blast off of (some of the material is from older albums).
‘Lord of Light’ comes across as the most melodic of their heavier material. A fine bass line and solid drumming set the groundwork for a plea by Brock, keeping an attempt at consistent vocalization rather than the spontaneous tokenistic grunts that usually accompany Hawkwind’s music. ‘Space is Deep’ is a space chant creating images of surviving Earthlings reflecting on their planet, long since dead. ‘Orgone Accumulator’ is a return to the Earth in the form of a cosmic boogie, a plutonian Canned Heat, possibly Disneyland’s Pluto. ‘Brainstorm,’ taken from DoReMi, is my personal favourite, possibly creating a new energy level in its own right. Dave Brock sets up a slicing guitar riff as the band plays their bodies out, giving the song the full treatment it deserves. The flip of the ‘Silver Machine’ single, ‘7 X 7’ is given a desperate feel as Brock casts his attacking view of Earth onto the audience, who, at this point, must be so intoxicated by the unreality of the whole Space Ritual that it passes unnoticed. The many other tunes are a furthering of the basic electric theme set down previously.
Surprisingly, Space Ritual is recorded well; Hawkwind, during the mixing, miked the drums and bass upfront to add the physical impact lacking in home seclusion, that is, versus a concert setting. That’s why Hawkwind, in some of their incredibly long passages, can sustain interest because of drive, you really feel the music.
Lemmy deserves special mention as he is the best power bassist around; he brings Hawkwind back to the ground which defies their basic policy of ascension. Lemmy’s bass chording is so rich and full that it, at times, functions as a rhythm guitar when Dave Brock goes through cosmic-menstruation. Drummer Simon King must have a stand-in … or the drums play themselves; to sustain such energy and tightness throughout this double album is indeed astounding.
Dettmar and DikMik, while enhancing the special effects and giving Hawkwind a distinctive style, fall short of their potential at times in light of other’s accomplishments on the synthesizer. For example, M. Frog (alias Jean Yves Labat, who accompanied Todd Rundgren on his spring tour) and Eno (late of Roxy Music) funnelled their respective group’s sound and acted as a coating while still shining in their own right; if there is a purpose in Hawkwind’s synthesizer effects other than to accent the chaotic feel that Hawkwind preoccupies themselves with, it’s generally lost.
Hawkwind’s saga is what you want it to be. The more you get involved with them, the more you believe — it becomes elaborate. If they are as dumb as they look, their stupidity is probably instinctive. If they’re doing this on purpose, if it all does make sense in some elevated fashion, they’re definitely poking fun at us. Seemingly paradoxical is the fact that Hawkwind make Pink Floyd sound like the DeFranco Family and most heavy metal bands like Black Sabbath sound like classical composers.
As for Space Ritual, it’s doomed to become a lost masterpiece. But if they’re consistent with their philosophy, they won’t care if no one buys it, right? Hawkwind have adhered to a simple formula: rather than help the audience to accept an image, they create their own and dare you to accept it. It’s worked in England (as has David Bowie) but in America, the general audience is not tuned into experimentation; look at the charts. What amazes us is how rock Energy via pop, which is formula-based, is not accepted and rock Energy via electricity isn’t accepted either. American kids don’t like formulas and they don’t like experimentation. What’s left? Groups like Hawkwind, the definitive heavy metal masters of the ’70s, left out because of no exposure. Space Ritual isn’t for everybody, obviously, but it’s hoped that those who crave this kind of Energy blast will find it themselves: I’ve done all I can.
Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters: “Ejection” (United Artists)
Melody Maker – 14 July 1973
Are you sitting comfortably? Here’s a tribute to the fighter plane they kept flying, when it kept crashing.
There was only one course for the West German fighter pilots – ejection! You may not be hip to the tortuous thinking of the NATO powers, but you will dig the driving, strobe-lit beat of the mighty Captain, who seems to be head of a working party from Hawkwind and former Pink Fairies.
There’s not been a hit like this since “Satisfaction,” by the Stones. And I do say “hit,” because this will dogfight the chart for weeks, or my name isn’t Eric Von Stroheim.
– Chris Welch
Melody Maker – 10 May 1975
HAWKWIND : “Warrior On The Edge Of Time” (UAG 29766): Dave Brock (guitars, vocals); Lemmy (bass, vocals); Simon House (violin, keyboards, synthesizer, Mellotron); Nik Turner (saxes, flute, vocals); Simon King, Alan Powell (drums). Produced by Hawkwind at Rockfield Studios.
MICHAEL MOORCOCK AND THE DEEP FIX : “New Worlds Fair” (UA 29732): Moorcock (guitars, mandolin, banjo, vocals); Steve Gilmore (guitars, vocals), Graham Charnock (guitars, vocals). Produced by Steve Gilmore.
“Pass the Mandrax, Elric,” might have been a more suitable title for this album. It seemed, initially, that Hawkwind’s celebrated collaboration with author Michael Moorcock would result in a definitive slice of klassik kosmik kitsch.
One expected something quite ludicrously grand from an extension of Moorcock’s Eternal Champion series of novels, translated, via Hawkwind’s musical armoury into a Sword & Sorcery version of “Tommy.” A kind of “Lemmy, Can You Hear Me?” I suppose.
It would, however, have been too much to ask of Hawkwind. They’re too close to being a psychedelic answer to The Kinks to deliver anything too streamlined. But it should be established that this is probably Hawkwind’s most professional record. There’s a clarity to both the production and the performance, which has been conspicuously absent in the past. Unfortunately, the only advance has been one of technical proficiency. Simon House’s contributions shouldn’t be underestimated here, but compositions are still firmly constructed around standard Hawkwind traditions of sweeping synthesiser passages contrasting ethereal space with the violence of monotonous bass and rhythm guitar. Brock, incidentally is mixed so low that his guitar is a virtually subliminal influence, while King and Powell thrash about to their hearts’ content in some ill-defined limbo.
Only Brock’s “Demented Man” which comes complete with seagulls and an acoustic guitar, and is recorded with all the resonance of a two stringed Japanese ukulele and House’s “Spiral Galaxy 2984” mark any departure from the predominant formula. Neither is particularly successful, although they’re to be preferred to the cosmic redundancy of “Opa Loka” or “The Dying Seas Of Time,”the latter being Nik Turner’s only composition here. Most of the songs are Brock’s, and he really only reflects the overall lack of lyrical imagination which characterises “Warrior.”
S&S; isn’t a genre of writing noted for its quotient of profound insights, but it does allow the possibility of developing striking, if insubstantial images: “Lives of great men all remind us /We may make our lives sublime /And departing leave behind us /Footprints in the sands of time . . .” is neither profound nor striking as a lyric. It’s left to the Moorcock poems which litter the album like aural dandruff, to establish any semblance of thematic continuity. “The Wizard Blew His Horn,” “Standing On The Edge Of Time” and “Warrior” have been set to music by House, Powell and King. The two drummers strike dramatic percussive poses while House contributes erratic synthesiser counterpoints.
Turner, presumably, recites the words, which will be familiar to anyone who caught the band on their last tour, with all the emotion of Davros being exterminated by renegade Daleks. If Moorcock feels qualified to describe any of these pieces (“It is dark, so dark on the edge of time. And we are tired & making love . . . we are the lost, we are the forgotten, we are the undying . . . victims of a thousand psychic wars .. . . .. ) as poetry, then that’s his problem. They certainly do nothing to motivate, one’s interest in this album. That said, one must admit that it’s Iikely to be significantly more successful than Hawkwind’s previous offerings, even if the thoroughly idiotic single, “Kings of Speed” is included as the final proof of Hawkwind’s irredeemable musical illiteracy.
As a whole, though, “Warrior on The Edge of Time” is an unqualified masterpiece when compared to Moorcock’s “The New Worlds Fair,” on which members of Hawkwind play. In almost every department, from the production through to the performances of the three principals, to the basic concept itself, “New Worlds Fair” is a completely retarded experiment. Only, House, in his role as arranger, and through his contributions on violin (used more effectively in this context than with Hawkwind, and piano and organ, emerges with any credit.
The album’s scenario, one assumes, can be attributed to Moorcock, although both Steve Gilmore (who produced) and Charnock weigh in with three songs apiece. Briefly, the album deals with the adventures of a character called Dude, introduced by Moorcock in “Candy FIoss Cowboy,” and his adventures in a post-atomic fairground. The concept doesn’t work on either the level of allegory, and the fairground as a metaphor, inherently weak in construction, affords no vivid perceptions.
Individual songs, Gilmore’s “Song For Marlene” and Moorcock’s “Sixteen Year Old Doom” particularly, are short on inspiration, relying more on the most cliched constructions. Possibly, “New Worlds Fair” like, “Warrior,” would benefit from a production where the emphasis was placed on a visual interpretation of its basic themes. Musically it’s got little to recommend it, and even those devotees of Hawkwind who might on the strength of Moorcock’s involvement with the band, be interested in his work will, one feels, experience little but disappointment.
HAWKWIND: “Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music” (CHARISMA CDS 4004)
New Musical Express – 6 November 1976
LADIES AND gentlemen, the message is clear. After a couple of years of hassle Hawkwind are back on form. On the strength of this album all those who stopped listening after “Silver Machine” should tune into this wavelength again immediately.
The biggest change in the Hawkwind camp is that their music has acquired about fifteen new levels since the old churn-churn days.
Sure, Dr Brock is still powerchording away like there was no tomorrow and Count Turner provides his own idiosyncratic style of hornplay.
Behind this are the doubledrum machine, King/Powell, and when they’re hooked onto a solid bassman like Paul Rudolph, the natural result is overdrive.
Simon House has injected a big shot of tuneful keyboarding into the mix and Calvert has got his Ferry style downput to add a strong top line to the final product.
‘Course, it’s not all sweetness and light. There’s a couple of duffers but the general quality is good.
Stand-out to my mind is “Reefer Madness”, which opens with a steam train and leads into a manic heavy metal storm, overlaid with a million voices screaming “reefer madness” before degenerating into a Calvert prose piece about fingers dropping off. A shortened version would have had much more impact as a single than “Kerb Crawler”, the other high-powered cut which comes complete with horns and heavy-duty women session singers.
“The Aubergine That Ate Rangoon” is another nice surprise. Paul Rudolph penned, it opens with tricky drums and moves into an warp4 instrumental which brings to mind ‘House Of Anthrax’.
Elsewhere, you’ll find a couple of House and Powell compositions, lazy, spacey electronics which work. With a new agent, a new manager, a new record company and a new- album, Wind are set to blow your brains. Are you ready?
Hawks Get Back in Gear
Melody Maker – 25 June 1977
HAWKWIND: “Quark Strangeness and Charm” (Charisma COS 4008). Robert Calvert (vocals percussion),
Dave Brock (guitar, synthesizer, vocals), Simon House (keyboards, violin, anvil, vocals), Adrian Shaw
(bass, vocals), Simon King (drums, percussion). Recorded at Rockfield Studios, Monmouth. Produced by
Hawkwind and engineered by Dave Charles with Dave Brock and Robert Calvert.
The inner sleeve of this album includes a note from Hawkwind to their fans, part of which reads: “This is
just a small message to let you know we are back on course. Last year was the worst year for us, finding
us in debt and out of touch with the modern world. We have had a few changes: the sacking of Nik Turner, Paul Rudolph and Alan Powell and the arrival of Adrian Shaw, our old friend from ‘Magic Muscle’ … So once again, we’ll try and get the motors running.”
In those words the band have said most of what needs to be said about their recent past history, and their attempts to get back to being a viable band in 1977. The question of whether they have succeeded in rehabilitating themselves successfully with “Quark Strangeness And Charm” remains an open one, however. The best answer at the moment is that they’ve gone part of the way, but at times Hawkwind are still glaringly archaic and almost parodies of themselves.
But first, the good news. The band have developed a real sense of humour for a start. I’ve always had a good deal of respect for Robert Calvert and his view of the world ever since he came out with that amazing solo album, “Captain Lockheed And Tht Starflghters.” Yet it puzzled me that his presence in Hawkwind seems to have had such a small effect on the band and their stance. But “Quark” finds Calvert in very fine form as a lyricist.
The opening track, “Spirit Of The Age,” for example, is extremely amusing. Essentially it’s about a guy -who turns out, later, to be a clone- who’s a bit disappointed that his girlfriend’s father didn’t allow her to be placed in suspended animation at the same time as him – typical Hawkwind subject matter.
There’s a classic sequence of lines which goes “Your android replica is playing up again / it’s no joke / when she comes she moans another’s name.” No-one but Calvert and Hawkwind could dream up something like that. To be two-timed is one thing, but by an android?
The title track -itself a play on words using newly coined terms for sub-atomic particles and their properties- is also amusing. Calvert sings about Einstein -“nobody ever called him Al”- and Copernicus, whose telescope apparently drove Renaissance ladies crazy.
Aside from this humorous aspect of his lyrics, Calvert has also matured sufficiently to allow himself to write a bitter-sweet song about the underground of the Sixties, which could be read as a find farewell from Hawkwind to the spirit of the age that originally gave birth to them. The final line is: “I believe we have drowned / in the days of the underground.”
On a more negative side, Hawkwind’s improvement, lyrically, has not been matched instrumentally nor structurally. The only musician of note on “Quark” is Simon House for his consistently impressive violin passages, notably on “Damnation Alley,” based on the science-fiction novel by Roger Zelazny, and “Hassan-i-Sahba”.
In addition, there is a fascinating synthesizer riff underpinning the instrumental “Forge Of Vulcan”, which demonstrates that repetition of a cyclic nature need not be boring – something which Hawkwind tend to forget on much of the rest of the album.
The aforementioned. “Damnation Alley” is the best track on this collection, combining interesting lyrics with strong instrumentation and a good, solid, coherent structure. In contrast, “Spirit Of The Age” takes an abominable length of time to get started and even longer to fade out. Having seen Hawkwind only last week on stage it’s obvious that they’ve yet to grasp the essential difference between an extended riff on record and the same in a live context.
In concert an extended piece can be an engrossing experience, particularly in the case of Hawkwind, with their exceptionally clever and fascinating lightshow, but it wears thin on record. Overall, however,
Hawkwind are definitely making a move in the right direction. They’re sharper and more direct than they’ve been for a long time and it only needs them to match their trimmed down personnel with an equally trimmed down approach to song structure and they could be well on the way to a new and refreshing lease of life.
HAWKWIND: “Quark, Strangeness And Charm” (CHARISMA CDS4008)
Sounds – 9 July 1977
‘In visions of acid
We saw through delusion
And brain box pollution
We knew we were right’
GOD, THE FACT that the psychedelic, peace and love, acid explosion took place ten (count em, ten) long years ago hits home with a vengeance when you hear Hawkwind grinding their way through their own looking through – rose – coloured – spectacles tribute to the era. ‘Days Of The Underground’, the track’s called, a retrospective look-back to the time (as the band say) when people ‘believed in Guevara’ and Hawkwind specifically ‘tried to smother’ the voices of the leaders of this country ‘in sound’.
Reminiscences of stoned hippydom. Gets you right there, doesn’t it?
And you’d think, really, that the inclusion of such a number on this new album, peculiarly titled ‘Quark, Strangeness And Charm’, would put the icing on the cake, would only serve to confirm what people have been thinking for some time. That is, that Hawkwind are outmoded, outdated and should, for their own good as well as for the current punk – styled listening public’s, retire to a commune in Cornwall or somewhere as soon as possible.
‘Now we can look back
What heroes we were then
We made quite a stir then
With our sonic attack’
– They sing, almost as if they are thinking of giving it all up. But I reckon, even with the present slimmed-down, slightly less cosmic line-up, the band are still capable of making a stir, even today, even now.
`Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music’ I wasn’t too keen on. Fragmented, I thought, Robert Calvert uncomfortably re-slotting into the band. ‘Quark, Strangeness And Charm’ is different, it flows, it’s powerful. Calvert, having adapted to his role as frontman, now pulls out the stops, his poetical- lyrical contributions working particularly well.
Mood is close to that of my favourite Hawkwind album, ‘Doremi Fasol Latido’, especially the first side, comprising three tracks, ‘Spirit Of The Age’, ‘Damnation Alley’ and ‘Fable Of A Failed Race’.
‘Spirit’ starts with some weird Dik Mik-type electronic bleeps, together with a distorted, indecipherable conversation going on in the background. Reminded me more of the ‘Faust Tapes’, than anything else. Then Hawkwind as a whole purposefully edge into the scheme of things, a typical David Brock pumping riff riding over a steady pneumatic-thumping rhythm. Calvert’s chant-vocals are robotic and tuneless, as befits the atmosphere of the song, tales of ‘android replicas’, ‘frozen sleep’, ‘clones’ and ‘telepathic men. In other words, definitive Hawkwind.
Synthesised rumblings, sounds of rain falling(?) and police siren imitations lead you into ‘Damnation Alley”, chugga-chugga, something about a ‘radiation wasteland’. Good and monotonous this number, with an expressionless, cryptic chant bringing back memories of ‘Time We Left’. ‘Fable Of A Failed Race’ concludes the side, very Pink Floyd.
Side two is less of an entity. The title track is humorous, much in the tradition of ‘Orgone Accumulator’; ‘Hassan I Sahba’s’ convoluted riffing and murmurings of ‘hashish’ conjures up images of ancient Arabia remarkably well; ‘The Forge Of Vulcan’ is a vehicle for keyboardist Simon House to indulge in some Patrick Moraz-like freneticism, ‘Days Of The Underground’ you already know about; the closing track, ‘The Iron Dream’ is an endearingly shambolic short instrumental.
I enjoyed it, and I think that Hawkwind do have a place in today’s music world. OK, so they do appear to be on the decline (I mean, not so long ago they were playing a couple – or more – consecutive nights at Hammersmith Odeon, now they’re gigging at the Music Machine), but not only will there always be a market for the band’s (arguably unique) musical ramblings/rumblings, this market is potentially much larger than you might think. No-one plays music like Hawkwind’s any more, the band have carved a niche for themselves. It’s up to them to make it wider, and ‘Quark, Strangeness And Charm’ is definitely a step in the right direction.
The production may be naff in parts – the band would do well, in my opinion, to try to return to the magnificent mugginess that pervaded the aforementioned ‘Doremi’ album, that’s how Hawkwind should sound on record – and some of the songs may not stand up too well, but there’s no reason why even without Nik Turner, Alan Powell, Paul Rudolph et al, they shouldn’t go from strength to strength in the future. And get back to playing halls the size of the Odeon once again.
Hawkwind Back on Course
New Musical Express – 9 July 1977
BY THEIR own admission (in a scrawled note in the inner sleeve), 1976 was Hawkwind’s worst-ever year, “in debt and out of touch with the modern world”. But they radioed on and certainly seemed to have found a new lease of life since switching record labels (even the cover art work has improved).
Their first for Charisma, “Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music”, almost lived up to its title, with manic rockers like “Steppenwolf” and “Reefer Madness” cutting through space-age intellectual bullshit like a Martian chainsaw.
On “Quark, Strangeness And Charm”, the Hawks once again bring sci-fi comic book thrills to the proles, only this time around Bob Calvert’s psychotic sense of humour is well to the fore. On “Spirit Of The Age”, for example, he’s a space traveller bemoaning the fact that his girlfriend’s dad wouldn’t consent to her being deepfrozen, “as fresh in your flesh for my return to earth”. She was underage when he left, would he 60 now, and dead when he returns. But even her plastic replica is playing up “When she comes moans another man’s name.”
And “Damnation Alley”, succinctly outlining a postnuclear holocaust US . “The sky is raining fishes, it’s a mutation zoo”, contains the classic couplet: “Thankyou Dr Strangelove, for going doolalley / And leaving me the heritage of damnation alley”.
Those two are the best cuts, but there’s also good work on “Hassan I Sahba” (a Paean to hashish hasin and vilification of petrol d’allah), “Days Of The Underground” ( a sardonic reappraisal of those halycon daze in ’67 when rock bands were “Assassins of silence with make-believe violence” and Mick Farren was less of a social deviant than he is now ), and the title track itself – it goes quark, quark – about how unhandsome Einstein was : “Nobody ever called him Al / I don’t believe he ever had a girl” – maybe so but nobody ever called Pablo Picasso an asshole, either.
Musically (ah ha!), it’s all battering ram riffs and monoplane synthesized drones, with Dave Brock occasionally cutting loose on guitar (rather than just providing frenetic rhythm) and Sinon House contributing some hypnotic violin solos.
But Calvert remains the dominant force. He’s a clone, flawless.
Since ‘sacking’ (their word) Nik Turner, Paul Rudolph and Alan Powell, Hawkwind reckon they are Back On Course. They are. This is a very funny album. Set the controls for the height of the sound.
Hawkwind – Live Seventy-Nine (Bronze BRON 527) **
Sounds – February 1980
The thumbs down star rating isn’t there to tell you that this is a bad Hawkwind album, but that your reviewer doesn’t like Hawkwind.
Being about the same age as the members of the band I’ve periodically tried to get into them over the last ten years. It’s never worked and here I go again. What a shapeless row, what a bloody racket, hasn’t anybody ever told them about melody, do they really think that’s any kind of rocking rhythm… and so on.
A bit of a critical stand-off in effect, but that’s surely in the nature of live albums. They don’t reflect experiment or change so them as likes the band likes the record and those as don’t don’t. Hawkwind work to rules. This is just the same as their studio albums, but more rambling.
So, without further imprecations may I set down that the Hawkwind in question is the lineup from their pre-Christmas tour, namely Dave Brock, Simon King, Harvey Bainbridge, Huw Lloyd Langton and Tim Blake (who is allowed the only break with the standard ‘greatest hits in concert’ format in the shape of his synthesiser piece “Lighthouse”). For the rest it’s that thrashing bedlam rock, lacking even the relief of Robert Calvert’s imagination and English eccentric persona or Liquid Len playing his lighting keyboard like a luminescent Rick Wakeman. At least they have the grace to cut off their encore of “Silver Machine” after about 30 seconds with a huge explosion.
Oh yes – hit!
Freq Album Review (rating: 4/5)
Sounds – 17 November 1984
NOT REALLY being one for electronic music, I didn’t have great hopes for this, but an earful of the first six lengthy pieces on ‘Freq’ threw all preconceptions straight out of the window.
‘Freq’ is a very political product, being very documentative of current industrial disputes through compelling compositions like ‘Standing On The Picket line’, ‘All The Machines are Quiet’, ‘Work Song’ and a tasteful ode to the Luddites, appropriately title ‘Ned Lud’.
Musically ‘Freq’ is very catchy, very boppy and danceable in nature. Calvert’s melodies are strong and fairly diverse, and the whole concept of the album is very interesting.