Space in the charts for Hawkwind?

Record Mirror – 22 July 1972

Hawkwind having a single in the charts seems as likely as the Prime Minister joining Sha Na Na on keyboards or Tottenham Hotspur getting relegated into the Second Division.  But all things are possible, and Hawkwind look like scoring heavily with “Silver Machine” written by a former member of the band, Bob Calvert.

If somebody had told me a couple of months ago that H. Wind would be doing “Top of the Pops” and things like that I would have declared them insane. But “Silver Machine” is a very commercial song, already beating off contenders in the lower reaches of the charts, that will get a lot of support from the Hawkwind followers who seem to be gathering (to take over the world?) in every nook and cranny of every town in the country.  The band have always been a popular act, especially in “underground” music circles, and have been drawing enormous crowds to their live gigs since the beginning of the year.

The single was recorded at the Greasy Truckers gig at the Roundhouse a few months ago, and was later overdubbed here and there. It wasn’t included on the Truckers album but can be heard in its entirety (the single was cut to eight minutes) on the L.P. of the Glastonbury festival.

“It wasn’t conceived as a single” said lead guitarist Dave Brock. “We’ve been doing it on stage for about eight months. We only release about one album a year, so we thought we’d put “Silver Machine” out as a stop gap.”

“Silver Machine” is, in fact, part of a Space Ritual the band are currently working on. The ritual, they stress is not an opera like “Tommy”, is to be about space in its broadest sense – having space to live, work and breath, outer space, and any other kind of connotation the word has.

Although the ritual will be a stage act, it is likely that the band’s next album, which goes into the shops in October, will be a “taster” for it – a sort of prologue for the whole thing which people can listen to before going to see the show.

When the ritual is ready to be unveiled the band want to issue a kind of programme to people as they enter venues, to see the Wind. “We want to get people involved and let them know what it’s all about” said Nik Turner, the band’s flautist and alto sax player. “We want them to sing along with us, chant, and get into it all.”

“The act is continuous” Simon King the drummer told me. “We play for 90 minutes non stop. When we finish a number we let the electronics take over instead of saying something like ‘Thank you very much and our next number is…’ “

Most rock bands use a permutation of lead, bass, drums, organ and vocals, but as Hawkwind are rather more than a straight rock outfit, their line-up is a little unconventional. Apart from Simon, Dave and Nik, the band comprises Lemmy (possible origin: “Lemmy ‘ave that bottle of Newcastle”) on bass, DikMik on audio generators and percussion and Del Dettmar on synthesizer.

“We depend heavily on electronics and we want to bring more of that into the act” says Dave, “but we also want to include country things and other stuff too.”

“The music and sounds’ are just toys to play with” said Lemmy taking his bottle of Newcastle away from his mouth for a moment. “They’re things to play with and have fun with. We can’t get off into what we’re doing unless we’re enjoying it.”

“You’ve got to keep a balance between the music and the electronics” said Nik.

-Charles Webster

A Plastic Fragment Hawkwind Press Cutting

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