|Multi-CD Review 1993
I am guessing that this article first appeared in 1993 - it came to me exactly as you see it here, courtesy of
Wilfried Schuesler. Deciphering the text was fun :-)
retrospective. Chance would be a fine thing: sling anything out and slap on the band's name, and record
companies are guaranteed to be in the black. But at what cost?
OK. Let's play dumb. "Hawkwind 1973: Bring Me The Head Of Yuri Gagarin" looked promising. Or at
least, the mention of 1973 in the title did, reinforced by the listing of the definitive band line-up on the rear
sleeve. In fact, it's a concert recording on the post - "Space Ritual" tour, but the sound quality will only be
acceptable to bootleg fiends, not those wanting an accompaniment to "Space Ritual Alive" or the Windsong
BBC release. Cue up some of the songs and you'll get the wrong one. Open up the foldout sleeve and you'll
get a black space. Cosmic slop, indeed.
Let's try something that looks, shall we say, a bit professional. Virgin Universal's "Tales From Atom Henge"
fits the bill with its full-colour foldout sleeve, detailed sleeve notes from the aforementioned Mr.Tawn and
generous playing time. Documenting the years 1976-78, when lyricist and vocalist Robert Calvert had
returned to the fold, and the band were on the Charisma label, "Tales" finds Hawkwind's old wall of sound
replaced by crisper, snappier arrangements. This title, like the previous release, has been out before, but it's
strengthened by the inclusion of 2 rare B-sides, "Honky Dorky" and "The Dream Of Isis", and a revised
sleeve note that acknowledges Calvert's death in 1988.
Calvert is represented here on two solo reissues, including the mid-80's "Freq" LP, released with the addition
of two bonus single cuts, "Lord Of The Hornets" and "The Greenfly and The Rose". Inspired by the historic
miner's strike of 1984-85, "Freq" looks back at 300 years of industrialisation, blending songs about old
working-class leaders (laced with real voices from the picket lines) and technology.
Robert Calvert's drum machine pumps along throughout "Blueprints from the Cellar", too. A collection of
demos, some of which eventually made it onto "Freq", these originally appeared on two cassette-only
releases. Now cleaned up and trimmed down, and packaged with a fine fold-out tribute sleeve, "Blueprints"
contains several songs which Calvert was working on prior to his death.
Sufficiently distracted, it's now time to approach the 'Wind once more. "Mighty Hawkwind Classics" and
"Zones" both look like compilations of early 80's material, although a closer inspection of "Classics" reveals
something of interest to fans of the early 70's incarnation. It turns out that the "Classics 1980-1985" refers
only to the release dates: the bulk of the material -actually the series of four Flicknife EP's- predates that. The
band's 1970 demo version of "Hurry On Sundown" plus biker anthems "Kings Of Speed" and "Motorhead"
are probably the best things on this useful compilation.
"Zones" meanwhile, was both recorded and released during the early 80's, a time when Hawkwind's cult
appeal gave them a new lease of life on independent labels. This mixture of live and studio material,
complete with a guest appearance from Michael Moorcock on "Sonic Attack", shows that the band could
still impress in concert - this was the era when they were ably assisted by Ginger Baker, although some of
the studio material has dated far more quickly than the band's classic early 70's work.
The 'Wind's spiritual home has always been the free festival, from Windsor and Watchfield during the
mid-70's to the present day. The "Traveller's Aid Trust" disc documents their free festival lineup of a few
years back and contains live recordings of "Brainstorm", "Blue Dreamer" and a version of "Washing (Silver)
Machine" by Nik Turner, that proves he must be sick to death of the song.
"Warrior On The Edge Of Time" is often regarded as one of the classic Hawkwind titles. It certainly marked
the end of an era of sorts, being their last with Lemmy and for United Artists. "Tales Of Dying Seas" and
"Golden Void" maintained strong links with their great work, though "Warrior", helped by the mellotron of
Simon House, smoothed out the sound considerably. Space became formularised, and the band were keen
on widening their audience, which they did when this album hit the Top 20 in 1975. The band's version of
Lemmy's "Motorhead" is thrown on here as a bonus track, though those wanting a real deluxe edition of this
album should keep an eye out for a CD reissue by Griffin, which promises a 160-page booklet.
Hawkwind 1973: Bring Me The
Head of Yuri Gagarin
Hawkwind: Traveller's Aid Trust
Hawkwind: Tales From Atom
Hawkwind: Mighty Hawkwind
Hawkwind: Warrior On The Edge
Robert Calvert: Freq Revisited
Robert Calvert: Blueprints From
The past few months have seen
considerable activity on the
Hawkwind CD reissue front. Brian
Tawn did his best to alert us to the
many duds on this wildly
congested market, while I made a
plea for someone to sort out the
mess and put together a definitive