Press Clippings XIX
Review of "Take Me To Your Leader" (unknown date &
Finally, Hawkwind's latest. Take Me To Your Leader (Hawkwind ***)
is a 10-strong slice of the space-rockers on familiar ground. Rampant
beats, cascading keyboards and cosmic, half-chanted vocals abound,
not least on the opening Spirit Of The Age, while the Celtic / world /
jazz tones of Out Here We Are give way to more direct rocking on To
Love A Machine. The dancey Take Me To Your Leader and Angela
Android kick off big style, while Greenback Massacre wedges open
the cupboard marked "Trippy", and Sunray is as luminescent as you'd
think. Barkingly endearing.
Review of Robert Calvert: "Lucky Leif & The Longships" (BGO
BGOLP2) (Record Collector, probably April 1987):
It's always good news when a genuinely rare and desirable album gets
reissued, particularly when it comes in more or less its original
packaging. "Lucky Leif And The Longships" has been spotted at
around Â£30 on the collector's market for some time now, but thanks
to BGO Records, thousands of Hawkwind fans too young to buy this
1975 release first time round can now obtain the record at a reasonable
This, his second solo excursion, was recorded in April 1975 and is one
of Brian Eno's earliest productions. In fact, the ex-Roxy Music
member has his style stamped throughout the album - not that that was
such a bad thing. He was going through one of his most creative
periods and fans of "Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)" and
"Another Green World" would do well to give this a listen.
In fact, the record has more in common with these Eno recordings
than Calvert's work with Hawkwind, which, up to this point, was
most notable on the double live LP, "Space Ritual". Many familiar
names appear: Nik Turner, Michael Moorcock and Simon House from
the mother band, and Pink Fairy, Paul Rudolph.
Collectors will be interested to know that BGO are also planning to
reissue Calvert's debut solo album "Captain Lockheed And The
Starfighters" in due course.
Coincidentally, this album has just been reissued again, in CD format,
almost exactly 20 years later...on Eclectic Discs, this time...but I hear
it still includes the wrong version of The Making Of Midgard, with the
vocals lost in a welter of echo!
Review of 'Hawkwind-In Your Area' (unknown publication, 2000):
Yes, another. Dave Brock leads his ever-morphing band of followers
into its 32nd year with this excellent collection of recently re-recorded
classics and new material. "Brainstorm", cunningly wrapped about the
raga "In Your Area", forms a unique and exceptional intro.
"The Nazca" is a haunting and strangely comforting song, rich in lyric
and time, running into the calming instrumental "Prairie". "Luxotica"
and "Diana Park" are also worth a mention, revealing the band's rich
range of influences, and the music alternates between mellow
wanderings and hardened rock, with the last half-dozen songs
(mostly new and mellow), creating a reflective air.
|Above: Uncut whetted the appetite
for this piece in their April 07 issue
with the byline "Dave Brock - A
Horse Eats His Hair!". But I don't
think that's Dave in the photo. It
actually looks more like Nik!
Other standout tracks are the
rarely-heard Bob Calvert & The
Starfighters classics "Aerospace
Age Inferno" and "First Landing
On Medusa", recorded by the late
Hawkwind co-founder Calvert.
Brock appears to be leaning
towards a more defined guitar and
vocal sound nowadays, which
suits the newer material well.
Left: this featured in a Mojo Classic special edition entitled "The
Greatest Album Covers", April '07
Review of Strange Trips and Pipe Dreams, Expose 1997:
Dave Brock "Strange Trips And Pipe Dreams" (Griffin GCD-515-2, 1995, CD)
Dave Brock has been the one steady member of Hawkwind for nearly 30 years (the band's first album was
released in 1971). In a band that has witnessed over 30 personnel changes over that time, Brock stands as a
model of consistency and perseverance. Although Nik Turner has toured recently under the Hawkwind
name, most associate the band's legacy with Brock's guitar, writing, and leadership. That said, it is hard to
segregate Hawkwind's material with Brock's solo material: his material inevitably sounds like Hawkwind, for
that's what Hawkwind essentially is.
Brock takes a couple of detours, however. The music is primarily instrumental and a tad more experimental
than the metal-minded Hawkwind has been lately. Synthesizers and guitars play an equal role, and though
the CD contains no lineup information, it is safe to say the Brock likely handles most if not all of the
instrumental duties himself. The drum patterns sound mechanical and programmed (which is not a vice in
the Hawkwind kind of sound), and Brock has proven himself able on all other instruments I can think of.
This album is a nice addition to the Hawkwind legacy; it continues in the current sound of the band while
highlighting the more atmospheric aspect (Read: Space Rock) of Hawkwind. A nice companion piece to
Alan Davey (a more recent member of Hawkwind) and his newest album.
Review of 24/6/2007 gig at the Sterling Hotel, Allentown PA.
From the 6/30/2007 issue of "The Morning Call", a local
Last Sunday, Allentown's Sterling Hotel was transformed into an
alternate universe populated by a variety of sonic species and their
fans, all converging to hear the venerable English space-rock heroes
Throughout the eight-hour, Rich Gensiak-emceed marathon,
listeners came and went, hearing such acts as Philadelphia droners
the Volcanologists and straight-ahead metalists Audiophyle. But
when Hawkwind took the stage the room was filled to capacity, with
older fans dressed in their Hawkwind, Motorhead, and Budgie tees
as space sounds bounced around the room to the confusion of at
least one younger, uninitiated listener.
Starting off energetically with 1978's ''Quark, Strangeness and
Charm,'' Hawkwind had the audience singing along and moving.
Guitarist-songwriter (and original member) Dave Brock looked aged
but ebullient in his brightly colored shirt emblazoned with suns and
amoebae as he played with evident pleasure. Hawkwind's stamina
was formidable, jamming for two hours while dipping into an
extensive catalog that included ''Orgone Accumulator'' and ''Right
Stuff.'' Brock led a sing-along on the quirky music hall-like ''Cabinet
Key.'' Hawkwind finished with ''Brainstorm,'' where each member of
the band had his solo spot. After much clapping and hollering,
Hawkwind encored with ''Welcome to the Future.'' Brock thanked
the audience graciously, looking every bit like a grizzled captain who
had just won a great battle.
Review of Space Ritual Collector's Edition [*****] - Mojo, August 2007:
From 1973, Space Rock's finest hour, now with a DVD with 'visualiser' setting.
Bassist Lemmy described Hawkwind as a "black nightmare"; sax player Nik Turner called them a "peace
and love band". To be honest, the supercharged, recorded-live Space Ritual points to the former.
Indeed, if ever a record has sounded like it's gunning its engines to blast you into the eye of a black hole.
it's this. Hard and speedy but long and repetitive, it's all tranced-out blues-Kraut riffing, roaring synths
and sci-fi lyrics -resident poet Robert Calvert said the songs portrayed the dreams of sleeping spacemen-
meaning the only rational course of action is to listen to it with strobes on and prepare for lift-off.
Eight-odd minutes of Master Of The Universe cries out for a panic button and to this day could out-punk
all-comers with its sheer mass and the relentless velocity of the Lemmy / Simon King rhythm section. A
remastering job has ironed out some rough edges and bonus tracks like the 10-minute You Shouldn't Do
That are always welcome. But the essence is unaltered. Something of a masterpiece? Without question.
Excerpt from "Anarchists, Fire and Rock'n'Roll - Isle Of Wight Festival, August 1970" - Classic
Rock, August 2007:
It was around this time that a van full of young hopefuls pulled up to the festival site. It was space
rockers Hawkwind, who asked if they could play an impromptu set. The organisers said they could but
outside the festival perimeter. Hawkwind leader Dave Brock remembers the day well: "What you've got
to remember is the Isle of Wight has some lovely chalk cliffs. But the actual festival itself had all of these
big corrugated sheets, like a prison camp. Outside the festival there was this big canvas city, at the
centre of which was this gigantic inflatable tent. It had a generator running it, and the whole thing
gradually inflated up. But then the generator ran out, and the tent started sinking down!
"Jimi Hendrix came in to see what was going on. Our saxophonist [Nik Turner] had his face half painted
silver. I think in Hendrix's set Jimi dedicated one of the numbers to 'the guy down in the front with a
silver face', which was Nik. Nik got around to talking to him and asked him if he'd have a jam with us.
But by the time he got there the tent was deflating and people were all standing with their hands up trying
to support it, it was about eight foot high."
Brock also recalls drugs being passed around freely: "We all took loads of LSD. Our lead guitarist, Huey
[Huw Lloyd Langton], freaked out badly. He'd been spiked up on some orange juice. Unfortunately I had
some as well. Suddenly I had this great rush come over me -1 was all tingly and peculiar. I had this lady
with me, who took me away up to the cliff tops for a walk to try and calm me down."
And then there was the bedlam going on outside the gates. "There were a lot of anarchists," Brock says.
"They were all saying that when the festival has made enough money, then the fences should be
destroyed. They started ripping the fences down. People threatening each other and all that. There were
about 10,000 people outside."
Still tripping, Hawkwind's Dave Brock recalls making it into the main area in hope of catching The
Moody Blues' set: "After the fences came down, we actually went inside there to see some of the bands.
I'd been given a Mandrax, a sleeping tablet to calm me down. I fell asleep, which was a bit of a shame,
because I was quite looking forward to seeing them."
"Hawkwind - sci-fi banality" - Ohio Scene, March28-April 4, 1974:
Hawkwind is space psychedelia gone berserk.
Projected onto a full-stage screen back-drop are continually flowing images - alien landscapes,
cosmic-type scenes, gloaming globs of color and space-o light plays. Day-glow painted and
eldritch-shaped amps ring the stage, connected by tubes of white light and topped by sirens. A female
dancer emerges from the wings to interpret the group's music with strobe-fluxed pantomimes. The
music itself is right out of the golden days of psychedelia. Wheezing mellotron, synthesizer, and
electrified sax space-o riffs overlay a thundering, monotonous rhythm.
It's great stuff, I suppose, for doped-up hippies. Hawkwind, just to prove it, twice made a show of
passing among themselves what was undoubtedly a fake joint.
I thought the thing should have been on TV. Oh, Hawkwind's stage show is the most enveloping I've
ever seen. The thoroughness of it is numbing. But, it's also the silliest thing I've ever had to watch on a
stage. Behind all the folderol is mediocrity extended to its inane limits. It's worse than "Leave It To
Hawkwind's genre, like that of fellow countrymen, Genesis, is comic-book science fiction. It's a genre
that thrives on pseudo-dramatic banality. "I'm a soldier at the edge of time," intones some dork in an ape
mask. Oh, boy. The stuff is just unbearably pretentious and stupid. Avoid it like you would Milton
Berle. The concert, by the way, was dedicated to dead poet/local cult item D.A. Levy.
-Crocus Behemoth (who later became better known under his real name of David Thomas as the
frontman of the initially very splendid Pere Ubu)
Review of Carol Clerk's book 'The Saga of Hawkwind" from the academic journal "Popular
Music" (published by Cambridge University Press) - by kind permission of the author:
The Saga of Hawkwind. By Carol Clerk. Omnibus Press, 2006. 578 pp. paperback ISBN 1-84449-832-
It has been said no-one in their right mind would listen to Hawkwind, and that most of those that do
arenâ€™t, this being attributable to the herbal, chemical and fungal adjuncts that seem particularly
complementary to this most doughty of British rock acts. The fey country and blue-grass influences on
the West Coast USA 'psychedelic' bands such as The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane made their
supposedly cosmic mystique seem very misplaced to those growing up in the UK in the 1970s, with IRA
terrorism, three-day weeks and the Oil Crisis. Hawkwind could never be called fey or wet; their thrashy,
noisy, primitively synthesized and swashbuckling sound is best described as 'bikerdelic' - the listener
being a pillion passenger holding onto a clutch-bar of an old Vincent motorbike driven by a Hellâ€™s
Angel reeking of patchouli and black hash accelerating into the Crab Nebula.
The science fiction and sword-and-sorcery fantasy elements of their imagery and lyrics are probably
particularly responsible for Hawkwind being sneered at by the more fashionable cognoscenti who
eschewed all things geek. This is a shame, for Hawkwind have been an enduring influence on non-
mainstream popular music; the Can-like power of repetition and rhythm core to their music feeds into
industrial and modern dance scenes; their use of synthesizer sweeps and sequences is prescient in
comparison to the conventional virtuosity of the 'keyboard wizards' of the early 1970s; and their intense
hard rock music appealed as much to harder-edged hippies in the early 1970s who became the most
forward-thinking punks (e.g. John Lyndon, Steve Diggle, Mark E. Smith), as to suburban teenagers who
attended concerts in school lab coats. Travelers, convoys, free festivals, raves and reverence for earth
mysteries al grow out of Hawkwind's diverse fans and ideologies. Hawkwind is heard in much
Californian 'stoner rock', and their creatively lit performances show just what wonders can be created on
a budget if you have a decent imagination and some enthusiasm - a principle that lives on in many live
concerts and dance events today.
The Saga of Hawkwind is a near 600-page book that takes you through their ups and downs; the
beginnings in a London squat scene at odds with the bourgoisification of the counter-culture back in
1970; the almost-stardom of the early 1970s; the polymorphous perversity (I did not realise that
homosexuality and transvestism were also part of their history), the mental illness, rip-offs, bad drug
reactions, deaths, collaboration and treachery, writs, band members almost succumbing in near-lethal
festival toilets, and even that most 'Spinal Tap' of band difficulties - the front-man's girlfriend becoming
manager. Like all extended families and relationships between groups of people forced together longer
than anticipated, there are ongoing resentments that are almost (but not quite) resolved, and friendships
that rekindle, then flop over money and pique. The music truism that when 'a band becomes a brand',
egos, practicalities and ideals are impossible to reconcile and something has to go, is also reiterated. The
conflicts, waspish comments, and even occasional warmth and acceptance between Nik Turner, Dave
Brock, Lemmy and Huw Lloyd-Langton saturate the later part of the book, but help one to understand
how they ended up in the current position.
The dysfunctional dynamic is very much between the idealist (Nik Turner) and the realist (Dave Brock),
with tricksters (Robert Calvert, later the very Hawkwind-named Ron Tree) being entertaining front men
(as was Turner) but having too many personal difficulties to overcome (or die trying, in the case of
Calvert) to generally do more than go along with the general direction of the band. Turner wanted to
keep performances free where possible, and for Hawkwind to play benefits, even when it meant their
losing money. Turner also caused dissent within the band with his tendency to inchoate anarchism,
whether it be being stripped by fans in a homage to early middle-of-the-road entertainers PJ Proby and
Johnny Ray (not performers one immediately considers in relation to Hawkwind), ill-focused saxophone
playing, or self-righteousness regarding the radical roots of the band. For some, these qualities were the
basis from which Hawkwind should operate, hippie-weirdness being an increasingly unique selling-point
in increasingly corporate times. Others recognised the world changing, even if change is unwanted by
some; Brock saw the free festival movement destroyed by heavy-handed Police action leading to 'The
Battle of the Beanfield' near Stonehenge in1985, 'traveller' rioting at an open-air concert in Brighton in
1990, and further anti-festival legislation and unpleasantness thereafter. A new strategy was required.
Brock's solution has been to put on private 'Hawkfests' where several thousand people can have a
peaceful and pleasant weekend with something like a free festival atmosphere, albeit costing money for
the ticket to the event (but then drinkable water, tolerable sanitation, and power supplies also cost more
than a collection is likely to provide). Brock, calumnied with the unfair criticism of his being 'a
breadhead' when anyone running a viable band with negligible record sales has to have a firm eye on the
costs and the books, is right to be cynical and indignant. Perhaps it is salient to note that the main
protagonists in this argument are in their sixties, that the cashflow is modest, and that it is unlikely that
either consulted financial planners regarding retirement costs. Depressing and hurtful financial rows and
writs followed the Hawkestra concert. At this event, thirty-five ex-band members reunited to
commemorate thirty years of the band, and some discovered the only thing they now had in common
with the other group members was the band they were once in. This does not bode well for a fortieth
Perhaps the most important thing about this book for readers of this journal is the documenting of a time
that has been masked by a simulacrum of the 1960s and 1970s that is already misrepresenting and
selectively reporting events within living memory. In the UK, colour-supplement and style-magazine
reports of those times now seem to avoid the ambiguities of the times for lazy reportage. This is because
these articles are written from newspaper cuttings by twenty-something journalists who were not around
to know how things really were; if they were to ask their parents, they may find not everyone in the late
1960s took LSD, wore a cloak and engaged in free love. The Disneyfication of the 1960s and early
1970s is pernicious, and such misrepresentation should be slain; hippies weren't so into peace and love
as is thought; punk and post-punk was by no means as original as assumed; and radical lifestyles making
the personal political are not just a joke by Metropolitan media about rural dropouts. The Saga of
Hawkwind is essential reading for any historian of alternative social movements and their link to music
from the late 1960s.
-Vincent Egan, Glasgow Caledonian University, UK