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|More from the scrapbook, with the usual range of opinions and writing abilities...|
Brock: "We used to use sound oscillators...You know when you get sounds - pitches, crossover - and they sort of distort? Well, they distort the air as well, so if you’re whacking stuff out, they really used to CUT. You could actually *feel* it in your body. At one point we were threatened with being sued ‘cuz a lot of people were getting ill..."
Lemmy (Hawkwind bassist): "We used to give people epileptic fits."
Brock: "I can’t hear crickets, or certain tones, and when there’s an awful lot of people talking at the same time, it’s hard to actually hear what anybody’s saying."
Mojo Loudometer Rating: 7.5
Spaced Out (from Kerrang issue 43, dated May 1993)
Acid Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Space Rock - call it what you will, it should have died a savage death on June 1, 1985. On that day, a bunch of burn-outs, freaks and hippies had seven shades of crap beaten out of them in what became known as The Battle Of The Beanfield. Although there weren't any bands there, that was effectively the end of the Stonehenge free festival. Not just the festival, but the end of an era!
It didn't have a bad run for its (lack of) money: a decade of cosmic lunacy near some bloody great Wiltshire housebricks. But maybe, just maybe, the powers that be had left it all too late. The pregnant woman who was dragged kicking and screaming through the broken window of her bus home was perhaps the daughter of someone who watched Hawkwind play a free show outside the Isle Of White Pop festival in 1970 because they thought admission prices to the show were too high.
But it wasn't all love and peace. Dave Brock, vocalist/guitarist for the legendary space cadets Hawkwind - who are still going strong and selling out gigs whenever they play - agrees that the whole Space Rock scene was over-glamourised. He should know. He still remembers the free show outside the Isle Of White Pop festival. Brock recalls: "We only played outside - we didn't play inside. It was in this great inflatable canvas dome thing; it deflated, actually! I remember the generator conked out and the whole thing started sinking down. The ceiling started getting lower and lower, and people were all panicking trying to get out of the place. It was quite unbelievable!" Ask him about the LSD-spiked orange juice that the Hawklords accidentally consumed before playing, and he'll laugh it off. "That was just one of those things in those days!" But, as he'll also relate, some folks didn't handle the same situations at all well. "When we had Stacia (Hawkwind's legendary naked buxom dancer) with the band, someone once tried to strangle her! That was in Detroit, when we were well known in America," laughs Brock. "Everybody thought it was part of the show. This guy jumped up onstage and tried to strangle her with his scarf! We suddenly realised he was really doing it, and these bouncers came on just as he was really pulling it tight...He was fighting them off. They grabbed hold of him, took him to the side of the stage and beat him up - which he thoroughly deserved."
For some people, a trip can turn into a fall and then a rapid descent. Do you think drugs are a necessary part of the Space Rock experience? Funnily enough, Dave Brock, a well-known and articulate spokesman for the legalisation of cannabis, disagrees. "You don't necessarily have to take drugs to enjoy music," he muses. "I mean that with the light shows and sound frequencies, it's what we've always been saying - you should be able to get off on the sound. But it's up to the individual. You should do what you wanna do, really."
Brock agrees that there's a place for Space Rock, psychedelic love and peace vibes in this '90s world. "I should imagine there always is," ponders Brock, "just because of the state of the planet. There's always a spot for that kind of thinking, because there's so many wars going on all over the world and so much shit flying around."
|The Grateful Deaf - Loudest Rock Bands Of All Time (from Mojo, December 2000)
The early-’70s live lineup of space bikers on acid, led by guitarist / singer Dave Brock and featuring DikMik on bizarro effects and future Motorheadbanger Lemmy on bass, accessed rarely-traversed parts of the brain. The band’s legendary Chuck-Berry-on-metal riffing and live frequency oscillations (as well as author-fuzzball Michael Moorcock’s cosmic ruminations) were deep-frozen in wax on 1973’s Space Ritual.
Sound oscillators, sound generators and directional electro voice speakers designed and built by the Evil DikMik.
Why So Darn Loud?
Dave Brock (leader/guitarist): "We used to get quite spaced out, you know, and having these speakers blaring out behind you... well, it was all jolly exciting!"
|"In Search Of Space" album review (from Beat Instrumental issue 104, December 1971)
Hawkwind have a very definite ambition - to take a space trip and see what happens. This, at least is the idea behind the Space Opera on which they are now working. However, being earthbound at the moment, they've used the format of the new album as a preliminary foray. It's more thoughtful than the first album and musically a lot more complex. Nevertheless, they've managed to put over well the excitement and planned spontenaity of their live essence. Instrumentally, too, they've changed. The latest additions take the form of a medium-sized electronics laboratory: a VCS-3 synthesizer and an audio generator provide the basis. The music alternates between spaced out imagery and hard rock. It's an excellent album.
"In Search Of Space" album review (from Billboard, 1972)
In this, their second LP, Hawkwind nearly brings to fruition its claim of being a truly "mind-expanding" rock group. Their music is forcefully compelling, electronic and repetitive. Listening to this LP is virtually a "trip" in itself, an air of decadent sarcasm prevails. This LP is essentially an auditory "Star Trek". Highlights are "We Took The Wrong Step". "You Know You're Only Dreaming", etc..
"Hawkwind free concert - top Oval bill" (from Disc, 02/09/1972)
Hawkwind - whose "Silver Machine" got a Silver Disc this week - are to close the show at the Oval on September 16 with a mammoth act, complete with light show and firework display. Frank Zappa and the Mothers will go on during the afternoon.
Hawkwind are also to play a special charity gig at Windsor's Home Park on September 23. All proceeds are to go towards electric trolleys, invented by Lord Snowdon and Quentin Crewe, which can be loaded with wheelchairs and make crippled people's lives considerably easier. Other artists include Quicksilver Messenger Service, MC5 and the Pink Fairies, and a special marquee to seat 10,000 people is to be put up.
Renowned for doing charity gigs and giving value for money, Hawkwind have left themselves out of pocket after their Rainbow show where they gave away free food. They are also being pressed for damage done when 600 fans, unable to get in, stormed the crash barriers at the front of the theatre and allegedly caused £600 worth of damage.
|Review of 'Hawkwind - Sonic Assassins' (from Classic Rock, November 2004) **
Psych-rock visionaries Hawkwind have undeniably one of the most interesting stories in rock: paranoia, madness, drugs, fatal road accidents, not to mention startlingly inventive music that straddled the summer of love and the birth of punk rock. Therefore it's quite a stunning achievement that Ian Abrahams has managed to make this tale so antiseptic and academic-sounding.
There is nothing wrong with taking your subject seriously: up to a point. Abrahams interviews hundreds of people, his research is beyond meticulous and throws up scores of interesting facts: contrary to his 'never trust a hippy' philosophy John Lydon was a massive fan and the Dead Kennedys' Jello Biafra has admitted it was troubled 'Wind singer/poet Bob Calvert who inspired him to gather information on corporate and political injustice as source material for lyrics.
But this tome is really only for hardcore Hawk fans who don't mind that nearly all the joy, humour and passion has been cast aside in one extremely anodyne read.
Review of the 'Out Of The Shadows' DVD (from Classic Rock, November 2004) ****
They may be 35 years down the line but Hawkwind have both the musical muscle and the back catalogue to give great concert. Filmed on stage at Newcastle Opera House in '02, the three-man nucelus of Dave Brock, Alan Davey and Richard Chadwick are accompanied by special guests, in keeping with Hawkwind tradition. Former members Tim Blake, the keyboard maestro, and Huw Lloyd-Langton, the ever-popular guitarist, take the stage with regular Hawkfellow Arthur Brown, who endows the likes of 'Sonic Attack' and 'Silver Machine' with characteristic gothic melodrama while also presenting songs of his own, such as 'Time Captives'.
Each player takes his own showcase in a set that ranges from Brock's old busking song 'Hurry On Sundown' to the later-period powering 'Out Of The Shadows', not leaving out the obligatory spacey swishes of 'Aerospaceage Inferno' and 'Master Of The Universe'. The bonus is a long interview with Brock.
|Review of Hawkwind reissues (Castle Music/Essential) – from Classic Rock, Autumn 1999
While never living up to the early, quite literal highs of 1971's 'In Search Of Space' and the following year's 'Doremi Fasol Latido' albums, Hawkwind's '80s catalogue still warrants close inspection by any fans of psychedelic rock. That said, despite the admittedly extravagant repackaging on offer, which presents these records as a full set (each coming with a conveniently placed letter from the band's name on the spine...) the toe-dippers among you would be wisely advised to wait around for the obligatory greatest hits cash-in that is surely lurking now that rock legend Lemmy is back in full space commander mode.
Compared to the defining peaks of 73's seminal live opus 'Space Ritual’, the two live records, 'Live '79' (***) considered by Hawkish cognoscenti as a return to form in its original year of release and 'Palace Springs' (**), both fail to capture the contemporary imagination, the latter being a very disappointing odd'n'sods affair.
While ‘The Xenon Codex' (**) undoubtedly has flashes of the psychedelic brilliance of old, most notably on 'Sword Of The East’, the lifeless production leaves one reaching for the off button well before the final yawn of the 'finale' of 'Good Evening’.
Riding a resurgent festival wave of the then popular Whirligig scene, 1993's 'It's The Business Of The Future To Be Dangerous' (**) wandered off down a road littered with Ozric Tentacles outtakes and B-sides.
1980's 'Levitation' (***) and 1990's 'Space Bandits' (****) remain the pick of the bunch, and as standalone titles show just how much Hawkwind have succeeded in moving their acid rock roots into the modern ecstasy-fed cyber age, particularly the latter's sprawling anthems 'Images' and 'Out Of The Shadows’.
A full but occasionally rather flawed collection.
All Aboard Hawkwind's Space Ritual - from Sounds, 18/11/72
Hawkwind music: loud, brash, pulsing and screeching. The Space Ritual tour brings a whole new show to the nation's concert halls. The bass pulses through the hall, itself like a massive space capsule, the dull insistent hypnotic boom of a nuclear reactor.
Spidery figures wield guitars and crash drums in the flickering half-light at the end of the hall, packed with a dense mass of people, a sort of freaks' convention. A mass in another sense too, come to celebrate not only Hawkwind's accession to the ranks of bands whose gigs have "All Tickets Sold" on the door, but of those who share Hawkwind's populist philosophy.
As a sort of guideline, a printed sheet billed as "An extract from the voyage of Doremi Fasol Latido" circulates the hall, a vision of space-voyage intercut with the words of the songs:
"I've got an Orgone Accumulator.
It makes me feel greater
I'll see you some time later
When I'm through with
my Orgone Accumulator."
The words are inaudible through the rocketship roar. Wilhelm Reich would have been happy to see the way the vibes rise and rise inside this wooden capsule like the inside half of an egg: the throbbing bass hitting the base of the spine like a subliminal battering ram, the high frequencies from the synthesizer and the sax attacking the front of the head, performing a partial lobotomy, the flashing lights that frame one second the ancient mysterious shrine of Stonehenge, the next the Hawkwind insignia, disintegrating into sharp geometrical edges and shadows.
Hawkwind's trip? Seems it gets to everybody. Sucked into the compulsive vortex of the music, everybody flies with them. Bodies lose their defined outlines, the stiffness of everyday sinews melted by the waves from the stage.
Two chicks dance in sinuous curves, glittery eyes open by unseeing, sounds transmuted into motion (now there's real synaesthesia for you). At the end of the trip, the cheers begin and the peace sign thrusts up and out towards the stage from hundreds of pairs of hands.
"Silver Machine, Silver Machine" they chant. The band mutters and mumbles back on to the stage. The Silver Machine whizzes back into action and that blurring, numbing impetus projects the hall on through time and space... Stacia salutes, slow- motion, gestures from the wrist.
Their new dancer, blonde and sylph-like, a space fairy, frozen at perhaps ten frames a second, does a futuristic parody of the can-can across the line of the strobe — beautiful.
Back in the bus, bags packed, Nik slumps into his seat for a different kind of trip, back down the M1 from Dunstable to London, and the well-heeled freaks take over... "Yeah, man, can you dig it?... Far-out... Oh rilly?... Whatever your trip is, man...” German mutterings from the back seat, where the Can sit locked in earnest discussion... shouts for more papers... Welshmen and musicians thunder aggressively that they are drunk and stop the bus... the pretty girl in the pink dress turns out to be the dancer — "...bring some magic everywhere I go... you know Stoneground? They're my family... San Francisco... Jerry Garcia..." her Victorian dress belies its modesty in a cross-legged pose...
Another day. This is the Hawkwind Space Ritual, roll up for a new, totally new show, ladeez an' gennlemen.
- Martin Hayman
|Review of Sonic Attack from Progression magazine, Summer 1998:
Hawkwind re-releases, via its own Emergency Broadcast System label, this "lost classic" album - out of print since its original release in 1981.
1981 saw the band attempting to modify their heavy space-rock sound. Much of the album straddles a stylistic fence between Hawkwind's flirtation with "new-wave" sounds (a la Quark, Strangeness and Charm) and the fantasy thematics distinguishing albums such as Chronicle of the Black Sword or The Xenon Codex.
Tracks such as "Sonic Attack," "Coded Languages" and "Angels of Death" would remain mainstays of the band's 1980s concert repertoire. While not as consistent as some earlier releases, Sonic Attack still has much to offer the fan of spacey prog rock.
- Bill Knispel
Review of The 1999 Party Live from Progression magazine, Summer 1998:
Hawkwind's 1973 opus Space Ritual Live is hailed as a high water mark of early space/psychedelic rock. This live set, recorded a scant two years later in Chicago, shows the band's musical progress.
Ten of the tracks on this live album are nowhere to be found on Space Ritual Live, including two Michael Moorcock poems, "Intro/Standing On the Edge" and "Veteran of a Thousand Psychic Wars" (not to be confused with the Blue Oyster Cult song). Listeners are also treated to live takes of such pieces as "D-Rider," "The Watcher" and "The Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear in Smoke)," unavailable anywhere else.
This album stands as a kind of historical document. Later in this tour Hawkwind would have their equipment impounded for failure to pay taxes; their next tour would see the arrest and subsequent expulsion of bassist Lemmy Kilminster for drug possession.
Subtexts aside, this set provides further evidence as to Hawkwind's lofty status in progressive music. Too bad it took EMI almost 25 years to release it.
- Bill Knispel
|Mighty 'Wind – Hawkwind at Queen's University, Belfast, March 8,1973 (from Classic Rock, November 2004):
Hawkwind in the early 70s were one of the most exciting and innovative bands around, and they were massive.
An especially vivid air of anticipation surrounded their arrival in Belfast, at that time a musical wasteland which Rory Gallagher loyally visited every year, along with a variety of lesser artists playing at the university. But nobody had seen anything like Hawkwind.
The band had changed greatly since their inception four years earlier when, submerged in London's counter-culture, they began their sonic experimentation with an unruly fusion of blues and R&B, psychedelia and avant-garde jazz.
With their appearances outside the legendary 1970 Isle of Wight festival, Hawkwind became the ultimate freak band; champions of the alternative lifestyle, and people's heroes who would turn out for every free gig and benefit they could play.
Soon they shaped their ragged hippie improvisations into something really daring as they maximised the primitive electronics at their disposal and incorporated the creative ideas of designer Barney Bubbles, poet Robert Calvert, writer Michael Moorcock and lighting wizard Jonathan Smeeton. They invented space rock and hit the mainstream.
By the time Hawkwind touched down in Belfast, their concept was as comprehensive as it was astonishing. Jaws dropped as the audience thrilled to the scale of the experience. This was the celebrated Space Ritual show (immortalised two months later on the 'Space Ritual Alive' double album), incorporating a spectacular and dramatic mix of music, poetry, theatre, dance and lights, performed by the first classic line-up of the band. And it blew people upwards, outwards, inwards and clean away.
Everyone who was there is sure, today, that Amazonian dancer Stacia look her clothes off that night, or at least her top, as was her frequent practice. That may be a trick of the memory, but we like to believe it happened.
What no one has forgotten is the colour and intensity of the communal voyage to the outer limits of science fiction and fantasy, directed by the bizarrely costumed sax/flute player Nik Turner and a jack-booted Robert Calvert, propelled by Lemmy's metallic, speed-driven bass, the urgent scrubbing of 'The Captain' Dave
|Brock's rhythm guitar and Simon King's drumming, and made other-worldly by the whooshing electronica from the partnership of DikMik on audio generator, percussion and oscillators, and Del Dettmar with his synthesizers, keyboards and enormous beard.
It was a seamless, continuous performance which worked in all of the Ritual's essential components. And although it seems almost sacrilegeous to single out any of those, they memorably included 'Orgone Accumulator', 'Brainstorm', 'Sonic Attack' and 'Master Of The Universe', whose insidious riff had blared proudly out of car windows across Northern Ireland for the past two years.
At the end of the show, the dressing room opened to fans, some bearing gifts: poems, writings and paintings inspired by Hawkwind, most kept to this day by Nik Turner. Topping all of that was the lad who'd drawn up detailed plans to build a spaceship in his back garden. The fact that he had it at all says everything about the extraordinary capacity of the group at that
|time to capture and encourage so powerfully the imagination of a generation.