Definitive Versions - Hurry On Sundown

It was Hawkwind's first ever recording and is on their latest too...
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When it comes to Hawkwind and their plethora of live albums that inevitably result in multiple versions of
specific songs becoming available, the entire issue of whether there *is* such a thing as the Definitive
Version is open to question.  The answer to that question is going to depend on the individual.  Some
Hawkwind fans, for example those who were avid tapers and traders in the past, will probably feel that the
idea is nonsense - "there can't be a definitive version of anything, just more versions and therefore more
choice."  Those of a different temperament (like me) would respond "Sometimes a song is so perfectly
captured, it makes no sense to go on trying to improve on that - it's all downhill from there".  The former
camp will probably find this article a meaningless irrelevance, and the latter will probably disagree with my
choices.  If you do disagree, I'd like to hear your views and post them on this page.  (Email me
here...)

Thanks must go to Mike Holmes and Jill Strobridge for their authorship of the
Hawkwind Codex, which
these days lives here on my site.  Figuring out which versions of songs come from where would be an
impossible task without their work.

First under the microscope is Hurry On Sundown.  There are 6 distinct versions available (ignoring all the
compilations which include edits or cuts) and they are: 1) the Hawkwind Zoo 12" e.p. version (actually a
demo and Hawkwind's earliest ever recording); 2) the live version from the Text Of Festival album; 3) the
studio recording from the band's first album; 4) the live version from the Yule Ritual album (recorded
29/12/2000); 5) the live version from the Canterbury Fayre 2001 album (recorded 18/08/2001); and 6) the
live version from the Spaced Out In London album (recorded 13/12/2002).

It's notable that this track has made a big comeback into Hawkwind's set in recent years, as evidenced by
its appearance on each of their last three albums (all live recordings, humph!)  Despite this it is one of the
simplest of all Hawkwind songs, consisting of three chords - though the early renditions featured some
12-string acoustic guitar trickery - and is an interesting one in that it's made the transition from being an
acoustic number to an electric one, and still works with either arrangement.  Nor have the lyrics dated as
badly as one might expect of a 35-year old song (- in fact, to digress slightly, I can only think of a handful
of Hawkwind songs that do sound dated in any way; true originals that they always have been, they only
sound like themselves!).

Version 1 opens with the full acoustic fingerpicking intro, and is slightly slower than the better-known
versions.  It features some additional chording lead guitar, which fades in (swells) very effectively on the
verses.  There is a folkier vocal delivery by Dave Brock, with the line "well it may bring WAAAAR!" rising
to a crescendo on the last word.  The middle section features a melodic guitar solo by Mick Slattery, and
then a call-and-response duet between a percussive muted guitar strum and drum rolls by Terry Ollis - this
prefigures some subsequent Hawkwind moves in this direction on, for example, Space Ritual.  Overall, the
characterisitic feel of Hurry On Sundown isn't fully developed on this version, although it's damned good
considering it comes from a demo tape.

Version 2 is a very low quality live recording that loses the acoustic intro but ups the pace considerably.  It
features some welcome extra variations in the bassline, and a fantastic psychedelic guitar solo from Huw
Lloyd Langton.  Vamped chords in the middle section are a foretaste of the tribal character seen on
subsequent cuts like We Do It - and lets us hear the enjoyably primitive electronics too.  Nik's sax is not
prominent in the mix but adds some excellent colour in his solo towards the end of the song.  This version
really shows the band's progress from the 'undistinguished street folk' of their early days, in a more
psychedelic direction.

Version 3 is the classic rendition - or is it just the most familiar one?  In the studio it acquires harmonica
and a thumping bass drum which gives it more of a downhome feeling.  Terry Ollis emits some great
"clumsy battering" drum rolls around the kit.  The lead guitar is more subdued than on some other versions,
fitting into a more textural niche with the harmonica taking the limelight.  There's a nice lengthy outro with
slowing, reverb'd guitar chords.  This version really captures the shuffling, folky/bluesy essence of Hurry
On Sundown, and of course includes the lovely 12-string acoustic guitar intro.

Version 4 is live from the year 2000 and of course this makes it a wholly different animal, awash with
synth and nothing acoustic in sight.  But Richard Chadwick faithfully pays homage to Terry in a couple of
places with a bit of clumsy battering of his own.  The bassline is the same as always, and Brock skilfully
adapts his acoustic guitar part of half a lifetime ago to this high energy live rendition at the close of the 20th
century.  The song's limitations show up all the same, as the electronic embellishments don't hide the fact
that the song consists of just a single riff.  The anabolic-steroidal bass sound that the Yule Ritual album
acquired during mastering doesn't help either.

Version 5.  The Canterbury Fayre 2001 live album had a generally warmer, more organic sound to it, but
the idiosyncratic violin vamping that Simon House adds here replaces the irritating qualities of the bass on
the previous version.  Huw puts in some characteristic lead guitar which is more reminiscent of his
Levitation-era stylings than the incendiary soloing on Version 2. They still manage to suit the song quite well
and overall it doesn't seem as exposed as on the Yule Ritual version.

Version 6.  The most recent addition to the ranks, and by this time Hawkwind seem to have got used
enough to playing it live that they know what to do with it.  Dave gives the rhythm guitar more or less his
trademark distorted sound, and there are background vocals from Alan Davey on the "Hurry on sundown"
chorus.  Tim Blake's excellent keyboard solo and incidental colour raise the bar, too, and Dave expands the
scope of the staccato middle section by putting in his 'Mask Of The Morning intro' ascending chord
progression.  The main weakness here is possibly Alan Davey's bass playing, which sticks too closely to the
original D-D-C-E bass riff - but shows hints of how this number might develop into an innovative part of
the set with more experimentation, as on Version 2 in the bass department.

Conclusion
The three live versions (4, 5 and 6) are different, and show some linear progression from one album to the
next.  The song as originally conceived is too simplistic to be a good live number without this development -
let's hope it continues, and gets back to where Version 2 was, by going forward.  Each of the early acoustic
versions has something to recommend it, such as Huw's solo in Version 2, which has other good things
going for it but is spoiled  by the poor sound quality.  Version 1, the demo, is an interesting one and is in
some ways the most well developed, due to Mick Slattery's influence perhaps.  But Version 3 is closest to
being definitive, probably due to familiarity, in that it best captures the feel of Hurry On Sundown - the
harmonica, the shuffling rhythm, the acoustic intro and the folky vocals.

But I'm still not sure that Hurry On Sundown proves the point as far as Definitive Versions go...!