Golden Void 1969 - 1979 CD review
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Released by Purple Pyramid in 1999, this compilation consists of material that first saw release on Flicknife
in the 1980's, though much of it was recorded far earlier.  It's a double CD with extensive sleevenotes
(reproduced on the
Album Sleeve Notes, Part 4 page) and, perhaps surprisingly, still seems to be readily
available.

While none of the material is new, the benefit of this compilation is that it collects some items which are
otherwise unavailable on CD, into one place.  The roster of tracks is an intelligent selection culled from the
EP's that Hawkwind released on Flicknife, along with some of the better offerings from albums such as the
"Friends & Relations" series.  However, the tracks are grouped by the name under which the band was
trading at the time they were *recorded*, rather than in the sequence in which they were *released*, which
is slightly odd: but I suppose the end result is to put the tracks into chronological sequence, from 1969 to,
er, 1987, which rather belies the title of the album, but never mind.

Our first tranche of material, then, is credited to Hawkwind Zoo and comprises two tracks from the
Flicknife 'Hawkwind Zoo EP': the demo version of
Hurry On Sundown, replete with Mick Slattery’s
woozy psychedelic lead guitarings, and
Sweet Mistress Of Pain.  This latter number is probably the most
antiquated sounding song in the canon of the band's work.  It has also sometimes gone by the (much better)
title of "Kiss Of The Velvet Whip", but Sweet Mistress Of Pain does at least sum up the completely naff
qualities of this elderly relic of the 60's.  Thinking about this, one of Hawkwind's greatest strengths (perhaps
their single greatest strength) is that they almost never sound dated, in the same way that Hendrix still
sounds fresh: the hallmark of great music is this timeless quality, and the best thing about Sweet Mistress Of
Pain is its reminder of this fact - the exception that proves the rule...

The Hawkwind Zoo EP also provides us with the strange instrumental version of Kings Of Speed, which
crops up a little later, under the name of 'Hawkwind'; and so, more of that particular track anon.  Though
we do at this point cross the threshold of the name change, with the 'Zoo' part being dropped and the band
trading as just 'Hawkwind'.  This was apparently the suggestion of John Peel, who'd urged Doug Smith to
sign the band in the first place but was oddly never a proponent of theirs.  It is an interesting fact that
Hawkwind never once did a John Peel session in all the years he flew the flag for alternative music on BBC
Radio 1 - though I did hear him play 'Life Form' and 'Infinity' when DJ'ing at the Reading Festival in 1979,
and it's notable that Hawkwind dedicated 'Take Me To Your Leader" jointly to John Peel and Tommy
Vance.  Dave Brock's association with John Peel predates Hawkwind's existence, as Brock did actually
record sessions for Peel's show, and even performed there as a backing musician for future Eurovision
Song Contestant Clodagh Rogers!  (That's one way to get from Hawkwind to Dana International within six
degrees of separation :-))

Anyway, that digression will make more sense when you realise I was trying to put off listening to the next
track,
We Do It: a terrible turgid drone originating from a live gig at the Cambridge Corn Exchange in 1971,
I believe, though I have never been able to identify the actual date of this gig (which first saw release as disc
2 of the Text Of Festival album).  The
1971 Gig & Set Lists page shows Hawkwind performing at that
venue on 25th May, but the engineer at
Spaceward Studios who did the recording gives a date of 27th
January 1972.  A date of 21st February 1971 has also been bruited about, but the band apparently played at
the Epping Wake Arms on that date.  Anyway, "We Do It" vies with "Sweet Mistress Of Pain" for being one
of the poorest Hawkwind tracks in existence, and things can only get better as far as this album is
concerned.

Next up is
Earth Calling, as heard before on Friends & Relations Vol 2, and Weird 106: a rendition which is
not quite as tight and cohesive as the definitive version found on Space Ritual Alive, but is enlivened by an
audible spoken-word vocal that repeats "This is Earth Calling".  Hard to say who is doing this since it doesn't
sound like Dave and definitely isn't Nik (to whom we must give credit for the most distinctive voice in
Hawkwind).  Could it be Bob Calvert?  This is another little-observed quirk about the band, IMHO: how the
odd track from the early 70's has these unidentifiable vocal passages (e.g. the version of You Shouldn't Do
That on the Roadhawks album.).  For me, not knowing the identity of the vocalist invokes a long-buried
memory of the time when Hawkwind were a mysterious long-haired collective of nameless ciphers - remote
and unknowable, and utterly different to the overt celebrity of the bands of the day such as Slade and T.
Rex...

Now the narrative returns to the Hawkwind Zoo EP, with the inclusion of the instrumental version of
Kings
Of Speed
that appeared on that release, despite having been recorded in 1975, long after Hawkwind Zoo had
become elevated into Hawkwind.  This sounds to me like an unfinished rough mix studio recording, with
everything there except the vocals.  It's made various other appearances, such as on the Independent Days
Vol 2 vinyl album, since put out on CD as
Independent Days Vols 1 & 2,  which led me to muse that the
extra space opened up by the absence of vocals reveals additional layers of keyboard and sax.  There isn't
much more to add.  And then we roll straight into the Brock demo version of
Motorhead, of pretty much an
identical vintage, being laid down in 1975 as the B-side to Kings of Speed: though neither of the versions
here were released on the single, but are alternates.

Spirit Of The Age, which follows, is the peerless live version from Stonehenge on 21/6/1977, previously
heard on Weird 102, and still a superb standout: possibly the best live Hawkwind track in existence.  This is
of course Quark-era Hawkwind and so it's qualitatively different to (say) the version of the band that did
Space Ritual Alive, but it is nonetheless Hawkwind at the absolute top of their game.  The rendition of
Robot
which follows is almost as good, but is unfortunately an edit of the original live recording that first appeared
on the vinyl Hawkwind Friends & Relations (vol.1) album.  I suspect the master tape for that has vanished
since every subsequent re-release featuring this particular version of the song has truncated the running time
to 5:59 down from the original 8:17 - and the couple of minutes that have been lost featured a brilliant ending
of structured collapse, with all the instruments going haywire in a nonverbal suggestion of cybernetic
breakdown.  Interestingly the Hawkwind Codex claims the 5:59 edit to be version 1b - a cut from version 1a
(as heard on the Friends & Relations 1 LP), which is itself claimed to be an edit of version 1 from Weird
103.  In other words, the Codex suggests the version on Weird 103 to be the original, with several
successive edits therefrom.  I suspect this to be incorrect since they sound like subtly different versions to
me, albeit evidently dating from the same tour / era given the almost identical arrangements etc..

At this point Hawkwind yield the stage to the Sonic Assassins, a name that refers exclusively to the
configuration of Brock / Calvert / Bainbridge / Griffin / Hayles that played at Barnstaple Queensway Hall on
23/12/1977.  This CD provides 4 of the 5 Sonic Assassins tracks known to have survived:
Over The Top,
Free Fall, Death Trap and Golden Void.  The first three of these appeared on the Sonic Assassins EP
released by Flicknife in 1981, and Golden Void was another track that appeared on Volume 1 of the
Hawkwind Friends & Relations series - quite the most unique version of this particular song, featuring as it
does a very stripped-down arrangement, devoid of sax and dominated by guitar, and a splendid slow,
plaintive Brock guitar solo.  The only other Sonic Assassins track that has survived was a blended medley of
Magnu and Angels Of Death (the earliest ever appearance of Angels Of Death, in fact) and it's a pity that
that is not included here for the sake of completeness.  In fact, a release of the entire Sonic Assassins live
set is something of a glaring omission from the Hawkwind discography: though the 5 tracks that have been
preserved for posterity comprise the bulk of the set list, which is given as Magnu; Angels Of Death; Jam;
Free Fall; Death Trap; Awakening; Over The Top; Golden Void; Instrumental.

Onto CD2 and it's the Hawklords who take over, with
Valium 10 (the full length version from the 12-inch
45 rpm Motorhead single released in 1980) and the rare track
Time Of...  The former, hailing once again
from the Hawkwind Friends & Relations volume 1, as well as Weird 102,  features a mighty hypnotic
groove not always as appreciated as it should be.  While this a quality that Hawkwind have always had, itâ
€™s often overshadowed by other aspects of their work, such as improvisational thematic development
(Brainstorm) or sheer pounding blanga (Master Of The Universe).  On Valium 10, all that is stripped away
and the thing that stands out is the repetitive dynamic that underpins so much of the band's 'inner space'
appeal.  "Time Of..." is a different kind of exercise, though, and can be dated and/or pigeonholed very
exactly, as originating from the early months of 1979 and the abbreviated post-Calvert Hawklords line-up of
Brock, Bainbridge, Swindells and King.  They also came up with Time Of's stylistic siblings, Douglas In The
Jungle and British Tribal Music: like those tracks, this is an unconventional instrumental dominated by
bleeping keyboards and high-stepping rhythm.

The name of the band reverts to Hawkwind, as we leave the 70's behind and embark upon the only place
where you can find the content of the 1984 "Earth Ritual EP" on CD.  This of course means the songs
Night of The Hawks, Green Finned Demon, Dream Dancers and Dragons & Fables.  The former two
tracks are highly familiar, the latter two less so.  Dream Dancers is a fairly brief (1:21) synth-based piece
redolent with menace which leads straight into Huw Lloyd-Langton's neglected Dragons & Fables.  Lyrically
this is of a piece with much of the Chronicle Of The Black Sword album, invoking images of sword and
sorcery, and musically it's classic HLL, if suffering from a rather pedestrian arrangement: the one on the
Live Chronicles album is much more dynamic.  Still, you have to wonder why this song never seems to get
a live outing nowadays.  Huw's live performances of the last few years have heavily featured other tracks
he's written for Hawkwind, such as Rocky Paths, Moonglum & Elric, Waiting For Tomorrow and Solitary
Mind Games: but Dragons & Fables has never, as far as I know, been resurrected, which seems like
something of a missed opportunity.

Finally,
The Interview With Dave Brock does what is says on the tin - it  was previously released by
Flicknife as part of a box set of vinyl albums called "The Official Picture Log Book", back in 1987, and I
believe was conducted by Gina and Frenchy of Flicknife.  Obviously I'm not going to rehash the interview
here, especially as it's over half an hour long.  But the ground covered includes some fairly standard topics
such as busking, playing in Holland in the late 60's, free festivals, Silver Machine, drugs, unauthorised
releases, legal issues etc..  It's as engaging a ride as any time that Dave subjects himself to the microphone
and is a very welcome addition here.  It's not to be found anywhere else, of course.

A word about the album's packaging: it's a little different from the norm, with the sleeve notes provided on a
foldout double-sided sheet, and the two CD's are on gold discs rather than silver for those who like such
things.  And kompletists will want or already have this, of course.  But for the rest of us, the question is
whether or not this title is worth acquiring.  Like many other Hawkwind compilations, the value of this one
has been eroded over time, and particularly by the emergence of the Weird CD's in 2000 (remember, this
title dates from 1999) - but it still retains the value of providing on CD the Earth Ritual tracks which I think
you can't currently obtain anywhere else.
Tracklist:

Hurry on Sundown          The Interview with Dave
Sweet Mistress of Pain     Brock
We Do It
Earth Calling
Kings of Speed
Motorhead
Spirit of the Age
Robot
Over the Top
Free Fall
Death Trap
Golden Void
Valium 10
Time Of...
Night of the Hawks
Green Finned Demon
Dream Dancers
Dragons and Fables
It's only been out for 6 years...