|Greasy Trucker's Party
26th October 2007
devoted to Man and Brinsley Schwarz), with this tracklist:
1. Announcement/Apology (1.57)
2. This Is Your Captain Speaking (breakdown) (1.37)
3. This Is Your Captain Speaking (2.42)
4. You Shouldn't Do That (10.12)
5. The Awakening (6.07)
6. Master of the Universe (8.35)
7. Paranoia (5.01)
8. Earth Calling (3.23)
9. Silver Machine (4.26)
10. Welcome To The Future (3.35)
11. Born To Go (9.07)
12. Brainstorm (Jam) (9.51)
There's also Andy Dunkley's End Announcement which isn't a Hawkwind track. And in fact the first three
Hawkwind tracks are barely worthy of the name. The CD doesn't really get going until track 4, You
Shouldn't Do That. The Announcement/Apology is no more than the band settling down on stage,
checking their instruments, with Nik Turner's halting commiseration with the audience, who'd only just
come back in after having to leave the venue en masse due to a power cut. (Read all about it in the
booklet...) The next track, This Is Your Captain Speaking, is just starting to get going before the power
apparently cuts out again and you can hear an irritated band member (Dave Brock, I believe) shouting "start
again". And they do, thus giving us a second version of 'This Is Your Captain Speaking', and it's barely any
more musically coherent for the first minute or so, consisting of random thumps and squeaks. Brock's
chromatic revving guitar chords and some very overwrought vocals, probably snarled by Nik Turner, finally
turn this into a recognisable piece though it hardly qualifies as a song.
But You Shouldn't Do That emerges out of the chaos and lays down a groove that the band explore
throughout the remainder of this performance: Hawkwind in early 1972, raw, unpolished, but brimming
with power. The timing is subtly off compared to the tighter versions of this song they were using as an
encore on the Space Ritual tour towards the end of that year: but this was pre-Space Ritual and pre-Silver
Machine too, so it is the Hawkwind that typified the Underground in action. So much of this album consists
of the earliest known recordings (ignoring bootlegs) of material that was later honed and recorded for
posterity in a more developed form. You Shouldn't Do That is a case in point, with all the basic elements
that feature on the Space Ritual Alive / Roadhawks recordings present here, but it's somehow earthier and
more direct than those subsequent versions.
The superb clarity of this recording is one of the reasons why. According to the booklet, the original
8-track tape that was used to capture the event (on the Pye Mobile recording studio, engineered by Vic
Maile, who must have known his stuff on this evidence) was recently discovered in a basement...in who
knows what condition. Plaudits to whoever it was that got it into shape for mastering this album, which
sounds fantastic, as though the band are playing right in front of you. It might even put the recently
remastered Space Ritual Alive (Collector's Edition 2007) to shame.
The Awakening has been described as Bob Calvert's Dalek impression: his vocals are fed through some sort
of signal processing, not dissimilar to what was done with some of the Moorcock-penned spoken word
pieces on the Warrior On The Edge Of Time album. But Bob's lyric poetry is far superior IMHO and
suffers from the vocal treatment here. It is followed by some minimal spacey noises of the Dik'n'Del
variety, while Dave Brock runs through the descending chord sequence from You Know You're Only
Dreaming, which a few months later also got inserted into the coda of Space Is Deep, and this seems to
have been a precursor of that, with plenty of wah effect and some additional chording not present in ...Only
Master Of The Universe is next, and this is one of only two tracks from this recording that have been
released before...on the original vinyl album and as a bonus on the EMI CD reissues of Space Ritual Alive.
It lacks the pace and sparkle of the studio recording, but again exemplifies the grinding, steamroller quality
of Hawkwind live at that time: this was the real spirit of the age... As well as being familiar to us it would
have also been familiar to the audience (unlike most of the other songs on this recording) having been out on
the In Search Of Space album for the best part of year when this live version was recorded. The same is
true, truer in fact, of Paranoia (from the first album) which is the only number greeted with audible
recognition and appreciation by the crowd. The rendition is perhaps the tightest of any of the songs here
maybe because they had been playing this live a couple of years. It doesn't really do anything we haven't
heard before, give or take a couple of Calvert groans mid-song, but OK.
Next we have Earth Calling, another precursor to the Space Ritual versions to come a few months later.
It's naÃ¯ve and embryonic, with a chorus of disembodied druggy-sounding voices intoning "Earth Calling"
before Dave Brock once again brings some shape to proceedings with his guitar riffing. To be honest it
isn't a patch on the wonderful climactic opening to the Space Ritual Alive album that the band recorded
some 10 months after this: but the development of the track is clear to see, and it's great to have access to
this earliest available version of it. And then it segues into the original recording of Silver Machine,
complete with the insouciant but unsuccessful Bob Calvert vocal that was later removed, so that Lemmy's
silken tones could propel Hawkwind to the top three of the UK singles chart. Now, this original recording,
devoid of overdubs, has been available before, on the Glastonbury Fayre album, which has also been as rare
as Greasy Truckers and is also getting a CD reissue if it hasn't already. But there is now no need to acquire
that if your interest is limited to Hawkwind, since both the tracks it included are also here: following straight
on from Silver Machine is Welcome To The Future. This is intoned by Nik Turner and once again the
musical content is sparse apart from Dave Brock's contribution. As he leads the crescendo, some
incongruous flute playing does pop out of the mix, showing Nik was doing more than just singing and
parping away as he does here and there.
Welcome To The Future wasn't, for once, the last thing they played on the night: the running order is that it
was followed by Born To Go. Already there has been some indignation about this newly released version,
which at first hearing appears to have been edited down from the longer recording that appeared on the
original vinyl album and as a bonus track on CD issues of Space Ritual Alive. But Dave Brown has done
some careful research to suggest otherwise. Best I just quote him directly:
"The newly-released version has no echo on the vocals. That tells us before we even start that the original
LP version (and the Space Ritual bonus track) is a remix. At 2:45, just after the second verse ends, there's
a prominent Simon King drum roll, followed by that big synthesizer "swirl" from earlier in the song. This
isn't in the new version, and I think that's because it's an overdub, added from earlier in the song.
When we get the verse that starts "We were born to blaze", on the "old" version it's at 3:02, but on the new
version it's at 4:15. However, vocally it's sung differently (listen to Calvert on "A nuclear way through
space".) In fact, in the old version this verse is sung again, at 7:18. This second rendition is vocally
identical to the same verse at 4:15 in the new version...and is only sung once.
So where's this "alternate" take on the verse from? It isn't anywhere in the "new" recording. Personally I'm
beginning to suspect it's an overdub added later (with Calvert adding vocals at the mixing stage), and this
is the reason why the version on the new CD is shorter - it is in fact the original "as heard on the night"
version, and the version we're familiar with has been chopped up a bit, and overdubbed. The version on
Space Ritual has certainly been cleaned up and enhanced, so who's to say it wasn't 'extended' as well? "
Dave wants me to stress that this is only his opinion, but I for one am convinced and have updated the
Hawkwind Codex accordingly...which makes the new 3CD rendition version 1, clocking in at 9:07,with the
"old" version (12:24 in length) found on the vinyl album and on Space Ritual Alive CD reissues becoming
version 1a. Version 1b is the old 7" single version (B-side to "Lord Of Light") which lasted 5:05, because it
was faded out from version 1.
The final thing here is called Brainstorm (Jam) and it does what it says on the tin. In fact it's a jam around
the middle section of Brainstorm, without the most recognisable parts of the song, the verse and chorus...
though an early stab at the is-he-dead-where's-his-head riff kicks this off. The main interest is in hearing
this song in an early stage of its development since there are far better live recordings of it out there to be
had. This is pretty ramshackle by comparison with where they took the song subsequently. One interesting
thing about it, though, is that it closes out with the Seeing It As You Really Are coda that afterwards got put
on the end of You Shouldn't Do That instead.
A last word about the packaging: this is housed in a double-wide old styled jewel CD case, with a cover that
faithfully represents the original Greasy Truckers artwork, and contains a 24 page booklet that I've already
mentioned, with extensive sleeve notes written by Dave Robinson and Doug Smith, who it turns out, were
the movers behind the Greasy Truckers charity organisation way back in 1972. These notes are very good
but the photos of Hawkwind are poor, and there's one of their dancer "Stacey" which is a surprising thing to
have slipped through the cracks given the otherwise impeccable job that has been done in making this lost
classic available once again. It's not the best Hawkwind in existence but it's very far from being the worst,
either, and is an essential purchase for those who are serious about being Hawkfans. 8/10.
This was an inspired idea...to reissue on a 3-CD
package the original double live album recorded
live at The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
on February 13th, 1972. There were only ever
20,000 copies of the album pressed, and once
they were gone this quickly became one of the
most desirable and rarest of Hawkwind
collectables: it took me until 1997 to get my
hands on a copy, and then the first EMI reissue
of Space Ritual Alive included the 2 Hawkwind
tracks from Greasy Truckers as bonus tracks:
so the vinyl album lost much of its lustre at that
...But now, something excellent has happened
with this reissue providing all of the Hawkwind
performance instead of just the paltry two
tracks we've previously been able to hear. In
fact one of the three CD's in the package
consists only of Hawkwind (the others are