|Spock It To Me!
This piece is from the December 1974 issue of Let It Rock and is excerpted from a longer article
exploring the connections between science fiction and rock music. Most of it was too off topic for
our purposes...but the name of the full article was good, so we retain it here...
breakthrough. It didn't use space as an added effect, space was the effect. No words, just a musical tribute
..."I find your questions all but meaningless. I say that without wishing to insult..." Hawkmoon
rubbed his chin. "I find them meaningless, you see".
-Michael Moorcock, The Jewel in the Skull
Bowie has been mistakenly seen as a reversion to the past by those who confuse his image with his
manipulation of it. But with Hawkwind, SF Rock has truly completed another circle with all the power of a
159 bus hitting Streatham Garage.
I say that without wishing to insult, because, despite numerous references to a 'terminal case of
Hawkwind', I have grown rather fond of them. But what 'Telstar' was to the early sixties, 'Psychedelic
Warlords' is to the seventies. They both sound great without containing any real musicianship. 'Telstar' has
no words, 'Warlords' has the 1974 equivalent:-
Sick of politicians, harassment and laws
All we do is get screwed up by other people's flaws
That the two records have the same relation to their time makes them a good measure of the decade's
changes. 'Telstar' is a packaged three-minute non-ideological single. 'Warlords' is a seven-minute
anti-authoritarian diatribe album track. With improvisation. All they musically share is the creation of
excitement through an evocation of space set to rhythm. And here Hawkwind win hands down. Sounding,
as ever, like early Floyd on less mellow drugs, they pound away with a disregard for melody that is
absolutely addictive. The bass and drums reduce your brain to jelly, the guitar-drill breaks it up for the
synthesised wind to scatter the pieces all the way from here to Andromeda. You never need a second copy
'cos you wear out before the first one.
The Pink Floyd have always been synonymous with space rock in the public's imagination - at least until
the onslaught of Hawkwind. But Hawkwind, like early Floyd, have a solid popular constituency. They
neatly slot the ideas of the last decade into the older SF context. Timothy Leary writes Flash Gordon. As
Greg Shaw wrote, Hawkwind have created a "strong, imagination-sparking image; a return to the level of
teenage appeal space-rock had in the 50s". Space Ritual is a story full of ideas and it's fun and the lights
flash and everyone's zonked and Stacia looks great. The revolutionary ideas of early musicnauts may sound
corny five years on, but you've still got to hold on to them. That's progress.
Dave Downing traces the weird outlines of S.F.
Back in the dim past, before gimmickry became too
obvious to see, one of rock'n'roll's recurrent
gimmicks was to set its dance-hall adventures in
outer space. After all, why not? Buicks could be
starships, space was as real as the wild west, and
just as convenient a place to make stories without
any new ideas. The environment was enough.
Most of the people encountered out there, like the
Martians of 'Martian Hop', were extremely amiable,
allies in the anti-parental war, as willing to boogie as
the next kid. Billy Lee Riley did the 'Flying Saucer
Rock'n'Roll', so did Buchanan and Goldman,
knocking on the door of a rocket ship to hear
snatches of our music from the aliens inside. "Keep
a knockin' but you can't come in".
Eventually space got closer to home. The Russians
got there first, as Dylan observed in another context,
and Sputnik was followed into the heavens by
numerous other pieces of metal. Telstar was one of
them, and the song of that name was something of a