Leave No Star Unturned
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Just as there is a plethora of live Hawkwind CD's from 1989-90, 1972 is also starting to look a little
crowded.  Joining the ranks of Greasy Truckers, Hawkwind at the BBC, Space Ritual Alive and Space Ritual
Sundown V2, here now is Leave No Star Unturned: recorded live at Cambridge Corn Exchange on the 27th
of January, 1972.  The existence of this recording has long been known, and sometimes erroneously dated
to February 1971.  But its provenance could not be better documented (see the Spaceward Studios history
at  
http://www.spacewardstudios.ukf.net/stories.htm), this having been recorded on a makeshift basis by
a couple of college students.  And since the news first crept out that this recording was to be released on
CD, there has been a certain amount of controversy surrounding it.

On the one hand, the record label say they have legally sub-licensed the content from EMI, and this claim
has been endorsed by Hawkwind biographer Ian Abrahams (who also wrote the sleeve notes).  Their
contention is that royalties will be paid to EMI who will then disburse these to the musicians involved.  On
the other hand, Hawkwind's official word on the subject is that this is an unauthorised release from which
they will see no proceeds.  Unfortunately, this announcement was made *after* I (and probably many other
fans) had already ordered the CD.  I suppose I could have cancelled the order, but...¦I didn’t. It certainly
occupies a grey area, and each prospective buyer would need to make up his or her own mind as to whether
or not it's an ethical purchase.

But that was all weeks and months ago, which seems an eternity (never mind the intervening 39 years since
the Revox rolled) when you've ordered a CD and are checking the post every day to see if it's turned up.  At
last the thing arrives (thank you, CD Services) and what a peculiar shape it is.  Although it’s been
described as coming in a "long box", the packaging is about the size of a (very slim) paperback book.  Or to
be slightly more modern about it, it's actually the same size as a DVD case, albeit thinner.  The outermost
part of it is a card sleeve bearing a rather uninspired design: within are a cardboard tray, a well known 1972
United Artists PR photo printed up as a postcard, the 20-page colour booklet and the CD itself in a slip
cover.  Most of the photos liberally adorning this material were taken by Jörgen Angel (with some live
snaps from Doug Anderson), and the entire package is nice enough to give it the *feel* of a legitimate
release, unlike the majority of pirated / bootleggy CD's that have done so much to tarnish Hawkwind's
name.  Will this be any better?

The CD opens with an upward swirl of cacophony that resolves after a minute or so into
You Shouldnâ
€™t Do That
.  The sound quality is decent and acceptable, but not high fidelity by any means: it retains
some muddiness despite the remastering and is further compromised by what sounds like boomy venue
acoustics and a few momentary signal dropouts.  The audio quality is about where the Greasy Truckers
album was before it too was freshened up for reissue.  The song itself is arranged similarly to other
contemporary live recordings of YSDT (think sub-Roadhawks) but is yet more primitive, with a
bludgeoning aural assault.  Every instrument plays in unison for the most part, though Lemmy does do his
little wander off mid-number, before returning to the headbanging lockstep that came of the telepathic
understanding he shared with Dave Brock.  Whose turn it then is to mix it up a bit, crunching down on the
wah pedal in combination with double-time muted chording.

Next is
The Awakening, narrated by Bob Calvert Hisself, although the vocals are dreadfully muddy and
unable to penetrate the ambient soup of funny noises in which they swim. I actually thought this was Sonic
Attack at first.  Disappointing, but brief, as
You Know You're Only Dreaming swiftly ensues.  This is
interesting, it's exactly what you would imagine of the slightly whimsical / flowery 1971 studio track being
performed live by the nascent juggernaut of Hawkwind in January 1972.  True, there are differences, with
little in the way of vocals other than some weird chirrupings that the sleeve notes say were done by Brock.  
It is most reminiscent of the outro to Space Is Deep on the Space Ritual Alive album (that outro reused this
riff), until lapsing into more yet confused skullduggery.  One imagines the band looking at each other across
the stage, going "er...¦what are we doing?"  Someone must have yelled "
Master of the Universe" as they
crank that out - once again with an arrangement that's close to the Greasy Truckers version.  As with that
album, there's a very palpable sense that this isn't Hawkwind in their prime.  They're making their way out
of the limiting musical ooze in which they had been mired hitherto, still formulating the shapes of things to
come.  MotU is another monolithic, piledriving stomp.  Terry Ollis is the (only) drummer on this, and it
occurs to me that his "extremely primitive style" ( © Brock ) is what keeps the band in this framework of
mass pounding.  It works fairly well on most of the material, and as if to emphasise the intense focus the
band maintain in this mode, MotU turns on a ...¦half-crown...¦ and transitions into a taut, meaty
Paranoia.  
Which is truly dystopian, intense and harrowing.  Not to mention tight: whatever the constraints of the audio
capture, you can tell it was a very decent expression on the night of how far they'd journeyed, musically.

Which in one or two spots, is not all that far.  
Earth Calling sees the band apparently accompanied by a
drunk who'd climbed on stage and managed to get hold of a microphone...¦but it's just another effect, and
the lowest budget of them all.  (Silly voices?  Really?)  Then there's a desultory minute or so of aimless
cosmic tootling before
Silver Machine livens things up.  Perhaps for the first time ever, the musical quality
of it gleams like a lost ring glimpsed in the mud. The boogie rifferama is a step up from the ensemble
clubbing of other tracks, given Brock's alternation of 6th and 7th chords (you know, that Status Quo thing)
with Lemmy just thrumming along on the root note, always simple but laden with a bootful of low-end
swagger. The vocals are Calvert's and not half bad - where his insouciant delivery plumbed the ridiculous on
the Greasy Truckers remaster, here he musters enough conviction to not sound out of place.

Silver Machine ends somewhat abruptly and an overwrought
Welcome to the Future is deployed.  The band
had not yet developed this into the ascending chromatic finale that so excellently concluded the Space Ritual  
Alive album (and which, in my mind's ear I always want / expect to hear mutating into the version of Born
to Go that kickstarts that album.)  I nearly get my wish here, with Born to Go following on from Welcome
to the Future, but there's a lot of audience applause separating them and
Born to Go in any case opens with
over three minutes of instruments being tuned.  (See, they did do that.)  Once they get going...¦it's again
very similar to the Greasy Truckers version (which after all was also recorded live, a mere nineteen days
after this occasion).  And not a patch on the Space Ritual Alive version, which really sums up the problem
with putting out live Hawkwind albums from this period.

Nothing is going to top what they've already done, and to be fair I don't think the record company that's
issued this release are expecting to conquer the world with it.  It's been put out because there’s an
unquenchable demand from the hardcore fanbase for this kind of thing. Anyone who collects Hawkwind
audience recordings (this sounds about as good as a reasonably superior instance of such a thing) will want
and enjoy this CD.  It's probably not going to find its way onto the shelves of whatever wretched emporia
still sell CDs on UK high streets these days, so the likelihood of casual buyers hearing this as their first
exposure to Hawkwind is low.  But if they did, it might not win many converts (unlike Space Ritual Alive)
but nor would it spawn Yuri-Gagarin levels of repulsion. And if you have to choose, Greasy  Truckers
edges ahead of this album.  Too late to cancel my order now, though :-/   7/10.