|Album Sleeve Notes, Part 7
Hawkwind have now been in action for over
twenty-two years and the number of albums and
compilations, including many collections licensed
from one record company to another because they
know that all Hawkwind albums have a guaranteed
sale, will be around eighty when this hits the
Hawkwind tours sell-out quickly and the shows are
masterpieces of good music blended with a
dazzling stage show which involves a spectacular
lightshow, with further use of such delights as
dancers, mime artists, fire-eaters, lasers, fireworks
at some gigs. Even conjurors and jugglers have
appeared on the Hawkwind stage...you never know
what to expect!
Not bad for a band which was written off as a
bunch of noisy, untrained, drug-crazed hippies in the early days. Of course, to be fair, at that time many
Hawkwind personnel were musically untrained, inclined to be drug-crazed hippies and they sure as hell
made a lot of noise. It wasn't the visual show that was unpredictable then. It was the band. They could
be brilliant on one night and awful on the next, according to their state of mind and body and depending
on who turned up for the gig. Ah, golden days of fun. It started like this...
Dave Brock, principal founder member of Hawkwind, spent the latter half of the sixties sometimes
working in blues bands and sometimes busking. In 1969 he was busking, but thinking of getting another
group together. Also keen on the idea were John Harrison (another busker) and Mick Slattery (who had
been with Brock in a band called The Famous Cure). They advertised in the music press for more
musicians and got a response from Terry Ollis. They started rehearsing.
Then they came across Nik Turner (whom Dave and Mick Slattery had first met in Famous Cure days)
and since Nik had a van he qualified as a roadie. However, since he also had a saxophone he was soon
admitted to the band. Another old friend, DikMik, was invited to join and to bring his audio generator and
Hawkwind had come into being, though in those days they were simply known as Group X.
The early years of Hawkwind were spent in the Ladbroke Grove / Notting Hill area of West London and
this must have influenced the band's attitudes and ideals. Certainly it would have encouraged Hawkwind's
creativity, belief in the rights of the individual and rebelliousness against authority.
That part of London is a multi-national melting pot containing many races, colours and creeds. It is an
area which attracts artistic people from those living on the street level to those famed on stage and film,
literature and music. It is also an area which the authorities have allowed to become scarred by a blend of
slums and homes for the very wealthy.
High above the ground, the Westway flyover crosses this unhappy panorama, bearing traffic in and out
of the city and beneath the Westway, on the wastelands within its scruffy arches, Hawkwind would
frequently set up their gear in 1969 and the early seventies, playing to whoever cared to listen. It was
there that the band first got involved with Michael Moorcock. An inevitable meeting since they all lived in
the same area and both band and author shared opinions and interests in science fiction and the
Underground movement, the anti-establishment rebellion. One Saturday afternoon Hawkwind had set up
their equipment when Mike turned up and offered Dave some poems, including Sonic Attack, and Dave
suggested that he stay and perform them himself. He did so and that was the start of a bond scheduled to
last many years.
In the summer of 1969, Group X played a brief set at the All Saints Hall in Notting Hill, where they were
observed by Douglas Smith of Clearwater Productions. It's hard to imagine the short jam they did as
being all that wonderful but Douglas must have seen the potential that lay within the band and he signed
them to Clearwater (who also had on their books future Hawkwind members Tim Blake, Thomas
Crimble and Simon House).
Needing a more positive name than Group X, they came up with Hawkwind Zoo and it was under this
name that they recorded their demo single, Hurry On Sundown / Kiss Of The Velvet Whip (later issued
by Flicknife records as Hurry On Sundown / Sweet Mistress Of Pain) which enabled Clearwater to
secure them a recording contract with Liberty/United Artists. Soon after, the name was shortened to
The first Hawkwind album was released in 1970, by which time Mick Slattery had left and been replaced
by Huw Lloyd Langton, who had worked in the music shop where Dave Brock bought some of his
equipment. Entirely written by Brock, the album reflected the musical styles he was leaving behind and
the fields into which he was entering. The first and last tracks, Hurry On Sundown and Mirror Of
Illusion owed much to his blues and busking background whilst the rest of the album leaned towards the
Eurorock rhythms, chanting and electronic sounds which were to form the basis of the Hawkwind
sound. A good album in its own right, it must have sounded pretty amazing to the large number of fans
who would have listened to it while stoned.
During the same month that the first Hawkwind album was released, the band played at the Isle Of Wight
Festival, a major event at that time. They weren't on the bill, but they set up outside the concert area and
played for nothing, claiming it a protest against the high price of admission to the real event. Ironically,
the band knew the security staff and so were able to get in for nothing, which they did. Nik painted his
face silver and a photo of him appeared in various international magazines, while Jimi Hendrix, headlining
act, dedicated one of his songs to 'the cat with the silver face'. Jimi came outside and talked with
Hawkwind, but his state of depression kept him from jamming with them. It was Jimi's last major gig
and he died a few days later. Huw left Hawkwind soon after the festival.
1971 was a vintage Hawkwind year. During this year, Bob Calvert began to regularly recite poetry at
Hawkwind gigs, Mike Moorcock turned up under the Westway with Sonic Attack and Stacia and Lemmy
joined the band. The Hawkwind machine was gaining momentum. The album for that year was X In
Search Of Space, which progressed further along the path chosen by the first album. The first, and
principal track, a lengthy one entitled You Shouldn't Do That, followed the style set by the first album,
but made more use of voices and thereby added to the foundations laid before. For the purpose of this
collection, a 'live' version of the track has been chosen...a recording made during the encore of the Space
Ritual tour and consequently bursting with energy and enthusiasm as the triumphal band played to an
X In Search Of Space also marked the course of future Hawkwind trends with the distinctly hippy
Children Of The Sun and the science fictional Adjust Me and Master Of The Universe, destined to
become one of the all-time Hawkwind classics.
1971 had seen Hawkwind moved to the launching pad. Now 1972 watched them take off. Early in the
year Simon House [sic...actually Simon King] joined them and Robert Calvert became a member, rather
than the regular guest he had been in the past.
This was the line-up on February 13th of that year - Dave Brock, Lemmy, Simon King, Del Dettmar,
DikMik, Robert Calvert, Nik Turner and Stacia...and on that very day Hawkwind played a gig Hawkwind
fans will always remember. It was the Greasy Truckers Party, a nine hour event held at the Roundhouse,
Chalk Farm Road, London, the place to be for the likes of Hawkwind, Man, The Fairies, etc. Hawkwind
headlined and side four of the double album recorded at the gig consisted of Hawkwind playing Master of
the Universe and Born To Go. More importantly, Silver Machine was recorded on that day. A pretty poor
version, it was issued on the Glastonbury Fayre triple album. The Silver Machine tape was also taken into
studios and remixed, overdubbed, polished and generally given a good wash and brush-up, not the least
of which was the removal of Robert Calvert's vocals and the addition of Lemmy's. The resulting cut was
released as the single which catapulted Hawkwind to international fame and can still be found on some
English jukeboxes in England to this day.
In the public eye and with money in their pockets the band could easily have slipped into the role of yet
another chart-chasing pop group. Mercifully, they resisted the lure of easy money and didn't release
another single until the following year. Even then, the single, Urban Guerilla, was withdrawn after a few
days when a spate of terrorist bombings made the song a bit sensitive. Since the song had entered the
charts (number 39) it was planned to release the 'B' side, Brainbox Pollution instead, but it didn't happen.
The success of Silver Machine brought Hawkwind fame and money and they used it to mount the
adventurous Space Ritual tour, to promote their third album, Doremi Fasol Latido. A lengthy tour, with
dancers and a spectacular psychedelic lightshow, it was a great success, which not only led to their
famous Space Ritual Alive double album, but to Hawkwind being constantly touring Europe and America
well as Britain in 1973. They were the first British band to tour America as a headlining act on their first
American tour, instead of starting as a support act and working upwards.
Probably it was all this activity which resulted in Brainbox Pollution being left in the vaults alongside
Urban Guerilla. A shame, since they are both good songs, but then that can be said about a lot of
Hawkwind singles which have been allowed to fall by the wayside.
Anyway, whatever the reason, it wasn't until August 1974 (over two years after the success of Silver
Machine!) that Hawkwind released another single, Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear In Smoke) / It's So
Easy. No attempt to copy and cash in on Silver Machine, Psychedelic Warlords was a shorter version of
the album track on Hall Of The Mountain Grill while It's So Easy was available only on that single. As it
happened a number of the singles were mispressed with a song by someone else (we don't recognize
who) appearing on the 'B' side, so if you have the single and the It's So Easy on this collection isn't the
one you've got, then you have a collectible single.
Late summer 1974. Four singles and five albums released, international fame and the need for articulated
trucks instead of just a van to carry their stage show. Audiences numbering thousands instead of dozens
or hundreds and the full attention of the music press, yet it was still the same band that played on
wasteland and wanted to revolutionize the World. Yes, it would take more than fame and fortune (which
was poured back into the stage show) to change Hawkwind...consider the lyrics of Psychedelic
Despite being able to fill huge venues, Hawkwind still played at free (and charity) events. The band had
plotted its course from the outset and, despite the golden opportunity to change tracks and take the easy
money trail, had moved on and stuck to the planned route.
To this day, the band retains the same ideals and dictates. They still headline at a paying festival on one
day and then turn up to play at a free festival on another and they continue to write songs of science
fiction and social comment.
This collection of songs offers a selection of Hawkwind tracks from those early years, when the band
was moulding the formula to which they would stick, the foundation of the Hawkwind sound we enjoy in
the 1990's and onwards.
-Brian Tawn / December 1991
Three British hit singles and 22 UK chart albums in
just over a quarter of a century - anyone with that
kind of track record would normally be inducted in
the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame and be fÃªted by
so-called celebrities and the mass media wherever
they went. But not Hawkwind, for they've never
really been the 'darlings' of the music industry or a
teenybopper's pin-up. No, Hawkwind have always
just been Hawkwind, regardless of what musical
trend was in or out, and they've consistently
refused to play the 'star' game and have instead
supported noble causes like Friends Of The Earth,
Greenpeace, C.N.D., etc. (long before it was 'hip'
for bands to do so). And in the process they
became something of a 'peoples band' via their
numerous appearances at Free Festivals, the
consistently high standard of their
technology-challenging live shows and quality
influenced albums that have consistently pushed Rock onto new and exciting frontiers.
And though the band's line up may have had more shuffles than a pack of Cards, their attitude has always
remained the same: for Hawkwind are proud of what they are and see no reason to change their stance or
pamper to the latest fashion. Their innovative live gigs often featured liquid light shows, topless space
dancers and TV screens long before more 'established' acts had praise heaped on their shoulders for
employing the same tools, whilst their thought-provoking and often controversial lyrics managed to
combine a wonderful and mystical space-age style with a political realism few had ever thought possible
or have been able to emulate.
Hawkwind - not just a band, a way of life. Listen and learn.
Hawkwind at The Empire Pool Wembley - 27
May 1973 - the complete seventy eight minute
In 2006 Hawkwind celebrated their 38th year as a
live act and, for a band that has never received
maximum exposure in the media, that's no mean
feat. Their longevity may be attributed to their
strong and loyal fan base who have remained with
them on their unique journey through space and
time over the years.
Silver Machine gave them their one and only "big
hit" in 1972; the follow-up, Urban Guerilla in
1973, suffered the fate of being withdrawn as it
was still climbing the charts due to it coinciding
with a bombing campaign by the IRA.
To many, the early 1970s are seen as Hawkwind's classic years and certainly with their double live
album Space Ritual, released 1973, still quoted as one of the best live albums ever, it is easy to see why.
However, the band has been through many musical periods and each one has attracted new listeners, all
of whom have their favourite period in Hawkwind's development.
Now in the 21st century Hawkwind continue to play their legendary space rock with great success. The
only founding member who remains is Dave Brock (guitar, vocals, keyboards), the Captain of Spaceship
Hawkwind. From the very start he has steered the hand and recruited many excellent musicians, all of
whom have contributed to the unique and ever evolving sound that is Hawkwind.
Having said that, the line-up has been more or less stable as a trio for nearly 20 years, with Alan Davey
(bass, vocals, computers & keyboards since 1984) and Richard Chadwick (drums, sequencers & vocals
since 1988). Various members -old and new- have joined and left since then. The latest recruit to serve
on board is Jason Stuart on keyboards.
When Hawkwind hit the stage on the 27th of May 1973 at London's Empire Pool (later renamed
Wembley Arena), they were riding high on the success of their Space Ritual Tour, and were on top
form. Robert Calvert, one of the most intelligent (and eccentric) musicians ever and who fronted the
band between 1971 and 1978, recited lyrics which were (as far as it is known) never performed before
or since this show.
On this disc you will find almost the complete set Hawkwind performed that day - of course, this is not
the first time that a record of this historic gig has been released, but it is presented here for the first time
with previously unreleased tracks and superior sound quality
The contents of this release are sourced exclusively from a raw, unprocessed recording which surfaced
in 2005 and which has been carefully remastered. This historic excursion into the Hawkwind Cosmos is
not just for hard-core fans but also for Space Rock fans who want to feel the Spirit Of The Age. Long
may the Hawks fly!