|Review of a Review
CD Services must be one of the best, if not THE best place to buy Hawkwind and related CD's. They
are a specialist mail order house who excel in providing all forms of space rock, psychedelic, indie and
other minority tastes. If you're looking for an out of print Hawkwind album, CD Services should be your
first port of call - it will likely also be your last...
Among their services to customers CDS send out newsletters which often include reviews of
forthcoming releases. I received one such recently reviewing the Godreah Records Hawkwind tribute
Daze of the Underground....I immediately ordered a copy thanks in no small part to Andy Garibaldi's
enthusiastic review. In fact it was so enthusiastic I decided a Review Of The Review was in order.
A word of WARNING: I am NOT reviewing the Daze of the Underground CD here - this is a review of
the review - a meta-review, if you will. Don't assume that anything I say (in cyan italics, below - the
original text is is yellow) refers to the album itself. At this juncture I haven't even heard the album!
But hey - enough of my yakking! Take it away Andy!
Various Artists: (HAWKWIND TRIBUTE): DAZE OF THE UNDERGOUND (27 COVERS - 625804) 2CD
Long awaited tribute CD of HAWKWIND HIGHLIGHTS and one of the most high-powered it is possible to
have with all 27 exclusive tracks from Hawkwind members past and present plus bands associated with or
influenced by Hawkwind. Just look at this for a track list:
Disc # 1 Disc # 2
1.Tim Blake: 'Spirit Of The Age' 1. Brainstorm: 'Masters Of The Universe'
2. Litmus: 'Paradox' 2. Sigh: 'Psychedelic Warlords'
3. Amorphis: 'Levitation' 3. Farflung: 'Robot'
4. Spacehead: 'Right Stuff' 4. Spirits Burning: 'High Rise'
5. Meads Of Asphodel: 'Utopia' 5. Huw Lloyd Langton Band: 'Moonglum'
6. Enchanted: 'Song Of The Sword' 6. Marshan: 'Hurry On Sundown'
7. Bedouin: 'Sword Of The East' 7. Circle: 'Don't Understand'
8. Silver Machine: 'Silver Machine' 8. Darxtar: 'The Watcher'
9. Murkins: 'Psi Power' 9. Acid King: 'Motorhead'
10. Quarkspace: 'Quark Strangeness & Charm' 10. Beggars Farm: 'We Took The Wrong Step Years Ago'
11. Overmars: 'Magnu' 11. Sloterdijk: 'Golden Void'
12. Alpha Omega: 'Reefer Madness' 12. Harvey Bainbridge: 'Acid House Of Dreams'
13. ST 37: 'Orgone Accumulator' 13. Acid Mothers Temple: 'You Know You're Only
14. History Of Guns: 'Angels'/'Magnu'. Dreaming'
Highlights? You're kidding - This is all one big highlight!
Tim Blake starts it all off with a typical slice of swirling synths, electronic drums and wispy vocals
changing the Calvert sense of menace for one of worldly optimism and "New-Age", high-flying but piling
layer on layer to exquisite effect.
(Well, we're off to a flying start here, with Andy nailing his heart to the mast and wearing his colours on his
sleeve, or something like that, with a trademark piece of hyperbole - it's all one big highlight! It's great!
Everything's great! I'm a bit worried about the wispy vocals though, this conjures up images of crumbly
chocolate bars, although I know the one I'm thinking of is in fact called a Wispa. Tim's voice is actually
more like someone gargling three-inch nails in a solution of sulphuric acid, but we'll let that pass...)
Litmus give 'Paradox' a pure space-rock treatment but really make it sound raw with furious guitar riffing
echoed dual-vocals and flying synths all over the mix as they turn the song into a space-rock cauldron of
magical intensity with the electric guitar work at the end going supernova - Just extraordinary playing -
(Nice touch with the subliminal Harry Potter reference there -the cauldron bit- and when Andy says it's raw,
does he mean "badly recorded"? "Rough round the edges"? Rough-arsed? Rough as fuck? Hell, no - he
means it's, er, got a lot of energy, which is what you hear 40-something year old women say when they're
going out with a 23 year old bloke who shags like a rabbit on dexedrine but doesn't know how to eat with a
knife and fork.)
Amorphis don't so much attack 'Levitation' as pummel it mercilessly as this mighty metallic space-rock rings
out with fierce vocals and massive riffing turning the power on and delivering one of the best versions of
the song you'll ever hear. They tone the dynamics down for the marvellous dual-guitar mid-section before
turning up the heat to phenomenal space-rock intensity as the band drive on to the heart of a blazing sun
with guitars, bass, synths, drums and vocals thundering through another six minute track that goes down a
(Now we're striking the motherlode with four mixed metaphors in two sentences. I especially like the
plunging into the heart of the sun bit, classic Andy G!)
Spacehead go for the feel of the 'Capt Lockheed'- originating 'Right Stuff' with a treated vocal delivery
typical of that album and upping the power levels with a cosmic-rock soundpool of synths bass drums and
guitars taking off on one of the best-sounding tracks I've heard from them in a while, again nearly six
(Upping the power levels? From what? From Amorphis diving into the nuclear furnace of the sun? Phew
- what a scorcher! There's also another cunning bit of wordplay here with 'soundpools' conjuring up
rockpools, which has the desired effect of making you imagine Spacehead on holiday at the seaside,
Mr.Dibs and Keith Barton paddling with their trousers legs rolled up and handkerchiefs tied onto their
heads, while Martyn Needham snoozes in a deckchair nearby, melted ice cream smeared all over his
Ever wanted to hear a version of 'Utopia' that sounds like the devil himself is doing the vocals? - Welcome to
the strangeness that is Meads Of Asphodel with just that growling vocal with a wall of guitars all around
while the drums hammer out and bass thuds - Almost death metal space-rock but the latter winning out in
the end and the presence of synths being more of an afterthought. The Enchanted track IS death metal - no
space-rock here - come to that no subtlety either as this howling guitar-led express train powers along at
unimaginable speed with the song pounded mercilessly into a big black hole. You'd never know it was a
cover but it doesn't half get the adrenaline going.
(These two tracks are crap in other words)
Bedouin bring things back on track with (surprise surprise) 'Sword Of The East' where Alan Davey's vocals
go right out upfront and one growl down from Lemmy while the band deliver a couple of minutes of power
before the whole thing stops and this gorgeously spacey mid section of cosmic guitars and synths appears
for literally just a few seconds and then the song fires up once more to a rip-roaring climax.
(I feel Andy's been knocked off his stride a bit by the two death metal tracks, the spatial metaphors for
Alan's vocals would appear to mean that he's been practicing ventriloquy - the band are on stage but Mr.
Davey's voice is hooting mournfully from the rafters above the heads of those members of the audience
sitting in row 14. But those who've read more than a couple of CDS reviews already know you can't keep
Andy down, he'll bounce back for sure!)
Silver Machine does... 'Silver Machine' and for the bravest move on the album pull it off effortlessly slowing
it down just a tad but with such a wall of sound that you have to turn it up and let it fill the air. The vocals
sound great while the structure is retained the band adding some fine lead guitar work to the sonic backdrop
you know and love - A glorious take on the song.
(See what I mean? Already the enthusiasm levels are back up, the motors are running and before long the
similes will blast so far into hyperspace that you'll never know we were orbiting Planet Ordinary just 2
Murkins (who?) give 'Psi Power' an electro-acoustic space-rock-folk makeover and make it sound like the
end of the world is nigh with mournful harmony vocals like Pink Floyd on downers while this superbly
produced slice of acoustic and electric guitars-led arrangement provides one of the most refreshing and
original takes on familiarity yet heard on the album so far with a superb electric guitar solo right at the end -
I like this a lot!
(Count the hyphens! I do wonder what a slice of acoustic and electric guitars-led arrangement is, or an
original take on familiarity, for that matter. What better reason is there to pre-order your copy of the
album and hear this electro-acoustic space-rock-folk soundtrack to Armageddon?!)
Quarkspace bring a smile to your face with a positively jaw-dropping version of 'Quark' sounding for all the
world like a mix of jolly pub-rock salsa-style space-rock and all-around-the campfire rousing choruses the
song led by Hornsby-like piano percussion and bass. With a biting guitar solo at the very heart of the piece
this track suddenly turns into a thing of outstanding natural beauty as you really get into what they're doing -
The second run-through makes more sense and it's delight all the way for every subsequent play.
(Another shite one)
Overmars light up the sky with a storming version of 'Magnu', the muscular guitar riff driving the piece
along while guitar solos come in and out of the mix and the rhythm section drive with juggernaut intensity
and shuttle-powered precision, the production is quite superb for such an immense amount of layers as
synths swirl all over the mix and the vocals are simply blinding, a truly head-bending rendition and one you'll
be playing to death as nearly five minutes pass by all too quickly.
(Whoa there, pause for breath! Any time you see Andy splurge out a huge long sentence like that, it's
vintage CDS - and here he peaks for the first time during this review, with some splendid Hawkwind
transportation - cum- construction site imagery. We have juggernauts, space shuttles and cement mixers (the
swirling layers of synth) and then the review skilfully twists into the medical risks you run by listening to a
band named after an overrated Dutch footballer - five minutes of this is enough to expose you to blindness,
cranial deformation and death, apparently... Space Rock fans everywhere should take note of the risks that
the good people at CDS run in order to bring us the best music in the galaxy!)
Alpha Omega gives 'Reefer Madness' a depth of sound it's never really had before with a magically arranged
and produced slice of multi-layered vocal and ensemble-played power. With dynamics firmly intact and
some great passages along the way the guitars surround the mix and the vocals soar and the feel of the
original becomes positively enhanced to the point that one of my not-so-favourite originals is now coming to
life and making me think that this is indeed the definitive version with such a fantastic cauldron of
guitar-driven space-rock soup soundpools. The electric bass work is positively disemboweling towards the
end while the amazing production carries it all off to perfection.
(They say it's tough at the top, and it must be difficult to maintain the creative zenith Andy reached on the
previous track. Reading between the lines, this one must be the aural equivalent of a dog's dinner, all that
depth, slicing, passages, guitars out of the mix altogether, soaring vocals, etc.. For some reason I am
reminded of a pizza kitchen, which is quite a telling image, but unfortunately Andy doesn't continue in this
vein, but starts throwing in cauldrons and rockpools again. And soup. Now, maybe the soup is being
cooked in the cauldron, and this is the kitchen of a restaurant with a somewhat challenged menu, the only
things you can order are pizza and starfish soup? It's all very mysterious.)
ST-37 have the unenviable task of trying to improve on the original of 'Orgone Accumulator' but they
manage it effortlessly deciding to up the anti and really "go for it" so you hear this huge-sounding mix of
guitars, synths, vocals, bass and drums powering out and taking off to galaxies unknown. The presence of
squealing sax at the halfway mark gives the song a mix of seventies-sounding authenticity and
modern-sounding hurricane-like intensity and it's a version that is simply six minutes of phenomenal music.
(I hate to be critical, but Andy G. does have one teeny leetle vice, and that is saying things that are utter
bollocks :-) Like ST37 effortlessly surpassing Hawkwind's own version of Orgone Accumulator -
HERESY!. But don't be too concerned, we're almost finished with Disk 1 and there will be some respite in
changing over the CD's in the stereo, so hold on to your hats!)
The final few minutes are taken up with History of Guns delivering powerful almost industrial sounding
space-rock mayhem and there it ends.
(Now, here is something you very rarely see, a CDS review consisting of a single concise sentence - it means
that the track being reviewed is a big pile of poo, often as not)
On to Disc 2...Brainstorm slow 'Masters Of The Universe' down a bit, add psychedelic flute, keep the
arrangement crystal clear and retain the song-structure so that on first hearing it all sounds a bit strange but
then, just short of two minutes in, this massive electric guitar blares out the riff that's the heart of the piece
and the whole thing surges into overdrive as the guitar solo rings out with the rhythm guitar, bass and
drums really firing up and the familiar-sounding intensity emerges until the end section returns it to the
original first part's style - All in all a version that does work once you've heard it.
(It's crap first time round, though, right?)
Sigh do a number on 'Psychedelic Warlords' that slows the track right down, gives it way more cosmic
atmosphere, puts the vocals first at the bottom of the mix - and phased - then a bit more upfront then back
to phased as this lurching, slowly driving rhythm and wall-of-sound instrumental arrangement fills the air. A
guitar solo suddenly emerges to make things even better and another slice of pure originality that once
you've heard it reveals itself to be a real gem - That rhythm is to die for, although I could have done without
the phased vocal treatment.
(This sounds like an interesting treatment of a song which I have heard best described as "a lost trance-rock
classic". As a matter of fact, Psychedelic Warlords might just be what gave Paul Rudolph and Alan Powell
the idea of turning Hawkwind into a funky disco act - Andy's subtly pointing out here that Sigh resisted the
temptation to give it the Saturday Night Fever treatment. Which is really a shame, as reading a CDS review
of a Bee Gees-like version of Psychedelic Warlords would be a treat!)
Farflung keep the spirit of Calvert well and truly alive on their piece but add to it the feel of an earlier
sounding Hawkwind with another huge-sounding wedge of guitars, swirling synths, bass and drums and the
song really shines in their hands as the slower but more intense muscular arrangement fuels enough energy
to take you to the outer reaches of space.
(I'm reeling here from this awesomely confused description - Calvert with earlier Hawkwind, shiny hands,
more wedges of pizza and swirling cement mixers, and finally, bodybuilders in space. Were the lyrics that
Bridget Wishart sang in Hawkwind cribbed from a CDS catalogue, by any chance?)
Don Falcone's Spirits Burning project take on 'High Rise', again retaining the feel and tone of Calvert but
turning the arrangement into this smouldering slice of synth led music with awesome rivers of slow-running
bass and tight and crisp drum work. The decelerated nature of this version gives the track a whole new
lease of life - A makeover that really works where the synths become the lead focus rather than guitars as
the expansive arrangement fills every part of the sonic panorama to exquisite effect. Then just over four
minutes in, this magnificent guitar solo just erupts from the speakers and takes you to a heaven you never
knew existed - Simply awesome and another 100% piece of magic that will have the hairs standing up on
the back of your neck.
(Andy never lets you hang out there for too long, here he roars back with a classic Garibaldi-ism or six,
painting word pictures like the bastard love child of Jackson Pollock and Francis Bacon on an intravenous
Ketamine trip, unaware that pastry brushes have been substitued for all the paintbrushes, and food
colouring for the oils. The overall effect is of a slice of original familiarity, with toppings of anchovies,
black olives and assorted molluscs...)
Langton does a superb version of 'Moonglum', never one of my favourite Hawkwind tracks but here
sounding just fine with a passionate if stark vocal leading the way and some fine guitar work, on a version
with plenty of feel at the heart of its simplicity.
(Rubbish in other words, more of Huw's threadbare pub blues...)
Marshan sound more like a band that should be on the Stone Premonitions label and they provide a sort of
slightly looser take on 'Hurry On Sundown' but keep largely to the sound of the original adding a dual
male-female vocal to give a more passionate effect.
(Never heard of them, who do they think they are, playing on a Hawkwind tribute album?!)
Circle turn 'Don't Understand' into a corking slice of instrumental magic that sounds for all the world just
like vintage Can - If I hadn't known I'd have sworn that it was Liebezeit on drums as that trademark
lurching strong Krautrock rhythm steers the track while a muscular bass powers it along and this fantastic
electric guitar takes the lead - Five minutes that is over far too quickly!
(Uncharacteristically brief and to the point, you get the feeling here that Andy is doing one of two things.
Either he's getting a bit bored with this album and is looking forward to the end of disc two, thank god
that's done, now let's start flogging the fucking thing, or...he could be skillfully reducing the tempo in order
to power back with a trademark volley of dramatics, going out on a high... Alternatively, there might be no
artifice about this, it could simply be the natural pace of the review, similar to the way that long distance
athletes will drop down to 55 second laps when they're still a good few circuits from the finishing tape.)
Darxtar start 'The Watcher' as a kind of electro-acoustic space-rock hybrid with a harmony vocal led
arrangement that's slightly mournful as the electric guitar sears its way at the back of the arrangement
leaving strummed acoustic guitars on top and a neat pounding bass at the bottom - and with no drums it still
sounds full and mighty.
(Rather guarded by CDS standards, this could have almost any significance or none, really.)
Acid King take on 'Motorhead' decelerating it to an almost unbearably slow pace turning it into a pure stoner
version - for me a version that although an original take on the piece, fails to have the required impact - Lord
knows what Lemmy must think of this?
(Now, you KNOW that this piece is REALLY REALLY BAD)
Sadly the Beggars Farm version of 'We Took The Wrong Step' somehow also misses the mark turning it
into a rather cold slice of eastern-sounding acoustic psychedelia with an almost eerie Syd Barrett-like vocal
making you want to end it all - But this one I can live with!
(Fuck, do I really have to listen to this bullshit? What time does the pub open?)
Sloterdijk open 'Golden Void' in a hail of bass synths and slow electronic drums with a guitar rooted
somewhere at the heart of this soup of a mix. As the vocals emerge upfront and while powerful for sure,
the decelerated pace is a bit off-putting at first, although that slow-mo thunder that drives the track is where
it really works for me and although only having heard it once it is a track that I think will improve with
familiarity - although I could be wrong.
(Although, although, although, although...never ones to hedge their bets, this is CDS's way of screaming at
the top of their lungs THIS IS THE MOST PITIFUL PIECE OF DRIVEL EVER RELEASED IN THE
HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE, IN THE LONG PAST THAT HAS LED TO NOW, AND NEVER, NEVER,
NEVER.... Well, that's what I *think* they mean when they say 'although'. I'll have to wait until I've got
the CD to know for sure.)
Harvey Bainbridge makes 'Acid House Of Dreams' all his own with a huge arrangement of synths,
sequenced electronic rhythms and thudding electronic drums and together with his trademark soaring half
sung-half spoken vocal the piece just takes to the skies. The song really powers into life just short of four
minutes as the synths and rhythms really deliver the goods before returning to the song itself. Simply,
typically Harvey and a real nice rework it has to be said!
(So, if you like Harvey's stuff you'll love this, otherwise it's more of the same old crap he's been churning
out ever since he got booted out of Hawkwind back in 1991 despite having given Ginger Baker an
unexpected and well-deserved duffiing about a decade previously. It was probably only the shock of
Harvey cutting up rough like that, and everyone being wary of getting on his wrong side, that kept him in
the band that long.)
Finally Acid Mothers Temple tackle 'You Know You're Only Dreaming' and guess who wins - well it
certainly isn't the song that's for sure, as this huge morass of synths, drums, squalling guitars, bass, even
more squalling guitars, more synths - oh jeez how many instruments are there here - and for that matter
where did the song go - hellfire what a way to end things - I love it! Nothing whatsoever to do with
Hawkwind but a sonic soup you simply have to hear to believe.
(A disappointing way for Disc 2 to end, you're really expecting Andy to have deliberately downplayed all
the earlier tracks so that he can go completely mental on this one, but it just doesn't happen. Concise,
factual and delivering a focussed opinion or two, that's not what we've come to expect from CDS. Bit of a
let down, really.)
So - to an overview - Just fantastic!!! There is much here that will delight HAWKWIND fans and an
open-minded Hawkfan will have to admit that some have even improved on the originals but whatever your
view in that department as a space-rock fan this is essential listening and no mistake - Nearly two and a half
hours of pure space-rock excellence at a price that is equally jaw-dropping.
(The overview, like one of those "...Slight Return..." or "Reprise" tracks at the end of an album, goes some
way to ending the whole piece on a high note. But I can't help but feel that the review was too long, it ran
out of steam, and would have been better if we'd had just a single album's worth of material rather than
two-and-a-half hours-worth of mind-expanding cosmicness with which to grapple. It's not Andy G's fault
that the album was that long, but you'd think Godreah Records might have had a little more consideration
for the buying public, knowing what the review was likely to be like. Still, there are some real corkers here,
and most of them are to be found in the Disc 1 section of the review - discerning readers will have to search
out those particular nuggets and never mind the baser metals that make up most of the Disc 2 section.
Overall it's a worthy addition to the canon, a definite must-have for the collectors, and there's enough here
for the average music fan to enjoy to make it worth reading more than once. But I'm looking forward to
the CDS review of the 2nd Starfield album, due out some time around the end of the year - that promises to
be a classic!)
|This really isn't a criticism of CDS, or the estimable Andy Garibaldi - who is a fantastic sport for letting me
publish this! If you've think I've been harsh, you can redress the balance by making your next purchase of
music from CD Services (who have been the recipients of my last two!) They offer great service and
prices, and have probably done more to keep many psych and space rock bands in business than a
thousand websites! You'll receive their newsletters, too :-)
|You can order from:
The CDS Website
By Email: email@example.com
By phone: (+44) 01382 776595
By fax: (+44) 01382 736702
and their address is:
40-42 Brantwood Avenue