|Music Collector 1991
This article first appeared in a mag called, er, Music Collector, in August 1991
Hawkwind in 1975 or 76 (L-R) Rudolph, Powell, King, Brock, Turner, House
Hawkwind were, and still are for that matter, the world's premier space-rock band, and their recording career
reaches from the present to the dim and distant days of 1970.
There are of course major turning points in the history of Hawkwind and their releases, and these are the line-
up changes. Each LP seems to have different personnel to the previous one and yet a consistency runs
through them all. This is the one and only Dave Brock, who is the only person to appear on all the records. He
is the inventor of the Hawkwind riffs and the best innovative music this side of the universe.
The single, Silver Machine, in the early seventies, gave the general public their first taste of Hawkwind and
remains the group's only real entry in to the popular music charts, although all the LPs have featured well. If
you ask any innocent bystander to name music by Hawkwind they will inevitably say..."Err...Silver
Machine...". And to the uninitiated that's where the music stays; in a time warp of distorted riff and catchy
vocal. It must have been quite a shock for the 'pop-music' fans that bought Silver Machine to find that the B-
side was poetry set to music.
There is however, one hell of a lot more to the music of Hawkwind and through the rest of this article I hope
to bring over the importance and interest of the mainstream LP releases. I intend to cover the period from
1970 to 1982, which covers the eponymous Hawkwind LP to Choose Your Masques. Along the way we shall
see the many line-up changes and describe the stunning sleeves as well as looking at the most important thing â
€“ the music.
It is worth noting that as well as the mainstream LP's there are bucketfuls of bootlegs, singles and
compilations on both tape and vinyl as well as the odd track on sampler LPs with the Greasy Truckers LP
being the best known example.
In The Beginning
The first LP, simply called Hawkwind, was released in 1970 on the Liberty label (LBS83348) with a gatefold
cover in mainly green and orange, very psychedelic in format. Inside is a photograph in green and orange of
the band which in this first incarnation is Dave Brock on vocal, guitars, harmonica and percussion; along with
John Harrison on bass; Terry Ollis on drums; Nik Turner on sax, vocal and percussion; Huw Langton on lead
guitar and Dik Mik on electronics. Each of the members has a paragraph of hype on the back cover listing
how they came to be part of Hawkwind.
The music is a collection of songs ranging from bluesy to experimental and although not a classic Hawkwind
LP, it represents a great insight into the aims and ideas that were to become the Hawkwind legend of later
years. The LP was reissued (with a different cover I think) in 1974 on Sunset and in 1980 on U.A. Rockfile.
The next LP In Search Of Space brought the cosmic and spacefaring stance of Hawkwind to the fore.
Released as a clever fold-out cover with lyrics and black and white photos on the inside and a colour outer
with a blurred photo of (I think) Stacia, the naked dancer on the back. As to the line-up; Dave Anderson
replaces John on bass and Del Detmar appears on synthesizer to complement Dik Mik's electronics. The
music is six tracks worth of interesting and at times experimental offerings with a taste of their chant-like
vocals in You Shouldn't Do That and the first version of Master Of The Universe. It was reissued in 1981 on
Liberty, the original having been on U.A. in 1971 (UAG 29202).
Into The Riff
1972 saw the release of Doremi Fasol Latido, a clever play on the musical scale Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do,
and it brought more changes in the band's membership. Simon King plays the drums and Lemmy, later of
Motorhead fame debuts on bass which is interesting, since this LP is relentless and very heavy. Repetitive riffs
and chant-like vocals make this quite a surprise after the previous LPs. Tracks like Brainstorm were set to
become classics. The cover is single but is finished in black and silver and is rather nice, with a printed inner
sleeve and star rats poster inside. On U.A. (UAG 29364), it also was reissued in 1981 on Liberty.
Without any doubt this LP ranks as a classic release by anyone's standards. It is so good it hurts. A great idea,
if you have a midi stereo or reel to reel tape, is to record this non-stop concert on two LPs into one slab of
music. Put on your headphones, turn it up very, very loud and blow your mind. What is the record we are
talking about? None other than Space Ritual, with its massive fold-out cover, stunning artwork and design.
The music is loud, distorted (which gets more so as the LP passes), repetitive and relentless. It is also very
inventive. It features quite a lot off Doremi, as well as music unique to this record. My choice for stunning
stuff is Sonic Attack, the very long Brainstorm and Master Of The Universe. Everyone should own this LP
which was released on U.A. in 1973 (UAD 60037/8) and reissued in 1981 on Liberty.
Hall Of The Mountain Grill appeared in 1974 on U.A. (UAG 29672) and has more superb artwork on the
sleeve as well as a printed inner, featuring the fun Legend Of Beenzon Toste. Continuing the many line-up
changes we have Dik Mik leaving and Simon House joining on keyboards and violin. The music moves away
from the style of the two previous LPs and is lighter and more complex with Psychedelic Warlords being the
standout track. Also featured are a couple of live tracks. A fine LP that is quite varied and gained a reissue in
1981 on the Liberty label.
Warrior On The Edge Of Time had an amazing sleeve that folded out into a full size shield coupled with
stunning artwork on the outer side. A truly incredible package complete with an inner liner printed with
relevant information. The music itself is very bright in tone and clear and striking. Assault And Battery and
The Golden Void combined in one track are ten minutes of sheer pleasure, and wonderful music. There are
also three tracks of poetry with Mike Moorcock, the author of various Fantasy novels guesting on vocals on
two of these. Overall, loads of synthesizers and mellotron (which is in effect an analogue predecessor of
today's digital samplers) wash over the record. In the continuing line-up change syndrome Allan Powell plays
the drums on this U.A. release (UAG 29766) from 1975. It was reissued in 1981 on Liberty.
The cover of Astounding Sounds Amazing Music moves away from the space theme and is quite strange. The
artwork is of course as good as ever. Inside is a printed inner sleeve with joke adverts containing the
information relevant to this LP. The music continues to change again with this LP containing fairly
conventional songs. Lemmy left prior to this and on the B-side of the single Kings Of Speed, taken from this
album, is the track Motorhead credited to Ian Kilminster (Lemmy's real name), thus sowing the seeds of the
group that was to go on to so much success. Released in 1976 this album was the first on the Charisma
record label (CDS4004).
The line-up now comprised Dave Brock, Nik Turner, Paul Rudolph, Allan Powell, Simon House, Simon King
and Bob Calvert. 1977 came along and with it Quark Strangeness And Charm on Charisma (CDS 4008). Nik
Turner, Allan Powell and Paul Rudolph left, although on the track Hassan-i-Sahba Rudolph is credited as
writer along with Bob Calvert.
The superb cover features a power station and the printed inner sleeve is a chart from some sort of measuring
instrument overlaid with lyrics and other information complete with crossed out mistakes. Contained and
explained in this is the fact that Adrian Shaw from Magic Muscle joined on bass. A fine LP with some great
music with Hassan-i-Sahba being my personal favourite.
The next LP is a bit of a problem since it is actually by The Hawklords. This came about for reasons
unknown to me and perhaps some sort of legal reasons were responsible. Nevertheless it is a Hawkwind
album and if I am correct was later re-released as Hawklords by Hawkwind. Whatever, Hawklords 25 Years
On is another fine album. Black and white features on both the sleeve and liner with a pink graffiti type
Hawklords logo across the front. Harvey Bainbridge, Martin Griffin, Steve Swindles, Les McClure and Henry
Lowther guest on various tracks. The music is again very good and also varied. I find Flying Doctor very,
very funny with it's comic lyrics and Australian-accented singing. Released in 1978 on Charisma (CDS 4014).
1979 saw the Hawkwind name firmly back on the cover with the release of PXR5. The cover art is based
around the humble household three-pin electric plug but, watch out for that wiring. Music Collector Health
Warning: ignoring the warning on the LP can seriously kill you. Also on the cover is the sad memo..."This is
the last but one..." printed on the back cover. The music is a collection of live and studio tracks and has some
of the best music yet. Highlights are Robot, PXR5 and Uncle Sam's On Mars. The line-up is the same as on
QS&C for this Charisma LP (CDS4016).
Live '79 released in 1980 saw a move to the Bronze label and the inclusion of keyboard and synthesizer player
Tim Blake on loan from Crystal Machine. Huw reappears on lead guitar and backing vocals. Recorded live at
locations during the winter 1979 tour it is a superb LP. Brainstorm and Master Of The Universe are featured
alongside Tim Blake's stunning Lighthouse. This was to be, if the memo on PXR5 was true, the last LP and I
remember being rather sad at the time wondering if this was truly the last ever Hawkwind album (BRON 527).
I needn't have feared, however.
Later that year my mind was put to rest with the release of Levitation, again on Bronze (BRON 530). Joining
the ranks was Ginger Baker, that famous drummer, with Dave, Huw, Harvey and Tim. This LP was recorded
on the 3M digital mastering system and mixed for headphones (or so I assume from the cover) but still
sounds great on speakers. The cover followed the way of the last four and was a single but with great
artwork. Perhaps the cost of the foldout covers became too much. It's interesting to note that as the seventies
progressed, LPs (by all artists) got thinner and more flexible and the covers were less complex. The over
thirties will of course have noticed this anyhow.
Meanwhile Levitation proved to be another fine record, well produced and inventive. Space Chase, for
instance, has a great synth solo on it.
Weird or What?
Now while Hawkwind were not noted for being a 'safe' band, Sonic Attack released on RCA Active in 1981
(RCA 6004) was definitely getting weird. It is a great collection of music though, with strange tracks like
Coded Languages blending well with more conventional tracks like the superb Streets Of Fear. Tim and
Ginger left to be replaced by Mike Moorcock on some vocals and the return of Martin on drums. The synths
were now in the hands of Dave and Harvey and a very good job they made of it too.
The Church Of Hawkwind came out in 1982 with a luminous ink cover and booklet of words and art on RCA
Active (RCA 9004).Dave Brock goes under the name of Doctor Technical and this LP is a delight of inventive,
weird music with stories, chanting and treated voices. The technique of blending music with news coverage
on this LP berates all the efforts of N-n-n-n-n-n-n-Nineteen and Paul Hardcastle. Marc Sperhawk and Capt Al
Bodi, meanwhile, guest on Some People Never Die.
I'll finish this article with Choose Your Masques, which I remember should have been Choose Your Masks,
but there was some sort of confusion over the spelling with the record company. However, on the back the
track is listed as Masks. The artwork on this album is particularly good. Guests featured on the record are Ian
Holm, Pascoe Brock, Dr Technical and the return of Nik Turner.
On the music side it features more abstract works along with more conventional tunes and Silver Machine
gets a new life with a fresh version that's very unlike the original. Another superb LP then, on RCA (RCA
So there you have it. Twelve years of Hawkwind LPs in a few thousand words of text. There is more though,
since Hawkwind are still going strong today. That's a career of some twenty odd years which puts them on a
par with the likes of Queen, Genesis and Black Sabbath. Genius never ends.
I'd like to make the point of impressing the wide range of music featured on these albums. There really is
something for most people from Dave Brock's acoustic guitar and vocal works to heavy rock to emotional
rock to weird and wonderful. Then there is the poetry and the lyrics which, unlike many artists, is not banal
waffle that fits the music and states nothing. In addition to this lot mentioned here you can buy all sorts of
fanzines, goods and such like. There are also all the records since Masks plus Dave Brock's solo LP, videos,
live tapes and no doubt many a bootleg. Have fun!