Is this the last roll of the dice by the old record companies, before artists, fans and companies all pop their
clogs? The vaults of the great and the good from the 60s and 70s - including the Doors, Pink Floyd and
Hawkwind - are again being swept out and this time apparently emptied. Will we finally see release of long
rumoured gems or, in the case of Hawkwind, and to misappropriate a comment (about PXR5 and the
Charisma label) by Dave Brock, is this the final flushing of the toilet at United Artists? Certainly Parallel
Universe offers some quite startling content.
This is a parallel universe in which Dave Brock declaims the lyrics of "Kiss of the Velvet Whip", as a
plummy voiced proto-rap, to the music of "Shouldn't Do That" (and with an introductory section that
sounds like later used for "Adjust Me"), in which "You Know You're Only Dreaming" is a folk pop knees-up
that could almost be the Yardbirds playing their latest Graham Gouldman-penned hit. The previously
unknown "Hog Farm" veers towards jazz rock and, although the alternative "Be Yourself" is hardly
radio-friendly pop, the sax is more prominent in the mix, making it sound, well, more conventional and less
like Nik Turner freaking about on the saxophone. It seems that Hawkwind almost, almost, followed a more
mainstream and conventional approach to their music. No wonder some of this unreleased stuff here has
stayed buried so long! On the other hand, every bit of that patented Hawkwind freakiness is present on the
"new" version of "Take What You Can", something which was not so obvious on the lo-fi version released
on Weird Tapes 6 as "Make What You Can". Still not a great song though. The last of the early stuff, "The
Reason Is" is a minute longer than its original incarnation, but to no great effect.
Of the later "new" material, the studio version of "It's So Easy" sounds over-produced, and everyone seems
to want to be lead vocalist. The studio version of "Better Believe It" is really not bad except for some flat
vocals on the chorus, but doesn't match the power of the live version on HOTMG. The alternative "Wind of
Change" has bass and guitar upfront, hence sounds much more urgent than the original HOTMG version.
While the guitar part is no substitute for Simon House's superb violin playing, this arrangement is basically
what was played on the 1977 tour, where it was a definite highlight. "Brainbox Pollution" is a bit longer than
the previously available studio version, with an extended fade-out on which the bass is prominent.
Everything else is going to sound familiar, even if there is some extra polish from new remasterings of half a
dozen tracks. So, obviously you are going to have to buy a fair number of United Artists era tracks for the
zillionth time but the alternate versions really are worth the price of entry.
This first review is
contributor Grahm P
to whom my grateful
thanks... (it's only
because he got his
copy before I got
Right, the cover. For
such a momentous
release, you would
think EMI might have
something a bit less
dingy than this.
Cheers Graham. Here's what I thought:
Inspired, one has to assume, by the example of Atomhenge Recordings' programme of Hawkwind album
reissues, EMI has finally released a Hawkwind 3CD that contains a number of previously unreleased cuts,
sprinkled in amongst a look back over the band's time with United Artists (1970-74). Considering how
many years the fans have been asking for unreleased UA-era material, it has taken a very long time for this
to hit the racks. Nobody probably had quite this format in mind, with the new material being woven into
what is effectively a narrative of Hawkwind's development over the course of their commercial heyday, but
it seems best to approach the album on that basis...¦
But before we do, the 3CD's come in a double clamshell / jewel case, which includes a well-illustrated 36-
page booklet of very useful information. It starts off with a short essay by Malcolm Dome, takes in a chart
of line-up changes over the period in question, provides an almanac of notable events from 1970 to 1974,
and rounds off with some detailed credits that make clear what is new, when and sometimes where each
track was recorded. However, this is not the most handsome of packaging. The cover design is executed
in drab, muted colours and the graphic design is ho-hum.
CD1 kicks off with our old friend Hurry on Sundown, followed by Mirror of Illusion. These were once
the A- and B-sides of a single, and in fact that is exactly what we have here. These are the original mono
mixes from the Liberty 7" released in June/July 1970. Next up is You Know You're Only Dreaming, but an
unfamiliar version it is, being the original from 1970 (which no-one knew existed until now). It starts off at
a cantering pace, familiar lyrics over a jaunty acoustic clatter, and then goes into a rather unsuccessful
honking, cacophonous midsection that is almost monotonal for three or four minutes. A last visitation of
the main theme concludes...¦this actually sounds more like Hawkwind's early demo material (such as Kiss of
the Velvet Whip) and is very dated, more so than the two older cuts that preceded it. However, the journey
through embryonic Hawkwind continues with alternative, dubless mixes of The Reason Is and Be Yourself,
and then Seeing It As You Really Are from the first album. The alternative mixes are none too different
from what ended up on the album. Thus far it really is a trip through proto-Hawkwind, seeing as they were
yet a year away from even starting to develop their trademark sound. As daring as they may have been
when first released, time has not been kind to these primitive electronic sounds underpinned by naÃ¯ve one-
or two-chord acoustic jams. The lengthening shadows of hindsight reduce the achievement to tentative and
it really does sound like a band playing instruments made out of old vacuum cleaners, oddly contrasted with
the gritty blues-based underscore.
A completely new track Hog Farm is next, and fits well within this somewhat unedifying musical heritage.
Instrumental and based around a riff that preshadows Children of the Sun, while also invoking Pink Floyd's
Corporal Clegg, the modus operandi is a plaintive palette of distant sax, mournful yet unambitious colourings
of lead guitar and reverb-heavy but widely spaced drum flourishes. Touches of wah-wah here and there
later saw daylight as motifs woven into Adjust Me, on the second album.
Another new old and hitherto unheard version of a song is next, and this is a startlingly different Sweet
Mistress of Pain, featuring ideas that yet again would be worked into the second album (where they sailed
under the name of You Shouldn't Do That). This is a more muscular effort than the preceding tracks and
even provides echoes of the Stranglers ("do you like it like that?") and other punky fumblings that presaged
things to come. Confusingly, we then get the actual You Shouldn't Do That from the second album, and
the comparison is instructive in terms of how much better developed these ideas are, with a year's worth of
honing having taken place in the interim. This is still a primitive, heavily textured drone but here are the first
stirrings of Hawkwind's distinctive musical voice. It gathers assurance and authority as we move into
Master of the Universe (also lifted from X-In Search Of Space), and that album's representation is rounded
out with Children of the Sun, which strikes a slightly atavistic note. It harks back to the acoustic chrysalis
of a band that was already on the cusp of evolution into a thing of power, momentum and commercial
success. That part of the journey is what CD1 has shown.
...¦although: CD2 doesn't exactly kick off into the full flower of Hawkwind's commercial heyday, with a live
Paranoia from the Roundhouse on 13th February 1972, which has already seen the light of day on the 3CD
reissue of the Greasy Truckers album. But it's followed by the original single mix of Silver Machine, and
this is provided with the 'alternative vocal mix' of its' b-side, Seven By Seven. Apparently later pressings of
the 1972 single contained this.
And then, the magnificently raucous, blaring, grinding, growling, howling opus that is the studio recording
of Brainstorm, from the 'Doremi Fasol Latido' album. Here Hawkwind really hit their stride, emerging fully
formed as the embodiment of space rock, living in the future...¦though as always there's that curiously
anachronistic undercurrent of a distant, mythic past represented in their imagery. This continues with
Space Is Deep and Lord of Light, both also from the Doremi album...¦and both are classic achievements by
a band at the height of its powers, rampaging in jagged slashes and gleaming metallic glints of sound. What
this material has that was missing from most of CD1 is an authority borne of sureness and self-confidence.
Take What You Can, on the other hand, is described as having been attempted in the studio, but never
reaching the stage of a final mix. What is presented here for this track is a new mix for the occasion,
apparently. The Weird 106 CD included the song under the name Make What You Can, but this is a
considerably cleaner version. In comparison with the preceding Doremi tracks (recorded at the same
sessions), the formative character of this song is the most notable thing about it. The ideas herein seem
later to have surfaced on Welcome to the Future and It's So Easy, but before then, the band of course
played and released the Space Ritual Alive. No less than four tracks of which have been included here;
Born To Go, Down Through The Night, Orgone Accumulator and Sonic Attack. Pounding slabs of
raunch, dreams sculpted in sound, dark, menacing voiceovers. But everyone knows this.
What to do after Space Ritual Alive? The answer of course is to expand the palette and paint in softer,
subtler hues. Simon House's admixture of greater musical sophistication elevated Hawkwind's
compositional strengths, bringing out the best in the band's other writers, not to mention steps up in the
quality of arrangements and production. (Or maybe it was because they stopped mixing albums while
tripping on LSD, after Doremi.) But on the way there, Hawkwind had their quotidian moments in 1973-74,
and CD3 brings out the contention of these two themes during their last couple of years with United
Artists. It starts out with Ejection (the Bob Calvert 7" mix), previously heard as a bonus track on the 1996
EMI remaster of Doremi Fasol Latido. This elicits the reaction "they've got a really good classic rock and
roll beat" from a non-fan. But it, and the succeeding 7" single mix of Urban Guerilla exemplify a plodding
sub-Quo strain that keeps rearing its' head here and there during this period of Hawkwind's career. I don't
mean that these guitar boogie moves are inherently crap, theyâ€™re not. But the band as it was then
doesn't seem to have been the right vessel to get the material from A to B. The symphonic spread that
Hawkwind brought to much of HOTMG had to be compressed into a wall of sound for songs like next
track Brainbox Pollution. This is the full length version which was edited down to make the single B-side.
Following it, It's So Easy is another original 7" single mix, and is markedly different from any version I've
heard before. There is a slithering, insinuating lead guitar coming from somewhere. Lead vocals are lower
in the mix, and there are many other / new vocal layers weaving in and out of the background. The rhythm
section clang and bash at angular intervals. Compared to the more familiar, other version, this is all elbows
and knees. But jolly interesting!
After which, You'd Better Believe It lives up to its name by dint of being a previously unreleased, 1974
studio recording. The one we all know and love was a live recording, and like that, this starts of with
keyboard arpeggios before revving up into a unison throb overflown with sax sounds and washes of synth.
But where the HOTMG version was slow-to-mid paced, this is quicker, tighter and ultimately lighter. It
hasn't the same gravitas, but deploys an upbeat drive, with the pumping drums and waves of synth/sax
sound crashing on the auricular littoral.
The HOTMG version of Psychedelic Warlords is now offered up. This is too familiar to say much about it,
very unlike the hitherto unheard version of Wind of Change that follows. Awash with soulful, plaintive lead
guitar, entire layers of keyboard been stripped away (or not yet been added). But the bass parts rock in
unison with the thrashing rhythm guitar chords in the second half of the song. Resulting in a different,
rather than an alternative version to that which appeared on HOTMG.
Paradox is again from HOTMG and need not detain us, along with the tracks Hall Of The Mountain Grill
and Lost Johnny. There's that boogie thing again (it's not just Brock, but Lemmy too) and somehow this
comes out weird and off-kilter. When Hawkwind try to play 12-bar blues, they inadvertently warp it - in
this case, into a shambling/ loping musical Golem. Which is not entirely a criticism...Lost Johnny's
shoulders are speckled with the dandruff of twisted genius. But there is a step up to Nik Turner's D-Rider
and Lemmy's The Watcher, which close proceedings. Both are from the Live 74 '1999 Party' CD, and
present the band in a looser, more fluid live delivery. On The Watcher there is almost a funky sway in the
bassline, and the starkness of the studio version is alleviated by backdrops of synth, guitar lines and distant
peals of sax. Nik switches to flute and the midsong jam develops a wash and backwash of sound that
typifies the music they were creating at the close of their time with UA.
And that's it. As a place for this trip through 'the classic years' to end, it's unsatisfactory to the committed
fan. That they went on to encompass the Warrior On The Edge Of Time album is widely acknowledged,
but it seems to lie beyond EMI's contractual boundary. But that aside, for once here's a title that would suit
newcomers and grizzled veterans alike. For the latter, this compilation's inclusion of hitherto unheard
songs, versions and mixes places it in must-have territory. Newcomers will hear enough top quality, classic
early 70's Hawkwind to set their feet upon the paths of righteousness. And whichever camp the buyer is in,
the very reasonable price (under ten quid) is excellent value for money. Well done EMI.