|A Brief History of Recycling: Hawkwind Style
Thanks to Graham for this contribution. (Not the same Graham who does the Music from the
Hawkwind family tree series, btw! :-) My response is in cyan, after Graham's piece
Sometimes you just can't think what to write. There's no inspiration. [That never stops me, mate...]
However this is not an excuse to drag up stuff from past work to fill the gap. Recycling may be great for
the environment but it's not what we want from Hawkwind tracks.
Now I have to admit I was going to cite the many instances where this has happened. However it seems
the effect the relatively few instances have had on me has made it seem worse than it really is. Perhaps Iâ
€™m just making a mountain out of a molehill. Well this is my molehill; you can decide what size it is.
In fact if it wasn't for one particular period in Hawkwind history this molehill would be looking more like a
grain of sand. OK, one word...¦.oh sorry, two words...¦.Sonic Attack. Not only do we get the horrible
reworking of Sonic Attack itself (I must admit though that the live version of the redone Sonic Attack as
found on Zones is, in my humble opinion, rather good) but hunting round for lyrics, part of Born To Go is
rehashed into the terrible lyrical hash of Angels of Death. (The lyrics in question that got reused are "We
were born to blaze / a nuclear way through space / a way out of the waste / that held the human race" -
from 1972's Born To Go to 1980's Angels Of Death.) This whole thing must be the biggest lyrical crime in
Hawkwind history. Pity, because underneath there's a fairly decent track really (the version on "This is
Hawkwind Do not Panic" is quite splendid, really).
There's also another, slightly earlier example of recycled lyrics: on the 1980 'Levitation' album. The track
'Who's Gonna Win The War' includes the couplet "already weeds are writing / their scriptures in the sand".
This first made an appearance back in 1971 on 'We Took The Wrong Step years Ago', on the 'In Search Of
Space' album. It *is* a good lyric, but you have to wonder about Hawkwind needing to resort to this sort
of thing so early in their career (well, in retrospect, 1980 was early in their career!)
Let's not forget before recording Sonic Attack they were hanging round for a while and recorded The
Church of Hawkwind. I'm sure there must have been 10 minutes spare to write some half decent lyrics.
Like when you're sitting on the loo - got to be better than doing the Daily Mirror crossword. While we're
on Church of Hawkwind and still in that phase of Hawkwind history let's also not forget 'Looking in the
Future'. Here, Longfellow's "Lives of great men," as used in Assault and Battery, gets rehashed at the start.
(As well as appearing on the track 'Trans-Dimensional Man'.) And while on this particular high horse - no
Mr. Brock, putting those lines on the front of the albums booklet credited to Dr Technical doesn't mean you
Luckily the follow-up Choose Your Masques is a superb album. It's just a pity we have to put up with a re-
recording of 'Silver Machine'. Why? OK I've heard the reason but...¦why? After all, are there *any*
Hawkwind fans who think Silver Machine is a classic track? No, thought not... At the same time, â
€˜Psychedelic Warlords' was getting a reworking. Now this is fine: Huw had added a different and good
feeling to the track and recording this version was a good idea (though of course it's still not a patch on the
And actually we're nearly at the top of the molehill because there's only one more example and that is 'Mask
of Morning'. Now this is a rather decent tune but why oh why use the Mirror Of Illusion lyrics. I can't see
the point. I can only assume when you're recording an album that's about as twice as long as it needs to be,
you run out of time to write new lyrics.
Now I'm desperate to make this article a bit more substantial [desperate to make it twice as long as it needs
to be, Graham?!] so let's try a song title. The 5th Second of Forever of the Levitation album. Why call it
that when the track is called Circles? As an aside, I do like this track a lot but if you haven't heard the
version from the Dave Brock Weird 7 album then you're missing a treat (along with the superior version of
Trans-Dimensional Man and...¦.sod it, just buy the album).
Now I must admit I haven't kept up with everything since the fairly horrendous "It Is The Business Of The
Future To Be Dangerous" and there are I believe a few more examples even if they are only from Dave
Brock's solo stuff. Of course with a track called Spirit of the Age about to be released I'm getting worried
So that is my molehill. Feel free to kick it over or add to it if you like.
Well, that was Graham's view, and I certainly find a few things to take issue with, though not in any spirit of
hostility, I hope. He has really focussed on two separate matters, the first of which is reuse of lyrics. As he
himself admits, there is really very little of this going on, with a couple of verses from old songs being
reused in 1980-81, plus the 'Mask Of The Morning' business. Taking the 1980-81 recycling first, this was
not too long after Robert Calvert, Hawkwind's lyricist among other things, had left the band for the last
time. Presumably Brock had some material in hand to tide the band over for a year or so, but then was
faced with coming up with some new lyrics himself. For the most part that's exactly what he did, and the
two examples that did get reused are really rather good, perhaps deserving of a second outing.
'Mask of the Morning' is different in that the entire set of lyrics belonging to 'Mirror Of Illusion' were reused
in the new song. To be honest I'm not that bothered about the subject of lyrics as a whole, and it doesn't
really exercise me. I'm willing to accept 'Mask Of the Morning' as a new song (a pretty good one, too) on
the basis of the music being new. But I can see where Graham is coming from on this.
The other area of contention is recycling on the musical as opposed to the lyrcial side of the fence. I would
agree with Graham that the 1981-82 remakes of Sonic Attack and Silver Machine were scarcely worthwhile
exercises, and in fact I would go farther and decry the '82 version of Psychedelic Warlords as pointless.
These are perhaps the most obvious examples of musical recycling, but there are also retitlings of old tracks
as new (as Graham points out with his example of '5th Second of Forever' / 'Circles'). And then there's the
reuse of old riffs in new songs. At some point you have to decide where to draw the line - there's almost a
standard Hawkwind chord progression which uses the root chord, the chord a half-step above the root, and
a third chord two steps below the root ( E, F and D for example). You could moan about this being
endlessly recycled. To mention a few different numbers that have used the same chord progression, albeit
with variances of timing, key etc., consider Levitation, Social Alliance, Flying Doctor and Magnu. They all
use the same basic run, but is any one of these numbers a recycling of any other? I'd say "of course not"!
If we're talking about retitling of old numbers that results in them being re-credited to somebody other than
the original author, take a look at the Blanga Guide, which describes this practice as "frankly damnable".
However it appears to me that songwriting credits are rarely as straightforward as what's printed on the CD
booklet would have you believe. People have sued each other over this many times in the past, and who
(other than a court!) is to say what constitutes songwriting? If you write some lyrics and a chord
progression, and then I come up with a killer bassline and vocal melody to accompany them, should I get a
songwriting credit? I don't know the answer to that question.
Anyway, that was something of an aside. Going back to Graham's original point, yes there has been some
recycling of riffs etc., and speaking as a fan I find it disappointing to get hold of a 'new' Hawkwind album
(e.g. Spacebrock) and find it filled with already familiar material. I feel the same way about the prospect of
Hawkwind's long-awaited new album containing remakes of old songs like 'Spirit Of The Age' and 'Silver
Machine': but 'disappointing' probably conveys the right level of irritation, whereas it seems to be much more
annoying than that for Graham. But he paid for his copy of the CD and has the right to feel whatever way
he does: it's the fan's right to have and to express an opinion on the works of the artist who receives the
royalties on the purchase. However, it's also the artist's right to write, select and title material (within the
overall constraints of the laws relating to music publishing, of course) for these works as they see fit.
So, did Graham make a mountain out of a molehill? My own personal view is that the molehill is more the
size of a large antheap, but stops well short of being a mountain. If you'd like to air your opinion on this,
email me here and your voice will be heard!
Here come the responses: Graham (the author) first:-
Gooday Gents: I empathize with your opinions,but there is only one Hawkwind! If you were to place these
matters upon the balance scales of Law and Chaos....would it mean a goats-fart in the grains of time?
There are a small number of Hawkwind albums that reuse old material in a less than superior sound...
granted. Look at the GOOD work incorporated into these masterpieces. I would have paid 5 times more
than I did for Choose Your Masques....just to own Void City! The same being with Treadmill on Palace
Springs... Black Elk Speaks on Space Bandits.... Lighthouse on Live 79... Xenomorph on Alien.... Hippy on
Hawkwind In Your Area... Born To Go on....as if you dont know... etc. etc.. We've all got two hands, two
ears and 1 asshole.... Anyone that dislikes the music should listen to a different format. I can only hope that
Dave Brock is immortal,and can bless us with his superb talent into Infinity!
For some reason I didn't check It Is The Business Of The Future album (the "some reason" being that it's
not very good) and reading the Blanga link reminded me that this has perhaps the worst crime of all. This is
"Letting in the Past", a recycle of "Looking in the Future" which already contains recycled material from
Assault and Battery. In fact I'm listening to this album now and "The Camera that Could Lie" contains the
lyrics of "Living on a Knife Edge." What is it with the Sonic Attack / Church of Hawkwind period? There's
something suspicous about "Technotropic Zone Exists" as well - it's the title which I'm sure has been lifted
from something else. A prize of a virtual feather duster to anyone who can provide the answer.
I had forgotten IITBOTFTBD too. 'Letting In The Past' makes four times that the "lives of great men"
stanza has been used in Hawkwind songs! As for 'The Camera That Could Lie' recycling the lyrics to
'Living On A Knife Edge', this is the exact same situation as with 'Mask Of The Morning' / 'Mirror Of
Illusion', so I accept it as a new song because the music is different. (A bit too different for my taste, but
there you go!)
Joe Loehr has also been in touch to point out the similarities / differences between two Dave Brock solo
numbers, "Earthed To The Ground" (from the album of the same name) and "Wired Up For Sound", as it
was called on the Hawkwind Friends & Relations Vol.3 album. In fact, in the Hawkwind Codex these have
been considered to be the same song.
Joe points out that Eathed To The Ground uses a two-chord pattern throughout (E and D) but Wired Up for
Sound uses a variation on the 'Magnu' riff, with the chord pattern being based on B - C - B - A: but phrased
so as to dwell on the B - A chords. Lyrically they're identical apart from an extra verse and chorus in Wired
Up For Sound.
So, we have a song that reuses lyrics *and* music *and* it's been retitled...but fair enough, say I. "Grrr!"
says Graham. (Maybe :-)
I have to put in my bit regarding recycling - I don't really mind oo much at all, never having been a big one
for lyrics. Redoing the music? I can do without another version of Silver Machine (although the one on
Take Me to Your Future does have some interesting additions) and Spirit of the Age can be retired,
especially until they get the lyrics right! (OK, this is one song where it really bugs me that Dave / Matthew,
whoever does it - they always get it wrong).
Overall I have to echo the sentiments of Voilodian.
"A Day" from Agents of Chaos - "Techno-Tropic Zones exist, within these walls we can't resist". This song
has a bit of recycling not yet mentioned; the first part of the song is later reproduced as "Nocturne" (track
7). As this side seems to tell a bit of a story there may be a reason for, but I don't know why.
|Umm, it seems that a lot of people end up here by Googling for "history of recycling". This page isn't really
about that at all, worthy cause though it is. Why not go to Recycling Expert instead?