|Music from the Hawkwind family tree - Part 18
Thanks to Graham for these reviews - except where noted otherwise, of course
This new two disc compilation (Castle
CMEDD1205) is effectively an expanded and
updated re-issue of Born To Lose - Live To Win, the
1994 compilation of Lemmy's recorded past. Disc
one (1966-1982) covers similar ground to the earlier
release. However, although casts its net wider,
taking in three Rocking Vickers tracks instead of
one, and two tracks from the previously overlooked
Sam Gopal album, plus a collaboration with the
Damned. It also misses out -or deliberately avoids-
several of the highlights of the earlier compilation.
One problem facing the compilers of such an album
is that there's probably no such thing as a Motorhead
rarity these days, now that the early albums are
getting reissued on CD for the third time, as
two-disc sets, and even the Rocking Vickers material
is available elsewhere. Anyway, there is very little
from the classic Motorhead line-up and no "Lost
or "Night of the Hawks". There are three Hawkwind tracks though: the studio versions of "The Watcher"
and "Motorhead" and the "Silver Machine" single. Predictable inclusions are Headgirl's "Please Don't
Touch" (why not give us the b-side tracks from this collaboration with Girlschool?), "Don't Do That" with
the Nolans and the godawful "Stand By Your Man" with the late Wendy O'Williams.
Disc two (1984-2005) is a bit more interesting, its main virtue being that it collects together Lemmy's
recent collaborations and appearances on tribute albums in one place, along with a smattering of latter day
Motorhead tracks. Collaborations with Mick Green (which also appeared on Born To Lose) and the Stray
Cats rediscover early rock'n'roll to good effect, while the Probot track (with Dave Grohl) is Motorhead in
all but name. Lemmy also covers songs by Queen, Iron Maiden and Metallica. It has to be said that
nothing comes close to matching the power of "Killed by Death", which kicks off this second CD - with
the unfortunate consequence that, from there, it's downhill all the way! When playing the second CD,
Windows Media Player displays what must have been an earlier list of track titles, since two tracks are
credited to Lemmy and Dore Pesch - perhaps these are being held back for the next volume. The fold-out
CD booklet has lots of nice pictures but neglects to explain the origin of several of the tracks featured on
the compilation. If you want a compilation that showcases more of Lemmy's songwriting and performing
strengths, Born To Lose is still the better bet but Damage Case is definitely more informative about his
extra-curricular activities. There again, you could put on Hall of the Mountain Grill or Ace of Spades and
remind yourself what he's really capable of!
Worth A Listen: Lemmy - Damage Case
Well Worth A Listen (2Â½ stars): Ego Prime - Ego Prime (Review by Steve)
The debut album by Ego Prime arrives on my
doorstep...¦quite eagerly anticipated, being the latest
venture of Harvey Bainbridge esq., though he is but
one amongst many (well, four, to be precise). Ego
Prime consists additionally of John Carter (vocals,
guitar), John Bootle (bass) and Dan Warren (drums),
though I think stating it like that may not be an
accurate indication of who it is that is the main
creative force in the band.
The opening moments of the album feature moody
dialogue from some film or other (and the second
track does the exact some thing, albeit with a much
shorter sample). An overused device IMHO, but
thankfully this is not something that continues
throughout the rest of this album, despite a few
unwelcome reappearances further into proceedings.
The music itself has a couple of motifs that are
fairly obvious from the Hawkwind fan's perspective. The first of these is it's-heavy-metal-with-Harvey's-
keyboards: but as the album progresses, I quite forgot about this aspect, since the keyboard work
integrates extremely well into what develops as a very guitar-centric, riff-driven hard rock album. Plenty
of frenetic wah-laden guitar solos emphasise this, with the keyboards mostly doing the colour and texture
thing (although the codas in a fair few of these numbers are handed over to Harvey, to solo over). The
rhythm section also never put a foot wrong, being solid and unspectacular, which is exactly what this
material needs. And the production is excellent, with not a hint of muddiness despite the dense
arrangements on all these songs: each one of the perfectly balanced instruments can be picked out at any
given moment, and the "sound" given to each band member fits seamlessly into the whole.
There's also a very retro vibe at work here, which does not throw back quite as far as the NWOBHM but
definitely recalls mid-80's UK bombast. Main man John Carter was apparently active in a few HM bands
in the late 80's / early 90's, though I think the influences come from earlier. The band's website helpfully
lists twenty favourite albums of each member of the band (except Harvey, disappointingly!) but this is no
slavish regurgitation of the classic rock / 70's heavy metal that all the personnel seem to appreciate
(alongside some slightly more esoteric references). At moments I am reminded of Mournblade, though the
pace is a little more restrained than that of Richy Jones' mob. I think this is not a direct influence, but an
example of parallel development of similar musical ideas, with the mid-80's being the formative period for
Ego Prime's material.
The songwriting has a few twists and quirks along the way which do bespeak the favourite album choices
- particularly some middle eights with doubled tempos, which always makes me think of Black Sabbath (as
it was one of Iommi's trademarks). And like a true HM band, Ego Prime can throw in the odd ballad,
whether as a whole song or as quiet verses alternated with louder refrains - for example on "Voices of the
past". John Carter's voice works excellently on this material, as it does on the all-out balls-to-the-wall
crunchfest tracks. But it doesn't always convince on a few of the mid-paced rockers - I just like it best
when he pushes the envelope. One of the more balladesque tracks â€œFortunes Of War" illustrates this,
with a couple of the impassioned lyrical lines pushing the vocal performance out of the run-of-the-mill and
into real quality.
The packaging is decent for what I think is a self-released CD: it doesn't scream "CDR!" at you, and the
CD booklet reprints the entire set of lyrics. Neither is anyone shortchanged by the amount of music on
offer - 17 tracks squeaking in a few seconds short of the maximum 80 minutes that can be captured in this
medium. On the band's website all of these songs are credited to John Carter, and his profile mentions
that they've been reworked from material he put out on a couple of solo albums in 2002-2004. Actually I
think there's too much material here, with the idea that the band have thrown in everything bar the kitchen
sink in an effort to make themselves heard. But it's certainly value for money at £7.00 inc. P&P - available
on the Ego Prime website's album page. And if it is self-released, it's hugely impressive in terms of the
professionalism of the results. I don't know to what extent there's a market for this kind of music, to be
honest, but I suspect Ego Prime can do very well for themselves on the live circuit, and should look
outside the UK to the metal-hungry countries of mainland Europe to really make some dough...
Approach with caution: Various Artists - Copenhagen Space Rock Festival Compilation 2002
What this isn't, lest the title deceive you, is any kind of
live festival recording. The tracks are either studio work
or live material recorded somewhere else (Belgium and
Sweden to be precise), by various Scandinavian bands.
Aside from the "space rock" tag, the main interest here
is Nik Turner's guest spots with Dark Sun and Pseudo
Sun. According to the Aural-Innovations website, this
CD was originally intended to help promote the festival
of the title, but the festival never happened. Anyway, the
good folks at Aural-Innovations, who give the CD a
very positive review, may disagree but I don't think
this compilation will win any new converts to space
rock and even the most hardened and uncritical
Hawkwind fan will struggle to get much out of it.
The compilation kicks off with two tracks by Dark Sun,
who (on these tracks at least) are more new romantic
than space rock - closer to, say, Ultravox than Hawkwind. However, the opening "Electrified" is partially
redeemed by Nik Turner's nicely meandering sax solo over the mid-song instrumental interlude.
DarXtar offer a live "Warriors/Aberrent Station", the former being some sub-Moorcock fantasy poetry
over a synth backing while the latter moves along very nicely on the back of a pretty decent riff and with
something akin to a tune. Definitely the highlight of the album and actually rather good.
The Gas Giant track ("Deep Space Fllight With Jim On Board") is, to these ears, simply an embarrassingly
bad rehearsal room jam. It starts off promisingly with some nice atmospheric Space Ritual-like sounds
(like the album, not the band) but from there on it just plods: ponderously slow and teeth-grindingly dull.
Two vocal interludes -delivered, respectively, in a strangulated rasp and a constipated moan- don't help.
The best bit is when it all stops, after 16+ minutes of gratuitously mind-numbing tedium. There again, the
Aural-Innovations review sees this as some kind of stoner-psych classic.
The following short instrumental, "Cinope", by Mantric Muse, is relatively sprightly and almost funky,
another album highlight in fact. "Shapeshifter" by Pseudo Sun is a rather mundane dirge, which Nik
Turner's sax completely fails to rescue, although the track does come to life at the end where Nik
contributes some flute. The second Pseudo Sun track, "Woodland Waterfall" has no input from Nik and,
depending on your viewpoint, is either "a very cool Bluesy instrumental acid-psych rock workout"
(Aural-Innovations) or a rather dull bluesy jam. It is, however, infinitely preferable to Gas Giant's offering.
The CD closes with the 12-minute "Floating Down The River Whistlin' On A Tune" by The Spacious
Mind. Laid back to the point of being comatose and looking for a tune rather than whistling one it is,
nevertheless, mostly harmless.
For Hawkwind completists, fans of Scandinavian space rock or members of the bands' families, this
compilation was released on Burnt Hippie Records (BHR 006).
One of the Best: MOAB (Mother Of All Bands) - Insect Brain (Review by Rob Dreamworker)
First, let me say how much I've enjoyed listening to this
album. A mixed bag, varied in style, but all clearly played in
the same spirit and fitting together well. Clean, punchy
sound and excellent musicianship
The bonus tracks sound good too, but are clearly authentic
rehearsals and demos, so are not up to the same standard as
the MOAB album. And the final bonus track is a recent
recording of a song written by Steve Took (but never
recorded by Took) and performed by the two other members
of his trio known as Steve Took's Horns (one of which is
Trev Thoms) and ably assisted by Ron Tree. This band
definitely deserves to be heard.
1. Insect Brain
Starts with manic laughter followed by dark sounding bass and drums with vocals from Ron Tree that
sound like he's about to freak out. Not to disappoint, the song winds up to sound in places like a heavy
version of a Cream riff (but can't remember which one), while Ron alternates between mania and
menace. A blistering guitar solo finishes the job. This is my favourite track on the album.
2. Meat Eater Man
Slow, quiet, swooshing keyboards herald a bass line which lollops along to a rant from Ron and another
dirty guitar solo.
3. War Machine
Tuning the radio finds first the news headline that we are going into Iraq , then a protest song which
sounds like it could easily have been done by the Sex Pistols. There's a Gong-style stuttering
drum/guitar break in the middle and some vocals provided by George Bush Jnr (not credited on the
artwork, tut tut).
IIRC this one has appeared on Soundclick because I'm sure I've heard it before. The tune is a real rocker
and I love Trev's vocals, although the chorus (Ãœber alles, Dolfins) throws me a bit.
The first half of this track sounds like something off Sheikh Yerbouti with Iggy Pop on vocals, ending
with a ranting list of drugs in the style of Phetamine Street.
6. In The Mirror
A slow, solid rocker.
Another punky one - the vocals remind me of Rotten's falsetto
After nearly 2 mins of the odd gong being bashed and a single spoken line from Angie, the guitar picks up
and the rest of the band join in to develop an excellent space rock riff which winds up the pace then
slowly winds back down again.
9. Spirit of the Age
Interestingly this doesn't even attempt to sound like Hawkwind. The first verse is delivered by Ron with
only spacey sounds in support, then the band kicks in with a very different and rather punky rendition of
the rest of the song. The guitar solo sounds like Trev was wearing stripy spandex trousers and playing a
Flying-V at the time. The song tapers off, there's a dedication to Robert Calvert, then back to the punk
for an anticlimax which dissolves back into spacey keyboards.
Bonus tracks - these are rehearsals and demos - well worth having.
A bit of a thrash. Ron's vocals distorting, but the band are giving it their all
11. Spark in the Dark
A rocking space jam. Could almost have been inspired by Hawkwind.
12. Negative, Positive
Ron on guitar and vocal doing an acoustic version of Phetamine Street with alternative lyrics. Nowhere
near as manic as the Hawkwind version, but no less heartfelt.
13. Drain Cleaner Truck
Ron on guitar and vocal again, but this time it's a song that starts off being about the trucks that suck all
the crap out of the rain drains at the side of the road ...¦...¦...¦ but then it gets strange.
14. Sanity (introduced by Ron as Sanity Clause)
Another Ron plus guitar number. Sounds like an outpouring
15. Ooh, My Heart
Trev Thoms and Deano Ferrari (aka Ermanno) were members of the original but short-lived Steve Took's
Horns before being recruited by Nik Turner to form the original ICU. They collaborated with Ron Tree
to complete a project that Took had started at Pathway Studios, resulting in the release in 2004 of the
Steve Took's Horns album "Blow It!!!", produced by Fee Warner.
This particular song was written by but never actually recorded by Took, so Ron and Trev did so on his
behalf. Apparently, this is one of several takes and is different to the version that appears on the album.
The Freebie DVD
MOAB in Frome
A respectable single-camera video of a very decent-sounding gig. Audio quality very good (again, when
compared to the standard of an average audience recording)
Tracklist: Jam; Master of the Universe; Yasser; In The Dark/Insect Brain; Precious; In the Mirror; War
Machine; Silicon Chip (aka Are You Losing Your Mind?); Spirit of the Age; Ejection; Right Stuff
ICH @ The Standard
Another single-camera job, with close ups and special effects. Sound is good (judged by the standard of
your average audience recording)
Tracklist: Master of the Universe; Silicon Chip; Ejection; Sonic Attack; Hey Mamma; Spirit of the Age;
Going Down (the Pink Fairies used to do this one); Right Stuff; Reptoid (delivered in a way that is very
reminiscent of In The Egg); Brainstorm
MOAB2 @ The Dome
Just one track: Spark in the Dark
This just in from Graham: MOAB - Insect Brain (One of the best, no question)
A brief addendum to the review already posted:
Apparently Rob Dreamworker has access to a different version of this to the one available through Trev
Thoms' RFM website, since the latter is a CDR, the cover is different, and it has only the basic nine
tracks and no DVD! The sound on the CD is excellent throughout though. Great songs, with solid rhythm
playing, some sterling guitar work from the Judge, and both Ron and Trev in good voice. Ron's lyrics are
definitely still out there. This is space punk rock in the spirit of ICU, albeit without much evidence of their
"Insect Brain" is indeed built on a mutated Cream riff, a close relative of "Sunshine Of Your Love" if I'm
not mistaken. Trev Thoms sings the excellent "Dolphins" which, at a guess, is a revival an Atom Gods
track from the Wow album (1998, released on GWR). [Other tracks from Wow were recycled on "Now
You Know The Score"]. Trev also sings lead on "Me". Ron does a fine Johnny Rotten impression on
"Spirit Of The Age" and unlike other recent renditions of this song, he gets the words right, or at least he
does until he goes off into an ad lib rant at the end!
This is one really excellent CD - so please can we have the proper version in the shops, preferably