|Music from the Hawkwind family tree - Part 23
Thanks to Graham for these reviews - except where noted otherwise, of course
Worth A Listen : Eclectic re-releases
Just out on the 'Eclectic' label are new versions of Bob Calvert's "Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters"
(ECLCD1056), Calvert's "Lucky Leif and the Longships" (ECLCD1057) and Nik Turner's "Xitintoday"
(ECLCD1055) - which might be more properly credited to Nik Turner's Sphynx, or .just Sphynx...
So, what is there in these reissues to make you go out and buy 30-year old albums by Hawk family
members, especially if you already own these things several times over?
Both the Calvert titles have excellent artwork, lyrics and new sleeve notes, with the new sleeve notes for
Captain Lockheed being written by Nik Turner. Still by far the better album, the new version has three
bonus tracks. The first, and most interesting, is a previously unknown 8-minute version of "The Right
Stuff". Then there are the two single edits from the "Ejection" / "Catch a Falling Starfighterâ
€� single. The A-side edit previously appeared on the 1993 "Lord of Light" compilation on the
Lucky Leif remains a curate's egg, full of ideas and a pot-pourri of musical styles but misfiring horribly
in places. The new version still uses the horrible alternative version/remix of "The Making of Midgardâ
€� which first surfaced on the BGO reissue LP and (being picky) there are a couple of errors in the track
timing information on the back cover.
The bonus tracks are Bob Calvert's two cricket-themed tracks, "Cricket Lovely Reggae (Cricket
Star)", which is NOT the version recently reissued by Adrian Wagner, and the previously unheard â
€œHowzat!" - hardly an essential song but a welcome find nonetheless. Both these tracks apparently
date from a 1974 session with Steve Took. This story can be found here, an account which makes clear
Steve Took's links with both Bob Calvert and Nik Turner. At the same time it provides some context
for Trev Thoms' sleevenotes on the Steve Took's Horns CD and, incidentally, by showing that the
track had a previous history, it appears to contradict Adrian Wagner's story about the origins of the
1979 flexi-disc version of "Cricket Star".
Lastly we have Nik's adaptation of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Xitintoday, which has a bonus 29
minutes of Nik's flute playing. The Cleopatra "Sphynx" album featured 25 minutes of similar
material but, although I haven't played this right through it isn't exactly the same material. In both
cases the unadulterated flute tracks, recorded inside the great pyramid, are more interesting than anything
else on the albums.
In summary, if you don't have these albums already, Lockheed is a must-have and it has the best bonus
tracks. The other two are probably for completists only.
Essential Viewing : Space Ritual - Satiricon (Review by Exapno Mapcase)
Three years on, and the
long-promised DVD is finally with
us... and about time too!
It's certainly value for money,
weighing in at a hefty 155
minutes, and is beautifully
packaged in a colourful card cover
with a poster/information sheet...
first impressions are VERY good.
I'll get to the actual review in a
moment, but I'll deal with the
extras first... there are two interview segments, the first with Nik (in fetching monochrome). The other
members are seated around him, but bar the occasional interjection from Dave A, it's Nik all the way.
Nik's interesting and informative, despite a lapse into out-thereness during which even he admits to not
knowing what he's on about! Occasionally "controversial" remarks are highlighted by animated lettering,
but it's nothing to be worried about. All in all, a nice chat with Nik and nothing you wouldn't expect. The
second interview is split between Thomas Crimble, who is at times astonishingly frank as regards Space
Ritual's financial situation, but is I feel looking through rose-tinted glasses at the whole Glastonbury thing
(... the intercut scenes of human sheep paying over £100 a ticket to trudge through mud kinda spoils the
illusion) and Terry Ollis, who comes across as a diamond geezer, if a little stoned. He even says something
nice about Dave Brock!!!
Now, the gig itself... this being Space Ritual, it's not perfect. However, it IS enormously entertaining. I'll
get the moaning over with : there are no audience mics, so a live atmosphere is not readily generated,
Debespace's dancing and costumes leave a LOT to be desired (especially the psychedelic Pat Butcher look
and the truly disturbing "Orgone Accumulator" sequence), Nik has a few vocal timing issues, and the last
verse of "Master Of The Universe" goes totally pear-shaped. I was at the gig, and while it was acceptable
in a live environment, its inclusion on a DVD is questionable.
Now for the good bits... the dodgy computer-generated graphics familiar to viewers of "Night Of The
Hawks" and "Space Ritual 1994" have been replaced by something much nicer, if in a similar vein, and
(largely) between the songs. In fact, these images (which replicate those on the on-stage big screen)
actually enhance the film, especially when subtly mixed with the gig footage.. The camera work is nothing
short of excellent throughout - several cameras capture the band to great effect. The sound is (overall)
very good indeed, although certain sax solo parts are perhaps a little too far back in the mix. The vocal
effects used by Nik on the spoken word pieces are captured wonderfully. All of your (circa 2004) Space
Ritual favourites are present and correct, including a totally brain-numbing version of "Brainstorm", which
is unlikely to be matched by any other band currently playing a cover version of it! Especially worthy of
mention is the astonishing array of sounds conjured by John "The Ghost", who fills the dwarvish boots of
Mr Dettmar (advertised on the front BUT only appearing in two clips from another show... naughty
naughty) and Mr Mik with aplomb. The full track listing is : 1. Launch 2. Cosmic Chant 3. Born To Go
4. Welcome To The Future 5. Watching The Grass Grow 6. Sonic Savages 7. D Rider 8. Time Crime
9. Children Of The Sun 10. Jazzy Jam 11. Brainstorm 12. Orgone Accumulator 13. Sonic Attack 14.
Ejection 15. You Shouldn't Do That 16. Master Of The Universe 17. Silver Machine 18. Inspector
Clouseau Theme (the latter Nik solo while the credits roll).
All in all, a great record of Space Ritual February 2004. They have certainly played better gigs (as I'm sure
each member will attest), but it's never less than entertaining and, at times, simply stunning. Head and
shoulders above the recent crop of Hawkwind DVDs, at any rate... Rating: 8/10
Here's another review of the Satiricon DVD, offered by resident 'Music from the Hawkwind family tree'
reviewer Graham. He comes to the same "Essential Viewing" conclusion as did the previous reviewer, Mr.
Exapno Mapcase, despite the fact that they seem to be drawn from opposite sides of the Brock-Turner
Essential Viewing : Space Ritual - Satiricon (Review by Graham)
This is basically an in-concert recording from 2004 with some additional interview footage. Despite some â
€œpolitics" in the interviews, this is a thoroughly enjoyable DVD and unquestionably an essential
The interview segments are interesting, if slightly depressing. The first features Nik holding court with the
band sitting around him, all looking rather bored. Surprisingly, Nik isn't at all comfortable in front of
the camera. He comes across as fragile and slightly befuddled and, as he presents his idealistic worldview,
it is evident that he lives on another (albeit rather nicer) planet. Interjections from Dave Anderson and the
later interviews with Thomas Crimble and Terry Ollis suggest that what unites this band, apart from a love
of playing the music, is mutual dislike of Dave Brock. Nik's major gripe is that Brock is a bread-head
given to Machiavellian scheming. Or, to put it another way, while he probably doesn't qualify for
sainthood, Brock is a fairly typical human. Dave Anderson's vocal support for Nik's view is all
very well but the words "pot", "kettle" and "black" come to mind. (Which member of
Hawkwind allegedly drove around in a flash sports car and would later walk out of Space Ritual, allegedly
taking the master tapes for the album with him?)
In the second interview segment, Terry Ollis still seems bemused that Dave Brock could have asked him
offset the replacement cost of his stolen drumkit (which was on loan to Simon King at the time) against
future royalties. Yes, he also says that Brock is a great rhythm guitarist but the remembered pain clearly
overshadows any good memories. Thomas Crimble comments that the band is making no money at all as
they are still paying the legal costs of the court case -clearly none of them thought that Brock would really
sue- and hints that Brock's ownership of the name was open to legal challenge but they simply couldnâ
€™t afford to go down that route. Of the three interviewees he is nevertheless both the most affable and
The concert section appears to be the whole set, two hours plus, and is an excellent production, with the
possible exception of the introduction, which is pure hokum. The band individually approach the camera as
their nicknames flash up onscreen and the BBC-English tones of the "countdown" (as heard on
Hawkfan 12) are heard in the background, strangely stopping before the "This is Hawkwind" part!
Thomas "Ironman" Crimble looks like he'd rather be somewhere else, Mick Slattery (H. Potter if
you please) does his best Compo impression, Terry "Caveman" Ollis is dressed as a caveman, Angel
is imperious and Deb lets it all hang out. Indeed, aside from extraneous fleshy protuberances, this could be
a sequence from a particularly naff pre-school children's TV programme (through the square window
we can see...¦a man with a spiky head. He's called "Thunder Rider").
Cue flames and cut to the band playing "Cosmic Chant" (or Ghost Dance as it used to be known).
Thomas Crimble is playing rhythm guitar (rather than keyboards as in 2006), Nik is indeed wearing his
spiky headpiece, and Deb is still letting it all hang out. Not the greatest start. The overall sound lacks the
sophistication of the 2006 model but is light years ahead of the shambles that was X-Hawkwind before
Dave Anderson arrived and sorted out the rhythm section. Throughout the set, visual effects (fractal
shapes slowly morphing into other fractal patterns) cover the between-song gaps and there are enough
different camera angles to keep things from getting dull. Jackie Windmill adds slightly incongruous female
backing vocals and percussion. Sam Ollis spins the decks although it's mostly difficult to tell what, if
anything, he adds to the sound. Of the two dancers, Angel is as alluring as ever while Deb assumes what
could be described as the other side of the Stacia role. Unfortunately the overriding impression is of an
embarrassing older relative who keeps wandering on-stage to prance around in a state of semi-undress. At
various times she appears dressed for a picnic complete with straw boater, in wraparound beachwear
waving pom-poms, and, probably most scarily, as a nightmarish fairy in a tutu, wings, and blond afro wig.
I suppose we should be thankful that Alice Rhubarb was unavailable for this gig.
The band shift into a loose "Born To Go": Ollis, Anderson and Crimble keep the rhythm on track and
there is some fine lead playing from Mick Slattery. "Welcome To The Future" follows, then â
€œWatching The Grass Grow". The musicians barely break sweat but Angie's writhing on the floor
under Thunder Rider's sax might raise a few pulses. "Sonic Savages" is the first "new"
song. Interestingly (especially as the single release from 2006 is credited to Anderson/Turner), this version
is credited to Harry Williamson and Nik Turner. Read into this what you will but, as I've noted
elsewhere, the Harry Williamson song "Nuclear Waste", on which Nik played, later turned up as â
€œStrontium 90" on "Prophets of Time", where it was credited to Turner.
Sonic Savages is self consciously heavy where the previous songs were smooth and relaxed but it's
actually pretty good. Terry Ollis slams away on the skins, Dave Anderson gurns and sways in time to the
music, Thom Crimble stands aloof behind his shades, Mick Slattery grinds out the lead lines and John the
Ghost nails those audio generator effects behind Nik's vocals and sax. Talking of ghosts, Del Dettmarâ
€™s image inexplicably pops up on screen at this point, obviously beamed in from another concert, and
apparently inserted purely to justify putting his name on the credits. The band slow things right down for â
€œD-Rider". Aside from Nik's slightly wayward vocals this is a sterling performance, again with
fine lead guitar from Mick Slattery. Angel struts her stuff in lingerie and angel's wings.
Over spacey effects, Angel and Deb appear as Little and Large silhouettes on the screen, Nik finally loses
the spikes and the band launch into the poppy strains of "Time Crime". An authentic sounding
extended version of "Children Of The Sun" follows. The mainly instrumental "Jazzy Jam"
follows, something of a low point and enlivened only by Angel frolicking on a chair at the front of the
"Brainstorm" is a bit more like it, as our boys get down to some serious space rock, although
Thomas Crimble appears to think he's on stage with the Beach Boys (or possibly that he's Mike
from the Young Ones). Angel flounces around in a maid's uniform complete with feather duster.
Momentum is maintained with a slinky "Orgone Accumulator" and "Sonic Attack" takes no
prisoners: strobes flash and effects swirl as Nik laughs and shouts hysterically. The band finishes up this
section with an uncredited snatch of "Paranoia".
The music builds again and, just in case you can't tell where it's going, Nik recites "Ground
Control To Pilot", and indeed they move straight to "Ejection". Jackie Windmill's backing
vocals are prominent, Angel dresses as a schoolgirl and plays with a metallic toy dog (later swapped for a
baseball bat). Distractions aside, the band is fairly cooking now and even Dave Anderson manages a smile.
Nik's vocal timing is somewhat suspect but his sax playing is spot on. Curiously enough it is the
following "You Shouldn't Do That" which Nik dedicates to Robert Calvert. This song, more than
any other so far, is probably where the band seems truly at home - as well they might be, given that
Anderson, Turner and Ollis all played on the original version. The following "Master Of The Universeâ
€� sees Dave Anderson gain a belated writing credit, the performance is again shit hot (aside from Nik
getting lost in the third verse) and Angel is back on stage in a fetching little black number. Del makes
another ghostly appearance before the band plays "Silver Machine". Nik does his "Mighty
Thunder Rider" rap, which at least stamps a little Space Ritual identity on this Brock/Calvert
composition. Angel dances around a mirror ball and around Nik, bringing things to a fitting climax. The
credits roll as Nik plays the Pink Panther theme alone on stage.
A good time is had by all and there is some new material - Sonic Savages, Time Crime, Jazzy Jam -
but the band otherwise sticks to tried and trusted Hawkwind oldies. As such, even if they are in denial,
they demonstrate quite effectively that Dave Brock's writing and riffs were the bedrock of the
One Of The Best : Alan Davey - Human on the
There is a character in Douglas Adams' "Life, the
Universe and Everything" called Wowbagger the
Infinitely Prolonged, who decides that his purpose in life
is to insult everybody in the universe, personally, one by
one, and in Alphabetical Order. Rather futile, but a
purpose nonetheless. A good metaphor perhaps for the
task of reviewing the musical output of the extended
Hawkwind family! Then an album like this comes along
and makes it all worthwhile...
"Human On The Outside" is a private pressing,
presented in a very fine digipak. Its available from
Compact Disc Services or directly from Alan's own
sound is fabulous and mainly very dense, with so much going on that, on some tracks, it takes several
listens to work out what's happening. Alan plays most of the instruments - usually keeping the bass
high in the mix - but employs a real drummer and several guest vocalists. The album starts as strongly as
any HW album in recent memory but, almost inevitably, there is something of a mid-album dip in form.
Nevertheless, certainly Alan Davey's best solo album so far - and it often sounds more like Hawkwind
than Hawkwind, maybe a pointer to what a future Hawkwind could sound like if Mr Brock retires...¦
"Atmosphere" provides exactly that, a synth-based instrumental that builds up an edgy, foreboding,
ambience. This leads straight into the heavy riffing of the multi-part "Years Ago, Miles Away". The
first section of the song is based on the simplest of riffs (see Psychedelic Warlords), the tension relieved by
the short instrumental breaks after each chorus. The vocals are deep in the mix, evidently as hoarse and
Lemmy-like as ever but also tuneful. Section 2 rocks out, with a classic bass run and a completely different
verse and chorus structure. Section 3 is instrumental and features some nice lead guitar lines. Finally,
section 4 returns to the main riff and original verse-chorus structure but with additional solo guitar over the
post-chorus instrumental breaks. A very good start indeed.
"Eyes Closed" starts with the kind of electronic clutter and spoken word samples that disfigured the
closing tracks of Xenon Codex (EMC, Good Evening) but thankfully develops into a pleasant enough synth-
based instrumental. "Drum Head" is an ugly and in-your-face bass riff overlaid with chanted vocals
by Isobel Morris, about the futility of war. It's a relief when the track gives way to the gorgeous
instrumental "Marine Snow" (as featured in Hawkwind concerts).
"Nothing is Weird" again features Ms Morris's guest vocals; again the bass is prominent but this
song is a damn sight easier on the ear, with an Arabic mode instrumental section in the middle. "World
of Fear" is a fine and relatively straightforward heavy rock song, grounded on a solid bass line and with
a catchy chorus. Lyrically, it is an un-fond kiss-off to some unspecified leader figure.
The titles "Ethnic Mosaic Part 1" and "Part 2" are a fair indication of what follows, i.e. two
instrumental filler tracks. "The Unseen" features Danny Faulkner doing his best Michael Moorcock
impression (i.e. spoken word recitation: see Warriors, etc). "Delusions of Ganja" is an effective
ballad, the lyrics possibly a gentle warning of the perils of smoking the right stuff: a pleasant song but not
necessarily what was needed at this point to kick the album back into life. "Dog Star" is seriously
inconsequential instrumental filler. Finally, "Glass Wolves" raises the tempo again but the guest vocal
by Metatron is an acquired taste and the lyrics are, possibly, delusional. Not a great ending, but all the more
reason to go back and play the first half of the album...¦
One Of The Best : Inner City Unit - Passout
ICU is what Nik did after Sphynx, and switch in
musical direction (and image - from bandages to
bondage) could hardly have been more radical.
Passout, their first album was originally released on
Riddle Records (RID002, 1980) and is presently
available on CD as OLDHITZ OLD 001, where the
12 cyberpunk classics are joined by a raft of demos
and live cuts.
The frenetic "Space Invaders" gives way to
the equally frenetic, "Watching The Grass Growâ
€�, and ICU single-handedly define a new genre:
punk rock crossed with science fiction and lashings
of subversive humour, cyberpunk if you will. â
€œPolly Ethylene", a touching love song about â
€œmy baby with the polyester heart" is followed
by "Solitary Ashtray"
(or "Solitary Astrid"), the first single: Nik sings falsetto and does a great voiceover; the band does
sensitive and it's apparent that ICU have taken on the imantle of the Bonzos. And it's a song
supposedly inspired by ex-Bader Meinhof member Astrid Proll's life in a London squat. "OB City
Muse" is delirious punk powerpop with a dash of humour. Last track on side 1 is a fabulous punk-
reggae version of "Brainstorm", on which Nik shows zero respect for the Hawkwind legacy and
sounds all the better for it.
"Cybernetic Love" gets side 2 off to a good start without quite matching side 1's peaks but â
€œCars Eat With Autoface" is just ugly and heavy - and is sung by Trev at his most artless and
thuggish. Nik takes over again for "Fallout" but this is another heavier track. "Nuclear Waste"
(see Harry Williamson) follows and is sprightly enough - with some of the vocals sounding positively
Pythonesque - but the best is saved for the end. First we have a punked-up "Master of the Universe",
complete with updated lyrics and extended jamming around the main riff. The original album closes out
with the reggae lilt of the mainly instrumental "Amyl Nitrate", which cheerfully rips off the theme
tune to "Z-Cars" (an early 70s cop show). Wonderful stuff (ICU, not Z-Cars)!
The CD re-issue is rounded out with a series of live and demo tracks, mainly from ICU mark 2 in 1985 and
1986: "Paint Your Windows White" (demo), a thrashy live take on "Spirit of the Age" -
pretty authentic given that Nik wasn't even in Hawkwind when Spirit was released - and a rough live
version of the classic "Bones of Elvis" (both from 1985), a frantic live "Rock'n'Roll" (a.
k.a. Chuck Berry's "Johnny B Goode") from 1981, a very rough demo of "Space Invaders",
stonking rehearsal takes of "Zodiac" and "Stonehenge" (1986, both tracks from the final ICU
album, "The President's Tapes") and something called "Costa del Dub" from 1986 (based
on what I could make out of the lyrics, perhaps a version of what became the only Maximum Effect single,
"EspaÃ±a", after Nik baled out).
The bonus tracks are all inessential but "Passout" was a fabulous debut album (even if it featured two
Hawkwind remakes and a recycled Harry Williamson song). The first two ICU albums should have made
them huge...¦ It wasn't meant to be.
One Of The Best : Inner City Unit - Punkadelic
EMI might be bringing out the big guns by re-
releasing "Space Ritual" but equally pleasing is
this little heralded recent re-release of ICU's
demos and outtakes collection, ""Punkadelicâ
€�, by Cherry Red (CD GRAM 198). Originally
released on Flicknife on 1982, the album kicks off
with alternative versions of the first album's â
€œWatching The Grass Grow", "Space
Invaders", "Polyethylene" and "Cars Eat
With Autoface". The first track is now over-
familiar via endless remakes but it was still fresh in
1982 and sets the tone for the album - energetic,
irreverent, and fun. "Polyethylene" is still
worth a smirk too. The next three tracks date from a
late 70s side project by Trev Thoms and Dead Fred
(it says here), or ICU does disco. Pick of the bunch
is "God Disco", the tale of how God invents
disco music over 7 days, but
"Disco Tango" and "Gas Money" are also pretty sprightly. "Alright On The Flight" keeps
the energy levels up but "Blue Rinse Haggard Robot" doesn't quite maintain the levity, resorting
instead to crude insult ("you're a c**t!") and "Bildeborg" substitutes noise for inspiration.
The next six tracks date from 1985 and the second incarnation of ICU, with Steve Pond replacing Trev
Thoms. Five of these six tracks were featured on the "Blood and Bone" 12-inch EP, a mixture of
band-penned numbers ("Blood and Bone", "Paint Your Windows White") and punked-up rock
and roll covers ("Hurricane Fighter Plane", Brand New Cadillac", "Little Black Egg"), the
last two of which also appeared on "Ersatz". The energy level is cranked up to eleven and it's
tremendously enjoyable without really tapping into the wellspring of mischievous humour that sustained
ICU Mk1. The last of these tracks is a real curio: the previously unreleased "The Laughing Policemanâ
€�, on which Nik connects with his inner Viv Stanshall and the band achieves a passable Bonzos pastiche.
The album winds up with the two ICU tracks from the "Friends and Relations" albums, the rather
wonderful "Raj Neesh" and the rather lame "Human Beings".
The sleeve notes appear to borrow heavily from the biography on the ICU website, possibly unwise given
that some off colour comments about various unloved ex-members are repeated here. Interestingly enough,
MP3s of this album and all the other ICU albums used to be available as free downloads on the ICU
website. The fact that all have now disappeared perhaps means that the catalogue of this too long neglected
band is finally getting a makeover.