|Music from the Hawkwind family tree - Part 28
Thanks to Graham for these reviews - except where noted otherwise, of course
The interest to Hawkfans here is the participation of Steve Swindells (lead vocals,
keyboards) and Jerry Richards (guitar, vocals) alongside Jon Moss of Culture
Club fame and Winston Blisset. Although the personnel is virtually the same as for
JerryÂ´s Earthlab project this is a whole different kettle of fish.
The band website http://www.danmingo.com offers a confrontational introduction: â€œA hippy, a jew, a
black and a gay; this bunch of old f**kers will blow you away!â€�. In terms of quality, no argument: this
is an album of mature, reflective and finely constructed singer-songwriter/pop/adult-oriented rock songs.
There is no space rock in evidence - possibly the closest they come is the heavy(ish) pysch of â€œNow
Voyagerâ€�, and JerryÂ´s guitar work on the otherwise poppy â€œMy Secret Buddhaâ€�.
While JerryÂ´s guitar work is excellent throughout, undoubtedly the key to this bandÂ´s sound is Steve
SwindellsÂ´ lived-in and expressive voice. Thirty years on, he is clearly no longer the angry young man of
the â€œFresh Bloodâ€� l.p. (home of the original â€œShot Down in the Nightâ€� and well worth tracking
down on vinyl) but he still has a lot to say, the lyrical themes sometimes harking back to the sleazy low life
tales on â€œFresh Bloodâ€�
Aside from the tracks already mentioned, standouts include â€œOh My Godâ€�, â€œWalking On Waterâ
€� and â€œAngelâ€�, the latter a celebratory ballad propelled by JerryÂ´s chiming guitars which deserves
to be a hit single. â€œMe, Me, Meâ€� and â€œYouÂ´re Strangeâ€� are both pretty sprightly and at the
rockier end of the bandÂ´s musical spectrum. â€œFifteen Secondsâ€� is middleweight funk on which
Jerry gets to stretch out a bit and Steve effortlessly gets away with some cheesy spoken word passages. â
€œWatching The Lightsâ€� and â€œI DonÂ´T Believe Itâ€� are both classy ballads.
If you can stomach song titles like â€œMen DonÂ´t Cryâ€� and sometimes risquÃ© lyrics (e.g. â€œpush,
push, in the bushâ€� â€“ alright, maybe thatÂ´s totally innocent), and appreciate well-crafted music, that
spans various pop and rock styles without sounding remotely like Hawkwind, you might just find this fine
album is to your taste. The 22 songs together span almost 2 hours, probably too much for one sitting but
worth repeated revisits.
This set is available only as a download (my copy came from iSOUND.com). No less than 10 of the 22
tracks are free downloads but donÂ´t miss out on buying the whole album
One of the best: DanMingo â€“ Leap of Faithâ€“The Prequel
Worth A Listen: Steve Swindells â€“ Demos for the Departed
Another download-only album, this is a bit more of a mixed bag. As the title
suggests, many of these tracks are demos, although some are fully developed and a
few feature full band arrangements. SteveÂ´s voice and piano form the backbone.
The style varies from AOR to soft pop songs which, 30 years ago, would have
made single of the week on David HamiltonÂ´s Radio 2 show.
There are some real clunkers (e.g. â€œB4 Itâ€™s Begunâ€�, â€œMy Pocket Guruâ€�) but also some
really good songs, like the top notch ballads â€œWe Dance Aloneâ€� and â€œBarcelonaâ€�.
This album passed the girlfriend test (â€œitÂ´s niceâ€�) which is unusual for a Hawkwind-related release,
so you have been warned!
Just about worth a listen (* Â½ ) : Spirits Burning â€“ Alien Injection
The cast of thousands involved in this dogÂ´s
dinner manages to produce something that is overall
much less than the sum of its parts but which
contain some moments of real interest for
Hawkfans. What a cast it is too: joining Don
Falcone and Daevid Allen, they include Bridget
Wishart, Adrian Shaw, Captain Black, Steve Taylor,
Pete Pavli, , Roger Neville-Neil, Michael Moorcock
and, er, Brian Tawn. Despite all this input, the CD
isnÂ´t up to the standards of â€œEarthbornâ€� and
IÂ´ll take Bridget singing her shopping list (or
whatever) any day over some of the other vocalists
featured here. Furthermore, all is not as it seems,
as will become apparent.
â€œAlien Injectionâ€�, â€œNew Religionâ€� and â
Harmonyâ€� are all percussive, effects-laden exercises in tuneless noise. â€œEvery Gun Plays Its Own
Tuneâ€� though is a Moorcock-Pavli composition and features MM on vocals with Pavli on cello and
violin. However, all the Moorcock tunes featured here have been adorned with â€œnew material by the
crewâ€�, whether or not that might be remotely appropriate. More to the point, having also listened to
the newly released Moorcock demos CD I will wager that there is no new Moorcock work here, Spirits
Burning have simply tarted up the old demos.
â€œLoggerÂ´s Revengeâ€� is vaguely atmospheric if overlong (9 minutes) but Brian TawnÂ´s
fragmented spoken vocals are very evidently sampled from his narration on the Hawkfan 12 LP. Pointless
â€œAugustusâ€� starts life as a relatively pleasing ambient/proggy instrumental featuring Steve Taylor on
bass and drums before a clodhopping middle section breaks the mood but heralds a more dramatic second
half. With sax and flute carrying the melody the overall effect is very King Crimson. â€œFuture Memoriesâ
€� takes us back to unwelcome noise, with some irritating shouting over the doomy bass and drums.
Now things get interesting again, with a version of â€œThe Entropy Tangoâ€� by Moorcock and Pavli.
Of course though it is just the demo with a set of new clothes on top. â€�Another Worldâ€� is a pretty
tune with lyrics and vocals by Bridget. â€œThe Hawkâ€� ups the tempo nicely, propelled by Graham
ClarkÂ´s violin and Jerry JeterÂ´s guitars. â€œImported Serpentsâ€� is another instrumental, the sound
dominated by Purjah on guitars. The inconsequential â€œIngleboroughâ€� is Moorcock and Pavli again.
Roger Neville-Neil (â€œHeadsâ€� lyrics) wrote the fragmentary lyric of â€œUpturned Dolphinâ€� and
probably wishes he hadnÂ´t. Bridget sings the hypnotic and folky â€œSalomeâ€�. This followed by the
frankly dreadful Moorcock-Pavli dirge â€œMontfalconâ€� . The CD closes with the woozy pastoral
acoustic reverie of â€œHeaven (Is One Quality Tree For The Road)â€�.
The CD appears on Black Widow Records (BWRCD 103-2).
Worth a listen, if only once (**) : Michael Moorcock & The Deep Fix â€“ The Entropy Tango and
Gloriana Demo Sessions
This CD was released on Noh Poetry Records (NP
R008) in 2008, the executive producer being one
Don Falcone, which may explain how some of
these demos also wound up on the Spirits Burning
It is what it says on the tin, two sets of unadorned
demos. â€œThe Entropy Tangoâ€� itself is a
promising start to the first set and â€œThrough The
Megaflowâ€� has a nice tune but the other six
demos from this section are unmemorable and the
sound is uniformly poor. There are then three
bonus tracks, including another version of â
€œMegaflow, and â€œThe Tale Of The Entropy
Tangoâ€�, which is the sequence of fragments
lifted from Hawkfan 12, complete with Brian
â€œBrief Intermissionâ€� is taking the piss, being 10 seconds of silence, and leads into the Gloriana
demo sessions. This is mainly fragments, including several untitled instrumentals, and only â€œJohn
DeeÂ´s Songâ€� (by far the longest piece at 10+ minutes) shows any signs of being a memorable
Nevertheless, an interesting historical document.
Just about worth a listen (* Â½ ) : Inner City Unit â€“ The Fury of
Twenty-plus years after the event, The Fury of ICU catches ICU
Mk I (Nik, Trev, Fed, Dino) live. Certainly raucous, it all just
sounds a bit strange now. ICU kick off with â€œJohnny B
Goodeâ€�, just to show they arenâ€™t Hawkwind, before
running through â€œSidâ€™s Songâ€�, â€œEpitaph to the
Hippiesâ€�, â€œSpace Invadersâ€� and â€œMan of Steelâ€�,
three out of four being from The Maximum Effect which was
presumably current at the time. They next tackle The Shadows
on â€œThe Savageâ€� and (rather more successfully) Link
Wray on â€œGood Lovinâ€™â€�, on which Nik goes into full
sax freakout mode.
Trevâ€™s rather sullen announcement of â€œMaster of the Universeâ€� suggests that audience reaction
hasnâ€™t been all they hoped for and he gives the old HW chestnut a good bit of fretboard welly,
propelling an extended heavy metal version a million miles away from the punky remake on Passout.
Trev similarly cuts lose on a suitably clodhopping â€œWild Thingâ€� - and there you have it: a fabulous
comedy/punk/space rock band that really wanted to play pub rock and heavy metal. Disappointing.
One of the best: Inner City Unit â€“ The Presidentâ€™s
The Presidents Tapes was released as an LP on
the Flicknife label back in 1985, in a rather
fetching pink cover. The line-up is Turner, Dead
Fred, Steve Pond and Mick Stupp. This has a
generally heavier feel than previous albums and
the ponderous 7-minute opener â€œStonehenge
Who Knowsâ€� suggests that ICU had morphed
from a comedy punk band to purveyers of
stoner rock. The mournful mood is underpinned
by organ, fiddle and flute colourings and it is
rather good, if atypical of ICU. However, things
lighten up considerably after this and Nik
remembers his sense of humour, to the extent
that the album quite possibly eclipses â
€œMaximum Effectâ€� as the best of the ICU
Indeed, the title track indicates that Nikâ€™s sense of (black) humour is alive and well, and we can
guess that this brilliantly concise commentary on the state of the world is not unrelated to intellectual
giant Ronald Reagan winning a second term in the White House in 1985. â€œNewspeakâ€� is less
memorable, featuring a heavy rhythm track over which the band recites a series of contemporary
acronyms and someone gets to do silly voices.
â€œEuropavilleâ€� has Nik intoning his tongue-in-cheek anti-US lyrics over a martial stomp and if
thereâ€™s a bit too much shouting and not enough music, some of the rhyming couplets are sublime (â
€œall you freaks is gonna die / because Uncle Samâ€™s a really heavy guy...â€� and â€œhe said Iâ
€™m gonna shoot your horse / because Uncle Sam has really got the forceâ€�). â€œFungus Among
Usâ€� is pure rockâ€™nâ€™roll silliness, rediscovering the lightness of touch that graced parts of the
Mark 1 albums.
â€œICUâ€� is power punk with a singalong chorus, and is followed by the primal bad-trip weirdness
of â€œWorld of LSDâ€�. The ponderous pop metal instrumentation and bizarre chorus (â
€œeverythingâ€™s groovyâ€�) of the following â€œBig Footâ€� distracts from the curious lyric,
which is about someone (unidentified) whose head is disconnected from reality. Finally, â€œZodiacâ€�
is basically a beefed-up surf instrumental, and a pretty good way to end the album.
Why isnâ€™t this out on CD yet?
Worth A Listen: Inner City Unit â€“ Live Salford â
[Note: the image to the left is of ICU's Salford 85 video, but I am
not certain that the download which Graham reviews is the same
as the bootleg soundtrack to that video...]
Dead Fred has a web page (www.deadfred.co.uk or www.doremi.
co.uk) on which he used to have downloads of the entire ICU
catalogue. However, first New Anatomy disappeared (the link now
just takes you to the letter, threatening legal action, which led to
their removal), then all the other studio albums, along with two
singles and the Blood & Bone E.P. However, some goodies remain,
specifically the Live in Salford â€™85 set, a few 1980 live tracks,
and four tracks labelled â€œLast Ever Demosâ€� (the work of
Dead Fred and Steve Pond).
Live Salford â€™85 sees the Mk II band towards the end of its
life, playing a set derived mainly from the Mk II releases (New
Anatomy, Blood & Bone, President Tapes) although Nikâ€™s stage
announcements indicate that New Anatomy had only just been
released. There are also a few first album songs, a Calvert tune and
a version of â€œBrainstormâ€�. The sound is generally good, although with some distortion and
feedback evident and (at least at the start) there is a tendency to bludgeon all the songs into submission.
The set kicks off with heavy versions of â€œWatching the Grass Growâ€� and â€œBucket Songâ€�. â
€œSpace Invadersâ€� similarly lacks subtlety. The coupling of â€œLonesome Trainâ€� / â€œSolitary
Astridâ€� suggests that the band can change pace if they have to, with the latter in particular working
quite well (complete with a few bars of Mudâ€™s â€œTiger feetâ€�) apart from some irritating sounds
effects. â€œEjectionâ€� is suitably energetic, â€œWorld of LSDâ€� slightly less strange in its live
â€œKing Beeâ€� is macho posturing set to a Neanderthal glam beat (the riff is akin to Blockbuster or
Jean Genie) but Nick carries off the vocals with some aplomb and then takes his sax solo into a jam on
The Doorsâ€™ â€œPeople Are Strangeâ€�. â€œForbidden Planetâ€� is just a bit limp but â€œFungus
Among Usâ€� (dedicated by Nik to consumers of fungi) manages an appropriate rockâ€™nâ€™roll
feel. The band slows down again for â€œLittle Black Eggâ€�, which sounds directionless and formless.
â€œCybernetic Loveâ€� and â€œHelp Sharksâ€� raise the collective pulse again. The set closes with a
rough and ready version of â€œBrainstormâ€� incorporating an uncredited â€œGhost Danceâ€�. This
altogether a better memento of ICU than The Fury CD.
Aside from this set, five tracks survive on the Doremi website from a 1980 gig in London (â€œOB City
Museâ€�, â€œSolitary Astridâ€�, â€œPolyethelineâ€�, â€œAmyl Nitrateâ€�, â€œNuclear Wasteâ€�),
all from the first album and all reasonably faithful to the album sound, complete with excursions into
comedy voice-overs, reggae, and quotes from the theme tune of the Z Cars t.v. series (the latter both on
the excellent â€œAmyl Nitrateâ€�). Nik reminds us that â€œSolitary Ashtrayâ€� was written for
German terrorist Astrid Proll, to help her defence fund although Nik says he doesnâ€™t actually approve
of blowing people upâ€¦
Previously available on the site were both sides of the first two singles Solitary Ashtray / So Try Asid
and Paradise Beach / Amyl Nitrate. So Try Asid is a â€œdubâ€� version of â€œSolitary Ashtrayâ€�,
while the excellent â€œParadise Beachâ€� abuses Wagner in much the same way that the Ersatz album
did, with Nik rapping over the top about radioactive babies, etc. Then there were â€œRaj Neesh (Bucket
Song)â€� and â€œHuman Beingsâ€�, the two ICU songs that got onto the Friends & Relations
compilations. About the only thing to recommend the latter is that it comes in two different versions, â
€œas releasedâ€� (with chipmunk vocals) and the much slower and duller â€œcorrect speedâ€�
Finally there are the â€œLast Ever Demosâ€�, four tracks that are the work of Dead Fred and Steve
Pond. Solid and tuneful rather than replete with anarchic humour, â€œChicken Runâ€�, â€œMeâ€�, â
€œOwsleyâ€™s Worldâ€� and, especially, â€œ21st Hellâ€� would all have sounded fine as ICU tracks
One of the best: Alan Davey â€“ Eclectic
Two years on from Human on the Outside, Alan
Daveyâ€™s new project shows he has not run
out of energy and inspiration but he has lightened
up and, dare I say it, tentatively embraced the
â€œAngel Downâ€� is a predictably complex
and epic opening number, with the gentle
pastoral first section leading into a verse-chorus
structure built around a percussive and
uncompromising riff. The vocal melody is fairly
pedestrian but the arrangement is superb,
especially in the 2 Â½ minute instrumental break,
and the song gains immeasurably from liberal
application of Simon Houseâ€™s violin. In
places it even feels like Warrior
era Hawkwind. Eight minutes passes rapidly by.
â€œStrung Outâ€� is a slighter and sparser composition, morphing into lightweight pop from the
middle onwards â€“ there is a proper chorus with the vocals sweetened by addition of a female singer
(Isobel from Bruise?). Houseâ€™s violin keening away in the background just about reminds us of the
Hawkwind connection. Nice light relief.
Spacey sound effects, heavy riffing and hoarse vocals are back for â€œShadow Echoâ€� although
there is a rather sprightly Quo-like boogie section in the middle. â€œToo Highâ€� sounds like power
pop, apart from Alanâ€™s gruff singing and a serious lyrical theme (â€œyou canâ€™t fix the world if
all you do is dopeâ€�). Isobel (?) sings the wistful, tasteful and rather excellent â€œEncounterâ€�. â
€œWaste of Timeâ€� starts with a plucked harp, suggesting a further retreat from familiar territory but
the guitar and, especially, the violin work on this instrumental track soon restore order and again
conjure up images of Warrior era Hawkwind.
â€œAlien Veinâ€� is just sound effects and treated voices. Not good. â€œWaste of Spaceâ€� is a
short and reasonably lively instrumental piece again heavily reliant on the House violin. The title track
broods: it is slow, understated and measured with only some of the lyrics (â€œyou can do meâ€�, etc)
lacking any sense of gravitas. The pace picks up for the closing â€œYa Know You Shouldâ€�, a heavy
song complete with a proper chorus.
This is a very good album indeed and light years ahead of his early stuff. Play this back to back with â
€œThe Final Callâ€�, on which only â€œStanâ€™s Orbital Salvageâ€� really stands up now as a
composition, and you can hear how Alan has moved beyond simple repetition and whooshing noises
cranked up to 11 to much more sophisticated writing (although: Gunslinger!).
One of the best: Steve Swindells â€“ Fresh
It is almost 20 years since I bought this album on vinyl but its
appearance on CD justifies another listen. Ian Abrahams already
gave this a 4-star review in Record Collector and highlights the
Springsteen comparison as well as the obvious Hawkwind
connection (Lloyd-Langton and King on board).
Back in 1980 I knew nothing of Springsteen and cared less. I saw
this (and still do to some extent) as a street smart and punky Billy
Joel singing well-observed slice-of-life songs. I can also hear the
pop of Steveâ€™s former band Pilot in the arrangements (although
mercifully without the handclaps that were apparently obligatory in
the mid-1970s). As much as anything I am reminded of the Tom Robinson Band - this is not just lazy
stereotyping as there is something of TRB in the vocal delivery and aggressive musical settings.
However, Iâ€™d also say there is a subtlety, soulfulness and humour here that TRB never managed. It
says a lot for the strength of Steveâ€™s identity though that there is not a shred of Hawkwind
influence in evidence, at least until the last song, his own version of the peerless â€œShot Down In The
Nightâ€� â€“ and the obvious conclusion is that Steve Swindells brought far more to Hawkwind than
he took from them.
The first three numbers (â€œTurn It On Turn It Offâ€�, â€œFresh Bloodâ€� and â€œI Feel Aliveâ€�)
are upbeat and up-tempo. Track 4 though (â€œLow Life Joeâ€�) is harder and darker while â€œBitter
and Twistedâ€� is gleefully sleazy. The best is saved until the last though, firstly the superbly self-
assured ballad â€œDown on Love Streetâ€�, and then two anti-authoritarian diatribes, the self-
explanatory â€œFigures of Authorityâ€�, and of course the pumped up charge of â€œShot Down In
Worth A Listen: Tim Blake â€“ Live Waterfalls in Space â€“ Exeter
Downloadable from Timâ€™s website, this seven track
performance features Tim performing alongside blind pianist
Donâ€™t be fooled by the titles, there is nothing totally new
here. â€œAn African New-Ageâ€� is â€œSong for a New Ageâ
€�, â€œLasers in Your Heartâ€� is â€œLighthouseâ€�, and â
€œYannis Glyttrâ€� is â€œNew Jerusalemâ€�, all from the
latter album. Then we have â€œByzantium Dancingâ€� and
the title track from Tide of the Century. â€œThatâ€™s The
Spiritâ€� is the Hawkwind track of almost the same name,
while â€œMoon Goddessâ€� is a Gong track.
The performances are excellent and that bit more exciting than pure solo renditions of these (mostly)
familiar pieces. There are also two lengthy rehearsal pieces from 1978 available, again with Jean-Phillipe
Rykiel. â€œFrom Jupiter to Jerusalemâ€� includes an excerpt from Tide of the Centuryâ€™s â
€œCrystal Islandâ€� while the second piece (â€œFrom Outta Spaceâ€�) takes in â€œLighthouseâ€�
and part of â€œNew Jerusalemâ€�.
Worth A Listen: Syren - Dehumanized
Finally, if only because it is programmed next on my i-Tunes, a plug
for â€œDehumanizedâ€� by Syren: strident and expressive vocals,
choppy acoustic guitar, solid drumming, sinuous fretless bass high in
the mix, and decent songs, especially the title track. They may have
nothing to do with the sound of Hawkwind but they deserved their
guest spot at the 2008 Hawkfest (and not just for their shameless
[I rather liked their shameless marketing ploy, personally]