|Music from the Hawkwind family tree - Part 29
Thanks to Graham for these reviews - except where noted otherwise, of course
Well worth a listen (**1/2): Hawklords - Robert Calvert Memorial Concert Kings Hall Herne Bay 28
[Note: I haven't yet found an image of the CD
cover- what you see to the left is from the
promotional`poster for the "Hawklords" (cough)
event on 29/11/2009, at which Graham bought the
CD, which he will now review for you. Take it
From the Hawklords merchandise stall
The merchandise stall at the HL gig was a veritable
goldmine of goodies on CD and DVD - and, yes, I
indulged in a few, although stopping short of buying
some newly archive Nik Turner sets, mainly as I'd
already spent all my cash. Others in the queue
obviously got their highs in different ways - someone
behind me was apparently carrying around 15
different kinds of mind-altering substances (from skunk, acid and ketamine to several things I've never
heard of) but refusing to sell any to the guy next to him, apparently on the grounds that he planned to
take them all later. Meanwhile...¦
We've been here before obviously: Nik Turner gathers assorted friends and records a set of Hawkwind
covers. The difference here, of course, aside from the fact that this was a memorial concert for the late,
great, Bob Calvert, is that the assembled friends (or at least, allies assembled against a common enemy)
are mostly Hawkwind alumni (Adrian Shaw, Ron Tree, Alan Davey, Jerry Richards) and three are genuine
Hawklords from the 1978 band, namely Harvey Bainbridge, Steve Swindells and Martin Griffin. Jim
Hawkman and Jack Griffin make up the numbers.
They blast through a set of Calvert songs (mainly Calvert/B***k compositions) with a good deal of
enthusiasm and a fair approximation to the classic Hawkwind sound, with lashings of sax and occasional
flute. The songs are given extended workouts - no medleys here - and divide between the Space Ritual era
blanga of "Born to Go", "Orgone Accumulator" and "Silver Machine", and the Charisma period:
"Damnation Alley", "High Rise", "Quark", "Flying doctor", "Psi power", "Robot" and "Only the Dead
Dreams of the Cold War Kid". The song from Calvert's solo career is "Ejection".
Should you buy this? Well I doubt you'll find it anywhere except at gigs by the Hawklords and it is pretty
short on surprises of any kind (although I don't recall hearing a live version of "Dead Dreams" since the
real Hawklords did it on the 1978 tour). However, it is a zillion times superior to some past "Nik and
Friends mangle your favourite Hawktunes" releases, and if you're attending one of their gigs it's probably a
given that you'll appreciate owning another authentic live rendition of these songs!
One Of The Best: Krankschaft - Flame Red Superstsar review by Groucho Merckx
After ICU split in 1985, Dead Fred, Steve Pond
and Mick Stupp continued as The Maximum
Effect. One single, several gigs and one departed
drummer later, Fred and Steve were asked by
Robert Calvert to be his band for his show at the
Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. The songs were
arranged by Fred and Steve (including a couple of
newies), the evening was a huge success (check
out the LP!) and it was decided that Bob and
Maximum Effect (or Krankschaft, as they were
often billed) should go on tour. Many successful
gigs followed, before Bob, Fred and Steve went
their separate ways... Bob toured subsequently
with The Starfighters, but had written to Fred
requesting that ME/Krankschaft should record his
next album with him, describing Fred as "a master
musician of the rock genre". Sadly this was not to be. Bob passed away, and so did the Bob/Krankschaft
album. Until now.
Now, to make things clear, there is no "new" material here. But there are several very surprising (and
often enlightening) moments, some far removed from the familiar Bob blueprint. There is also no
Hawkwind material - all songs are taken from the latter part of Bob's solo career. A good thing, in my
opinion - the HW/Lockheed stuff is all good, but yet more new versions would be pointless. And so to the
...or maybe not. The packaging deserves a mention, to say the least. The CD comes on a nice digipak,
with a very stylish design. There is also a glossy photo of Bob with Fred and Steve, and a double-sided
A2 poster of a 20s/30s Russian-type design on one side and a spacier other side with notes about the
songs. It's really rather excellent.
And now to the main event : the CD. First up is "Teen Ballad Of Deano" (or "Dino", as it is here). A
beautiful quiet "false start" with Fred and his keyboards, then BANG! the song proper arrives. Much
punchier than the original, some excellent harmonics from Steve, and a lovely fade-out into solo piano,
leading into "Acid Rain". Close to the original, but a much higher quality recording. If only Bob's has
sounded this good... "Ned Ludd" follows, and is WAY rockier than the original, Steve employing his guitar
to maximum effect (!) on the main riff. "Test-Tube Conceived" is also given a much rockier treatment,
but the arrangement is still close to Bob's original.
"All The Machines Are Quiet" is NOT close to the original. Taken at a much slower, almost languid
tempo, much of the original has been discarded to be replaced by a marvellous, slowly-building new
take... the middle verse has been dropped (for reasons of length, one would assume) but the guitar solo
section is a more than worthy replacement. "Lord Of The Hornets" is much more familiar territory, but
Fred's vocals and "almost but not quite wrong" keyboards save it from being "just another" version... "The
Widow's Song" (from "HW, F&R Vol 3" as I remember) sees Steve rather bravely taking on a female
vocal part. Oddly, it works, although I'd love to have heard Renate Knaup from Amon Duul II having a
crack at it.
"The Luminous Green Glow..." is the longest track here, and doesn't depart too radically from the Bob
version, but stretches out nicely. "Picket Line", though, has been given a thorough thrashing and is
probably the hardest-rocking track here. There is, however, a lovely solo piano part midway to break up
the frantic rocking, and it works very well. "Work Song" is based upon the familiar Bob live version, with
acapella outro. It's such a good song that it's hard to imagine anyone making a mess of it, and
Krankschaft haven't. "Evil Rock" veers off at several unexpected tangents, being a whole lot faster than
the original (or the standard Krankschaft live version), a really rather strange middle part and a key change
where you least expect it. I'll always prefer the Bob version, but it's a bold new arrangement which works
well in its own right.
Now... "The Greenfly And The Rose". Bob's was a lovely little song, with a beautiful melody. But I'd
hazard a guess that he would never have pictured it as a piano/vocal ballad! Anything less like Hawkwind
is difficult to imagine. And guess what? It's a thing of beauty. Apparently a first take (there are enough
imperfection in the vocal to bear this out), the piano playing is just tremendous and the overall feel of the
piece bears out the decision to release as was. Liberties are taken with the melody, but never to the
detriment of the song. If the album finished here, I'd have been quite happy. But...
The final track is "Flight 105". I never liked the Bob original particularly, and so was expecting the worst.
What I got was the BEST. There is a new "film noir" keyboard part, a delightfully suspenseful delivery of
the verses, and then... rock and roll!!! The whole thing takes a turn for the fast and the heavy, with a
frankly superlative keyboard solo, until it ends (too bloody early in my opinion) on a recording of
footsteps receding into the distance at a tube station...
I do have a couple of complaints. One, "Radio Egypt" isn't on it, which is rather odd given that Fred and
Steve were responsible for the original arrangement. Two, "Test-Tube Conceived" has, to my mind, been
rather overlooked. There are some songs there that could have worked very well indeed.
Doubtless some people will disregard this album as "Bob cover versions", but it really is much more than
that. Fred and Steve have clearly put a lot of time and effort into this, and their new arrangements often
breathe new life into Bob's songs, and in some cases are nothing short of revelatory. I recommend this
album wholeheartedly to anyone, Hawkfan or not. It's certainly my favourite Hawk-related release of the
last few years. And if the track "Ode To The Sun" on the previously-reviewed "Stars And Stripes" CD is
anything to go by, the promised album of Krankschaft originals may well be something very special
indeed. Five stars. Essential listening.
Normal (?) service resumes with a review of the same album by host contributor Graham. He rates it as
Well worth a listen (**1/2):
Already reviewed on the Starfarer website I know, but here's a brief addition.
Essentially a Calvert tribute album by two former bandmates, one of whom (Dead Fred) briefly graced the
ranks of Hawkwind and both of whom were members of ICU.
Smoothing out the rough edges of some of Calvert's latter works (notably "Acid Rain") undoubtedly
renders them more palatable, if a little staid and polite. In addition, some liberties have been taken with
arrangements. Thus, the previously pedestrian "Picket Line" now rocks out, while "The Greenfly and the
Rose" is a now a gentle piano-led ballad.
Best of all though is "Widow's Song", only previously known from one of the Friends and Relations
compilations it now has added poignancy as some of the lyrics could equally apply to Bob.
A rather nice (and exceptionally well-packaged) album. On the downside some of the vocals are rather
colourless and some of the musical settings rather mechanical. However, this CD is never less than
listenable and is well worth tracking down (you can order it from the Krankschaft website).
Completists and fans of 70s pop only (*½): Pilot - Two's a crowd
What's the connection between Bay City Rollers and Hawkwind? Two ex-Rollers
(David Paton and the late Billy Lyall) formed pop band Pilot , had hits with "Magic"
and "January", then slimmed down to a duo, who were joined by session musicians
on the "Two's a crowd" album in 1977. Step forward Steve Swindells, who
contributes keyboards and some vocals to this album (currently only available on CD
as a Japanese import). Unfailingly polite seventies pop that only occasionally offers a
memorable tune. Completists only!
Worth a listen: Spirits Burning and Bridget Wishart - Bloodlines
This is a concept album: according to Don Falcone in
an online interview, they were "using kings and
queens of history as our lyrical starting point". The
concept appears to have been broadened but,
certainly, queens are strongly featured. However,
don't expect anything in like Rick Wakeman's "Six
Wives". The music is generally understated and it
took me several listens to get much out of this. As
we should probably expect from Spirits Burning,
there is no single musical style - the compositions
range from acid folk, industrial noise and space pop
to pastoral easy listening and chamber pop. The first
five or six tracks are generally faster and more
energetic while the latter part of the album subsides
into pastoral easy listening, albeit with a strong sense
of melancholy (even tragedy) running through most
of the songs.
Bridget sings virtually all the lead vocals and is in good form throughout. Ian Abrahams reviewed this on
"Spacerock reviews" and spots some re-cycled Hawkwind lyrics.
Although there's little space rock in evidence, ex-Hawks turn out in force, with cameos on 9 of the 15
tracks: Harvey Bainbridge (synths on tracks 4, 6, 8), Alan Davey (synths on 3, 14), Simon House (violin on
7), Steve Swindells (Piano, synth and vocals on 5) and Steve Bemand (guitar on 12, 15).
The instant standout track, "Cleopatra" (track 2), has the sort of slightly clumsy sing-along chorus that
Boney M (or at least Bananarama) would have been proud of. It also motors along nicely, with nifty flute
and guitar breaks. "Rocket to the End of the Line" (track 5) is also worth a mention as (a) it is another of
the most up-tempo tracks on the album and (b) it features a Steve Swindells lead vocal. Of the later, easy
listening, selections, track 13 ("Lady Jane") probably has the best tune, and tells the sad story of Lady Jane
Grey, queen of England for 9 days in 1553. "Follow Me" (track 10) is another sweet tune. "Heaven's Hide"
features lyrics that Bridget originally performed with Hawkwind (as "Seventh Star").
"Czaritsa" (track 7) tells the thoroughly grim story of Alexandra of Russia to the accompaniment of a rather
jaunty tune on which Simon House's violin is prominent. "Mistress of the Age" (track 11) concerns
Shahzadi (Imperial Princess) Jahanara Begum Sahib, who became first lady of India in 1631.
Elsewhere the album delves into Egyptian mythology ("Silene's Light", track 15), African mysticism
("Chaminuka", track 4, which appears to be about a Zimbabwean spirit, although since the lyrics are mainly
in Xhosa and Ndebele that's about all I can glean) and the mother of Dracula "(Mother of the Dragon",
This understated song cycle probably needs repeated listening (and frequent visits to Wikipedia) before it
starts to make any sense, but it does repay perseverance.
Just about worth a listen (* ½): Imperial Pompadours - Ersatz
This was hard to find when released, near impossible
now and expensive to purchase on the original vinyl,
if you can find it. However, someone in the
Hawklords universe has had this issued on CD.
Previously we had to make do with four tracks on
one of Judge Trev's compilation CDs. Trev is to be
heard on here, as is Dino Ferrari and, obviously, Nik
Turner. Bob Calvert's dulcet tones also turn up on the
last track, as spotted by the reviewer on Julian
Cope's Head Heritage website.
Incidentally I'm only now appreciating the delicious
irony of the Hawklords name being resurrected by
Nik and crew. After all, DB and Bob Calvert
originally used the name precisely to avoid legal
complications with ownership of the HW name...
Sourced from vinyl (you can sometimes hear the
crackles) this remains a profoundly strange record. Barney Bubbles' credentials as a graphic artist/sleeve
designer and ideas man are unimpeachable. Hi musical legacy less so.
The story of Barney's working methods for this album is fairly well known but basically involved forcing
the band to record barely familiar material with no rehearsals allowed. This may have been intended to
result in exciting, spontaneous or "edgy" performances but also had the potential to produce a cack-handed
mess. It is somewhere in between and I can't help feeling that the band had more fun than the average
listener will have. Mind you, ICU (in character as the Imperial Pompadours) did a creditable job of turning
the album into a listenable live experience at the Barney tribute gig in November 2009.
The album kicks off with "The Crusher", originally recorded by The Cramps and at best thoroughly
misanthropic (sample lyrics: "first you take your fist and you put it on your waist, then you squeeze your
partners head until she's blue in the face yeah do the crusher.."). Nevertheless, it has an agreeably loose
feel, with the track being little more than a bassline, grunted lyrics and various additional sounds ranging
from fairground organ to electric drill. "See You Soon Baboon" is cut from similar cloth, with honking sax
and comedy vocals over the basic rhythm track. "Fu Manchu" barely registers before "Brand new Cadillac"
gets in your face.
Next up is a suitably deranged version of "I Want To Come Back From The World Of LSD". â€œLittle
Black Egg" barely hangs together at all, simply a mumbled vocal with random sounds in the background.
"Moo Goo Gai Pan" sounds like, well, "Fu Manchu" again. "Gemini Spacecraft" is a strange rap over the
top of a version of "Riders On The Sky". "Lightshow" and the following "Chicken" barely count as music
at all, lacking anything resembling structure. At least "Fungus Among Us" is a genuine song, played
relatively straight until about half-way through. â€œKing B", as I've commented before, is more sad and
sinister than humorous, with its sleazy macho lyric intoned over painful feedback. Last of the music tracks
is "Black Leather Trousers and Motorcycle Boots" and it sounds like a Walt Disney out-take. The moments
of inspiration are outweighed by moments of self-indulgent silliness, but at least all the tracks so far are
"Insolence Across The Nation" is a 23-minute collage of spoken word (adapted from Mein Kampf), found
sounds and incidental music, some by Nik and crew but rather more by Wagner - from records played in
the background. Both the Hitler character and the track as a whole become increasingly deranged. By turns
unlistenable, interesting, inspired and just plain creepy, it sounds like nothing else on earth.
Head Heritage concludes: "An utterly twisted album of variety and creativity." Others might just say, a piece
of utter crap. You choose.
Worth a listen : Rod Goodway and Adrian Shaw - Oxygen Thieves
When I first saw Hawkwind in 1976, their glory days (some
would argue) were already in the distant past (4 years is a long
time for a teenager!). That distant past included Lemmy, Stacia
and tours with bands like Magic Muscle.
When the Magic Muscle LP "The Pipe, The Roar, The Grid"
came along in the late 1980s (ordered from the long-vanished
Other Record Shop in Aberdeen and clearly impressing the
shop staff), the excellent presentation ultimately couldn't hide
the fact that, to these ears at least (and bearing in mind that
many have said the same of Hawkwind), this was a band
thriving on energy and enthusiasm more than any actual
Since those days, Adrian Shaw has had his stint in Hawkwind and, until Nik Turner's Hawklords revival,
has latterly been most evident as Nick Saloman's sidekick in The Bevis Frond and as author of a series of
solo albums (all on the now defunct Woronzow label) that were rarely less than interesting but not likely to
set the world alight either. Rod Goodway didn't catch my attention again until the 2002 CD with Simon
House, "House of Dreams" (Rob's website indicates that the recordings actually originate from 1982), on
which, despite his unlovely voice, his performance gelled with House's musical settings to good effect.
Hence, I approached "Oxygen Thieves", Rod and Ade's recent collaboration, acquired from the
merchandise stall at the Hawklords Barney Bubbles tribute gig, with some trepidation. However, several of
the songs are really rather good. True, much like "House of Dreams", at first I found the vocals a
distraction - although Ade Shaw's more than Rod Goodway's. Again as on House of Dreams, some of the
words tend to deal with mundane earthbound concerns: contrast Ade Shaw's singing about fairies and
elves on track 1 ("Coloured Rain") with Rod singing about spam in his mailbox on track 2 ("Spammed
Man")! The songs tend to divide between what I guess are Adrian Shaw's compositions, the ones he sings,
which tend towards lumpen heaviness (for example "Coloured Rain" and "Stranger Things") and the lighter
and more melodic songs (such as "Spammed Man", "Wait", and "May You Never Be Thirsty") sung by
Rod. The title track is a rather tuneless heavy dirge, but sung by Rod. A few songs successfully combine
heavy and melodic components, notably "Dog Fight" and "Angels". The otherwise ponderous "When The
Darkness Comes" is lifted by some deft instrumental colourings. These contrasting sounds and moods are
a big part of the strength of the album. Not an instant classic but solid and well worth a listen.
Just about worth a listen (*½) : Mother Gong - Fairy Tales
Nik Turner apparently plays "muzma and oboe" on this fairly obscure
chapter in the Gong story, presently available on CD only as a
Whether you feel able to investigate further will depend on your
tolerance of narrated fairy tales set to music (think Brian Wilson's fairy
tale music, issued alongside the Beach Boys' Holland album back in the
mid-70s). In any case, although the narration is pretty much the
definitive example of terminal tweeness (and the sung/spoken dialogue
by the story's characters is infinitely worse), the music is pleasantly
listenable and, unsurprisingly, reminiscent of Gong. An instrumental
version would be nice!