|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 â€“ and, yes,
I indulged in a few, although stopping short of
buying some newly archive Nik Turner sets, mainly
as Iâ€™d already spent all my cash. Others in the
obviously got their highs in different ways â€“ someone behind me was apparently carrying around 15
different kinds of mind-altering substances (from skunk, acid and ketamine to several things Iâ€™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. Meanwhileâ€¦
Weâ€™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 â€“ no medleys here â€“ and divide between the Space
Ritual era blanga of â€œBorn to Goâ€�, â€œOrgone Accumulatorâ€� and â€œSilver Machineâ€�, and
the Charisma period: â€œDamnation Alleyâ€�, â€œHigh Riseâ€�, â€œQuarkâ€�, â€œFlying doctorâ€�, â
€œPsi powerâ€�, â€œRobotâ€� and â€œOnly the Dead Dreams of the Cold War Kidâ€�. The song from
Calvertâ€™s solo career is â€œEjectionâ€�.
Should you buy this? Well I doubt youâ€™ll find it anywhere except at gigs by the Hawklords and it is
pretty short on surprises of any kind (although I donâ€™t recall hearing a live version of â€œDead
Dreamsâ€� since the real Hawklords did it on the 1978 tour). However, it is a zillion times superior to
some past â€œNik and Friends mangle your favourite Hawktunesâ€� releases, and if youâ€™re attending
one of their gigs itâ€™s probably a given that youâ€™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 hereâ€™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 Calvertâ€™s latter works (notably â€œAcid Rainâ€�)
undoubtedly renders them more palatable, if a little staid and polite. In addition, some liberties have been
taken with arrangements. Thus, the previously pedestrian â€œPicket Lineâ€� now rocks out, while â
€œThe Greenfly and the Roseâ€� is a now a gentle piano-led ballad.
Best of all though is â€œWidowâ€™s Songâ€�, 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 (* Â½): Pilot â€“ Twoâ€™s
Whatâ€™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 â€œMagicâ
€� and â€œJanuaryâ€�, then slimmed down to a duo, who were joined by session
musicians on the â€œTwoâ€™s a crowdâ€� 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 â€“ Bloodlines
This is a concept album: according to Don Falcone in
an online interview, they were â€œusing kings and
queens of history as our lyrical starting pointâ€�.
The concept appears to have been broadened but,
certainly, queens are strongly featured. However,
donâ€™t expect anything in like Rick Wakemanâ€™s
â€œSix Wivesâ€�. 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 â€“
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 â
€œSpacerock reviewsâ€� and spots some re-cycled Hawkwind lyrics.
Although thereâ€™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, â€œCleopatraâ€� (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. â€œRocket to the End of the Lineâ€� (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 (â€œLady Janeâ€�) probably has the best tune, and tells the sad
story of Lady Jane Grey, queen of England for 9 days in 1553. â€œFollow Meâ€� (track 10) is another
sweet tune. â€œHeavenâ€™s Hideâ€� features lyrics that Bridget originally performed with Hawkwind (as
â€œCzaritsaâ€� (track 7) tells the thoroughly grim story of Alexandra of Russia to the accompaniment of a
rather jaunty tune on which Simon Houseâ€™s violin is prominent. â€œMistress of the Ageâ€� (track 11)
concerns Shahzadi (Imperial Princess) Jahanara Begum Sahib, who became first lady of India in 1631.
Elsewhere the album delves into Egyptian mythology (â€œSileneâ€™s Light", track 15), African mysticism
(â€œChaminukaâ€�, track 4, which appears to be about a Zimbabwean spirit, although since the lyrics are
mainly in Xhosa and Ndebele thatâ€™s about all I can glean) and the mother of Dracula â€œ(Mother of the
Dragonâ€�, track 12).
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 (* Â½): Imperial Pompadours â€“ 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 Trevâ€™s compilation CDs. Trev is to
be heard on here, as is Dino Ferrari and, obviously,
Nik Turner. Bob Calvertâ€™s dulcet tones also turn
up on the last track, as spotted by the reviewer on
Julian Copeâ€™s Head Heritage website.
Incidentally Iâ€™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 nameâ
Sourced from vinyl (you can sometimes hear the crackles) this remains a profoundly strange record.
Barney Bubblesâ€™ credentials as a graphic artist/sleeve designer and ideas man are unimpeachable. Hi
musical legacy less so.
The story of Barneyâ€™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 â€œedgyâ€� performances but also had the potential to produce a
cack-handed mess. It is somewhere in between and I canâ€™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 â€œThe Crusherâ€�, originally recorded by The Cramps and at best thoroughly
misanthropic (sample lyrics: â€œfirst 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..â€�). 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. â€�See You Soon Baboonâ€� is cut from similar cloth,
with honking sax and comedy vocals over the basic rhythm track. â€œFu Manchuâ€� barely registers
before â€œBrand new Cadillacâ€� gets in your face.
Next up is a suitably deranged version of â€œI Want To Come Back From The World Of LSDâ€�. â
€œLittle Black Eggâ€� barely hangs together at all, simply a mumbled vocal with random sounds in the
background. â€œMoo Goo Gai Panâ€� sounds like, well, â€œFu Manchuâ€� again. â€œGemini
Spacecraftâ€� is a strange rap over the top of a version of â€œRiders On The Skyâ€�. â€œLightshowâ€�
and the following â€œChickenâ€� barely count as music at all, lacking anything resembling structure. At
least â€œFungus Among Usâ€� is a genuine song, played relatively straight until about half-way through. â
€œKing Bâ€�, as Iâ€™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 â€œBlack Leather Trousers and
Motorcycle Bootsâ€� 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 short.
â€œInsolence Across The Nationâ€� 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: â€œAn utterly twisted album of variety and creativity.â€� Others might just say,
a piece of utter crap. You choose.
Worth a listen : Rod Goodway and Adrian Shaw â€“ 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 â€œThe Pipe, The Roar, The Gridâ
€� 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
couldnâ€™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 musical talent.
Since those days, Adrian Shaw has had his stint in Hawkwind and, until Nik Turnerâ€™s Hawklords
revival, has latterly been most evident as Nick Salomanâ€™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 didnâ€™t catch my attention again until the 2002 CD
with Simon House, â€œHouse of Dreamsâ€� (Robâ€™s website indicates that the recordings actually
originate from 1982), on which, despite his unlovely voice, his performance gelled with Houseâ€™s
musical settings to good effect.
Hence, I approached â€œOxygen Thievesâ€�, Rod and Adeâ€™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 â€œHouse of Dreamsâ€�, at first I found the vocals a
distraction â€“ although Ade Shawâ€™s more than Rod Goodwayâ€™s. Again as on House of Dreams,
some of the words tend to deal with mundane earthbound concerns: contrast Ade Shawâ€™s singing
about fairies and elves on track 1 (â€œColoured Rainâ€�) with Rod singing about spam in his mailbox on
track 2 (â€œSpammed Manâ€�)! The songs tend to divide between what I guess are Adrian Shawâ€™s
compositions, the ones he sings, which tend towards lumpen heaviness (for example â€œColoured Rainâ
€� and â€œStranger Thingsâ€�) and the lighter and more melodic songs (such as â€œSpammed Manâ€�,
â€œWaitâ€�, and â€œMay You Never Be Thirstyâ€�) 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
â€œDog Fightâ€� and â€œAngelsâ€�. The otherwise ponderous â€œWhen The Darkness Comesâ€� 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 (* Â½) : Mother Gong â€“ Fairy Tales
Nik Turner apparently plays â€œmuzma and oboeâ€� 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 Wilsonâ€™s
fairy tale music, issued alongside the Beach Boysâ€™ 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 storyâ€™s characters is infinitely worse),
the music is pleasantly
listenable and, unsurprisingly, reminiscent of Gong. An instrumental version would be nice!