|Music from the Hawkwind family tree - Part 30
Thanks to Graham for these reviews - except where noted otherwise, of course
Well worth a listen (**1/2): Various Artists - Suburban Guerrilla Uprisings
I had fairly low expectations of this freebie CD
handed out by Trevor Hughes at the Barney Bubbles
gig in November 2009, and this seemed to be
confirmed after listening to the first two tracks, an
over-familiar reprise of Nik Turner's pyramid flute
playing and a karaoke version of Master of the
Universe. Finally though, the CD does a fair job of
evoking the Hawkwind spirit (© Nik Turner) if not
the Hawkwind style (® Dave Brock). It can be
thought of as a Nik Turner, Friends and Relations type compilation and, even where the HW connections
are tenuous to non-existent, most of the music is worth investigating, not least the tracks from Temple
Zone and its offshoots. Full marks then to Trev Hughes for pulling it together.
So, as noted above, the CD kicks off with an excerpt from Nik Turner's pyramid flute recordings. This is
followed by an impromptu and largely a capella duet by Nik and Bob Calvert on "Master of the Universe".
Nik gets out his sax for the second half of the song. While the musical merit is negligible, it is a nice
historical artefact. A serene and previously unheard Earthlab instrumental "Nine Maidens" follows, all
keening synths over a basic acoustic guitar track. Then, more of Nik's pyramid flute playing.
Judge Trev's "Mountain Range" was previously heard on "Now You Know The Score", and features Trev
in heavy ballad mode (i.e. minor key, slow tempo, crashing power-chords, plus of course Trev's yobbish
singing and some terrace chant backing vocals - just to make clear this is not Bon Jovi) - for my money
Trev does this kind of stuff as well as anyone. The following "Ga Fayoum" is credited to Nik Turner but
is basically a brief and not very interesting field recording of wordless chanting. The next track is "Hassan
I sabbah" by The Uprising. This is muscular festival punk and nothing to do with the Hawkwind song of
the same name.
Temple Zone offer a rough demo version of "Follow The Leader". Also, obviously nothing to do with the
Hawkwind track of the same name, this one is a rather good proper song. Apparently it is also a tune
played live by (Temple Zone offshoot) Pyramids of SNAFU when Terry Ollis and Mick Slattery guested
with them in 2003 (presumably they don't appear on this version, but they do appear on the Pyramids of
SNAFU CD available from Trev Thoms's RFM website). Temple Zone and their offshoots are represented
by four tracks on this compilation (three more follow) but they obviously ceased to exist before I had ever
heard of them and they barely register on the web except as some sort of long lost legend ("a loud and
raucous rock band which cheerfully deafened anyone who cared to listen"). Meanwhile, ex-members
played as ANOMIE (who existed from 1991 to 2004, see http://www.anomie.co.uk for history and
downloads) and also appear on Jon Storm's "Storm warning", a pleasant folk rock album which includes a
new, rather staid and polite, version of "Follow The Leader" (free download available at
http://www.jonstorm.com). Leading light Stuart Barton appears later on this CD as "The Elasticated Waist
Band" - whose Dudding Hill Junction album is available for download from the ANOMIE website, as is his
space rock project Spaceport 1 (this latter offering is more likely to appeal to Hawkwind fans).
Incidentally, ANOMIE appear to have shared Dave Brock's fascination with the President Kennedy
assassination, with the commentary to the shooting also used on ANOMIE's "Beyond Belief".
Back to the present CD: "The End Of Religion" by Earthlab is a rather formless dirge but does showcase a
Steve Swindells lead vocal which veers between soulful emoting and a Lemmy-esque menace. The
Elasticated Waist Band's "Debt is the New Black" has a chirpily mournful tune and suitably sardonic vocals
- plus of course a great title. The second Temple Zone demo ("Find the Light") is pleasantly melancholic
with rather self-conscious lyrics.
Then we have the the Wystic Mankers, who apparently "grew out of the Tibetan Ukranian Mountain
Troupe, a group of weirdo-anarchist performers who travelled the UK and Europe from the late '70s to the
mid '80s". Their 16-minute live version of "Love, Love, Love" is badly recorded but at least it sounds a fair
bit like badly recorded early live Hawkwind. There's plenty of flute and sax on it and while it presumably
isn't Nik's work, it is a fair facsimile. This is followed by more of Nik himself playing flute in the Great
"Dreams" by Dave Roberts and Jerry Richards is a melodic instrumental, with chiming guitar presumably
by JR, and is followed by the second Judge Trev tune, "Slow Down Motorhead", another track from
"Now you know the score". If you don't know it, despite the title, it is a well-constructed song, featuring
some excellent guitar work from Mr Thoms and even an acoustic interlude. Alan Rickard's "Phononogene"
is a pleasantly lush and spacey instrumental, the sort of thing Alan Davey might have written. The CD
closes with the light comedy of "Vinyl Junkie" from The Elasticated Waist Band.
One of the Best: Ron Tree - Sanity Clawz EP
This EP consist of two tracks, apparently mainly just Ron on vocals
and guitar, although there are also vocal harmonies, extra guitar,
bass and (briefly) synthetic drums.
Both "Draindreamer" and "Cainine" are urgent punky-folk songs, full
of Ron's inventive off-kilter imagery (focusing on inner space rather
Well worth a listen (**½): Dr Hasbeen - Signs
There is a fine line between clever and stupid, between tribute and
parody, between suspension of disbelief and men playing lumpen heavy
rock with lots of whooshing noises. Dr Hasbeen cross that line a bit too
often for comfort. Over the course of this double CD they plumb the
depths and reach occasional peaks. I defy anyone to listen to this right
through without cringing at least once but, despite this, it is a worthy
addition to your collection.
First off, Martin Hasbeen obviously seriously worships Hawkwind in
general and the Brock/Calvert axis in particular, and there are some
great Hawkwind style tracks here. Secondly, you get to hear an
unfamiliar Robert Calvert poem set to music for the first time ("Looking
Glass"). Thirdly, you will hear some passable Hawkwind covers and, finally, Dibs has a bit part, cropping
up on "Loops" on track 1 of CD 2 ("Countdown / The Final Flight"). This double CD was released by
Black Widow (BWRCD104-2) and comes in an attractive digipak. It compiles live and studio material from
various phases of the band's life.
The album starts out with three Hawkwind-by-numbers knockoffs: "Signs", "The Seers Song", "The Time
Watcher". These sound like songs written after consulting a Hawkwind focus group: profound sounding
titles - check; lots of bleeps and whooshes - check, solid riffing - check, portentious synths - check,
layered squalls of extra guitar - check, sampled newsreel vocals - check, vari-speeded and echoed chanting
instead of singing - check, add kitchen sink to dog's dinner of mix - check, forget to add any bottom end -
check). Notice that this is built as much on Dave Brock's bad habits as his good ones! On the plus side,
both "Signs" and "The Time Watcher" are built on solid riffs and, if allowed to breathe, might have emerged
as good songs.
Worse though is to come, as Pink Floyd is added to the mix: "Why Syb" is a witless parody of the Floyd's
"Wish You Were Here" but with really, really, embarrassingly, bad lyrics. Possibly this is intended as a piss-
take but, frankly, life's too short. A sample of the lyrics:
It's driving me insane
I don't know who to blame
to fight the pain
but nothing's the same
Then we get two good tunes bundled up into one track "Looking Glass, End Of Days". This starts out as a
very passable up-tempo Dave Brock-style space ballad (along the lines of "Damage of Life"). Better yet, the
lyrics are adapted from Bob Calvert's poem "Lady with a Looking Glass", and the song is just about
perfect: mothership take note! Part two of the track is Floydian again, this time circa Division Bell: tasteful
guitar fills over stately piano chords, oh, and a voiceover taken from a documentary about Osama Bin
Laden. Please. The following "Why Syb (2)" is sweet space-balladry, the vocals mixed well down, with
tasteful synth and guitar colourings adding just the right amount of gravitas.
A tinny but earnest take on "Psi Power" follows, then another trio of pretty iffy Hawkwind knock-offs:
"Heaven Awaits", "Death Metal Heads", "Lifers". The following "Waves of Aliens" is basic riff-driven space
rock and benefits from keeping it simple. "Never Forget" goes for mournful Floydisms again, seriously
overcooking the pain and anguish. "Axis of Evil" is space boogie by numbers, with more than a passing
resemblance to "Robot". The lyrics concern the Taliban, at least until they start quoting from Calvert's
"Ragna Rock", for no obvious reason, in the closing section.
CD two kicks off with "Countdown/The Final Fight", the spoken first section of which riffs on Calvert's
"Ground Control to Pilot". The band then powers into a Hawkwind-style space rock instrumental:
repetitive, relentless, rock solid and another high point.
Next up are a slightly painful "Golden Void" and a suitably energetic if pointless "Silver Machine". The
following "World of Dreams" starts un-promising with spoken female vocals but then morphs into an
effective and extended "Where Are They Now" style space ballad, another of the obvious highlights.
A further trio of sub-Hawkwind tunes follows: "Apollo 13" is pretty good, sounding like a Charisma-era
HW out-take (shades of Damnation Alley or PXR5). "Return To The Afterlife" is instrumental filler.
"Suicide Machine" is more UZÃ˜ than Hawkwind and unfortunately sounds as though it was recorded in
The CD closes with three of its least successful tracks, firstly a god-awful take on "Sonic Attack". "Hippy
Trip" is mindless space boogie, and not helped by its trite lyrics. The album closes with a shouty live
version of "Master of the Universe", complete with a recitation of "Welcome" over the closing section.
Approach With Caution: Nik Turner and Travellers of Space
This Cleopatra promo compiles material by Nik and mates, obviously
mainly from the Cleopatra stable - although at least one track (Lord of
the Hornets) previously appeared on other labels. It counts as a rarity
due to not having had a full commercial release. However, it is also
true that everything on here has been released previously, and that
most of it is not actually any good!
Aside from Nik, we get to hear two other ex-Hawks: Simon House (on
two Spiral Realms tracks: the atmospheric but repetitive "A Trip to
G9" and the more engaging "Voyage to Pluto", which features his
trademark squalls of electric violin) and Bob Calvert (the excellent but
than outer space). Above all, they are not just energetic but tuneful and probably the best thing I've heard
from Ron since his time in Hawkwind (and that includes the MOAB album). While both songs work
pretty well as they are, it would be great to hear them with full band arrangements. I guess there is zero
chance of Hawkwind doing them so how about the Hawklords?
thoroughly out of place "Lord of the Hornets"). From the US space rock community we hear the work of
Helios Creed (his solo track "The Master" and Chrome's "3rd from the Sun"), Len Del Rio (Pressurehed's
"Slo Blo" and Zero Gravity's "Space Does Not Care") and Don Falcone's former band Melting Euphoria
***, whose instrumental "Venusian Skyline" is probably the most interesting non-Hawkwind-related track
here, and one which would not disgrace an album from the mothership.
My main beef with the US space rockers is that their electronic noodlings are almost uniformly sterile and
soulless. Unfortunately, this sterility also infects most of the examples of Nik Turner's work on display,
notably the negligible "Isis & Nepthys" from "Sphynx" (i.e. the re-worked version of Xitintoday, on which
the Gong influences are replaced by electronica and Nik might as well be reading the telephone directory),
but also the feeble remake of "Bones of Elvis" from "Prophets of Time" and the rather dull "Grid
Coordinate:VORP 1" from Anubian Lights' "The Eternal Sky" (also collected on "Sonic Attack 2001").
Slightly more palatable is the dreamy ambient snooze of "Careful with that Axe Eugene", an edit of Nik's
track on the (clearly misnamed) "The World's Greatest Pink Floyd Tribute", which fades out at the start of
the livelier sequencer-driven second half. Apart from the whispered voiceover, this has no obvious
relationship with the Floyd track of the same name). The pick of the Nik Turner tracks on offer is
probably the live version of "Master of the Universe", apparently the same one as on "Space Ritual 1994"
and "Sonic Attack 2001").
Lastly, there is Steve Peregrin Took's "Scorpius", a minute and a half of vaguely psychedelic jamming. As
far as I can glean from snippets of information on the web, this was recorded along with various other
demos in 1972, with the assistance of various Pink Fairies and possibly also Syd Barrett, and was first
released on Cleopatra in 1995 on the CD "The Missing Link to Tyrannosaurus Rex".
*** Mr. Don Falcone has been in touch to say "...I'm not on the CD. The quick history: I was with
Melting Euphoria for their first CD (Through The Strands Of Time), prior to them getting signed to
Cleopatra. After I left, I was replaced by three people, one of which was Dan Miller, who went by the
name DFM (which perhaps led some people to think I was still in the band)."
Well worth a listen (**½) : Steve Swindells - Messages / Swallow
Let's face it, there is just too much music out there
nowadays. However, the reissuing of long deleted
(or never released) albums by now familiar artists
who barely merited a glance first time around does
put some gems and interesting curios back into the
public domain. If Steve Swindells had never wound
up in Hawkwind, "Messages" would probably have
stayed deleted, along with its previously unreleased
It would be hard to claim these as long-lost gems but
if you have any interest in the musical journeys of
Hawk family members this is an inevitable purchase -
and at very least the sleeve notes, in which Steve
describes the background to these records, are well
worth reading. The cover is art is also notable, a
photo featuring a pianist, a judge, a rocker, a lounge
lizard and a good-time girl and, of course, they are all
"Messages" is a pop album, with the basic piano-led songs augmented by string and horn arrangements.
Steve's voice often sounds rather thin and high compared to his current mature growl but there are some
good tunes, for example the tender ballad "Surrender" and the light swing of (ahem) "I don't like eating
meat". Another standout, "Shake up your soul" was issued as a single, presumably on the grounds that its
white soul sound, heavy on the strings and horns, was in tune with the charts of the day (apparently it
wasn't). The other up-tempo number here is the irritatingly catchy "Living in sin".
Individually in fact, most of the songs are, at worst, bland and pleasantly inoffensive - but, the album
emphatically does not rock. Steve comes across as a rather sensitive soul, probably not really cut-out for
the music business. As other reviews have commented, this is the sort of album that the young Elton John
might have turned out. Only one track hints at an interest in more outre music, the extended collage
"Messages from Heaven" although, even here, only the opening section goes beyond the standard musical
palette of the rest of the album.
"Swallow" is a definite step forward. Crucially, the songs start to have an edge to them, with no cloying
strings, more guitar, and more of a groove. Steve's singing is also more assured, even if he has also
acquired some irritating vocal mannerisms along the way. The soul-funk of "Dealing with the Feeling" and
"Doodieboogie" (not the kind of song I'd normally be caught dead listening to) are good examples of his
new poise. Okay, we still have some ballads that make Eric Carmen sound aggressive, like "Easy on the
Night" and "The Last One to Know" - although the latter features a good guitar solo in the final section.
Again, Steve sometimes ventures out of the short song format, this time on the 9½ minutes of "When the
Clapperboard Has Clapped", a minor epic only slightly marred by some wayward singing.
A few years on, after a brief sojourn in Pilot, Steve would join Hawkwind and make his own peerless
"Fresh Blood". Nowadays, happily, he still does both kinds of music, as heard on his own "Demos for the
Departed" and of course with the [so-called] Hawklords.
Worth a listen : Pyramids of SNAFU - Alternative Present EP
This was reviewed some aeons ago by Starfarer but
I came across it only after exploring some the work
of Temple Zone's offshoots, and then acquired my
copy from Judge Trev at RFM. The EP is essentially
four energetic festival rock jams. Not really space
rock though, as the lyrics are uniformly earthbound
and sung in a plaintive and understated voice: a
closer reference point might be something like the
Feelies' urban angst on "Crazy Rhythms" (as
featured in the film "Smithereens"). Nevertheless,
the music stays mainly within the parameters of
what I'd define as the Hawkwind fan's musical
comfort zone (or this one's anyway). The opener
"First Love" is buoyed by deft violin shadings and
"Beyond Belief" is the Kennedy shooting conspiracy
all over again. "Chatter" perhaps most effectively
combines muscular but tasteful rock sounds with
confessional lyrics. Only Jackie Windmill's irritating
wailing on the last track ("Free Energy") detracts from a very pleasant 25 minutes. Mick Slattery appears
on guitar, and Terry Ollis is there on drums, somewhat anonymously until he stretches out a bit on "Free
One of the Best : Spaceseed - Architects of Twilight
Long delayed, this new album by Spaceseed ticks all
the right boxes for a traditional space rock album,
alternating blanga with spoken word and instrumental
pieces, and crucially featuring two Hawks as well. It
also is very much the same length as an
old-fashioned album, a mere 41 minutes and 10
tracks. Despite being underwhelmed by previous
albums from this lot, I ended up enjoying this one.
Even the spoken word tracks offer a variety of
It starts out sticking to the formula. First off, a
cod-Moorcockian public information rant (the title
track), the twist being it uses a female voice,
presumably Bridget Wishart. This is followed by a
fuzzed-up rocker ("River in the Sky"). Unfortunately,
said rocker breaks down in the middle for a spoken
word interlude over light percussion and sound
effects that seems to go on for ever, a ruse which
otherwise sound start to proceedings and makes the longest song (7½ minutes) sound about 3 minutes too
"Nebula Part 1" is, inevitably, a spacey instrumental, all bleeps, whooshing noises and plangent synths, but
it is rather good. It sounds like the work of Harvey Bainbridge (who guests on the album), basically having
a more organic, less structured, feel than similar work by, say, Alan Davey. "The Saucer Incident" returns
to blanga and "Blood On My Hands" is an effectively creepy spoken word interlude.
"Titan" kicks off with a suitably bloated riff, as much glam rock as space rock, interwoven with the synth
melody. Provided you can avoid imagining Gary Glitter shouting along to it, it works. "Omega" is another
female-voiced spoken track (Bridget again?), the mood melancholic this time (c.f. Fall of Earth City). "The
Insane Scientist" is the next riff-based song, complete with an inevitable spoken word section, possibly
Harvey's work again (the spoken words and, er, insane laughter, sections certainly sound like Harvey!).
"Nebula Part 2" is a rather gorgeously melodic synth piece, and the closing "Warlord" rocks like a
mother...¦until slowing down in the middle for an actually pretty decent guitar break. A strong end to a
very good album.
Worth a Listen : Harvey Bainbridge - Dreams Omens & Strange Encounters
This one definitely is Harvey and offers no
concessions to preconceptions about how to make a
space rock album. As ever, Harvey ploughs his own
furrow, favouring atmosphere over structure, as
very evident on the first two tracks, "Fatima's Head"
and "Nemesis", which total a massive 31 minutes -
and to these ears offer a fair approximation of one
of the better early seventies Tangerine Dream
albums. Sure, there are sections that go on for too
long, but there is always something else coming
along to divert your attention.
Harvey's Choose Your Masques era Hawkwind
track "The scan" gets an unnecessary outing (as
"The scanning"), not that it's actually bad or
anything, and then we get the second TD album's
worth of material in "Zone Of Avoidance / The
Voyage" and "Unravelled in Rye". The first half of the former is a blissful wash of synths, rudely
interrupted half way through by an insistent robotic rhythm track and heavily treated vocal, and closing
with a TD-style sequencer wig-out. "Unravelled" heads immediately for the sequencer pulses before
drifting into a tiresome segment of treated vocals...¦ pretty soon though it all just washes over you and 23
minutes passes remarkably quickly.
This is a good album in general and certainly much easier on the ear than "Interstellar chaos" or "Red
shift". Not exactly dinner party music but one that I'll play again.
Approach With Caution: Adrian Wagner "and Robert Calvert" - Disco Dream and The Androids
This deservedly little known artefact was recently
re-released as a "30th anniversary edition" CDR. Its
history is considerably more interesting than the
music and can be read in full at
Here are some extracts: "Cast your mind back to the
year 1979 when the disco culture was booming in
Europe...in one of our many discussions about
androids, Robert and I talked about the hilarious
relationship between disco dancing at that time and
the creation of, so called, 'leisure androids'. ...What
happens if a male android falls in love with a female
(girl!) android? What happens if they are a different
design and "they can't make no connection"?... What
about reflecting Robert's own paranoid personality
through this love stricken Android? - we fell about
laughing and the 'Connection Disconnection' track
So what we get are six tracks of mainly witless electronic disco music. When two of them
("Connection/Disconnection" and "Cafe des Illusions") were released a few years back as a CD single,
Robert Calvert's name was prominent on the sleeve, with the clear indication that the lyrics were Calvert's,
and I'd have to say that the lead vocals on "Connection/Disconnection" sound rather like our man.
However, with this new release, Adrian Wagner simply co-credits Calvert with the concept, so the whole
thing stands or falls on whether it is any good. "Cafe des Illusions" is actually a proper song, with a female
vocalist, and you can while away a few minutes trying to figure out if that really is Calvert's voice on
"Connection..". However, the rest really is just as awful as you'd expect from the concept.