|Music from the Hawkwind family tree - Part 32
Thanks to Graham P. for these reviews - except where noted otherwise, of course.
Approach with Caution : Anubian Lights Featuring Nik Turner - Your Captain is Dead
A download-only album available from Amazon, its
provenance is not immediately obvious until you
peruse the tracklist, when you will see that it is a
re-sequenced combination of every track on the Let
Not The Flame Die Out and The Eternal Sky
albums. Aside from the glimmer of interest
occasioned by hearing something that might just be
Nik playing, it is mainly rather dull. It majors in
Eastern ambience but any claims that this stuff is
danceable are frankly ludicrous. The Eternal Sky has
not aged well and Let Not The Flame Die Out is
more of the same but not as good.
From 2001, the Outflight EP, released on the
charmingly named "Crippled Dick" label shows
Grenas and Del Rio aiming more obviously at dance
music. Light relief after the po-faced weirdness of
the first two albums, this would probably go down
go down better at a club than at a HW gig. However, five tracks, including
two versions of the title track and the witless "Smoothing out of the Curve" is
all too much.
Somewhat more interesting, although with no
HW connection at all, is the 2005 album
Phantascope on which Del Rio and Grenas are
joined by Adele Bertei on vocals and keyboards
and on which they really do dance music. The
opening "Wild Winter" is irritating mechanoid disco but after this it settles
down to something not wholly objectionable: electrodance songs with lively
rhythms and hummable tunes.
Well Worth a Listen (**½) : Omenopus - Time Flies
After the rather interesting free EP, here is the full album. It is as well to
approach this without any particular expectations and most of the material
is a long, long way away from space rock.
"Truth and Lies" is a promising start - delicate and understated, with
Bridget's breathy vocals to the fore, a decent melody and chorus, and
some nice violin interludes. "These Are My Thoughts" retains the low-key
approach, with the sound now located somewhere in the vicinity of Berlin
circa 1980, but it lacks the opening track's lightness of touch -it is something of a dirge- and is really too
long at 9-minutes plus. After some misleading opening spacey noises, "Donâ't Want To Be Here" offers
Bridget's gossamer vocals over the lightest piano and synth backdrop, and is elegant and melancholy.
"Night Twist" is one of the tracks previewed on the EP, although this is a longer version (extended to 7
minutes). It injects some creepy menace and a slightly broader sonic palette but without raising the tempo
very much. It segues seamlessly into "Night Twist Omega", which broods darkly in the background for
another 7 minutes.
"Hen" is also familiar from the EP and sounds positively jaunty and upbeat in this company. "Le Chapeau
Rouge" (The Red Hat) takes us back to the low-key, low-impact, ambience of the rest of the album:
Bridget intones some words in French over a light bed of synths. Pleasant but unremarkable. "You Don't
Talk Like a Human" is just creepy: dark and angular, with electronic percussion, whining sax and brooding
guitar lines, the lyrics directed at someone who also doesn't dance like a Spanish man, doesn't care about
the clothes he wears (so far so normal for the average Brit I guess) and (if I heard right, taking things in a
more sinister direction) "chooses to abuse".
In general, so far, the album has some interesting moments but not very much to stir the blood. Put it this
way, it is not music for the car. The closing "Snapshot" is quite a different matter however. Pretty much a
mini-album in its own right, it flits from style to style, section to section, over a massive 20 minutes. I'm
not sure that it all hangs together, but there's definitely enough going on to pique the interest of the casual
listener and even some passages of aggressive space rock. This CD is available for £9.99 from the
Omenopus website (Monty Maggot, MMCD002)
Worth A Listen : Various Artists - Portobello Shuffle
A benefit album for ailing erstwhile manager of the Pink
Fairies, Boss Goodman, this doubles as a tribute to the Fairies
and the Deviants. This compilation is played by various fairies,
punks and Hawks. With this kind of line-up, expectations of
high art can safely be left at the door, but some rough and
ready rock and roll is obviously expected, and duly delivered.
The material is almost entirely remakes of Fairies, Deviants
and Mick Farren tracks and you can read more about it at this
here Myspace page.
Three ex-Hawks appear. Paul Rudolph, best known obviously
as a member of the Fairies appears with the latter in 2009 on a
ropey remake of "Do It (Again)". Adrian Shaw joins Rod Goodway and John Perry on "Half Price Drinks"
(originally by Mick Farren). As I've said before in other reviews, Rod Goodway's vocals are an acquired
taste but this is a good enough example of Shaw and Goodway's melodic DIY rock and if I hadn't read the
songwriting credit I would assume it was their own composition. Finally, Nik Turner joins "Pink FA" on a
rollicking 10-minute version of the Fairies' "Uncle Harry's Last Freakout", laying down some honking and
squawking sax over the general freaking out. This track alone is worth the price of admission.
A fair proportion of the remainder is also good stuff. Clark Hutchinson's version of the Deviants' "Rambling
B(l)ack Transit Blues" motors along nicely. Captain Sensible is light years away from "Happy Talk" on his
rousing version of the Fairies' "Say You Love Me" and two other Damned luminaries, Scabies / James, take
no prisoners on the Fairies' "Teenage Rebel". Darryl Read's "Somewhere To Go" (originally by the
Deviants) is another relentless groove. The Wilko Johnson Band is as instrumentally solid as you'd expect
on the title track, their version of the Fairies' "Portobello Shuffle", although the vocals are a bit weak.
In the fair to middling category we have "Big Boss Man" by Felix Dennis, which is sprightly if utterly
predictable piano-led rock'n'roll and I think must be a version of the 1960 song first recorded by Jimmy
Read. Felix Dennis' "A Saturday Gig" is (literally) pure beat poetry. John Sinclair's bluesy take on Mick
Farren's "People Call You Crazy" would be improved by being sung rather than spoken but is built on a
mean riff. This leaves the delightfully named Jello Biafra And The Guantanamo School Of Medicine, who
offer the ponderous 18 minutes plus "Metamorphosis Exploration on Deviation Street Jam", based on the
Deviants (9-minute) "Metamorphosis Exploration". Anyway, this is more stoner rock than punk and while
not exactly bad is certainly overlong.
The rest is dross: Larry Wallis offers up a shouty "He's the Boss", probably composed on the spot by the
sound of it, while Farren, Colquhoun & Taylor's "Big Pink" is a rather horrible newly written (by Andy
Colquhoun and Mick Farren) mixture of psychedelic guitar and spoken word. Wreckless Eric and Amy
Rigby tackle the Fairies' "I Wish I Was A Girl" and reduce an originally rocking song to a whiney
One Of The Best (if not to everyone's tastes) :
Meads of Asphodel - The Murder of Jesus the Jew
I found this in HMV, appropriately enough on
Christmas Eve, and it turns out to be a return to form
for the Meads after a couple of stop-gap releases.
Although not everything on this CD is top-notch, the
Meads show an inventive, eclectic and generally
fearless approach to composition and performance,
freely mixing death metal with a veritable pot-pourri
of other styles (often in the same song). The basic
three-piece band is augmented by a host of additional
musicians and vocalists. The Hawkwind connection
is Alan Davey who, despite playing on all the tracks,
is still listed as a guest musician.
Admittedly the Meads are something of an acquired
taste. Firstly, every style of music has its conventions,
which you have to get past before appreciating the artistry. In this case, you need to accept that Metatron's
guttural roar is part of the sound palette, as indeed is just about everything else. This is death metal, but not
as we know it (Jim). Secondly, given the nature of the subject matter, it will offend some and the Meads do
occasionally go out of their way to be offensive (the CD should carry a parental advisory sticker!).
The album kicks off with "Boiled In Hell Broth And Grave Dust (Intro)": after a brief scene-setting narration
accompanied by piano, the light-hearted main melody comes in on fairground organ, with a brief interlude
of creepy sound before it is reprised.
A roar from Metatron signals the thunderous opening of the 7½ minute opus "My Psychotic Sand Deity"
which, around two-minutes in, gives way to some tasteful guitar and, er, trumpets. As the guitarist moves
into David Gilmour territory, a classical style female vocal carries us forward into what is essentially now a
hymn. The tempo picks up again after 5 minutes as Metratron returns on crazed vocals, although the
guitarist keeps it tuneful. Breathtaking stuff or possibly plain silly. I think it's great.
"Apocalypse of Lazarus" starts off with a spoken-word vision of the apocalypse, compared to which "Sonic
Attack" is really rather tame (sample lyric: "you will become the genital warts on the arse of Hades") and
then switches seamlessly between death metal and AOR passages.
"Addicted to God" is another epic (8½ minutes). Just when you think that this is going to be a
straightforward song (death metal with melodic lead guitar), they throttle right back and we get a brief
interlude of choral singing (think Bohemian Rhapsody albeit without the vocal panache of Queen, and with
lyrics that manage to mention circumcision). The song concludes with another aggressive death metal
section and a closing passage with tasteful guitar.
"Stiller of Tempests" is anarchic folk rock, propelled by strummed acoustic guitar and with some
appropriately wayward singing. "Man From Kerioth" mixes yobbish punk rock (chants of "I am Judas"),
death metal, spoken word and a ghostly choir. "Dark Gethsemane " is slightly off-kilter pastoral prog, a bit
like early Pink Floyd, while "Jew Killer" is a cut-and-paste Black Sabbath sampler, but with Metatron's rasp
replacing Ozzy's whine.
The 9-minute "Genesis of Death" starts out as a straightforward rock song before a spoken word section
where, as our hero moans that "I am not the Messiah", I couldn't quite avoid images from Life of Brian. A
sprightly folk rock interlude (all acoustic guitars and percussion) gives way to an epic closing section
featuring some rather excellent classic rock guitar.
"From Eagle to Cross" is up-tempo, riff-based heavy rock with death metal vocals but also features a jaunty
string section. "Apostle of the Uncircumcised" is sprightly metal with a few slower passages over which
Metatron offers some more unpleasant imagery.
The album closes with the snappily titled but nevertheless very listenable "A Canticle For The Lost
Amputees Of Aelia Capitolina Who Have Been Trampled Under The Iron Shod Hooves Of Salivating Hell
Rams And Impaled On The Shimmering Tusks Of Salvation Within The Abandoned Tabernacle Of A
Bronze Age Myth". Again this successfully mixes riff-based rock with pastoral progressive passages, with
roared vocals from Metatron and miscellaneous chants and wails.
Don't play this album in earshot of your parents or children but it is worth investigating!
Worth A Listen (but will definitely not suit all
tastes): Karda Estra - Weird Tales
The only reason I am reviewing this contemporary
classical CD - which at no time ventures anywhere
near rock or pop music - is that Bridget Wishart
plays on it (she and Don Falcone contribute wind
synthesiser and keyboards respectively on "The Eye
of Silence "). Looking at the artwork both on this CD
and on the band web page suggests a fascination with
dark themes - and the quoted reviews mainly
emphasise this aspect: "A sonic experiment of large
proportions, dark moods and multiple personalities"
and "deep, atmospheric tracks" although also pointing
to "music of beauty and elegance". If you want
soundtrack music for anything to do with ghosts,
witches, wild landcapes, unsolved murders or missing
cutlery (well some of it is only very, very, slightly dark), Karda Estra could undoubtedly do the job for you.
Nevertheless, while the music is sometimes unsettling, it never strays from the formal and the polite. It is
elegant (and probably best appreciated on headphones) but rather rarely stirs the blood. Tracks such as
"The White Rose" and "The Atom Age Sense of Impermanence" are however pleasingly tranquil and pick of
the bunch is the closing "There Is No Finished World", both the longest track (over 8 minutes) and offering
the most engaging diversity of melody and sounds.
Well Worth a Listen (**Â½) : Alan Davey - Al
Chemical's Lysergic Orchestra (reissue with
This has been dusted down, spruced up (my
impression is that the sound is fuller and smoother
but there again I've been playing it on iTunes, not on
top end equipment) and expanded with an additional
5 tracks. The original 8 tracks come first, some of
them slightly lengthened but only one significantly
altered, and then the new stuff.
Starting with the original CD, "Coming Up (Eyes
Open)" has gained an extra 14 seconds but remains
slightly unsettling and not very exciting. The more
melodic "Loopy Loop" gains 18 seconds and is still
easy on the ears. The eerie "Thee Unseen" is
basically unchanged and, at 7 minutes in length, remains about 5 minutes too long. "Hubbub" is still
pointless (1-minute plus of looped effects). The energetic "Blue-cedelic" marks a step change in quality,
and has gained both 13 seconds in length and a rather good lead vocal track (it was previously
instrumental). The atmosphere remains reminiscent of Black-Sword era Hawkwind. "Hipnotic" is an
instrumental with lots of spacey effects and, as noted, an unexpected flute interlude, but isn't very
"Synthia" is still the longest track on the album (at 8 minutes), a dreamy instrumental that would easily
work for Hawkwind (and indeed part of "Synthia" in reminiscent of the introductory sequence of
"Damage of Life" on the "Yule Ritual album). The chugging bass and guitar of "Free to Live at Last" also
recalls Hawkwind but the initial excitement fades once it becomes clear that the song isn't going
anywhere. Alan's vocal is so-so. This track has gained 11 seconds.
There are 5 "new" tracks added to the end, the first of which is very familiar, being "Out Here We Are".
To me it sounds pretty much indistinguishable from the Hawkwind version (down to the subtle brass
colourings), which I guess is the whole point. Three of the remaining tracks also sound like modern-day
compositions, while the closing "Where's the Way Out?" I would guess is earlier work. In general, my
impression is that Alan's recent work has grown in sophistication and has a more organic feel, while some
of the older tracks sound mechanical and repetitive.
"Hubbub 2" is a short and delicate instrumental with piano and acoustic guitars, a million times better than
"Hubbub". "Moment of Madness" is pure new age relaxation music (it starts with the sound of waves and
acoustic bass, with light percussion and synth joining in) and it includes several short Calvert poems
recited from beyond the grave by the man himself (I recognised "Storm" and Fountains in the Park", both
from Centigrade 232). Another case of: anything Dave Brock can do, I can do better?
"Lysergic Bird" is a relaxed instrumental track, underpinned by some solid bass work while the top line is
patented dreamy synth with occasional saxophone warblings. It would have made a stronger closer than
"Where's the Way Out?", although the latter is quite similar in terms of arrangement: again, synth and
(synthetic?) brass provide the melody and colour but there is also a superfluous vocal track (Alan singing
the title, repeated ad nauseum).
Although it still falls well short of Alan's last two solo CDs in terms of quality, the new version of
Lysergic Orchestra is a distinct improvement on the original and is worth checking out.
Well Worth a Listen (**Â½) : Krankschaft - Live
at the Sonic Rock Solstice
Another nicely produced CD from Steve and Fred,
now with Mick Stupp installed as full-time third
member of the group. This is a solid and enjoyable
album, although if you've heard the studio album, and
especially if you saw them supporting Hawkwind,
there are few surprises. The set is obviously built
around latter-day Calvert solo material, pick of the
bunch being the rocked up version of "Picket Line".
Several others, notably "Test Tube Conceived", still
stand up although "Acid Rain" is a low point.
We also get respectable versions of two ICU tracks:
the anarchic space punk of "Cybernetic Love" (spot
Nik's "Utopia" lyrics) and the yobbish
Thoms/Turner-penned "Raj Neesh". There is also a
on the mothership's "Spirit of the Age" and two tracks by Nebula (to recap Steve's explanation, since this
1970s band seems to have left no trace in cyberspace, they formed out of the ashes of a band called Chuff
when the majority of the latter elected to sell their souls to the man and become, er, Kenny). "Come Fly
With Us" and "Cosmic Fantasy" are both good songs in the space rock idiom and a welcome injection of
energy alongside the fairly one-paced Calvert material. The CD also features appearances by the band's
podcast "robot" voice, a neat conceit perhaps but not one which bears repeated listening.
Anyway, this is a really nice artefact (complete with a postcard and "photocards" of the crew), released
on the band's own Stereo Records label in a limited run of 200 and available (presumably while stocks
last) from their website. Finally, lest you think that Krankschaft are nothing but a superior covers band,
check out the wealth of new material available currently (as of January 2011) for download on their
Well Worth a Listen (**½) : Various Artists -
Allies and Clansmen
While Flicknife threaten to revive the series from
which this collection cheekily takes the inspiration
for its name, the Monty Maggot label, home of
Omenopus, offers this collection of friends and
relations on varied material which only very rarely
intersects with space rock. Bridget Wishart appears
several times, while Alan Davey's Toxic
Conspirators, Harvey Bainbridge, Jerry Richards'
Earth Lab and Dead Fred's Krankschaft are also on-
board, as are the likes of Dr Hasbeen, Omnia Opera and Flutatious, and a good number of acts I had never
heard of but which probably bear further investigation.
The set kicks off somewhat inauspiciously with the anodyne Omenopus tune "Call Your Name" - Bridget is
in good voice but not much else is happening. This is followed by the plaintive piano-led ballad "Please
Take Me Away From Here" by 1912, conjuring up visions of Eric Carmen or even Barry Manilow, but
actually rather good. Omnia Opera are more of a known quantity, offering the propulsive and muscular
"Second Skin", a track that, instrumentally at least (and certainly if you turned down the synths and lost
the poppy lead vocals and the spoken word section) is firmly in the space rock idiom and is even
reminiscent of the sound of the revered Captain Lockheed album.
All momentum is promptly dissipated by the extremely limp "Secret" by David Speight and Friends
(including Bridget Wishart). Bridget then redeems herself on the gentle and dreamy "Fingers Ten" by
Chumley Warner Bros. This is followed by the bouncy and irreverent "Robot" by Osiris the Rebirth. Dave
Brock should probably sue, since this is a perfect facsimile of his vocal style and instrumental palette circa
"On the Case" from Earthed to the Ground. It's all there: 80s synths, half spoken vocals, dodgy rhymes
and lyrical themes touching on hardware and personal relationships.
The next track is completely inconsequential - plenty of sound effects over lightweight reggae-tinged froth.
Pleasant but unapologetically lightweight, this turns out unexpectedly (to me anyway) to be an Alan Davey
project, namely "Dukes Jurney" by the Toxic Conspirators. I'm all for eclecticism but be warned this is
more Haircut 100 than Meads of Asphodel. "On the Radio" by Sarah Panton is sub-Kate Bush pop, overly
sweet but over very quickly.
Spirits Burning raise the tempo with the lively power pop of "Stand and Deliver", with pleasingly yobbish
vocals introducing a cast of shady characters, tongue firmly in cheek. Bridget is on this one, presumably
on the backing vocals. Earth Lab's "Money Monkey" is lightweight cocktail jazz, with slinky sax, brushed
percussion and a less-is-more vibe - and is apparently from the forthcoming Oscillating Bodies album.
Krankschaft offer the authentic space rock groove of "Cosmic Fantasy" (the Nebula track, otherwise
available in live form on their Live at the Sonic Rock Solstice album). The Flutatious track, "The Cossack
Groove" is much as you might expect, bouncy and festival friendly instrumental folk rock.
"Gateway (The Second Movement)" by The Higher Craft is frankly a bit of a dirge. A quick search on the
web reveals that they have a CD out called "Magic Box" and the main members were previously in a band
called Peyote Mothership. However, neo-classical leanings of Stephen Palmer's instrumental "Landscape"
are rather more engaging. Again, a quick browse on the web comes up with some extra information,
namely that "inspiration is taken from the Welsh landscape". Isis offers the stately and melancholy "The
Gift" (from a solo EP; her day job is with metal band Anubis and on this evidence I prefer the solo
The following "Rev Me Up Under New York" is anonymous but not unpleasant instrumental dance music
and turns out to be by our very own Harvey Bainbridge, who is apparently keeping spacey weirdness to an
absolute minimum on this one. The penultimate track is Dr Hasbeen's "Black Widow", the sound of
someone trying a bit too hard to imitate the Hawkwind sound: cue treated vocals, far out lyrics, churning
rhythm guitar, Huw-like lead runs and lashings of whooshing noises. Proceedings are brought to a close
by a short space poem over vaguely unsettling sound effects, namely â€œInstincts" by L.M. Potts.
Although not every track is first rate, and I will admit that it took 3 or 4 listens to really get into it, this is
an excellent compilation and it is available - absolutely free I might add - from the Omenopus website.
Worth a Listen : Bubbledubble - Earthwise 2006 -
On a hilltop in Dorset (with Nik Turner) /Twilight
Bubbledubble features Kev Ellis, once of Dr Brown
(with whom HLL guested), more recently the other
half of Trev & Kev with the late Mr Thoms. They do
spacey, blissed-out, reggae and dub-based festival
music. They recently issued a studio album (Twilight
Phenomena) which is pretty good chillout music and
they have a couple of live recordings available, On a
hilltop in Dorset and Cosmic Puffin. The studio album
has a smoother sound and is a bit more placid, but
otherwise the general feel of the music doesn't change
much across the three albums (indeed many of the
same tracks are repeated). Nik's sax adds some extra
instrumental colour to the Dorset set on "Moon Bass
Dub" and "Dub Slider".
The Hawkwind connection on Twilight Phenomena arises from the fact that it
was recorded at Foel Studios and Dave Anderson plays bass on the track "Ursa
Minor". At the end of the Dorset set, Mr Ellis can be heard ragging a certain
Judge Trev about his lack of guitar playing prowess, which is all the excuse I
need to sneak in a review of...¦
Barely Worth a Listen (*½) : Trev & Kev- Cosmic Puffin
It is appropriate to begin this with a few words on the
late Mr Thoms. The Judge had a long musical
pedigree - including the original Iron Maiden (nothing
to do with Steve Harris, Bruce Dickenson et al), Steve
Took's Horns (the modest fruits of which
collaboration are reviewed elsewhere on these pages)
and the Atom God(s). He was a serial collaborator
with ex-Hawks, especially Nik Turner and Ron Tree.
A mainstay of Inner City Unit Mk I alongside Nik
Turner, he inherited the name after Nik disbanded
ICU Mk II and delivered the patchy "Now You Know
The Score" album. He also participated in various
subsequent partial ICU reunions. It has to be said he
was responsible for some truly awful releases with
Ron (Bajina) and Nik (Hawkfairies), as well as some
of his own - the second Atom God(s) record comes
to mind - but he also plays on some very good
albums, notably the first three ICU albums and MOAB's "Insect Brain". He also provided an outlet for a
variety of other people's music through his RFM website and label and, despite a propensity for tuneless
metal guitar solos, he was a thoughtful songwriter as shown by his solo CD God and Man. In recent years
he had taken to playing the festivals as an acoustic duo, with Jackie Windmill (ex-Nik Turner's Space
Ritual) and latterly with Kev Ellis. Trev never knowingly undersold his work, describing God and Man as
"the all new material - inspirational - sensational - astounding new release from Judge Trev. An album of
cosmic ballads exploring the nature of Man and God", although I think with tongue firmly in cheek. I saw
him perform only a couple of times, most recently in November 2009 with the reformed ICU, and met him
briefly at the 2002 Hawkfest: I am the proud owner of a rather spidery autograph on one of his CDs. When
I asked him by e-mail (in 2006) about the then missing-in-action MOAB CD, in his reply he moaned a bit
about the people he held responsible for burying the release, offered names and addresses, and ended with a
cheery "...if you happen to be a serial killer Graham, or if you know of one, go ahead"! He'll be missed.
Anyway, Cosmic Puffin was apparently the Judge's last recording and is, in all honesty, not his best.
There's plenty of banter between the two principals and in between taking the piss out of each other they
play a selection of Trev's solo songs, ICU material and cover versions. The set kicks off with "Beside the
Seaside", a fairly anonymous track from God & Man. From the same source, the quite good "The Dark
Side of Time" appears later on, a song which had a previous life as "Hitler's Favourite Tune" on Now You
Know The Score and the tune of which apparently had a previous life as...well, it's in the title. The set ends
with "The Lost Battle Between Democracy and Capitalism", which is better than the title might suggest but
has some really irritating beeping sounds going on in the background. Four ICU tracks are roughly worked
over: "Watching the Grass Grow", "Raj Neesh", "Skinheads in Leningrad" and "Little Black Egg" (the latter a
song which ICU covered). The second half of the set comprises mainly cover versions, kicking off with a
reasonable take on "Ohio", followed by "Ghost Riders in the Sky"¸ "Streets of Laredo" (which gains some
lyrics about bankers), "Folsom Prison Blues" (which has become "Foulson Prison Blues"), a horrible
mangling of "No Regrets" and a half-hearted "High School Hop". The best bit of the album is probably the
ragged and rather cheeky Madonna/Hawkwind medley "Beautiful Stranger" / "Master of the Universe".
Certainly it raises a smile more easily than the between-track dialogue.
Worth a Listen : The Jalapeños - RAW
Apparently briefly issued some years ago as a CDR, this EP is now
available as a digital download from the usual likes of iTunes and
Amazon (it is 50p cheaper on the latter). It features five tracks of
pleasingly raucous rock'n'roll, all self-penned but drawing on
well-worn traditional styles, from the Duane Eddy / Link Wray-ish
"Toadfish" to the boogie-by-numbers of "I Don't Like It Like That".
The interest for Hawkfans is in Nik Turner's sax contributions to
ponderous sleaze rock of "Dragula". Totalling a mere 14 minutes, this
collection doesn't hang around and is worth a listen.
Worth A Listen : Spirits Burning -Behold the
Like much of Spirits Burning's output, this is a
grower. As usual, various ex-Hawks, friends and
friends of friends are to be found among the
collective's extended line-up: Bridget Wishart, Roger
Neville-Neil, Jaime Cortinas (Starfighters), Alan
Davey, Kev Ellis, Paul Hayles. However (and also as
usual), the ex-Hawks aren't there to do anything that
sounds like Hawkwind. Alan Davey doesn't do his
Mini-Me Lemmy impersonation, Roger Neville-Neil's
lyrics aren't all that exciting and Bridget Wishart's
almost solo track, "Outcast" is really not one of her
The opening quartet of tracks is as good as anything
on any of the SB albums that I've heard, music that is
at once dark and claustrophobic, channelling 1950s cold war paranoia, late 60s psychedelia and the curdling
of the hippie dream, and late 70s punk nihilism. It is as direct and confrontational as anything they have
done. "Rendezvous at Lava Lounge" channels early Pink Floyd as it builds up the atmosphere - and mid-
period Floyd in the mainly wordless females vocals. "Stand and Deliver" is already familiar from the Allies
and Clansmen compilation, Kev Ellis' yobbish lead vocals overlaid on a hard rocking backing track, more
Pink Fairies than Pink Floyd. It would be nice to hear this one with the guitars higher up in the mix. "The
Real Time" is dark, angst-ridden psychedelia with the best chorus on the album; the vocals have a slightly
hysterical and melodramatic feel reminiscent of Michael Moorcock's Deep Fix. "Internal Detective" is an
edgy instrumental, discordant guitars over smooth strings.
Much of the following material lacks the impact of this opening salvo; it is armchair theatre more than the
real thing, space rock as an intellectual exercise. Sometimes mature and reflective, sometimes too detached
and clever for its own good, with few emotional highs and few bathetic lows. Sometimes the collective is
just less than the sum of its parts.
"Strafed by a UFO" ups the aggression and has a reasonable chorus but is something of a dirge. It is
followed by one of my least favourite tracks, "Outcast", which features irritatingly repetitive percussion
over which Bridget declaims a grimly dystopian lyric in nursery rhyme fashion. The hopelessly fey and
whimsical Gong-ish tomfoolery of "Obelisk of Fondue" is even less enticing - the lyrics are courtesy of RN-
N so don't blame Daevid Allen.
The remaining tracks divide into songs and instrumentals. Pick of the latter is the rather lovely closing track
â€œUnderworld Messiah". "Crank Up the Vibes", "Hemlock on the Rocks" and "Pieces Des Innocents Noir"
are also pleasant enough, although the faux-Chinese feel of "Hypnospray" doesn't really work.
Best of the other songs is probably "Every Space Opera": infectiously jaunty with a rather good tune, it also
ends in a pleasingly cacophonous duel of brass and guitar. "The Train" is propulsive and hooky, and only
slightly spoiled by a limp chorus. "Astral Flight Gassed", offers breathy female vocals over a rocking
backing track, with a spoken word piece tagged onto the end. "This Mark You Make" is heavy and
With 16 tracks totalling 70 minutes, this CD is not easy to digest in one sitting. However, programming out
the least interesting tracks certainly improves it and almost all of it bears repeated listening.