|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 â€“ 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 â€œCrippled Dickâ€� label
shows Grenas and Del Rio aiming more obviously at
music. Light relief after the po-faced weirdness of the first two albums, this
would probably go down better at a club than at a HW gig. However, five
tracks, including two versions of the title track and the witless â€œSmoothing
out of the Curveâ€� 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 â€œWild Winterâ€�
is irritating mechanoid disco but after this it settles down to something not
wholly objectionable: electrodance songs with lively rhythms and hummable
Well Worth a Listen (**Â½) : Omenopus â€“ 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.
â€œTruth and Liesâ€� is a promising start â€“ delicate and understated,
with Bridgetâ€™s breathy vocals to the fore, a decent melody and
chorus, and some nice violin interludes. â€œThese Are My Thoughtsâ
€� retains the low-
key approach, with the sound now located somewhere in the vicinity of Berlin circa 1980, but it lacks
the opening trackâ€™s lightness of touch â€“it is something of a dirge- and is really too long at 9-
minutes plus. After some misleading opening spacey noises, â€œDonâ€™t Want To Be Hereâ€� offers
Bridgetâ€™s gossamer vocals over the lightest piano and synth backdrop, and is elegant and melancholy.
â€œNight Twistâ€� 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 â€œNight Twist Omegaâ€�, which broods
darkly in the background for another 7 minutes.
â€œHenâ€� is also familiar from the EP and sounds positively jaunty and upbeat in this company. â
€œLe Chapeau Rougeâ€� (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. â€œYou Donâ€™t Talk Like a Humanâ€� is just creepy: dark and angular, with
electronic percussion, whining sax and brooding guitar lines, the lyrics directed at someone who also
doesnâ€™t dance like a Spanish man, doesnâ€™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) â€œchooses to
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 â€œSnapshotâ€� 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. Iâ€™m not sure that it all hangs together, but thereâ€™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 Â£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 â€œDo It
(Again)â€�. Adrian Shaw joins Rod Goodway and John Perry on â€œHalf Price Drinksâ€� (originally by
Mick Farren). As Iâ€™ve said before in other reviews, Rod Goodwayâ€™s vocals are an acquired taste
but this is a good enough example of Shaw and Goodwayâ€™s melodic DIY rock and if I hadnâ€™t read
the songwriting credit I would assume it was their own composition. Finally, Nik Turner joins â€œPink
FAâ€� on a rollicking 10-minute version of the Fairiesâ€™ â€œUncle Harryâ€™s Last Freakoutâ€�,
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 Hutchinsonâ€™s version of the Deviantsâ€™ â
€œRambling B(l)ack Transit Bluesâ€� motors along nicely. Captain Sensible is light years away from â
€œHappy Talkâ€� on his rousing version of the Fairiesâ€™ â€œSay You Love Meâ€� and two other
Damned luminaries, Scabies / James, take no prisoners on the Fairiesâ€™ â€œTeenage Rebelâ€�. Darryl
Readâ€™s â€œSomewhere To Goâ€� (originally by the Deviants) is another relentless groove. The
Wilko Johnson Band is as instrumentally solid as youâ€™d expect on the title track, their version of the
Fairiesâ€™ â€œPortobello Shuffleâ€�, although the vocals are a bit weak.
In the fair to middling category we have â€œBig Boss Manâ€� by Felix Dennis, which is sprightly if
utterly predictable piano-led rockâ€™nâ€™roll and I think must be a version of the 1960 song first
recorded by Jimmy Read. Felix Dennisâ€™ â€œA Saturday Gigâ€� is (literally) pure beat poetry. John
Sinclairâ€™s bluesy take on Mick Farrenâ€™s â€œPeople Call You Crazyâ€� 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 â€œMetamorphosis
Exploration on Deviation Street Jamâ€�, based on the Deviants (9-minute) â€œMetamorphosis
Explorationâ€�. Anyway, this is more stoner rock than punk and while not exactly bad is certainly
The rest is dross: Larry Wallis offers up a shouty â€œHeâ€™s the Bossâ€�, probably composed on the
spot by the sound of it, while Farren, Colquhoun & Taylorâ€™s â€œBig Pinkâ€� 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 Fairiesâ€™ â€œI Wish I Was A Girlâ€� and reduce an
originally rocking song to a whiney psychedelic ballad.
One Of The Best (if not to everyoneâ€™s tastes)
: Meads of Asphodel â€“ The Murder of Jesus the
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 Metatronâ
€™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
The album kicks off with â€œBoiled In Hell Broth And Grave Dust (Intro)â€�: 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 7Â½ minute opus â€œMy Psychotic Sand
Deityâ€� 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 itâ€™s great.
â€œApocalypse of Lazarusâ€� starts off with a spoken-word vision of the apocalypse, compared to which
â€œSonic Attackâ€� is really rather tame (sample lyric: â€œyou will become the genital warts on the arse
of Hadesâ€�) and then switches seamlessly between death metal and AOR passages.
â€œAddicted to Godâ€� is another epic (8 Â½ 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.
â€œStiller of Tempestsâ€� is anarchic folk rock, propelled by strummed acoustic guitar and with some
appropriately wayward singing. â€œMan From Keriothâ€� mixes yobbish punk rock (chants of â€œI am
Judasâ€�), death metal, spoken word and a ghostly choir. â€œDark Gethsemane â€� is slightly off-kilter
pastoral prog, a bit like early Pink Floyd, while â€œJew Killerâ€� is a cut-and-paste Black Sabbath
sampler, but with Metatronâ€™s rasp replacing Ozzyâ€™s whine.
The 9-minute â€œGenesis of Deathâ€� starts out as a straightforward rock song before a spoken word
section where, as our hero moans that â€œI am not the Messiahâ€�, I couldnâ€™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.
â€œFrom Eagle to Crossâ€� is up-tempo, riff-based heavy rock with death metal vocals but also features
a jaunty string section. â€œApostle of the Uncircumcisedâ€� 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 â€œA 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 Mythâ€�. Again this successfully mixes riff-based rock with pastoral progressive passages,
with roared vocals from Metatron and miscellaneous chants and wails.
Donâ€™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 â€“ Weird Tales
The only reason I am reviewing this contemporary
classical CD â€“ 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 â€œThe
Eye of Silence â€œ). 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: â€œA sonic
experiment of large proportions, dark moods and
multiple personalitiesâ€� and â€œdeep, atmospheric
tracksâ€� although also pointing to â€œmusic of
beauty and eleganceâ€�. 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 â
€œThe White Roseâ€� and â€œThe Atom Age Sense of Impermanenceâ€� are however pleasingly
tranquil and pick of the bunch is the closing â€œThere Is No Finished Worldâ€�, 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
Chemicalâ€™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 Iâ€™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, â€œComing Up (Eyes
Open)â€� has gained an extra 14 seconds but
remains slightly unsettling and not very exciting.
melodic â€œLoopy Loopâ€� gains 18 seconds and is still easy on the ears. The eerie â€œThee Unseenâ
€� is basically unchanged and, at 7 minutes in length, remains about 5 minutes too long. â€œHubbubâ€�
is still pointless (1-minute plus of looped effects). The energetic â€œBlue-cedelicâ€� 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. â€œHipnoticâ€� is
an instrumental with lots of spacey effects and, as noted, an unexpected flute interlude, but isnâ€™t very
â€œSynthiaâ€� is still the longest track on the album (at 8 minutes), a dreamy instrumental that would
easily work for Hawkwind (and indeed part of â€œSynthiaâ€� in reminiscent of the introductory
sequence of â€œDamage of Lifeâ€� on the â€œYule Ritual album). The chugging bass and guitar of â
€œFree to Live at Lastâ€� also recalls Hawkwind but the initial excitement fades once it becomes clear
that the song isnâ€™t going anywhere. Alanâ€™s vocal is so-so. This track has gained 11 seconds.
There are 5 â€œnewâ€� tracks added to the end, the first of which is very familiar, being â€œOut Here
We Areâ€�. 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 â€œWhereâ€™s the Way Out?â€� I would guess is earlier
work. In general, my impression is that Alanâ€™s recent work has grown in sophistication and has a
more organic feel, while some of the older tracks sound mechanical and repetitive.
â€œHubbub 2â€� is a short and delicate instrumental with piano and acoustic guitars, a million times
better than â€œHubbubâ€�. â€œMoment of Madnessâ€� 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 â€œStormâ€� and
Fountains in the Parkâ€�, both from Centigrade232). Another case of: anything Dave Brock can do, I
can do better?
â€œLysergic Birdâ€� 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 â€œWhereâ€™s the Way Out?â€�, 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 Alanâ€™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 â€“
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 youâ€™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 â€œPicket Lineâ
€�. Several others, notably â€œTest Tube Conceivedâ
€�, still stand up although â€œAcid Rainâ€� is a low
We also get respectable versions of two ICU tracks:
the anarchic space punk of â€œCybernetic Loveâ€�
Nikâ€™s â€œUtopiaâ€� lyrics) and the yobbish Thoms/Turner-penned â€œRaj Neeshâ€�. There is also a
competent take on the mothershipâ€™s â€œSpirit of the Ageâ€� and two tracks by Nebula (to recap
Steveâ€™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). â€œCome Fly With Usâ€� and â€œCosmic Fantasyâ€� 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 bandâ€™s podcast â€œrobotâ€� voice, a neat conceit perhaps but
not one which bears repeated listening.
Anyway, this is a really nice artefact (complete with a postcard and â€œphotocardsâ€� of the crew),
released on the bandâ€™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 website.
Well Worth a Listen (**Â½) : Various Artists â€“
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 Daveyâ€™s Toxic
Conspirators, Harvey Bainbridge, Jerry Richardsâ€™
Earth Lab and Dead Fredâ€™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
The set kicks off somewhat inauspiciously with the anodyne Omenopus tune â€œCall Your Nameâ€� -
Bridget is in good voice but not much else is happening. This is followed by the plaintive piano-led ballad â
€œPlease Take Me Away From Hereâ€� 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 â€œSecond Skinâ€�, 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 â€œSecretâ€� by David Speight and Friends
(including Bridget Wishart). Bridget then redeems herself on the gentle and dreamy â€œFingers Tenâ€� by
Chumley Warner Bros. This is followed by the bouncy and irreverent â€œRobotâ€� by Osiris the Rebirth.
Dave Brock should probably sue, since this is a perfect facsimile of his vocal style and instrumental palette
circa â€œOn the Caseâ€� from Earthed to the Ground. Itâ€™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 â€œDukes Jurneyâ€� by the Toxic Conspirators. Iâ€™m all for eclecticism but be
warned this is more Haircut 100 than Meads of Asphodel. â€œOn the Radioâ€� 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 â€œStand and Deliverâ€�, 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 Labâ€™s â€œMoney Monkeyâ€� is lightweight cocktail jazz,
with slinky sax, brushed percussion and a less-is-more vibe â€“ and is apparently from the forthcoming
Oscillating Bodies album. Krankschaft offer the authentic space rock groove of â€œCosmic Fantasyâ€�
(the Nebula track, otherwise available in live form on their Live at the Sonic Rock Solstice album). The
Flutatious track, â€œThe Cossack Grooveâ€� is much as you might expect, bouncy and festival friendly
instrumental folk rock.
â€œGateway (The Second Movement)â€� 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 â€œMagic Boxâ€� and the main members were
previously in a band called Peyote Mothership. However, neo-classical leanings of Stephen Palmerâ€™s
instrumental â€œLandscapeâ€� are rather more engaging. Again, a quick browse on the web comes up
with some extra information, namely that â€œinspiration is taken from the Welsh landscapeâ€�. Isis offers
the stately and melancholy â€œThe Giftâ€� (from a solo EP; her day job is with metal band Anubis and on
this evidence I prefer the solo material).
The following â€œRev Me Up Under New Yorkâ€� 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 Hasbeenâ€™s â€œBlack
Widowâ€�, 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
€œInstinctsâ€� 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 â€“ absolutely free I might add â€“ from the Omenopus
Worth a Listen : Bubbledubble â€“ Earthwise 2006
- On a hilltop in Dorset (with Nik Turner)
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 doesnâ€™t
change much across the three albums (indeed many
of the same tracks are repeated). Nikâ€™s sax adds
instrumental colour to the Dorset set on â€œMoon Bass Dubâ€� and â€œDub
Sliderâ€�. 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 â€œUrsa Minorâ€�. 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 ofâ€¦
Barely Worth a Listen (*Â½) : 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
Tookâ€™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 â€œNow You
Know The Scoreâ€� 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
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 MOABâ€™s â€œInsect Brainâ€�. He also provided an
outlet for a variety of other peopleâ€™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 Turnerâ
€™s Space Ritual) and latterly with Kev Ellis. Trev never knowingly undersold his work, describing God
and Man as â€œthe all new material - inspirational - sensational - astounding new release from Judge Trev.
An album of cosmic ballads exploring the nature of Man and Godâ€�, 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 â€œ...if you happen to be a serial killer Graham, or if you know of one, go aheadâ
€�! Heâ€™ll be missed.
Anyway, Cosmic Puffin was apparently the Judgeâ€™s last recording and is, in all honesty, not his best.
Thereâ€™s plenty of banter between the two principals and in between taking the piss out of each other
they play a selection of Trevâ€™s solo songs, ICU material and cover versions. The set kicks off with â
€œBeside the Seasideâ€�, a fairly anonymous track from God & Man. From the same source, the quite
good â€œThe Dark Side of Timeâ€� appears later on, a song which had a previous life as â€œHitlerâ€™s
Favourite Tuneâ€� on Now You Know The Score and the tune of which apparently had a previous life asâ
€¦ well, itâ€™s in the title. The set ends with â€œThe Lost Battle Between Democracy and Capitalismâ€�,
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: â€œWatching the Grass Growâ€�, â€œRaj Neeshâ
€�, â€œSkinheads in Leningradâ€� and â€œLittle Black Eggâ€� (the latter a song which ICU covered).
The second half of the set comprises mainly cover versions, kicking off with a reasonable take on â
€œOhioâ€�, followed by â€œGhost Riders in the SkyÂ¸ â€œStreets of Laredoâ€� (which gains some
lyrics about bankers), â€œFolsom Prison Bluesâ€� (which has become â€œFoulson Prison Bluesâ€�), a
horrible mangling of â€œNo Regretsâ€� and a half-hearted â€œHigh School Hopâ€�. The best bit of the
album is probably the ragged and rather cheeky Madonna/Hawkwind medley â€œBeautiful Strangerâ€�/â
€œMaster of the Universeâ€�. Certainly it raises a smile more easily than the between-track dialogue.
Worth a Listen : The JalapeÃ±os â€“ 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 rockâ€™nâ€™roll, all self-penned but drawing on
well-worn traditional styles, from the Duane Eddy/Link Wray-ish â
€œToadfishâ€� to the boogie-by-numbers of â€œI Don't Like It Like
Thatâ€�. The interest for Hawkfans is in Nik Turnerâ€™s sax
contributions to ponderous sleaze rock of â€œDragulaâ€�. Totalling a
mere 14 minutes, this collection doesnâ€™t hang around and is worth a
Worth A Listen : Spirits Burning -Behold the
Like much of Spirits Burningâ€™s output, this is a
grower. As usual, various ex-Hawks, friends and
friends of friends are to be found among the collectiveâ
€™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 arenâ€™t there to do anything that sounds like
Hawkwind. Alan Davey doesnâ€™t do his Mini-Me
Lemmy impersonation, Roger Neville-Neilâ€™s lyrics
arenâ€™t all that exciting and Bridget Wishartâ€™s
almost solo track, â€œOutcastâ€� is really not one of
The opening quartet of tracks is as good as anything on
any of the SB albums that Iâ€™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. â€œRendezvous at Lava Loungeâ€� channels early
Pink Floyd as it builds up the atmosphere - and mid-period Floyd in the mainly wordless females vocals. â
€œStand and Deliverâ€� is already familiar from the Allies and Clansmen compilation, Kev Ellisâ€™ 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. â€œThe Real Timeâ€� is dark, angst-ridden psychedelia
with the best chorus on the album; the vocals have a slightly hysterical and melodramatic feel reminiscent of
Michael Moorcockâ€™s Deep Fix. â€œInternal Detectiveâ€� 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.
â€œStrafed by a UFOâ€� ups the aggression and has a reasonable chorus but is something of a dirge. It is
followed by one of my least favourite tracks, â€œOutcastâ€�, 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 â€œObelisk of Fondueâ€� is even less enticing â€“ the lyrics are
courtesy of RN-N so donâ€™t blame Daevid Allen.
The remaining tracks divide into songs and instrumentals. Pick of the latter is the rather lovely closing track â
€œUnderworld Messiahâ€�. â€œCrank Up the Vibesâ€�, â€œHemlock on the Rocksâ€� and â€œPieces
Des Innocents Noirâ€� are also pleasant enough, although the faux-Chinese feel of â€œHypnosprayâ€�
doesnâ€™t really work.
Best of the other songs is probably â€œEvery Space Operaâ€�: infectiously jaunty with a rather good tune, it
also ends in a pleasingly cacophonous duel of brass and guitar. â€œThe Trainâ€� is propulsive and hooky,
and only slightly spoiled by a limp chorus. â€œAstral Flight Gassedâ€�, offers breathy female vocals over a
rocking backing track, with a spoken word piece tagged onto the end. â€œThis Mark You Makeâ€� is heavy
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.