Music from the Hawkwind family tree - Part 34

Thanks to Graham P. for these reviews - except where noted otherwise, of course.
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One of the Best : Various Artists - Cries from the
Midnight Circus

The best kinds of retrospective compilations offer both
thematic unity and nostalgia value - evoking a particular
time and place - and obviously work best on a personal
level if this time and place happens to coincide with
your formative years. The music here spans twelve
years (1967-78, although the last six years are
represented by only four tracks) and is centred on the
music scene of Ladbroke Grove. I'll hold my hand up
now and say this mostly passed me by first time
around - I didn't start going to gigs in London until
1978 (to see the likes of the Hawklords, Camel,
Wishbone Ash, Whitesnake and, er, Dr Hook at the
Hammersmith
Odeon) and the only track here which I
bought when it first came out was the most recent one, Motorhead's "Louie Louie" single from 1978.
Nevertheless, listening to this now over 30 years on, there's a strong thematic and stylistic identity
running through, even though the contents in theory span several musical genres, from the last of the
"beat groups" and sixties psychedelia at one extreme to the punk era at the other. This is a scene which,
on the whole, never bought into peace and love, kept its distance from the worst excesses of progressive
rock, had no truck with glam rock or disco and was pretty much immune to the charms of soul or
reggae. If I dare to label it so, this is white English urban music. For those of us who didn't experience it
all first time around (or have just forgotten), there's also an excellent essay by Nigel Grove, available as a
download (http://www.terrascope.co.uk/Features/LadbrokeGrove.htm), which is just as well as most of
the target audience is going to need a magnifying glass to read the ridiculously small print in the CD
booklet!

The archetypal Ladbroke Grove low-lifers (also celebrated on the Portobello Shuffle CD), namely the
Deviants, the Pink Fairies and Mick Farren, are all present and correct but this compilation certainly isn't
all scuzzy low-life rock. There's a certain amount of fey psychedelia, for example tracks by The Action
(better known as a mod band) and the Edgar Broughton Band. There are also some hints of the
awkwardness of 60s "beat music" (The Pretty Things), and the jazzier/more "progressive" end of the
blues (Peter Barden's Village, Skin Alley). Of two Hawkwind tracks compiled here, "Hurry on Sundown"
fits in well enough but "Lord of Light", with its sci-fi influenced lyrics and bludgeoning instrumentation,
seems to have been, well, beamed in from another planet. In any case, the Hawks and friends are all over
this compilation and mostly acquit themselves pretty well. Calvert's "Ejection" (which features most of
the contemporary Hawks), Moorcock's "Dodgem Dude" and Motorhead's "Louie Louie" all do the
business. Lemmy is also featured with Sam Gopal, High Tide (with Simon House) are represented by a
demo version of "Death Warmed Up" and Paul Rudolph appears with both the Deviants and the Pink
Fairies. Skin Alley are represented by "Bad Words and Evil People" which is a decent enough track but
post-dates Thomas Crimble's departure from the ranks.

Anyway, proceedings kick off with the Pretty Things' self-consciously far-out "Defecting Grey", which
is unhinged enough to be Syd Barrett and is among the weaker offerings here. It was released as a single
in 1967 and is one of the bonus tracks on the 2003 reissue of SF Sorrow. This followed by Sam Gopal's
menacing "Midsummer Night's Dream" (on which Lemmy's rather sinister vocals are light years away
from his current rasp), then The Deviants' primitive but powerful garage rock on "I'm Coming Home"
(which is from their first album, before Paul Rudolph arrived). Tomorrow's "Revolution" and The
Misunderstood's "Children of the Sun" both mix whimsical and harder rocking elements to good effect.
Mighty Baby (also appearing here in their previous incarnation as The Action) offer the melancholy but
muscular "House Without Windows". Quintessence mythologize "Notting Hill Gate", the title chanted as a
mantra against flute and sitar (sort of Sam Gopal without Lemmy) and although the rest of the lyrics are
self-consciously silly ("Things look great in Notting Hill Gate / They really move with the change in times
/ But only you can know the reason why / Why they hide behind their own third eye", they are delivered
with slightly creepy sincerity.. The undercurrent of menace is more overt on the proto-stoner rock of
Twink's "Ten Thousand Words in a Cardboard Box".

A more progressive/space rock feel is evident on the excellent instrumental "Death Warmed Up" by High
Tide, on which Simon House's keening violin duels with Tony Hill's guitar. To these ears this demo
version is infinitely preferable to the overproduced studio take from the Sea Shanties album, on which
the rather fine melodies of the demo are buried beneath effects pedals and excruciatingly tuneless
fretboard abuse. Peter Bardens' organ dominates the progressive pop of "Man in the Moon" by Village,
which points the way forward to his work in Camel.

"Billy the Monster" by the Deviants brings us back to earth again, the meat-and-potatoes pub rock sound
rounded out by some rather silly vocals - and it works a treat. The altogether more sophisticated "Bad
Words and Evil People" by Skin Alley follows - the angst-laden vocals are slightly at odds with the
generally laid back jazz-tinged arrangement, especially the closing instrumental section. The
semi-acoustic and country-tinged "China" by Cochise is something of a let down, exactly the kind of
limp-wristed hippy-ish nonsense most of this album has absolutely nothing to do with. Mick Farren's
take on Bo Diddley's "Mona" is ham-fisted and clodhopping, if not without a certain naive charm, and at
7½ minutes is definitely too long. The entirely wonderful "Hurry on Sundown" follows, Dave Brock's
vocal already world weary in 1970, and offering a gentler melancholy to complement the undercurrent of
malevolence evident in some of what has come before. CD1 closes out with Stray's "Time Machine", a
schizophrenic mash-up of folk pop and heavy metal.

Kicking off CD2, mod group The Action are apparently moonlighting as a Moody Blues tribute band on
the fine "A Saying For Today". "So Embarrassed" by Junior's Eyes is indifferent Hammond organ-driven
R&B and is followed by the excellent and effortlessly scuzzy "We Do It" from the Pink Fairies. The
unashamedly melodramatic "Evening Over Rooftops" by The Edgar Broughton Band is rooted firmly in
the 60s, not least by the girlie backing vocals. Jody Grind's "Bath Sister" is progressive blues rock,
Hammond organ again prominent. "Giants" by Quintessence manages to sound like an extended prog
rock jam despite being only 4½ minutes long; basically it is a rather thin idea stretched out too far.

"Long Ago, Far Away" by Peter Bardens is jazzy and whimsical, as the title might suggest, the keyboards
augmented by flute and light percussion. The Pretty Things' titular "Cries from the Midnight Circus" is,
well, a great title. The music gradually builds up a fair head of steam but the vocals are overwrought and
weedy. The same cannot be said for Arthur Brown also sounds a bit worked up about something on "No
Time", over a backing track on which Hammond organ and guitar duel away pleasantly to no great
effect, but at least has the vocal chops to carry it off. The track ends with some water effects and a Viv
Stanshall-like voice over and is followed by the incomparable but somewhat out of place "Lord of Light".
It does however serve to demarcate the switch from artful whimsy to reductive nihilism that marks the
start of the punk era. First off, the winsome cartoonish pub rock of (Pink Fairy) Larry Wallis's "Police
Car", narrated of course from the point of view of the car and released as a single on Stiff Records in
1977. Fittingly, the next band he (briefly) played guitar for, Motorhead, are next, their classic line-up in
place (i.e. no Larry Wallis), on the surprisingly poppy take on "Louie Louie". The next two tracks
pre-date punk but post-date everything else here. Robert Calvert's classic "Ejection" (the single version)
certainly matches Larry Wallis and Motorhead for energy (and features Lemmy as well as Paul Rudolph
and Twink from the Pink Fairies), while Michael Moorcock's "Dodgem Dude" (from the 1975 album
New World's Fair, also released as a single until 1980) is both tuneful and thuggish. Having reached the
end of the line both chronologically and stylistically the last two tracks step back in time again.
Steamhammer's "Autumn Song" from 1969 recalls a slightly heavier Moody Blues, a comparison
supported by the prominent flute. "Gone in the Morning" by Quiver is from 1972 and co-written by
guitar journeyman Tim Renwick (see Al Stewart and Pink Floyd among many others). It shifts from
folk-tinged rock into a good-natured if somewhat indulgent instrumental jam - if it had twin guitars it
would be Wishbone Ash - and back again, but sustains interest over 9 minutes.

In conclusion, this is a really excellent double CD compilation and well worth tracking down. It was
released on Sanctuary (as CMQDD1511) in 2007 but is now deleted. You can find it for silly money on
Amazon (£100+ for a new copy!). There again, nowadays £100 will buy you an album you already own
five times over with a bunch of inferior but newly polished out-takes in three different formats.

The sources of the tracks on this double CD are listed below. Notes: a few tracks were not released until
much later so the initial dates given are the release dates of the albums from the same recording sessions.
I've only mentioned single releases where I could find information.

CD1:
1. Pretty Things - Defecting Grey (1967, single)
2. Sam Gopal - Midsummer Night's Dream (1968, from Escalator)
3. The Deviants - I'm Coming Home (1967, from Ptooff!)
4. Tomorrow - Revolution (1967 single, also on 1968 album Tomorrow)
5. The Misunderstood - Children of the Sun (1969, single)
6. Mighty Baby - House Without Windows (1969, from Mighty Baby)
7. Quintessence - Notting Hill Gate (1969, from In Blissful Company)
8. Twink - Ten Thousand Words in a Cardboard Box (1970, from Think Pink)
9. High Tide - Death Warmed Up (Demo) (1969, released on 2006 reissue of Sea Shanties)
10. Village - Man in the Moon (1969, single)
11. The Deviants - Billy the Monster (1969, from The Deviants 3)
12. Skin Alley - Bad Words, Evil People (1972, from Two Quid Deal)
13. Cochise - China (1970, from Cochise)
14. Mick Farren - Mona (1970, from Mona - The Carnivorous Circus)
15. Hawkwind - Hurry On Sundown (1970, from Hawkwind)
16. Stray - Time Machine (1970, from Stray)

CD2:
1. The Action - A Saying for Today (1968, released in 1985 on Action Speaks Louder Than)
2. Junior's Eye's - So Embarrassed (1969, from Junior's Eyes)
3. Pink Fairies - Do It (1971, from Never Never Land)
4. Edgar Broughton Band - Evening Over Rooftops (1971, from Edgar Broughton Band)
5. Jody Grind - Bath Sister (1970, from Far Canal)
6. Quintessence - Giants  (1969, from In Blissful Company)
7. Peter Bardens - Long Ago, Far Away (1970, released in 2005 on Write My Name in the Dust)
8. Pretty Things - Cries from the Midnight Circus (1970, from Parachute)
9. Arthur Brown & Kingdom Come - No Time (1971, from Galactic Zoo Dossier)
10. Hawkwind - Lord of Light (1972, from Doremi Fasol Latido)
11. Larry Wallis - Police Car (1977, single)
12. Motorhead - Louie Louie (1978, single)
13. Robert Calvert - Ejection (1974, single version of Captain Lockheed track)
14. Michael Moorcock & Deep Fix - Dodgem Dude (1975, from New World's Fair)
15. Steamhammer - Autumn Song (1969, from Mk II)
16. Quiver - Gone In The Morning (1972, from Gone in the Morning)
Worth A Listen : The Moor - Memoirs of
Rossum

Back in 1996 this Swedish band released Flux, on
which they (and Nik Turner) played what they
called progressive space rock, with a sound that
combined influences as diverse as King Crimson,
the Mission, the Feelies and Giorgio Moroder. This
eclecticism, a certain misogynistic streak in some
of the lyrics, and another appearance from Nik
Turner, provide the link with the new
download-only album "Memoirs of Rossum".
There is
a themed website which helpfully tells
us that "Memoirs of Rossum is not an album, it's a
nightmare enhanced by The Moor's state of mind."

Probably the only way to approach this peculiar
artefact is with an open mind. You might also
usefully rewind your mindset by about 30 years to the early 1980s, when twee synthesiser bands
playing nursery school tunes on toy keyboards were suddenly the next big thing and anything remotely
edgy sounded, relatively, like genius. If this album had come on a CD it would probably have been used
for frisbee practice after the first couple of listens. However, it didn't, and after several further listens, I
would concede that it is not without interest. Just don't expect space rock.

Proceedings begin with "Memoirs of Rossum I: Mani.Festo", a spoken-word mission statement about
the future of humanity, and of the human body and mind (sample lyric "...your mind is our business..."),
recited over a background of light electronic muzak. Although the lyrical content is undoubtedly witty
and possibly erudite (and displays a formidable way with the English language), it remains either faintly
or hugely irritating, depending on your state of mind. In addition, given the nature of the previous Moor
release, it is a bit like putting on a Motorhead album and hearing Lemmy reading from "A Brief History
of Time" accompanied by Vince Clarke from Erasure. Anyway, the unquiet spirit is at least soothed by
Nik's expressive lounge act sax soloing over the last 2 minutes.

The following "Candlelight [From the Rossum.Archives]" mixes some rather Gary Numan-like
electronic music and vocals with tasteful guitar: hardly rock music as we might know (or wish) it but
certainly an interesting concoction. Nik joins in again and the sax and xylophone intertwine over massed
synths. The droll, dry, spoken word narrative and electronic backing resume on "Memoirs of Rossum
II: Re.Seduction". Sample lyric: "Love, like blood, will be quite obsolete / so please get rid of it nice and
discrete". As swishing percussion rises in the mix, so Nik's sax also becomes audible, then some angular
guitar. (Thought: if Lou Reed had performed this, backed by Metallica, it would be probably proclaimed
as the best thing he'd ever done and would, in any case, be a zillion times better than "Lulu".)

Track 4, "Neo Futurist Fantasy [From the Rossum.Archives]" is sub-Gary Numan electronica coupled
with some dodgily misogynistic lyrics ("your ass is big, your tits are small... You must be re-modelled").
Initially I hated it but, finally, it is actually quite funny. Track 5, "Memoirs of Rossum III: Finale [Über
alles]", sets up a stately, oppressive (almost Floydian) backdrop of synths and guitar over which the
words "Über alles" and "robot" and such like are repeated. This gives way to a morass of feedback and
white noise and finally, bizarrely, a cappella vocals. A jittering percussive backing track and largely
incompressible spoken vocals combine on "Candlelight.Remodelled", which in truth drags over 8
minutes. Best bits are the Turner sax solos over the beginning and end of the track. Finally, more droll
electronica and spoken vocals feature on the brief closing "Alternative.One".
Worth A Listen : Nigel Mazlyn Jones and Nik Turner

This 9-track, 60-minute long album recasts NMJ's new-agey material
in a live setting, sometimes in the form of medleys. The overall result
is generally pleasantly inoffensive, except for the rather shouty vocals.
The flute, prominent on the opening snoozathon "Someone at the
Door", is presumably Nik's contribution and recalls his pyramid flute
pieces. Nik also gets to play freeform sax on the second track, "20th
century", which otherwise consists of six and a half minutes of
percussive instrumental noodling and melodically challenged singing.
However, the rest of the CD is more enjoyable. Many of the instrumental passages are undoubtedly
melodic (notably "Ship To Shore") with tasteful, understated, mainly acoustic guitar and intermittent
support from strings, flute, didgeridoo and miscellaneous effects. On "Unseen Friends and First Light"
even the vocals aren't half bad. This CD appeared on the Blueprint label (a Voiceprint product I think)
back in 1997.
Approach With Caution : Sky Burial - Aegri Somnia

Steve Starfarer alerted me to the existence of this obscurity, released
in 2011, passing on an e-mail from the artists. In its favour, the CD
comes in attractive DIY packaging and Nik Turner can be heard
gamely improvising over the top of parts of the otherwise formless
40minute drone that is "Movement I: The Synaethete's Lament". Track
2 offers relative brevity at 16 minutes long but otherwise is about as
exciting as listening to your vacuum cleaner and about as melodic.
Those brave souls who wish to explore further should visit

http://www.utechrecords.com/ where we learn that "Aegri Somnia
apposes delicate melodies with vacuous drones creating a world ghastly and unhinged". I reckon they
rather forgot about the delicate melodies but vacuous drones sounds spot on.
Worth A Listen : The Jettisoundz Promo Years DVD (Various)

This really is a time capsule from another era. There is some awful
crap on here, endearingly amateurish video production work, crimes
against fashion and hairdressing, and plenty of political incorrectness -
but also a fair amount of decent music too, taking in punk, goth, heavy
metal, rockabilly, folk, alternative hip hop, disco and traditional Indian
Scottish ballads.

There are four tracks of interest to Hawkfans: "Night of the Hawk�
- the stirring, sterling, studio performance - is set to stage video
footage  The band seen is clearly not the one on record. Nik Turner is
seen singing and playing sax which evidently isn't on the track and, of
course, is looking ridiculous in multi-coloured body suit, cycling
helmet
, wrap-around shades, a large hub cap strapped to his chest and
a single tuft of red hair. Dead Fred is seen on keyboards and violin, and we don't get to see the drummer.
Harvey and Dave seem to be enjoying themselves but Huw is apparently trying to pretend he isn't on the
same stage as Nik.

ICU's "Help Sharks" sees Nik hamming it up for all he's worth, with Dave Anderson on bass and Steve
Pond on guitar doing Shadows moves, a drummer in bearskin hat, Dead Fred (possibly) doing a Bob
Calvert in WW1 pilot's gear, and two female backing singers...¦ all shot in a tiny space with the camera
about six inches from Nik's nose

ICU's "Blood and Bone" is a really scary performance from Nik and his haircut, Steve, Fred, plus man in
underpants on bass/drums, trying to out-punk The Damned. Is that a bone hanging from Nik's sax?

"Needle Gun" is set to live video footage from the Black Sword tour, complete with spooky fantasy
backdrop and Elric (Tony Crerar) waving his sword around.

Other worthy performances include Ligotage's "Vanity", Turnpike Cruisers doing their Mexican surf
thing on "That Girl's Got Mine" (apart from the simulated vomiting that is), Action Pact apeing X-Ray
Spex on "Johnny Fontaine", Robyn Hitchcock effortlessly cool on "America", Tygers of Pang Tang
rocking it up on "Waiting" to a cheesy video (big chorus, big hair, live in the studio footage and token
babe), Cherry Bombz doing "Hot Girls in Love", fronted by a, well...¦.,  the Meteors taking on "Rawhide"
and "Please Don't Touch", and Empress in Fur camping it up in the woods for "Johnny Voodoo".

There are also several strong contenders for worst performance, including the stick insect-like Toy Dolls
on "Nellie the Elephant", the unlistenable tosh that is Alien Sex Fiend's "Bugging Me", tracks by Psychic
TV and Cud, and "Lament of McCrimmon" rendered as an Indian ballad by former Monsoon singer
Sheila Chandra. Frenzy spoil the pleasingly Feelies-like "Clockwork Toy" with a video which features
them gurning, wandering around in their underwear, mooning, and generally coming across as complete
prats. However, top prize for cringe-worthiness goes to an extremely creepy rendering of "Are You
Experienced?" intoned by pre-teen Caresse P-Orridge, offspring of the Psychic TV front person. Second
prize for the most politically incorrect video goes to the Macc Lads for "Eh Up", sung to the tunes of the
Monkees theme and featuring copious beer, babes...and a dog.
Worth A Listen : Judy Dyble - Enchanted Garden

This is a gentle album of (as the title hints) mystical
and pastoral tunes, all topped by Judy Dyble's
warm lilting voice. The album never quite settles on
one style, with the instrumental palette and mood
shifting from song to song. On the opening
"Summer Gathers", guitar (from Pete Pracownik),
percussion, flute and sax provide a pleasingly
relaxed vibe. The title track follows and is an
over-busy melange of synthetic sitar and tablas,
which fairly rapidly begins to grate. "Rivers Flow"
is shorter and more direct, the slide guitar and
bubbling percussion providing a country folk vibe
reminiscent of Medicine Head. Simon House is
co
-writer on "New World" and, sure enough, his
keening violin dominates an unexciting and
overlong track. "Nimbus Thitherwood" is a good
one, with majestic synths driving a mournful lyric. The violin appears again on the stately "Long Way
Home". "For You" is rather drab. The sax introduction on "Starcrazy" brings things back up a notch,
introducing a nicely plaintive tune; and the following "Neu Blue" has a similar feel. The album closes with
"Going Home", another House co-write and another sumptuously melancholy melody. At times, with
sitar, tabla and kitchen sink thrown, in the result is pretty indigestible new age nonsense but when the
instrumentation is more restrained the album achieves a serene elegance - diametrically opposed to
anything to do with Hawkwind but a good listen nonetheless.
Worth A Listen : Gunslinger - Lessons in Logic

In this month's Word magazine they quote an
interesting statistic about iTunes: of its 13 million
tunes (or whatever), only 3 million have ever been
downloaded - there is a long tail of little loved and
less listened-to music out there. The Hawkwind
family output may be thought of in much the same
way, with a fairly small central core of excellent
material and a long, long, tail of, well, other music
that is unlikely to excite our interest very much.

The new Gunslinger EP falls somewhere in the
middle. The first track "Lessons in Logic (Bonzai
Caruso Mix)" is an un-lovely creation, which loses
its way right from the odd phasing effect on the

guitars at the start. The arrangement is sparse, with
over-busy drums, staccato guitar phrases and
a-capella vocals unforgivingly exposed as not very good.  The second track, "Hound Dog (live)" suggests
that Gunslinger are following the Motorhead line of "it's all rock'n'roll" but their bludgeoning demolition of
the Elvis standard gives the impression that Gunslinger couldn't swing if suspended on a rope. And yet,
the third track is everything we have come to expect from Gunslinger and after listening to this, all is
forgiven. It is the second and longer (Full length/Brian Sachs) mix of the title track. There is a smoother
more conventional arrangement, with some apparent cosmetic surgery on the balance of the drum track,
audible bass and, most importantly, lots of guitars. It now sounds like a decent song! There is indeed a
lesson in logic here, to do with getting a decent producer.
Worth A Listen : Alan Davey - Cyber Tooth

Having spent a career building up from bedroom
HW-isms on his first Hawkfan-released EP to a
more than credible HW facsimile on "Human on the
Outside", Alan Davey perhaps feels the job is done.
"Eclectic Devils" did what it said on the tin,
diversifying fearlessly and now that his main outlet
seems to be Gunslinger (to the extent that he is
apparently no longer a full-time member of the
Hawklords), on his solo work he has let his inner
geek back out. This is a computer-themed album
and its subject matter has inspired some
unengaging lyrics (although, admittedly, there are
no lyrics about suspenders).  With no guest
musicians or vocalists involved, this is very much a
one-man
show - and sometimes it misses
collaborative input, even if only to say "no, hang on,
you could do better". He uses his own voice sparingly so we also get plenty of instrumentals. Alan
basically does three kinds of instrumental tracks: the repetitive riff-fest, the slow, dreamy synth-based
tracks, and the weird ones, which range from mildly unsettling to irritating collages of novelty FX. All are
present and correct here although to be fair he also turns out some rather different sounding material.
The album's soundscape is meticulously and lovingly crafted, with a sonic palette sometimes recalling
early Floyd and Tangerine Dream and it sounds wonderful. However, none of the songs is a match for â
€œAngel Down" or "Years Ago Far Away" and it is, finally, a good but not a great album.

The measured opening track, "The Future is Us (Viral Messiah)", lets us know immediately that this isn't
going to be any all-out blood-and-guts assault. It combines deft musical touches, rather breathless vocals
and some slightly dodgy lyrics (how many different rhymes can you find for "suss", etc). Only at the end
does it deign to rock out, with some melodic if unadventurous guitar lines. The second track is an
instrumental. "Boot Killer", built around a simple repeated riff. Although concise at around 4 minutes in
length it says pretty much all it has to say in the first 30 seconds and then switches into repeat mode.
"Metamorphic God" is a slow synth-based instrumental, generally in the unsettling atmospheric mode.
The second song, "Harmonic Orgone", is a fluffy confection, with relaxed vibe, breathy vocals, iffy
lyrics, rather slight tune and finely crafted sound-scape. The next instrumental, "Doomjuice", maintains
the gentle feel, starting off with what sounds like a string quartet, but then shifts into spooky film
soundtrack mode.

The title track itself starts out with a minute or so of spacy noises before morphing into a fine sounding
song with disappointingly trite lyric about computer viruses ("Cyber Tooth eats PC flesh but it can't eat
Apples yet", something recently shown to be patently untrue!). The instrumental "Root Kit" has a nice
keening melody and precedes the galloping pop rock song "Fractal Eyes", a definite highlight. The album
takes a left turn with the instrumental "All Over The Place" which is a real mixture of sounds, including
some grotesque orchestral stabs, and never quite gels. "Polymorphic Code" starts out slow and dreamy
and shifts into slow and unsettling but does nothing much else for six minutes. The closing "Bioscan" is
another highlight, with a strong percussive base, an underlying sense of urgency and a good tune on the
chorus.
Well Worth A Listen (**½) : "Group X" Live at
SRS 2011 DVD

Is nothing sacred? What do you call the Hawklords
without Nik? Apparently this is the answer.
Anyway, this is a fairly rough and ready recording
of Harvey, Jerry, Danny, Alan and Ron at the
Sonic Rock Solstice in 2011. The stage is small but
there appears to be a decent light/slide show, and
the band acquit themselves well on a set of tried
and trusted favourites. One advantage of a smaller
band is you can actually hear everyone's playing.  
Jerry is probably the star of the show, with some
solid rhythm and lead guitar and powerful vocals.
Ron's vocals are so-so, rarely in danger of being
tuneful, and he seems to fade in and out of
proceedings, barely registering at times,
super-animated at the end of the set - but visually is
always the centre of attention whether as lead
vocalist or a cosmic Bez, striding around the stage
bashing a huge hand drum. The set kicks off with
a be-helmeted Ron emerging from under an
umbrella and overcoat to recite "I am
he Reptoid",
as Jerry plays a few guitar licks and some effects
waft across from Harvey's keyboards. The band
strikes up a solid "Lord of Light" and the helmet comes off as Ron launches into an energetic lead vocal.
Later the coat goes too, leaving a heavily made-up Ron looking like an undead stick insect.  After some
fairly unintelligible stage announcements from Ron, next up is an equally workmanlike "Shouldn't Do
That"/"Addicted to You". Then Harvey's spacey synths and melodic noodlings from Jerry's guitar
gradually build into "Dreamworker", still a poor composition but at least this version is as good as any
I've heard. Ron eventually joins Harvey on vocals. Harvey and Jerry then remind us that coherent
between song announcements are possible, sounding for all the world like a couple of school teachers,
before the band kick into a spiky "Spirit of the Age", with Jerry on lead vocals and a background of green
lasers lights. Good stuff. Next up is "Aerospaceage Inferno": Ron starts out on rather iffy lead vocals but
Jerry then takes over, leading to a noticeable improvement in quality. A rather low key "The Watcher"
follows, with Alan on Lemmy-ish vocals and Ron on hand drum and bone-in-the-mouth. Ron then reads
"Ten Seconds of Forever" and the band gradually wind up to a lively "Assassins of Allah" on which both
cameraman and Ron also come visibly to life, although Ron then somewhat spoils the effect by standing
in the middle of the stage opening and closing his umbrella! Jerry and Ron share lead vocals on a
pummelling "Born to Go", underpinned by some ferocious bass playing and matched by Jerry's riffing.
As the song winds down, Ron says "I want my mummy" and Harvey exhorts the audience to "Keep
partying", and they leave the stage. This band may not be the original Hawkwind, much less Group X,
and they feature only one original Hawklord, no Dave and no Nik, but by and large they do the business.
Thoroughly enjoyable.
Stormwatch - Various Artists

If you want a sneak preview of Onward, the latest
issue (April 2012) of Classic Rock Presents Prog
magazine not only features a very candid new
interview with Dave Brock and crew down on the
farm (past issues of said magazine have
shamelessly recycled old Hawkwind stories but this
really is new) but also offers the track "Seasons"
on the associated CD. Some effects, including a
tolling bell, lead into dense heavy riffing, with
apocalyptic lyrics and lead vocals by Dibs, a pretty
nifty chorus and some chiming lead guitar. A short
mid-song instrumental breakdown builds back up
into a squalling monster. A great track in the
classic Hawkwind mode IMHO and it bodes well
for the album.
You also get an old track by Pendragon and material from a range of other bands I've never heard of.
Worth A Listen : Robert Calvert - Revenge /
Centigrade 232
(** for Revenge, *** for
Centigrade 232 and 0 for the remastering)

This double CD reissue is every bit a Voiceprint
special, especially the brief and numerically
challenged Calvert biography in the sleeve notes -
which reveals that Robert Calvert, apart from
appearing with Hawkwind, "also made two albums"
(i.e. Lockheed and Lucky Leif), somehow
forgetting the small matter of three further studio
albums (Hype, Freq, Test Tube Conceived), and
self-released "Harbour Publications" cassettes of
song demos and poetry (which was how
Centigrade 232 was first released in audio form),
all released in his lifetime, and a slew of
posthumous live albums
and collaborative works.
Anyway, of the two works collected here, the
poetry album Centigrade 232 is apparently unchanged from the previous CD issue and remains an
essential item in any collection of the great man's work.

The rationale for re-releasing the barrel-scraping exercise that originally appeared on cassette as
Revenge
is that our own Adrian Shaw has revisited Pete Pavli's tapes, remastered them and added drums. Given
the fact that they are low-fi demo recordings, the phrase "polishing a turd" comes to mind. However, as I
mentioned in my previous review, these four noir-ish creations are not without a certain charm and
feature Simon House as well as Pavli and Calvert. The rather beautiful title song is the pick of the bunch
but "Fascism/futurism", "Bugatti" and the elegant "Isadora", are all worth a listen.  All appear in two
versions but the only obvious differences are the new drum tracks added to the second versions of
"Fascism/Futurism" and "Bugatti". Anyway, 10 minutes of music is thus stretched to 20 and the album
length is doubled again by including two versions of the very irritating 10-minute- plus synth track "Turn
the Tape Over", with no Calvert connection whatsoever and designed (as Pete Pavli admits in the sleeve
notes) to make the listener of the original cassette do just that. I couldn't tell you whether they are any
different from each other as the track is basically unlistenable.
Worth A Listen : Robert Calvert - At The Queen
Elizabeth Hall

This live album was released shortly after Calvert's
death, in 1989, and the original LP came with a poster
(a sketch of Robert Calvert by Jill Calvert, with the
words of the poem Insomnia typed underneath, which I
can't resist quoting, again: "I must have accidentally
tripped the switch that turns the stillness on"), a badge
and a tee-shirt.

Calvert is accompanied by Krankschaft, then
comprising Dead Fred, Steve Pond, Mary Cason and a
drum machine. According to Brian Tawn's sleeve-notes
on the BGO CD release (BGOCD601, released in 2003,
wher
e it is coupled with Blueprints From the Cellar),
Mary Cason was a friend of Steve Pond, and played keyboards for some gigs on the tour; she doesn't
appear in the photos inside the gatefold sleeve of the original album or in the CD booklet.

The sound is generally good, Calvert is on form vocally and full of engaging banter with his audience
(sample witticism: "you can see the results of genetic experiments every time you go to a Hawkwind
concert"). However, the arrangements are pretty basic and the older tracks, originally recorded with a full
band, sound a bit thin here, while the material from his last studio album (Test Tube Conceived) is (with
the possible exception of the title track) really not his best. Despite this, it is on the whole an enjoyable
album.

"Evil Rock" from Hype is followed by a medley of Lockheed songs ("Catch a Falling Starfighter"/"Song
of the Gremlin"/"Aerospaceage Inferno") - it is good to hear them, but they aren't up to the standard of
the studio recordings. However, "Test Tube Conceived" is a definite improvement on the sterile studio
version and is followed by the hard rocking "Working Down a Diamond Mine", then known only from a
demo on the Cellar Tapes cassette, a song about his "unfashionable" birth country.

Next up are two selections from Freq: an affectionate reading of "All the Machines Are Quiet" and a, well,
workman-like version of "Work Song" which can't quite overcome its essential naffness, although the
vocal round at the end is a nice touch. "Telekinesis" is mechanical, brutally minimalist and hard to love.
Only the fact that it is followed by "Acid Rain" saves it from being the low point of the set. Finally "Lord
of the Hornets" is a bit less lumpen but still suffers from an over-aggressive reading. It brings this much
too short (41-minute) live memento to an end.
Worth A Listen : Rick Welsh - Trumpets...

A footnote in the pages of Hawkfamily history, the late Rick Welsh played trumpet in
various of Nik Turner's projects, most recently Kubano Kickasso, but sadly passed
away in 2009. The late Judge Trev used to sell this DIY CD compilation of Rick's work
from the RFM website. Being a Judge Trev production, the front cover bears the suitably over-the-top
claim that it is "The best album from West Wales ever" and, of course, it features a Judge Trev tune
among those compiled.

Anyway, this very listenable compilation features "Dizzy" from the Kubano Kickasso album and a bunch
of tunes and songs from various other jazz and dance-music projects on which Rick appeared, plus the
so-so Judge Trev strum-along "Personality" from God & Man, to which Rick contributed a brief solo.

If you like Nik Turner's excursions into jazz and dance music, this compilation will do just fine, and
obviously the man himself appears on the aforementioned KK track. However, given that the artist and
compiler are no longer with us, chances of finding it nowadays are probably pretty slim. For the record,
the tracklisting is:
Rip Off - Tootin'Ska Moon
Dizzy - Kubano Kickasso
Green Police - Dub-All-Vision
Moanin' - Dub-All-Vision
Do You Know? - Mambo Jambo
Where Ever Did You Go - Raul Speek
Sun Flowers - Dub-All-Vision
Druidstones - Catbrain
Personality - Judge Trev
Kimberly - Mambo Jambo
Captain Rick - Tootin'Ska Moon