Music from the Hawkwind family tree - Part 36

Thanks to Graham P. for these reviews - except where noted otherwise, of course.
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Just About Worth A Listen (*½) : Civilian Zen -
Songs for Shelter

These two CDs [see next review also] were
produced for the (homelessness) charity Shelter in
2006 and 2007, respectively. Although the original
CDs are long since sold out, Keith Hill was good
enough to make CDR copies for me (in return for a
small donation to Shelter). Can't say fairer than
that. So, to the music: in general more electronic
than rock, sometimes interesting, sometimes
verging on the unlistenable, with Hawkwind family
members contributing to both. For my tastes,
"Return.." is considerably more palatable, while
"Songs...¦" (despite some not awful vocal
contributions from Nik Turner) had me reaching
for some aspirins.
Songs for Shelter compiles a massive 19 tracks over a brain-numbing 66 minutes, most of which seems
to comprise moody electronic soundscapes, big on unsettling noises, light on memorable tunes and either  
completely instrumental or with spoken and/or sampled vocals. There are three ex-Hawks in evidence,
appearing on a total of five tracks, plus an appearance from Judge Trev Thoms.

The album kicks off with the low key synth swirls of "Wanderland" and the self-explanatory â
€œAstronaut Talk", on which sampled voices are backed by electronic rhythms and guitars to form
perhaps one of the more space rock-like tracks here.

A barrage of electronic noises heralds Nik Turner's spoken vocals on "Welcome to Utopia"/â
€�Cybernetic Love", essentially his "Utopia" speech from the Zones album (recycled on and various later
solo works), which itself originated from the lyrics of ICU's "Cybernetic Love". It fits in well enough
here. The following "Submillimetre Valley" is an unlovable mixture of spoken and occasionally vocoder-
treated vocals (presumably from co-writer and poet Mark Broster, a rhythm track and what may be
guitar, variously distorted and played backwards. "Slowmotion Ocean" is a brief, low key, synth-based
instrumental, which feels like an introductory piece: if it was Tangerine Dream it would break out into 17
minutes of bleeping sequencers but instead it fades out after a minute and a half.

Jerry Richards and Alf Hardy do "Jackyl-Headed Woman", which is one of their repetitive dance/rave-
oriented sound collages (see Paradogs) and, while not outstanding, it works well enough in context,
serving to inject some energy into proceedings. "Green Planet" is four minutes plus of clunky percussion,
quite possibly played on kitchen utensils, supported by a distorted horn or siren sound. This is followed
by a heavily echoed Nik Turner reciting "Welcome to the Future" over some spacey rhythm guitar.

Ron Tree recites one of his slightly hysterical science fiction pieces on "The Attackyon" (track 9) and
"The Attackyon (Part 2)" (track 13) but it is hard to focus on his performance due to the cacophony of
noise going on in the background of part 1 and the multiple vocal tracks colliding on Part 2. Both parts
are almost totally unlistenable. Track 10, "Ancient Voices", starts off as a poetry/noise hybrid but is soon
rescued by some expressive and relatively tuneful guitar and develops into a respectable space-rock wig-
out over its last couple of minutes. "The Middle of Nowhere" is all eerie organ notes - pure horror film
soundtrack fare. "Waves" features some widdly guitar from Trev Thoms over busy synthetic rhythms.
Moving swiftly past Ron Tree's second appearance, we get two guitar-based (mainly) instrumentals, the
propulsive and ominous "Passage in Time" and the dirgy "Over Acrylic Cities" followed by the FX-based
weirdness of "Vast Space". "Sublime Revelation" is poetry plus light noise. The album ends of two
surprisingly pleasant ambient instrumentals, "Beneath Clouds" and "Observation Dome".
Bridget Wishart sings on track 3, "Curse/Cure" - a sweet vocal performance over a skittering, clattering,
backing track, and it even has a chorus you can sing along to, making it quite possibly the best track on
either album. "Nothing exists" features the poetry of Mark Broster, his voice for once untreated and the
backing track relatively understated.

The 5th track is Earthlab's startling "The End of Religion" (which also turned up on the Suburban
Guerrilla Uprisings compilation CD). Steve Swindells' bluesy vocal gives the song a somewhat
apocalyptic feel. However everything calms down again with the delicate instrumental "Nocean",
featuring Bridget on clarinet. The reminder of the album comprises more electronic, the bouncy "Self
Destruct", the laid-back "The Eighth", the almost poppy "Scream Dream" (a song, with lyrics by
Bridget) and "Sublime Revelation", a more percussive remix of the Songs for Shelter track: an
improvement on the original but least interesting track here.
Wileman of Karda Estra. Far Corners is less austere than Karda Estra, more disciplined than Spirits
Burning and less spacey than Mooch. In fact, despite its title, "Far Corners" is probably as close to
mainstream as her Bridget's work gets, smoothly combining easy listening, modern classical, jazz and
ambient music. "Clouds Gather" even slips into space rock territory but almost everything else is mellow
and melodic, and only occasionally slightly more challenging. This very enjoyable CD was released on
Noh Poetry (NPR 010) this year (2012). A more detailed review appears on the Aural Innovations
Well Worth A Listen (**½) : Astralfish - Far

Bridget Wishart seems to be hitting a peak of
productivity. Added to her occasional work with
Spirits Burning, and the Djinn collaboration with
Alan Davey, there have now been several
Omenopus releases and the two Allies and
Clansmen compilations featuring several of her
other side projects. Although best known to
Hawkfans as a vocalist, much of her recently
released work is instrumental. On the mainly
instrumental Far Corners she plays EWI
("electronic wind instrument") facsimiles of
clarinet, violin, oboe and synths. Don Falcone of
Spirits Burning is the main collaborator but several

other familiar names appear, including Daevid
Allen, Steve Palmer of Mooch and Richard
Well Worth A Listen (**½) : Lastwind - Return of a Sonic

When this appeared on the Flicknife release schedule, there's no
question that the name Lastwind and title "Return of a Sonic
Assassin" suggested an artist and/or label going after a marketing
opportunity. Just in case the title wasn't sufficiently obvious, Paul
Hayles wears a "Sonic Assassins" / "Hawkwind" tee-shirt on the
back cover photo. His Hawkwind credentials are superficially a bit
tenuous (although actually stronger than you might think - see
below) and most of his recent music is meat and potatoes

electronic dance music, like his paean to big trucks, "Monster
Just About Worth a Listen (* ½) : Various Artists - Not of This Earth (but *** for the packaging)
When I first came across this earlier this year, I couldn't understand how it had passed me by when it was
released a decade earlier, in 2002. Anyway, having discovered its existence, Amazon came to the rescue.
It is certainly a very nice artefact to look at. Released by Italy's Black Widow label, it is a musical tribute
to the golden age of science fiction films and comes in a hardback book format, with a small print
paperback booklet describing the films, plus a much smaller booklet glued inside which describes the
musical contributions. There are three CDs, with a total of 40 tracks, each track inspired by a well-known
(or less well-known) science fiction film or series, totalling 3½ hours.

The suite opens promisingly with the widescreen synth-based instrumental "Tiamat" by Malleus but the
spell is rapidly broken by Bob Calvert declaiming "Sonic Attack". In truth this is not a collection any sane
person could digest in a single sitting, and much as I am old-fashioned enough to think CDs should be
consumed from beginning to end, as God and the artist intended, and preferably on a good hi-fi, this is
probably better added to the iPod and investigated in small doses. There is material that sounds like
genuine film soundtrack, some straightforward rock, a fair dose of space rock, occasional excursions into
folk or even opera and rather too much that is self-consciously weird, clever, edgy, or just wholly

Part of the problem is that the cast list draws largely from space rock's second and third divisions, plus a
long list of artists I had never heard of. The Hawkwind interest comprises appearances by the mothership,
Alan Davey, Nik Turner (guesting with Dark Sun), and Adrian Shaw. I'm not clear if Mr Dibs appears on
the Krel or Dr Hasbeen tracks. Anyway Hawkwind is represented by the familiar and so-so "This is
Hawkwind Sonic Attack", on which Bob Calvert's vocal is set to a presumably posthumously assembled
sound collage by his former cohorts (or at least by the modern day Hawkwind). It just isn't great: a
churning riff, presumably from Dave Brock, is buried deep in the mix and appears to be at cross purposes
with the vocal track. Alan Davey also offers a previously released track, "Monster from the Id" from his
Alien Heart collaboration with Nigel Potter (where it is called "Monsters from the Id"): it is one of his
lesser early works, a mixture of unsettling noises and repetitive chopped guitar chords which goes
precisely nowhere.

Adrian Shaw's "Silent Running" sounds like one of his typically minimalist DIY solo tracks, with lyrics
apparently drawing on the film plot and some nice synth touches on the chorus - something of a plodder,
but almost a standout here. Krel's set closer (unless you count the hidden track, sampled from t.v. series
"The Prisoner"), "Track Thru Space", is a standout, the stately synths and guitar lines being almost
Gilmour-esque. It certainly helps soothe nerves frazzled by the undoubted guff (© Steve Starfarer) that
precedes it. Dr Hasbeen's effort, "Apollo 13", could be mistaken for Hawkwind in a poor light. It offers an
interesting build-up, with chanting over ethereal synths, then locks into a sub-Hawkwind groove, all
echoed vocals and keening guitars, apparently aiming to sound as much as possible like a badly recorded
Hawkwind bootleg. To be fair, most of us probably like badly recorded Hawkwind bootlegs but, put it this
way, you wouldn't put this on a mix tape. Finally, Dark Sun's "Abduction Files" is definitely one of the
best tracks here, a long and mournful space ballad built around Nik Turner's plangent and expressive sax

Then there's a whole swathe of more or less familiar space-rock names. PXR1 do "The Day the Earth
Stood Still", a collage of sampled dialogue and minimalistic electronic music which begins limply but picks
up nicely thereafter. Pete Pavli's very listenable but rather formal "Day of the Triffids" is all bowed and
plucked strings. Mr Quimby's Beard (and just what kind of name is that for a band? Stop sniggering at the
back) offer a ponderous space rock instrumental tribute to "Quatermass and the Pit" which plods along for
5 minutes or so and never quite gets out of second gear. Architectural Metaphor do symphonic rock in the
form of "The Maker", apparently inspired by "Dune": while the first half plods, the majestic synth-based
second half lifts it into another class. "The Day The Earth Stood Still" by PXR1 sounds like one of those
instrumentals that Dave Brock knocks off in his sleep and puts out on his solo albums - energetic and full
of spacey effects yet lacking a sense of direction. It features sampled excerpts of (presumably) the film's
dialogue. Quarkspace deliver a great deal of mechanical noise on "The Soilent Factory": it is atonal and
unmusical and not even throwing in some monastic chanting makes it in any way bearable. ST37's "The
Pursuit Of Marie" is equally unlistenable., little more than a crude riff buried under industrial noise

Aside from the aforementioned "Tiamut" by Malleus, highlights from the rest of the set are few and far
between. The psychedelic spaghetti western sound "The Prisoner Theme" by Sun Dial is one. "To Each
His Own Fate" by The Soil Bleeds Out also stands out, due to its medieval instrumentation, wordless
chorus and a melody not a million miles from "Scarborough Fair". "War of the Worlds" by Ars Nova is a
bit cliched but at least sounds like genuine film soundtrack music. "Moon Fog Prophet" by Moon Fog
Prophet is novelty rock with a riff that sounds like Ride's "From Time to Time". "Raumpatroville (Space
Patrol)" by Fantassy Factoryy is a nifty organ-based instrumental while "Viva Von Daniken" by
Mooseheart Faith Stellar Groove Band boasts fey vocals, a slightly fuzzy and distorted mix and a decent

Some of the rest is notably idiosyncratic: "Lacrima Di Tempo" by Universal Totem Orchestra mixes prog
rock instrumentation with faux-operatic vocals, coming across a bit like a female version of Gentle Giant -
but in truth it is just a very well appointed dog's dinner - which is as good a summary of the whole
exercise as any!
Worth A Listen : Civilian Zen - Return to

Return to Shelter follows a similar pattern albeit
with a slightly less daunting ten tracks and 36
minute running order. Again it is dominated by
repetitive and rhythmic electronica, mainly
instrumental tracks with spoken word
contributions from poet Mark Broster. It includes
three tracks featuring ex-Hawks, all of which are
slightly at odds with the rest of the album - but all
passing muster in terms of quality.

Proceedings begin with a challenging FX-laden
soundscape called "From Andromeda to
Anywhere" (according to the review on Aural
Innovations, but
named "Timewaves" on the CD
cover) and continues in similar vein with "Rubicon"
Trucks", so why the space rock trappings now?

Paul Hayles has released at least three albums of dance material to date, "Red Star Brigade" and "Monster
Trucks" (the latter is more of a mini-album), both under the Lastwind banner, and "Spice of Life" as
Polymorph. More on these at some point but suffice it to say that they don't set out to appeal to space
rock fans. On "Return..." he has added a real band (psychedelic guitar, heavy percussion, and extra
layers of synth), slowed down the music from 120 bpm and, basically, gotten angry. Having said this, a
perusal of the lyrics on the Polymorph album suggests that his songs were actually more often to do
with providing and outlet for life's frustrations than with celebrating its good points, the unashamedly
populist "Monster Trucks" notwithstanding.

The first two or three tracks on "Return...¦" certainly push the sound into space rock territory. The
album kicks off with the scene-setting ambient/atmospheric instrumental title track and shifts into
snarling space rock of "Winds of Time". Third track, the ponderous "King Arthur", maintains the heavy
rock ambience, all squalling guitars and strangulated vocals. However, the mask is already slipping on
the lighter "Day Trippers" and positively bouncy "Autoroute", and dance tendencies become increasingly
evident as the album proceeds.

Several tracks ("Slots", Autoroute", "King Arthur", "Monster Trucks") are beefed-up remakes of tracks
which previously appeared on one or more of Red Star Brigade, Monster Trucks and Spice of
Life.Perhaps the only stumbling block though is the vocals, mostly semi-spoken, never tuneful and often
electronically distorted, which (as Ian Abrahams notes in his review of this album in Record Collector)
seems to be de rigueur among space rock bands. On "Slots" and "Autoroute", the delivery is cartoon bad
boy punk, a Johnny Rotten sneer, and you get the strong feeling that this grumpy old man has his
tongue firmly in cheek.  

Once you get over the vocal style, the whole album is really quite enjoyable, and the new arrangement of
"Monster Trucks" in particular just rocks! Resistance is futile, so just enjoy the guilty pleasure of a song
about big trucks covered in mud! The striking front cover design on "Return...", like the covers of all of
Paul's albums over the last few years, is the work of his son Sam, a graphic artist (see

While listening, you could do worse than check out the Lastwind
website . Here, you can read about
Paul's music and his links with the Hawkwind family, which go back many years: he was in west
country band Ark with Harvey Bainbridge (their only known recordings appear on the Made in Cornwall
LP), was a Sonic Assassin for the fabled and much-re-released Barnstable gig, did one tour as a member
of Hawkwind (USA, 1978) and, many years later, was invited to support Hawkwind on their autumn
2006 tour). You can also read about his varied (and often difficult) life outside music.

The website is also something of a musical treasure trove, with downloadable tracks from Paul Hayles'
whole career including an Ark track, a couple of familiar Sonic Assassins tracks, and various tracks
issued under the Polymorph name. If you like what you hear, copies of the Polymorph CD and the
Monster Trucks Lastwind CD can be purchased via the website for a very reasonable combined price of
£10 (including UK p&p).
Worth A Listen : Various Artists - Who Are
You-An All-Star Tribute

This is one of three recent compilations from
Cleopatra on which Huw Lloyd-Langton appears. All
look at first sight like more or less cynical marketing
exercises but this one is clearly the pick of the bunch,
given the peerless selection of songs to choose from
(or at least will be when Cleopatra get around to fixing
a hugely annoying mastering fault!)

It also gathers the great, the good, the lost and
forgotten from the pop and rock firmament past and
present, in interesting and surprising (possibly
random) combinations. Thus we have John Wetton,
K. K. Downing, and Derek Sherinian combine on
what i
s probably an excellent version a second rate
Who song, "Eminence Front" but are cut off in their prime by a mastering fault that seems to have been
ubiquitous in the first pressing of the CD.  Elsewhere we hear Todd Rundgren, Ray Davies, Sweet (I'm not
sure which version), Peter Banks, Peter Noone (!), Terry Reid, Randy Bachman, Wayne Kramer, Rat
Scabies, Carmine Appice, Pat Travers, Ted Turner, Lesley West, Joe Lynn Turner, Iggy Pop, 38 Special and
Nektar, among others. Of particular interest is the version of "Love Reign O'er Me" featuring Joe Elliott, Huw
Lloyd Langton, Rick Wakeman and Carmine Appice. I'm not sure if it quite captures the brutal magnificence
of the original but it comes pretty damn close, and even if the musicians most likely only collaborated by
Worth A Listen : Various Artists - A Tribute to
The Black Keys

This is the same kind of record with the obvious
difference that the Black Keys have nothing like the
pedigree of the Who and, indeed, I have to admit to
being only peripherally aware of their existence.
However, skimming through their Wikipedia entry
shows that they have won a slew of awards through
their 12-year, 7-album history, which possibly justifies
a tribute record.

Anyway, their blues rock template is perfectly
listenable and is here recreated by another, slightly less
stellar, shuffling of Cleopatra's Christmas card list,
including Iggy Pop, our own (sort of) Ginger Baker,

Walter Trout, Cyril Neville, Albert Lee, Pat Travers
and Leslie West among others.

Of interest to Hawkfans is the pairing of Dave Davies and Huw Lloyd-Langton on "Money Maker", on which
Huw's fluid lead lines wrap themselves around what is presumably Dave Davies' rhythm guitar work. The
original was voted 10th in the list of Best 10 Black Keys songs published by
Approach With Caution : Various Artists - Dubstep

This one is 100% cash-in. According to Wikipedia,
dubstep offers "tightly coiled productions with
overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum
patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals",
sub-bass reverberated at different speeds, and spaced,
syncopated percussion. Possibly it makes sense
blasting from a club PA system at ear-splitting volume
but, based on listening to some of this double CD, I
venture to suggest a more succinct definition: utter

A fair proportion of the content of this set comprises
remixes of familiar songs, from the originally more
respectable ones ("Ghost Town", "Family Affair",

"Sun is Shining") to those you would rather forget
("Pass the Duchie", "Ice, Ice Baby", etc). Of these, I will just mention just a couple: "Ghost Town", to which
the remix adds precisely nothing of value and mainly simply spoils one of the best pop records of the
Thatcher era, and "Sun is Shining" on which Bob Marley's original is reduced to a soulless mechanical drone:
unforgivable and unlistenable.

Another large chunk of material is remixes of unfamiliar songs or unfamiliar cover versions, like "White
Rabbit" and "Riders on the Storm". The latter is recognisable and not entirely horrible; the less said about the
former, the better. Most of the rest of the collection is made up of various soulless and witless original
"songs", although an honourable mention for Blackmill's "Evil Beauty", one of the few tracks on which the
electronic rhythms are kept in check.

One or two tracks were presumably specially commissioned, notably "Outer Limits Dub" by Space Temple
featuring Huw Lloyd Langton. The basic track is an electronic plod and superimposition of Huw's lead guitar
over the top raises it to being merely dreary.
Worth A Listen : Meads of Asphodel -

Dedicated to HLL and with Alan Davey guesting on
bass throughout, the new Meads album moves on
from the previous obsession with religion and focuses
on the inhumanity of the holocaust. It is not an easy
album to listen to, and it took me half a dozen plays to
get to grips with it.

It is certainly a powerful and challenging piece of
work: to quote from "The Silent Ghosts of Babi Yar":
"If the oceans were filled with ink and all the forests
and trees were pens, and even then it would not be
possible to record the horrors here... This hell can
exist as long as no-one sees". Or, as the title track

suggests, more directly: "You don't have to die to
walk in hell...¦ this is fucking death".
There's no getting around the fact that some people will probably find this CD spectacularly offensive, and
some would probably argue that even representing such events in art is wrong. However, if it is legitimate
for poets and painters to tackle taboo subjects (say, Guernica) then why not a death metal band? It becomes
an aesthetic argument, not a moral argument, although death metal still isn't everyone's cup of tea.

The music, mainly by J.D. Tait, the other current Meads mainstay, is excellent. Eclectic as ever, the album
flits from genre to genre often within the same song: it opens with the epic title track, which ranges through
folk, prog and (obviously) death metal, with strong lead guitar work, and achieves some poignancy and
dignity despite its subject matter. There are numerous guest musicians and vocalists throughout the record
and Metatron's usual demonic grunting is interspersed with real singing. However, the lyrics don't flinch
from depicting the horror of a despicable episode in history and they certainly offer no comfort: there is a
fine line between writing about evil and simply recreating it - and sometimes that line is crossed: "Action T4"
is especially objectionable, both in its lyrical content and the accompanying sound effects.

To briefly run through the remaining tracks, the churning metal of "Wishing Well of Bones" has a
melancholy feel befitting its subject matter. "Silent Ghosts Of Babi Yar" features two contrasting sections:
death metal unexpectedly switches to prog half way through, a composition that Ayreon would be proud of,
fading out on the repeated vocal refrain "This hell can exist as long as no one sees". "Children Of The
Sunwheel Banner, Pt. 1" is basically a collage (or "a twisted patriotic build up to the main song") leading into
"Pt 2", which joins fairly conventional metal with lyrics about teutonic hell to an organ-driven closing
section that recalls the Stranglers on "Down in the Sewer".

"Lamenting Weaver of Horror" is pure folk theatre in three parts: cackling witches conjure up death, who
then engages in a dialogue with a disturbing dead child before the final folk metal section - it is totally left
field (read the accompanying essay if you find this track distasteful). "Sins of the Pharoahs" is more
conventional metal with some suitably thuggish backing vocals and a slow spoken word mid-section. The
atmospheric "Last Train to Eden" builds slowly and then slips in and out of thrash. "The Hour Glass of Ash"
mixes the sounds of string quartet and death metal with, of course, added saxophone.  On "The
Mussulmans Wander Through The Infernal Whirling Fires Amongst Silent Shadows To Be Fed Into The
Thirsting Jaws Of A Godless Death Machine To Cough Up Their Souls To The Nazi Moloch Who Sits
Within A Ring Of Smoking Infant Skulls", a conventional heavy metal arrangement is spliced with
harmonica breaks. The final track "Send my love to Maher-shalal-hash-baz" merges a gentle instrumental
track with spoken word vocals, layers of sound effects and samples.

Anyone who has followed the Meads will know that Metratron meticulously researches their albums,
delving deep into history to uncover man's inhumanity to man and, while not assigning blame
indiscriminately, he also doesn't shirk from identifying the guilty. In this case, he visited Auschwitz and it
clearly had a profound effect. Many of the lyrics were written there. The background and a detailed
explanation of the album's contents are contained in a 55-page essay available on
the Meads' website.

So, there you have it. It is a well-played, well-produced, extraordinarily inventive record. However, you also
can't separate it from its context. Best intentions or otherwise, and even more than previous offerings, this
album, with its unrelenting litany of atrocity, degradation and evil, requires a strong stomach.
Approach with Caution : Various Artists
- Mysterious Encounters
(*) and Music
Minus Music

Two less than essential compilations with
Hawkwind connections. The first of these
CDs was released by Cleopatra in 1994 (as
CLP 6808-2) and gathers various
encounters with twee electronica and fey

goth, with a bit of pervy S&M (notably the
Electric Hellfire Club's"Where Violence is Golden", complete with simulated whipping). It all starts out
reasonably well with a slick version of Psychic TV's "Godstar" but nothing else until "Snake Dance" by the
March Violets raises the pulse, despite (or possibly because of) there being performances by Nico and
Pressurehed along the way. The Hawkwind interest appears with the last track, a solo rendition of ICU's
"Stonehenge" by Nik Turner. The original may have been a highlight of The President's Tapes, but this
version is less robust, although still one of only three tracks worth listening to.

Music Minus Music on the other hand is just unashamedly kitsch, from the Spanish nursery rhyme-like
"Pochoclo", via the instrumental "Jumping Balls", to an electronic take on "Apache" - file under Guilty
Pleasures. Of minor interest to Hawkfans is "Surf" by the Saratoga Space Messengers, written and/or
produced by one T. Blake (a copy of the original 7" fetched over £40 on E-Bay earlier this year). I guess
we should be thankful this attempted merger of space pop and surf music never took off. This CD was
released on
Fat City ...Ž(FC104) early in 2012.
Worth a Listen : Nektar - A Spoonful of Time

Nektar previously appeared on the HW collector
radar when Robert Calvert played circus ringmaster
on the Down to Earth album. Obviously they also
released loads of other albums which had nothing to
do with the Hawkwind family. Now signed to
Cleopatra they have been persuaded to start
recording again, including this soft rock covers set
released in 2012 (CLP 8932).

Your tolerance of this exercise is likely to depend on
how well you know, and how much you cared for,
the originals. If you forget all the history, this is a
well-played album of (mainly) really good songs but,
of course, if a band takes on the works of the like
of the Doors, the Stones, Roxy Music, Rush and
Pink Floyd, then unflattering comparisons are
probably inevitable. However, the core trio of Nektar bolster themselves against possible criticism by
engaging a veritable army of guest artists.

For my tastes, their take on Rush's "Spirit of the Radio" is a bit flaccid compared to the original and Steve
Miller's "Fly Like An Eagle" loses much of its charm. I could also live without the covers of 10cc's "I'm
Not In Love" and Toto's "Africa". They aren't bad songs per se but they don't fit well here. Alright, I take
that back. I loathe "Africa". On the other hand (Floyd fans avert your eyes now), Nektar's more organic
take on "Wish You Were Here" is a pleasant alternative to the brittle original. "Blinded By The Light" takes
its cue from Manfred Mann and his Earthband's deft reimagining of the unremarkable Springsteen original
(sorry, more heresy). If it doesn't quite manage to replicate the pure pop sheen of the Earthband hit, it is
still one of the more successful covers on show, with main man Roye Albrighton shining on guitar and
vocals. The Alan Parsons Project instrumental "Sirius" is stretched out by an extra 45 seconds and sounds

However, we are really here to listen to the guest stars, and there are many, including some ex-Hawks. We
can stretch a point and note that ex-Hawkwind drummer Ginger Baker turns up on "Blinded By The Light",
if not to any great effect. Nik Turner teams up with Ian Paice on the O'Jays' "For The Love Of Money", a
song which sounds out of place alongside the more progressive TM fare. Nik acquits himself well and it
sounds pretty good as long as you don't know the original, even if the overall effect is closer to
"Psychedelic Warlords" than any kind of funk or soul groove. Simon House turns up on "2000 Light Years
From Home" and "Out of the Blue". The former is a Stones track that I don't really know but here it is
pleasant and low key psychedelia, with Simon House's violin quite prominent. The latter is one of Roxy
Music's more startling creations: the instrumental sections with their keening violin sound a lot like
Hawkwind circa WOTEOT. The Nektar version is a competent if slightly anaemic facsimile, following the
original as closely as possible, even being exactly the same length (4 minutes 46 seconds!). However, much
of Simon House's contribution is buried deep in the mix.
Worth a Listen : Huw Lloyd Langton - Classical
Guitar Tales

An honourable mention for a CD released a couple of
years ago on Cleopatra. Over 18 tracks, it does exactly
what it says on the tin. Perhaps to qualify that, these
appear to be mainly classical orchestral works (like the
second movement of Dvorak's "New World"
symphony), arranged for guitar, rather than classical
guitar pieces. A couple of Huw's own compositions
("Elegy" and "5th Second of Forever") are included for
good measure. A pleasing addition to the canon and
one of the few Hawkwind-related CDs that might get
played at regular dinner parties!
Worth a Listen : Calvin Weston - Of Alien

The title conjures up some sort of cod sci-fi horror
but in fact this is more jazz fusion, or at least jazzy
rock 'n' roll, and not in a bad way. While there is
virtuosity on display, these tracks are more about
immediacy, with a loose jammed feel and quirky
titles like "After-School Snack in America", "Many
Get Up But Few Are Called" or "Meme from
Turner" (not a misprint). Which gets us to why I
am reviewing this: aside from sundry rock alumni
such as Thijs van Leer, John Helliwell, Vernon
Reid and Todd Rundgren, drummer Calvin Weston
and guitarist/bassist Karl Siegfried are joined on
three tracks by Nik Turner.

There is some fine saxophone playing on the album,
but unfortunately mostly from the other guest sax players. Nik seems to have consciously reverted to his
original approach of "freaking about on the saxophone", as he did within the "clang, honk, tweet" sound
of early Hawkwind. His introduction to "Meme from Turner", where the two duelling saxophones are
basically Le Petomane in stereo, is particularly alarming.

Nik also appears on track 1, "The Electric Wizard", a sprightly rock 'n' roll number where he alternate
solos with the guitarist and where the minimalist approach works well enough, and on "Also Available on
8-Track", a more self-consciously jazzy track, breezing along with some fluid guitar and Hammond organ
and a Turner sax solo in the middle. Overall, this is an enjoyable and undemanding album, and is available
on Imaginary Chicago Records.
Well Worth A Listen (**½) : Mr H feat Nik Turner - Bourbon
Street Blues

Make that jazzy blues. This recently released 5-track mini-album of
acoustic guitar-based songs just swings. Mr H has a singing voice
pitched somewhere between Chris Rea and Dave Gilmour and he is
accompanied by his own deft acoustic guitar, subtle percussion (mostly
just brushed drums) and the alto sax of our Nik. The basic melodies all
sound like you know them already, effortlessly catchy, and possibly you
do. The sax work is everything it wasn't on
Of Alien Feelings: subtle,
expressive, lyrical, etc. Possibly as good as anything Nik's done outside
the space rock oeuvre and well worth catching, if only to be reminded it isn't all clang, honk, squeak.
Pants (* ½) : Various Artists - Fusion Syndicate

Another of Cleopatra's multi-artist collections,
released towards the end of 2012, this one features
the pooled talents of various prog and jazz-rock
luminaries, working under the direction of sometime
Yes man Billy Sherwood, on a set of seven
well-played but somewhat forgettable instrumentals.
In other reviews, jazz buffs have remarked on the
lack of variation in tempo (welcome to the world of
the click track) and the underwhelming contributions
of the stellar artists on show. Track1 is called
"Random Acts Of Science" and features Rick
Wakeman, Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra),
our own Nik Turner and Jimmy Haslip
(Yellowjackets / Alan Holdsworth): it sounds
impeccable, with not a hai
r out of place, but five
minutes after you've heard it you will not be able
remember a note. Elsewhere you
can hear Steve Hillage, Mel Collins, Steve Morse, John Etheridge, Tony Kaye and David Sanscious, among
others. In an interview with Prog magazine (quoted online), Billy Sherwood's own description of this
"fusion" record, a clear candidate for Pseud's corner, goes like this: "it's not that much further down the
road from prog; it's the same thing sideways, with the difference being that the melodies go to instruments
instead of vocals...¦ It has the same interesting arrangements and progressive time signatures. It's in the
same genre of intense music being played by very cool people". What he didn't say obviously is that it
winds up being rather less than the sum of its parts.