|Music from the Hawkwind family tree - Part 5
Many thanks to Graham who penned this piece
Another year, another LLG line-up, another LLG
album. After the preceding four increasingly
unmemorable albums ("Night Air", "Like An Arrow...
¦", "Time Space And LLG" and "Elegy", not counting
the live "Outside The Law"), my expectations for this
one weren't very high. This album though starts very
promisingly, with the surprisingly light and tuneful â
€œDancing In The Rain", on which Huw actually
seems to be enjoying himself - this is his best
opening track since "Night Air". Overall, the album
has less of a live feel than some of the others,
sounding more produced and stylistically more
varied, with the presence of a keyboard/synth player
especially beneficial in terms of filling out the sound
and contributing to more interesting arrangements.
The second track, "All Jigged Up" is a sprightly
instrumental and is much more typical LLG fare,
while the third track "Suffer In Silence" is firmly back in standard LLG dirge territory. However, despite the
deja vu feeling, I found myself liking this song too, especially as Huw stretches out on the extended guitar
solo that closes the song. Track 4, "In The Distance", emphasises that this is not just another LLG album:
an instrumental, this has a lightness of touch I wouldn't normally associate with LLG. The keyboards are
prominent and the guitar is mixed well down: imagine HLL playing on one of the late Peter Bardens'
instrumental albums if you can.
"The Walls Came Tumbling Down" mixes the normal brash LLG guitar-based attack on the verses with a
softer vocal and keyboard accompaniment on the chorus and, again, it works really well. "Louise" is a short
classical guitar piece sprinkled with the usual guitar harmonics. Again, keyboard accompaniment adds
another dimension to the piece. The title track is pretty much a typical mid-paced LLG song but with a nice
synth intro. "Waiting", the final instrumental, is rather laid-back, pleasant but unchallenging. The closing
ballad, "For Whom The Bell Tolls" is a bit of a departure, calling to mind Ken Hensley's (Uriah Heep) early
solo albums, with piano and (what sounds rather like) slide guitar dominating the mix.
So, definitely not a typical LLG album and all the better for it. River Run appeared on Allegro (LLG CD6) in
1994. Although I'm also a fan of "Night Air", if you must own one LLG album, make it this one!
"Sphynx" started the comeback trail, "Prophets Of
Time" revisited ICU as US-based space rock, but
with this album, Nik Turner announced that he was
firmly back in business. Hawkwind had meanwhile
headed off into techno-land with "It Is The Business
Of The Future To Be Dangerous" and here was Nik
resurrecting an authentic Hawkwind sound. In fact,
one thing this album demonstrated conclusively is that
Nik wasn't writing any new material but, at this point
anyway, it hardly seemed to matter: the sound was as
close to authentic Hawkwind as you could get.
The band was basically Nik accompanied by
Pressurehed plus Helios Creed, with Hawkwind
alumni Del Dettmar and Allan Powell along for the
The set is basically Hawkwind's greatest hits,
focussing on material written by Nik ("Ghost Dance", "D-Rider", "Master Of The Universe", "Utopia 2000",
"Brainstorm", "You Shouldn't Do That"), as well as Bob Calvert material from Hawkwind ("The
Awakening", "Orgone Accumulator", "Silver Machine") and the Captain Lockheed album ("Ejection", "The
Right Stuff"). There's also the Moorcock-penned "Sonic Attack" and "Armour For Everyday" (the latter
from the Prophets of Time album)
There's a token ICU track ("Watching The Grass Grow") and a couple of the Xitintoday/Sphynx tracks
("Thoth", "God Rock"). The version of "Thoth" here really cooks - apart, it has to be said, from Nik's rather
arch vocal, although "God Rock" (played as a medley with Pressurehed's "Slo-Blo") is a bit of a mess.
All the unfamiliar stuff is either traditional or material brought in by Helios Creed. "King" and "Serenade" are
traditional folk tunes, the melody carried by Nik's flute ("King" sounds similar to the tune used on "Wild
Hunt" from New Anatomy); both sound a little out of place here. On the other hand, the three Helios Creed
tracks ("Nirbasion Amnasian", "TV As Eyes" and "Throw Away The Rind") are all straight-ahead space
rock and fit seamlessly into the flow of Hawkwind tracks. ["Throw Away The Rind" is Track 11 on the
first CD and is listed on the back cover but not in the booklet].
Is it the real thing? At least on this album I'm inclined not to care. Sit back and enjoy! This was released as
a double CD on Cleopatra (CLEO95062) in 1995.
Some of the best: Nik Turner - Space Ritual 1994 Live
Some of the best: Lloyd Langton Group - River Run
not to mention all of Bob Calvert's recordings. Hence we get Past or Future? New songs? Well, Soul
Herder is not particularly inspiring - Nik recites selections from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Again. Not
all the old Hawkwind songs presented here are first division material either: Kadu Flyer and Dying Seas for a
start. Then there's Lord of the Hornets. Okay, fair enough that Bob Calvert's last version of this, from the
Live at Queen Elizabeth Hall album, was a bit wooden, relying as it did on a drum machine - so why make a
carbon copy of it here? And why cover Dreamworker? It's bad enough that it appeared on so many
Hawkwind albums, either as itself or masquerading as Blue Dreamer or Acid House of Dreams!
The cover design's a bit cheeky too, borrowing from both the Doremi Fasol Latido and the Xenon Codex
artwork. At least the former design dates from a time when Nik was a Hawkwind member. And the sleeve
notes basically let us know that Uncle Nik is the true repository of the Hawkwind spirit. Fair enough, Dave
Brock has re-cycled a tune or two over Hawkwind's career but at least he's writing new ones as well! The
Hawkwind sound has moved on since the 1970s!
What we have here then is really the ultimate Hawkwind tribute band. Old Hawkwind members play old
Hawkwind. Not only Turner, Dettmar and Powell, but also Michael Moorcock (who reprises Warriors) and,
crucially, Simon House is on board this time. The record sounds absolutely wonderful, right through to the
climactic You Shouldn't Do That. Okay, Nik was the original Hawkwind (literally) and no-one else plays sax
like that. With the mixture of old and new blood, Hawkwind never sounded so good as on this record.
That's it in a nutshell. It sounds exactly like Hawkwind: therefore, it isn't. It's nostalgia, pure and simple, but
first-rate nostalgia. At the end of the day, I really can't decide if I love or loathe this record. This is not
Hawkwind but, if Nik signs up Lemmy and Simon King for the next album, I might just change my mind!
I've followed Nik Turner's post-HW career revival in
the USA with interest but also, increasingly, poverty
(oh no, not another album!).
First he re-recorded Xitintoday as Sphynx. A bit
pointless possibly, but the sound seemed to gel, so
why not see how the band would cope with some
decent songs? Hence Prophets of Time revived old
Hawkwind and Inner City Unit chestnuts wholesale,
to (it is universally agreed) wonderful effect. Slight
worry about lack of decent new stuff. So what next,
new songs? Maybe later, meantime lets see how this
old HW stuff sounds out on the road, especially since
Del Dettmar and Alan Powell are up for it. So, since
the result is pretty much live Hawkwind, why not call
it Space Ritual? Most amusing! Well, now what?
Whystop just when it's working out so well, after all
there's truckloads of old Hawkwind songs to cover,
Some of the best: Nik Turner - Past Or Future?
Some of the best: Lloyd Langton Group - Chain Reaction
1999 saw the return of John Clark to the drums and a new bass player,
Jerry Cunningham. The basic three piece is augmented by Lorraine Craig
on occasional backing vocals. Unusually, the band contributes to the
writing on this album, with Jerry Cunningham co-credited on three tracks
and John Clark on one. As ever, Marion Lloyd-Langton writes around half
The opening "Jealousy" suggests that this is going to be business as usual:
a typical riff-based LLG opening track. From this point on however,
things lighten up a bit and it turns out to be an excellent album. The songs
are allowed to breathe rather than being smothered by repetitive riffs, and there is plenty of tasteful
soloing. The lyrics map out familiar territory (including the social comment of "Cardboard City" and "Sleep
Easy") without getting too heavy. It is hard to pick standout tracks but the standard is consistently high.
"Sleep Easy" has a reggae beat coupled with a dark, dark lyric, while "Tell Me" features a mixture of
acoustic and electric guitars and a decent tune. "Dedication" slows things right down and takes the record
off into Wishbone Ash territory - a really good, well constructed and tastefully played instrumental track. I
particularly like the closing sequence of tracks: "5 to 4" is a riff-based instrumental, followed the powerful
spiritually themed ballad "Three Spirits" and two more instrumentals - the laid-back riffing of "Sharkey's
Blues" and the acoustic / classical "Who Went Before".
This one was released on Allegro (LLG CD777) and is well worth adding to your collection.
Worth a listen: Lloyd Langton Group - On The Move
This one, from 1997, is billed as a solo album, but is in
fact another band effort. The band this time comprises
HLL plus three Swedes (on second guitar, bass and
drums) and it was recorded in Sweden. The original CD
features a nice illustrated booklet with all the lyrics printed
out but, in terms of content, the album is treading water.
Firstly, six of the tracks are remakes: "Got Your Number"
and "Lonely Man" are from "Night Air"; "I Could Cry" and
"On The Move" are from "Like An Arrow...¦", "Farewell" is
from "Elegy", and "Outside The Law" previously appeared
as a single and on the live album of the same title. But, hey,
other bands have been known to re-record "Silver
Machine" several times! Secondly, the sound is back to
meat-and-potatoes guitar-bass-drums fare.
The original version was released on BMA records
(BMA-C-0318-S). It was re-released on Angel Air (SJPCD093) in 2001 with three bonus tracks, and a
booklet containing a biography and discography. According to the sleeve notes, Huw originally intended to
record a live album in Sweden, which at least explains the choice of old material, and possibly some of it
was actually recorded live. The three bonus tracks are all bluesy covers and all are handled with some
aplomb. My initial thought was that they were considerably livelier than anything else on the album.
However, having listened to the original CD and the reissue back to back, there is a striking improvement
to the sound on the reissue: all the tracks sound noticeably brighter, louder and generally more dynamic.
The improved sound even adds colour to Huw's world-weary growl.
I won't say that any of the remakes is a big improvement, although the gritty live or live-in-the-studio
settings do no harm either. "Lonely Man" is stretched out to over 10+ minutes with some extended soling
and "I Could Cry" gains some rather horrible backing vocals on the chorus; otherwise the arrangements
are pretty much faithful to the originals. None of the new numbers especially stands out but almost all are
worthy additions to the canon. The lyrics run the usual gamut from domestic abuse ("Wrong Streets") to
redemption and freedom ("Finally Finding"). On the original CD, Huw's vocals sounded equally weary and
defeated on both tracks but the re-vamped sound on the re-issue uncovers the nuances in his vocal
delivery, revealing some of the optimism implied by the lyrics on the latter track. The closing acoustic
instrumental, "Off The Cuff", though is a disappointment: it lasts less than a minute (or a whole minute on
the reissue) and barely deserves a title.
Approach With Caution: Paradogs - Foul Play At The Earth Lab
Do you remember putting on "It Is The Business Of
The Future...¦" for the first time? Hearing the sound
effects and sequences and thinking: "great
introduction!" And then the dawning realisation that
this wasn't the introduction to a track; this was the
track. And all the tracks were like that...¦
Paradogs is Jerry Ricahrds with Alf Hardy and
assorted backing vocalists, and "Foul Play...¦" is
their first (and so far only) album. It features many
of the ingredients of good space rock: plenty of
sound effects, sequences, mechanical beats and
other-worldly atmosphere, even some heavy riffs
and soloing from Jerry Richards' guitar, and
appropriately futuristic track titles - but it doesn't
really go anywhere.
It pretty much divides into slow tracks that drone,
whoosh and bleep in an ambient sort of way and faster tracks with guitars that raise the temperature
without providing any sense of purpose. Most of the material is not actually unpleasant to listen to (in
contrast, say, to some of Harvey Bainbridge's solo work), it's just a bit unsatisfying. You can imagine
some of these tracks fitting seamlessly onto a Hawkwind album, as instrumental filler between the classic
songs, but a whole album of them is not such an attractive option! Mind you, I listened to most of this
album while reading John Simpson's rather chilling account of Saddam Hussein's bloody ascent to power
and I must admit it seemed like very appropriate accompaniment!
Standout tracks? If I had to pick one it would be "Deeper Fix" which, with its half spoken, half whispered
vocals, is rather effective. This CD was released in 2000 on Voiceprint (HAWKVP15CD)
Some of the best: Amon DÃ¼Ã¼l with Robert Calvert - Die Lösung
This 1989 album is one of the "Amon Düül (UK)" albums made by
Dave Anderson and John Weinzierl and it is also the last complete
studio album recorded by Bob Calvert before his untimely death.
Other people appearing on the record include Julie Waring, Guy
Evans, Ton McPhee, and Ed and Joey Ozric.
Bearing in mind that Bob Calvert's most recent albums before this
one were "Freq" and "Test Tube Conceived", on which good ideas
were ruined by unimaginative and lifeless arrangements and primitive
computerized instrumentation, this album is nothing short of a
revelation. Perhaps the workman-like rock settings provided by Dave
Anderson and friends do not quite scale the dizzy heights reached by
Hawkwind and friends on "Captain Lockheed" but Calvert seems to be energized and liberated by working
with a real band and gives an inspired performance. Conversely, Calvert's presence gives the music an
edge that Amon Düül UK otherwise lacked: in short this was the perfect marriage and this is an essential
"Big Wheel", "Urban Indian", "Adrenalin Rush", "Visions Of Fire" and "Drawn To The Flame Part 1" are all
excellent songs. Calvert may not have been a good singer in any conventional sense but the way he
inhabits the words, the intensity of his delivery, is simply captivating. The lyrics of "Adrenalin Rush" are
sadly prescient: "you, you're always rushing around, why don't you try slowing down, that's how people
get heart attacks, why don't you try to relax?" And then, on "Drawn To The Flame": "it doesn't matter,
which way I turn, ashes will scatter, my soul will burn, drawn to the flame...¦".
It is not quite a perfect album. "They Call It Home" features a female vocalist (presumably Julie Waring)
and is pleasant enough; it just pales into insignificance compared to what has gone before. She also sings
on the title track, with some spoken German (?) mixed in, and I've no idea what it is about.
On the CD, there is an extra track "Drawn To A Flame Part 2", which is basically the same as part 1 but
with different lyrics. Apparently "Die Lösung" means "the solution" - as in the Final Solution for example -
or "the severance". Which meaning is intended I'm still not sure. The CD was released on the CD Label
(The Magnum Group), CDTL 009.