Music from the Hawkwind family tree - Part 8

This piece was written by Graham, to whom my grateful thanks
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This album mixes jazz standards and band efforts and
is thoroughly enjoyable. Although not credited as such
on the CD, the band is Nik Turner's Fantastic Allstars.
Nik plays sax and flute and is joined by an eight-piece
band (trumpet, keyboards, guitar, bass, drums and
three percussionists).

Nik and trumpeter Rick (Rico) Welsh get an
arrangement credit for their version of a Dizzy
Gilliespie tune on the opening track "LDZ". The band
also do tunes by Miles Davis, Nat Adderley (the
brother of Cannonball), Lee Morgan, Freddy Hubbard
and Herbie Hancock (two of them). That makes five
tunes written by trumpeters and two by a pianist,
rather suggesting that Rick Welsh was the dominant
influence in selecting the covers. The last non-band
composition is "Skatrane" from reggae band The
Ethiopians. Turner and Welsh both contribute two tunes of their own.

Aside from the band, at the start of the album we also get to hear Chief Frank Buckshot Standing Horse
announcing that he took a trip on a flying saucer (as already heard on "Communique" from "Prophets of
Time"). This CD was released on Ozit/Morpheus (ozit niktcd334) in 2003, although it had previously been
available as a CDR..
Some of the best (in a completely non-Hawkwind way): Nik Turner - Kubanno Kickasso
Worth A Listen:  Nik Turner - Xitintoday
What do you do when you are thrown out of
Hawkwind, the band that appropriated your
nickname, after you instigated the sacking of
Lemmy, conspired to sack Dave Brock, and
favoured taking the band in a more commercial
direction - so long as you could play your sax
continuously over the top of everything else
[allegedly!]?

While fellow mothership rejects Alan Powell and Paul
Rudolph played funky music as "Kicks" (has anyone
ever heard anything they did?), Nik set off for Egypt
and recorded himself playing flute inside the Kings
Chamber of the Great Pyramid.

Most of the album comprises the resulting flute
tracks, with synths, percussion and guitars added in
the studio by various members of Gong - including Tim Blake, over which Nik recites selections from the
Egyptian Book of the Dead.  It is as mind-bogglingly bizarre as it sounds and is definitely difficult to love. It
is however never less than interesting and it is worth listening to at least once, if only for curiosity value.

The only concession to slightly more conventional music is on the closing "God Rock", on which Nik
actually sings and even plays some sax. Originally issued on Charisma in 1978, Xitintoday was reissued on
CD (NIKTCD333) in 1997. The original LP, complete with booklet, is the more desirable artefact for the
collector.
Worth A Listen:  Robert Calvert - Freq
This six-track mini-album was released on Flicknife
in 1985, around the time of the miner's strike and
mainly comprises songs on which Bob deliberates
about the working experience, interspersed with field
recordings from the picket lines.

This was a foray into computerised music, with just
two additional musicians credited: Jill Riches
(keyboards) and P.G. Martin (guitar). The music is
minimalist and mechanical but fits in well with Bobâ
€™s vocal delivery (indeed, in places he has an
irritating tendency to sing one syllable per beat,
enhancing the mechanical feeling). Nevertheless,
with only six songs, the album doesn't overstay its
welcome. The lyrics are always interesting -
especially on "The Cool Courage Of Bomb Squad
Officers", one of the tw
o songs to deal with other
themes. The second non-work-themed song is "Acid
Rain".  The interview / field recording segments are also entertaining, as well as being a useful historical
record. Bob adds his own provocative observations to proceedings, for example: "Hitler is Margaret
Thatcher, without a moustache".

The CD reissue ("Freq Revisited", Anagram CDGRAM 55, 1992) adds both sides of the "Lord Of The
Hornets" / "The Greenfly And The Rose" single - and has the field recordings programmed as separate
tracks. Note: Jill Riches was the former Mrs Michael Moorcock and later Mrs Robert Calvert (his third
wife). She performed Bob's "The Widow Song", the "missing" Captain Lockheed track, on the Friends And
Relations III album (also released on Flicknife in 1985).
Worth A Listen:  Robert Calvert - Test Tube Conceived
This should have been a triumph. The lyrics of "Save
Them From The Scientists" originally appeared in the
Earth Ritual tour programme (alongside those of
"Night Of The Hawks" and "Green-Finned Demon").
They suggest that Bob was both full of good ideas
and (as on Freq) had an active social conscience. It is
a pity that it was never released as a Hawkwind song.
On this album, recorded at Dave Anderson's Foel
Studios, Bob was joined by Dave Anderson plus
Martin Holdcroft (guitars, keyboards), Brian Snelling
(keyboards) and Julie Waring (backing vocals). Bob
is credited with providing voice, synthesizer,
programs and percussion - and with writing all the
music and lyrics.

His lyrics are excellent and the vocal delivery is

usually effective but the music is drab, mechanical,
almost free of melody and generally lifeless.
Individually, some of these tracks work, notably the opening "In Vitro Breed" (essentially an alternative
version of the closing title track), on which the power of the imagery just about overcomes the musical
setting. The aforementioned "Save Them From The Scientists" also packs a visceral punch, with its
passionate vocal delivery and stark animal rights message, but the music is dire. "Thanks To The Scientists"
appears to refer to cloning, but lacks the humour of "Starfarer's Dispatch" / "Spirit Of The Age".

The reissue CD (Voiceprint VP273CD2003) also features a live version of the title track, which, like its
studio counterparts, is hamstrung by reliance on a drum machine. Frankly, three versions of this song on
the CD is a bit much.
Approach with Caution: Nik Turner - Sphynx
In line with Nik's policy of re-recording and
re-issuing his entire back-catalogue with the help of
Pressurehed and other friends, I suppose that
revisiting "Xitintoday" was inevitable. What we get
here then is a run through most of the same
selections from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, with
re-recorded vocals and totally new musical backing.

The actual music is not too offensive, being generally
rather laid back and (relatively) tasteful. Not too
many tunes around, although "Osiris" is really quite
pleasant - and would be even better if the vocal track
was removed! Nik simply reads all the lyrics, with as
much conviction as if he was reading from a
telephone directory. He even chooses to recite
(rather than sing) the words of "God Rock", thereby
ruinin
g the one decent track on the original album. I
suppose most of the individual tracks are harmless
enough but the whole exercise is utterly pointless.  Probably the only redeeming feature of this CD is that
around 24 minutes of the original unedited flute playing (recorded inside the Great Pyramid) is tacked onto
the end. This is wonderfully atmospheric and might just sell if reissued as a relaxation tape! "Sphynx" was
released on Cleopatra (CLEO21352) in 1993.
Some of the best: Tim Blake - New Jerusalem
New age hippy nonsense? Possibly, but this is a
really enjoyable album, bathed in multiple layers of
synths and sequencers (Andy G moment coming on
here) which just wash over you and transport you to
nirvana while Tim Blake sings about new age
vibrations. Tim Blake is joined by Jean-Phillipe
Rykiel on mini moog on two tracks and by the
words of his namesake William Blake (as in New
Jerusalem, obviously) on one.

The opening "Song For A New Age" features Tim
playing guitar as well as synth and if you can get
past his fey singing voice and lyrics about “new
age harmony, science and love", it is a pleasantly
tuneful pop song. Personally I think it's excellent
stuff.
Track 2 is "Lighthouse", Tim's regular solo spot when playing with Hawkwind (although the title track,
"New Jerusalem", was also played on the '79 tour) so this will be very familiar. With its sound effects and
slightly harder edge it is the closest he gets to the Hawkwind sound.

"Generator Laserbeam" is a rather lightweight throwaway number, while "Passage Sur La Cite De La
Revelation" is driven by an urgent synthesiser track which sounds a lot like the backing track to Godley
and Creme's "Under my thumb" and the whole effect is pleasantly atmospheric without going anywhere in
particular.

The title track is the real tour de force here, 16 minutes of pure new age bliss.

The whole album lasts only 39½ minutes. Originally released on vinyl in 1978, the CD was released on
Mantra Records (MANTRA 068) in 1992 and again on Voiceprint (VP212CD) in 2002.


Dissenting view from Steve: This probably has more to do with my own preconceptions than anything
else, but having waited 28 years to hear "Blake's New Jerusalem", it came as a major disappointment.  
I'd always been led to believe that this was Tim Blake's defining hour of glory, and much better than
'Crystal Machine', which I'd owned on vinyl since 1980.  The first shock is the acoustic guitar that
dominates the opening track "Song For A New Age".  I thought this was going to be a seminal,
influential album of synthesizer music but it sounds like insipid singer-songwriter fare!  The track isn't all
that bad, actually, and Tim's vocals are probably his best ever, but the guitar remains a surprising choice
of instrument.

Next up, 'Lighthouse' should be familiar to all Hawkwind fans, and this is none too different from the
first part of the song as documented on the Live 79 album, before the rest of the band came barreling in
to join Tim.  Again, the vocals are better here than on the live version, but overall I prefer it when
pumped out by a full band.  The following piece 'Generator' features more of the, er, naive lyrics
mentioned by Graham in his preceding review, along with another musical backing that's closer to limp
pop music than the expected majestic barrage of synths.

'Passage Sur La Cite Des Revelations' is more what I was looking for, though, with a long revolving
chord progression and intertwining classic analogue synth tones that prefigured a huge chunk of this
entire genre of music: not surprising as Tim is one of its' major originators. Another indicator that this is
the business comes from the track length - in excess of 7 minutes, and more than twice as long as the
atypical 'Generator'.  That pales in comparison with the title track, though, which clocks in at over 16
minutes, and ploughs a more Tangerine Dreamlike furrow, with an opening passage that is glacial in
terms of its' icy feel, rather than being slow-paced.  But this is alternated with the warmer vocal passages
and some distinctly European / classical motifs in the music.  However, some of the impetus that the
album was starting to gather in the previous track dissipates slightly, so laid back is this.  The key words
are "New Age" and considering that this album got released in 1978, probably before the term had even
been coined, shows how influential it was - but it isn't the best thing that Tim has done...
Worth A Listen:  Alan Davey - Chaos Delight
Much of this solo effort is already familiar from the
"Sci-fi-delic" EP and comprises eight science
fiction-themed instrumental tracks. The first four
tracks ("Sci-fi-delic", "Vulcan Ritual", "Interceptor",
and "Holosuite Programme") are as heard on the EP -
and none are especially exciting.

The second half of the album is rather better, kicking
off with Alan's take on Barry Gray's "Theme From
UFO". Track 6, "Eagle Alpha", was the best of the
EP tracks and still stands out in the context of the
album. "Assimilation" is also pretty lively, driven
along by some excellent bass work and the closing
"S.I.O." is pleasantly atmospheric.

Aside from the music there is a 12-page booklet wit
h
a cartoon strip - featuring Alan as a diminutive
pointy-eared space traveller! This was released on
Black Widow (BWRCD 033-2) in 2000.
Worth A Listen:  Anubian Lights - Live with Nik Turner
One of several CDRs from Strange Recordings
(
www.strange-trips.com) to appear in 2001. Having
minimal expectations from this, at least it doesn't disappoint.
Anyway, skipping the first six tracks of eastern-themed
instrumentals (three unfamiliar titles followed by three
tracks from "Let Not The Flame Die Out"), we come to two
tracks on which Nik features, both of which are pretty
good.

The first of these is an 8-minute reading of "Dragon Rider".
A melancholy sax introduces the song and, shock horror,
Nik then sings it quite well. Greñas and Del Rio provide
sympathetic backing, and Nik's sax playing is spot on. This
is a very laid-back version of the song.
The last track, lasting 16 minutes is "Soul Herder". Nik recites "The Awakening" over the introduction
(proving conclusively that the "great pyramid" flute playing used at the start of this track is taped) before
moving on to the actual lyrics about Anubis. Nik is apparently also playing flute live (since flute and vocals
don't overlap) and the last eight minutes or so are entirely instrumental, with Nik soloing on flute.

There's no catalogue number for this but it is available from CD Services or the Strange Trips website.
Approach with Caution: Tim Blake - Crystal Machine
This makes all the right sort of noises but doesn't
even get close to the quality of compositions and
performances on "New Jerusalem". Crystal Machine
was Tim's synths with Patrice Warrener's lightshow.

On the opening "Midnight", the synths bleep, burble
and swirl but that's about it. "Metro / Logic" is even
more inconsequential, comprising a synthesized
rhythm track (a few bass notes, some light
percussion) with some sparse melodic fills over the
top. Towards the end more sounds come in and, just
when you think it might actually take off, it stops.  
"Last Ride Of The Boogie Child" is much the same,
but with a couple more layers of synth sounds in the
mix and some ropey vocals from Tim. The key track
on the album is the 15½ minute "Synthese
Intemporal", which is very much in the Tangerine
Dream mould, with interweaving layered synth tracks
over sequenced rhythm.  While pleasant enough, and better than the preceding tracks, it's still a bit thin on
inspiration. The closing "Crystal Presence" is basically 2 minutes of rather spooky sound effects.

This was Tim Blake's first solo album, originally released in 1976. Voiceprint released the CD (VP211CD)
in 2000.

Dissenting view from Steve: Um well, I differ again from Graham on the merits of these Tim Blake
albums in having enjoyed this one much more than I did 'Blake's New Jerusalem'.  I had a vinyl copy of
'Crystal Machine' for over twenty years (acquired in Paris in 1980 - I always enjoyed the fact that my copy
had been bought in France :-) and it's one that I regretted selling almost instantly I had let it out of my
clutches, and then had to wait 5 years to reacquire it, this time on CD.

So, fresh out of the shrinkwrapping and the fondly remembered tones of 'Midnight' instantly place this is in
classic synth album territory.  The pulsing pseudo-bass notes (tonally like a crude emulation of a Fender
Precision bass, but they're pitched in mid-register) are a Blake trademark, as are the spiralling arpeggios
and bright, brash lead keyboard voices.  All of these found their way into the general currency of
synthesists during the late 70's and 1980's.  Which is not the case for the next track, 'Metro / Logic'.  This
features an interesting set of rhythmic voices courtesy of the EMS Synthi, I think.  It sounds like processed
wooden block percussion, underpinning a staccato, muted melody line and trebly quavering synth texture.  
The meandering interweave of this track recalls some of Tim's best contributions to Gong, as on the "You"
album.

Perhaps the least accomplished cut of the album is next - the live recording of 'Last Ride Of The Boogie
Child' from the Seasalter Free Festival in 1976.  On this evidence the Boogie Child should have been
taken into care by the local authority - set to a beat that lurches along on one leg, the music is thin and
uninspiring, with a scratchy lead vocal from Tim.  But, it's still better than the fey singer-songwriter turns
to be found on some of Tim's other albums.

Far superior, and in fact this is the real Tim Blake tour de force, is the lengthy 'Synthèse Intemporal',
recorded live at Le Palace Thèàtre, Paris, on 18/2/77.  This is the one I reckon M. Jarre sat down and
learned off by heart.  It's got everything: majestic phase-shifted synth chords, divine celestial lead
voicings, a loping, practically funky rhythmic underpinning, constant thematic evolution, and not least,
sufficient length for the piece to really breathe and develop.  Just excellent.

The album closes out with 'Crystal Presence' which is very short but intriguing, consisting of disturbing
synth loops suggestive of dangerous machinery wobbling off axis and out of control - quite a Hawkwindish
motif, and I can imagine something like 'Coded Languages' erupting out of the speakers straight after this,
but instead it fades out and that's it.  A great album.
Approach with Caution: Anubian Lights - The Jackal and Nine EP
This is basically two remixes of the title track, a
remix of "Pulse Of The Nile" and a live version of
"Soul Herder", all originally from "The Eternal Sky",
plus three new tracks. Turner, Dettmar and House
are all credited as being part of the band and Allan
Powell appears on the live track. At 55 minutes in
length it is effectively a full albumâ's worth of
material.

Much as I thought "The Eternal Sky" was worth a
listen, this is really just more of the same. It is, as
expected, mainly eastern tinged ambient / dance /
trance instrumental music, i.e. a whole album of â
€œSpace Is Their Palestine". It's fine as background
music - except possibly for "Soul Herder", on which
the pyramid flute playing of Xitintoday is revisited
and Nik chants lyrics about the jackal-headed god
Anubis
.  It is actually one of the most palatable of
Nik's Egyptian Book of the Dead recordings, it's just that this particular theme has been rather overworked!

This was released on Cleopatra Hypnotic (CLEO 9666-2) in 1996.
Approach with Caution: Anubian Lights - Let Not The Flame Die Out
On the second album proper, released in 1998,
Tommy Greñas and Len Del Rio have assumed full
control of the Anubian Lights name, and both Nik
Turner and Simon House are reduced to special guest
status; the latter on one track only. Del Dettmar is
long gone.

In fact, if Simon House appears, I missed it; Nik's
presence is not very obvious either. A bit of sax can
be heard on "South Of Dashur" and some flute on
"One Eye To The Sky", in both cases well down in
the mix. After a while the tracks start to blend into
each other, although tracks 8 to 11 ("Our Man In
Baghdad" to "Sanctuaries Of Jupiter") are slightly
more interesting. After sixty-nine minutes it all goes
pleasantly quiet!

This was another Cleopatra Hypnotic release (CLP
0346-2)
Approach with Caution: Alan Davey - Sci-fi-delic EP
This CDR taster for "Chaos Delight" was released in
1998 and contains five tracks that later surfaced on
the full album. All sound rather like works in
progress and do little more than repeat a basic guitar
riff and/or synth pattern over four or five minutes.
On the whole, the three faster tracks are better than
the two slow ones and only the last track is really
good.

An insistent riff, slightly reminiscent of â
€œPsychedelic Warlords" kicks off the title track,
and is repeated over 5 minutes. "Vulcan Ritual"
features a repetitive synth motif and the title is about
the most interesting feature! "Interceptor I" has both
a guitar riff and a synth motif and continues
pleasingly over four minutes plus. "Holosuite
Program" is another slow
, dull and repetitive,
keyboard-based track. The closing "Eagle Alpha" is
riff-based and a good deal more varied - complete with a guitar solo to liven things up, and ends this EP
on a suitably upbeat note.
AVOID AT ALL COSTS:
According to the Albion Community Arts Trust web
page, "The first Sun Festival was the three day
Festival of the Sun, held at Whittington, Norfolk over
the August Bank Holiday weekend of 1993.
Headlined on the Saturday by Here & Now and on
the Sunday by Pinkwind." Unfortunately, it was
recorded for posterity.

Although the name "Pinkwind" has apparently been
used in the past for various combinations of
musicians from Hawkwind and Pink Fairies, this
album's claim to the name is that Nik Turner and
Twink were involved. The other familiar names are
Trev Thoms on guitar and Rick "Walsh" on trumpet.

Most of this poorly recorded sprawling mess wa
s
recorded at the sun festival in 1993 with a version of
"God Rock" taken from a 1994 concert. The third
and sixth tracks ("Stonehenge '95" and "Rainbow Ron") are simply stage announcements, leaving five
tracks of "music".

The opening track is "God Rock", the music on which seems to bear no resemblance to the original version
on "Xitintoday". Nik turns in a truly atrocious vocal performance and, as if it wasn't bad enough already, a
backing tape of choral singing monks is superimposed ("God Rock", you see).

The second track, "Cosmic Rock & Roll" is slightly better (although the title is hardly justified). Then, after
some announcements, we get raucous and semi-coherent jams through "Silver Machine" (on which Nik
"amusingly" sings "I've got a washing machine") and "Master Of The Universe". Further announcements
follow before the band asks the crowd "You want some more Pinkwind or not?". The response is almost
total (and totally justified) silence. In any case, the following "Call Of The Tribes" is basically another
freeform jam, with words about, er, Hiawatha.

This artistic masterpiece was released on Twink Records (TWK CD2) in 1995.
Pinkwind - Festival Of The Sun
AVOID AT ALL COSTS:
What were they thinking of? It is pretty debatable
whether the name or the front cover (of an almost
toothless open mouth) is more offensive - but the
music is even worse!  In June 2001, Ron Tree,
Trev Thoms and Dino Ferrari played a live set of
Hawkwind / Calvert / ICU songs, to which some
really irritating between-track sound effects and
samples have been added.

This starts up with Ron doing his "Silicon chip
inside my head" rant from the "Alien 4" album -
which, without Hawkwind behind him, sounds like
some horribly silly amateur dramatics. This is
followed by Trev singing ICU's "Cars Eat With
Autoface" and a song called "Tonic Sulphur". "We
are fucked in the head you know", Ron says
afterwards, helpfully.
They then proceed to ruin "Ejection", which ends with some horrible squelching and farting effects.Ron
recites "Reptoid" (listed as "Raptor" on the CD cover), which is stretched out to 11 minutes by the
addition of 9 minutes of aural garbage, followed by "Sonic Attack": just Ron and some more useless
sound effects.

Their version of  "The Right Stuff" is relatively bearable until it all breaks down after 4½ minutes, to
Ron's evident disgust. "Insectocute" is a trademark Ron rant over a heavy riff. This is followed by 3
minutes of pissing about before Trev cranks out another riff, which eventually mutates into "Silver
Machine", which they keep going for a few minutes before Trev wanders off into a solo. Five minutes of
instrumental jam (entitled "You Have To Take Risks") follows, before a brief attempt at "Master Of The
Universe". This ends when Trev breaks a string. "Do we give a fuck?" asks Ron. Probably not, and nor
do I after hearing this sorry mess.

Nobody has his or her reputation enhanced by such a shabby document - and if Dave Brock ever hears it
Ron will most likely never get another chance to play with Hawkwind! To be fair to Trev and Ron, the
samples from their latest project, MOAB, sound rather good (go to www.motherofallbands.net). Trev
Thoms sells the CDR of "Hamburg Live" through his Real Festival Music website (REAL CD 003) but
even Hawkwind completists should think twice about acquiring it.
Bajina - Hamburg Live