|Music from the Hawkwind family tree - Part 9
This piece was written by Graham, to whom my grateful thanks
This privately pressed mini-album is the work of Jerry
Richards and Richard Chadwick. Steve Taylor guests on
bass and (spoken) vocals on two tracks, Steve
"TechnoPagan" plays on keyboards on one track, and Sophie
Knight contributes lyrics and plays recorder. I'm not sure
that I can justify liking this a whole lot more than (say) the
Paradogs album, but I do, despite the fact that Richard sings
on three tracks!
"Pounding Drums" does pretty much what it says on the tin,
with Jerry Richards adding squalls of guitar and Steve Taylor
providing bass and spoken vocals. "Coupsticks" features a
relentless riff along the lines of "We Do It", over which
Richard sings, before chilling out with swirling strings and
synths. Steve Taylor appears again on "Shores Of Our
Imagination"; this a spoken word piece with sound effects. "JFDI" is a more structured piece, gradually
building in intensity until the main guitar riff and Richard's vocals come in, and the song reaches full
"blanga" mode! After the opening verse Richard just sings "do it now, do it now" over and over again.
Everything slows right down again half way through before gradually building up again without ever really
taking off. On "Starliner" both Richard's vocal and the generally laid-back instrumentation take this almost
into Tim Blake territory.
There is no label or catalogue number and the CD comes in a card sleeve, packaged with six
CD-case-sized inserts on which are printed the lyrics, illustrations, and credits. It was released in 2000 and
was available from Star Nation, PO Box 2979, Frome, Somerset, BA11 4XZ; I've no idea if it is still
Some of the best : Star Nation - Star Nation
This was DB's second solo album, released on vinyl by
Flicknife in 1988 (SHARP 042) and recently reissued by
Voiceprint as a double CD with "Earthed To The Ground"
(HAWKVP23CD). Probably the first thing to try to get clear is
what tracks are actually on the album and which is which. It
wasn't totally clear on the LP and Voiceprint have muddied the
waters by mis-labelling two tracks on the CD re-issue. The
vinyl album has ten bands, there are 11 titles listed and there
are 12 pieces of music! The album (unlike the CD) gives the
writing credits: three instrumental tracks from Crum ("A
Day", "Nocturne" and "Empty Dreams"), seven Dave Brock
solo pieces and a Brock/Tait track ("Wastelands Of Sleep").
Side 2 of the vinyl release is straightforward: six bands, six
titles, six pieces of music: "Heads", "Nocturne", "Wastelands Of Sleep", "Empty Dreams", "Into The
Realms" and "Mountains In The Sky". "Empty Dreams" is a brief Crum instrumental, which is missing
from the CD - on which "Into The Realms" has been incorrectly listed as "Empty Dreams". [Assuming that
the album listing is correct!]
Side 1 of the LP has 4 bands, 5 titles and 6 pieces of music. Band 1 is "Hi Tech Cities". No problems there.
Band 2 contains two pieces: the first is Crum's Andean flavoured "A Day" - basically the same track as
"Nocturne"; the second is clearly a Dave Brock piece with the lyrics of "Treadmill", sung in the light, jaunty
style of "On The Case". Since the lyrics refer to office life I think it's pretty conclusive that this is "In The
Office". On the CD both tracks are grouped under the title "A Day". Band 3 also contains two pieces, the
first of which has the "Back In The Box" lyrics. The second band-3 song refers to Hades in the lyrics and
is clearly "Hades Deep". On the CD, the first of the band-3 songs has been listed as "In The Office". The
last band on side 1 contains another song that uses the "Back In The Box" lyrics and, logically, this has to
be "Words Of A Song". Some web sites include the lyrics of both the band-3 songs under the title "Hades
Deep" but I think there is a more obvious answer. The band does this regularly on stage and they did it on
Xenon Codex: namely start one song, shift to another and then return. Hence, I think the track listing on
side 1 of the album should probably be "Hi Tech Cities", "A Day", "In The Office", "Words Of A Song
(Part 1)", "Hades Deep", "Words Of A Song (Part 2)". This has the sensible consequence that the two
songs which feature the "Back in the Box" lyrics can be seen as two parts of the same song!
With that out of the way, there is the question of recycling of material. As we have seen, the words from
"In The Office" reappeared in "Treadmill" (where they were used to much better effect). These lyrics also
provided the title for "Techno Tropic Zone Exists" from IITBOTFTBD. The words of the song "Words Of
A Song" reappeared on "Back In The Box". Both "Heads" and "Wastelands Of Sleep" turned up on "Xenon
Codex", the former in a markedly different version. A version of "Hi Tech Cities" appeared on the Italian
only CD "The Never Ending Story Of The Psychedelic Warlords", on which it was credited to Hawkwind.
Lastly, the riff from "Hades Deep" sounds rather like that from "Streets Of Fear".
So to the music: the album kicks off with "Hi Tech Cities", an unmemorable tune with a typically bleak
Brock lyric about how crap it is living in cities and in the country as well! Next up is the excellent Andean-
flavoured Crum instrumental "A Day", followed by the "Treadmill" tune, which we will call "In The Office".
Then comes what I'm calling "Words Of A Song (Part 1), which is a brief, rather cheesy keyboard-based
tune with the "Back In The Box" lyrics.
"Hades Deep", with its oppressive riff, takes us on a tour of hell, with possibly Brock's blackest lyric yet
("And your babies we shall kill, your mother will die a hideous death", etc). "Words Of A Song (Part 2)"
uses the cute device of having the performance fading in and out as someone turns the tuning dial on a
Quite what "Heads" is about I can't quite figure out - it could be animal experiments or possibly a brave
new world in which humans are preserved forever in suspended animation; whatever, the imagery is again
grim. The reprise of "A Day" as "Nocturne" is welcome light relief and is followed by possibly Dave's most
affecting love song (co-written with Kris Tait), "Wastelands Of Sleep", in which he escapes the torment
apparent on the rest of the album, in sleep, "and then I can reach out for your touch - am I asking for too
On the vinyl, the next track is the short Crum instrumental "Empty Dreams". On the CD we jump directly
to the (presumably mis-titled) "Into The Realms". Over an insistent bass riff and various other synth tracks,
the spoken lyrics offer another disturbing vision. On the CD, the extra track â€œInfinity" is inserted here. It
fits the mood quite well, even if it doesn't otherwise belong on this album. Advance publicity claimed that
Lemmy featured on this track but, since it differs little from the original PXR5 track, this doesn't seem very
credible. Mind you, the credits on the PXR5 album imply Simon King's presence on this track, which also
sounds unlikely! The last track, "Mountain In The Sky" is a rather light and relaxed instrumental built on a
Overall, this is a pretty bleak album in terms of its lyrical content; apparently all was not well on planet
Brock. However, it's sometimes very good and rarely less than interesting. It's just a pity that the CD re-
issue mucks around with the track listing. As a final note, the person who had the bright idea of using the
"Earthed To The Ground" album cover image, of Dave Brock in shades and lab coat carrying a machine
gun / guitar, on both CD labels has a lot to answer for! On the "Agents of Chaos" CD, a negative of the
image is used, making Dave Brock look like a cosmic Jimmy Saville!
Worth A Listen: Dave Brock - Earthed To The Ground
Starfarer has reviewed both of Dave Brock's first two albums
already elsewhere on this site - and as a guitarist himself
provides good insights into the structure of the songs.
Anyway, I'm going to offer an alternative view of both.
I have to admit that I have generally found Dave Brock's solo
work to be a bit disappointing, for all sorts of reasons.
Firstly, there is a tendency to repeat tracks, including songs
also released by Hawkwind, and/or recycle lyrics, riffs and
melody lines. Secondly, despite being the true voice of
Hawkwind he rarely presents his vocals as nature intended,
instead burying them deep in the mix or distorting them with
effects. Thirdly, the tracks often sound like work in progress
and his lyrics are generally not up to the standard of Calvert's
efforts (although few people reach such standards!). Finally,
Some of the best : Dave Brock - Agents of Chaos
he favours a rather lightweight, even tinny, sound - and rarely rocks out. The first solo album to gain a full
commercial release was "Earthed To The Ground", issued by Flicknife (SHARP 018) in 1984, although this
was not his first solo release (contrary to the answer to Voiceprint's Christmas competition a few years
back!). Even if you don't count his solo appearance on "The Buskers" album (1969), the first Weird
cassette (WEIRD 101, from 1980) contained Dave Brock solo material and the seventh (and last, WEIRD
107, from 1982) was all Dave Brock solo material. Then of course there were the "Zones" / "Processed"
single released by Brian Tawn's Hawkfan and the "Social Alliance" / "Raping Robots in the Street" Flicknife
single, both from 1983. The chronology of all these (and more recent) solo releases is well-described on
the Hawkeye web site.
The original album had nine tracks on it. "Earthed To The Ground" opens the album in a catchy, if slightly
irritating, fashion. This track is also known as "Wired Up For Sound" from the third â€œFriends and
Relations" album - and this kind of lyric is probably best left to Cliff Richard! â€œAssassination" is of
course "Some People Never Die" from "Church of Hawkwind" (it first appeared on WEIRD 101 and also
reappeared on "Spacebrock"). It is (just in case you have somehow missed hearing it) basically a sound
collage of the reporting of the Kennedy and Oswald assassinations. Track 3 is a fine solo rendition of
"Green Finned Demon", not dissimilar to the band version on the "Earth Ritual Preview" EP.
"Spirits" is a pleasant if repetitive synth and sequencer-based instrumental. "Sweet Obsession" is something
that has rarely featured on band albums, namely a love song. Despite a tinny sound it is a decent pop song.
"Oscillations" is a short, rather plaintive ballad. "Machine Dream" is another repetitive synth and sequencer
track, which goes nowhere for 3 minutes until, near the end, a (justifiably annoyed) listener is heard
complaining about the noise! "Now Is The Winter Of Our Discontent" is Brock doing Shakespeare and first
appeared on WEIRD 107. Probably the best track is "On The Case", with Brock playing the private
detective with sardonic humour. This lasts seven minutes - an epic along the lines of (although not in the
style of) Dire Straits' "Private Investigations"!
The CD adds five bonus tracks, all of which sound rather raw and underproduced - and the better for it:
both sides of the "Social Alliance" single (although I think they are re-recordings), the aforementioned
"Wired Up For Sound" (again emphatically not the original version, this has the punky, nihilistic feel of
"Valium 10"), a version of "Sleep Of A Thousand Tears" (bizarrely presented as a sequencer-based track
with almost whispered vocals) and the completely unfamiliar instrumental title "Riding the range". The last
track on the CD is a raw and aggressive take on â€œSocial Alliance", which rather disproves my point
about Brock never rocking out on his solo releases and is actually rather good.
With typical care and attention to detail, the CD booklet claims that only "Green Finned Demon" had been
previously released. Anyway, this was released by Voiceprint in 2003 along with a similarly retooled â
€œAgents of Chaos" as a double CD (HAWKVP23CD). Despite all the criticisms above, this remains an
essential purchase for any Hawkwind fan and, if you knew nothing of its history, you might find it to be a
varied and fairly enjoyable album.
I'm cheating here in the sense that the good review has got
nothing to do with the Hawkwind connection. Dave Brock
appears on a Hawkwind medley at the start of the second
disc. It's not bad and goes on for almost 10 minutes but it
doesn't do anything for me: give me the original full-length
songs any time! In fact the whole of the second disc is a bit
of a throwaway, also including an inessential cover of
Bowie's "Space Oddity" and an excruciatingly unfunny
"comedic" untitled track tacked onto the end.
The first disc is something a science fiction concept album, a
space opera with monstrous guitar riffs and soaring vocal
harmonies. Totally preposterous and ridiculously bombastic -
and thoroughly excellent! Sample lyrics (cue vocal
harmonies): "we have found the seventh sign, down in the
Some of the best : Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Star One - Space Metal
catacombs, when the seven points align, they will lead us all back home".