|Undisclosed Files Addendum CD review
17th March 2004
This album first saw the light of day as a 1995 release on the Emergency Broadcast System label, with
Griffin releasing it in the USA (including an initial run of 500 copies in the famous metal shield). It's actually
a live album, the first half of which was recorded on 27th November 1984 at Sheffield University. The
band that night consisted of Dave Brock, Huw Lloyd Langton, Alan Davey, Clive Deamer, Harvey
Bainbridge and Nik Turner.
Faster than the Space Ritual Alive original and completely without the gravitas - this version sounds
somehow brittle, skittering along like a speeded-up 12 bar pub blues number. Nik Turner introduces the
song as "something devised by Wilhelm Reich" and proceeds to take the lead vocals, which he fairly spits
out. Huw Lloyd Langton also stands out for his frenetic delivery -he does the usual Huw things that come
out when he doesn't know what else to play- and no-one particularly shines. Alan Davey does a good job of
holding it all together, but in 1984 he was still new enough to the band to be still playing only the root notes,
and not stretching out at all. Brock is inaudible, Harvey's synth colourings are unexceptional, and Clive
Deamer does the business behind the kit all right, in fact he sounds pretty good. Individually each band
member sounds fine (except you can hardly hear Brock) but the arrangement...sucks....
Starts with some familiar sound effects from "Dream Worker" on the 1982 Choose Your Masques album,
and "Dream Dancers" from the 1984 Earth Ritual EP. After that this devolves into what IMHO is one of the
worst songs in Hawkwind's portfolio. A joint effort by Bainbridge and Turner, it's seven minutes of dull
drum rhythms and heavily echoed almost wordless vocals. Here and there you can pick out a phrase like
"Give me my heart". Mostly, though, they sound like Flashman's rendering of Chief Spotted Tail expressing
his interest in rogering Mrs Flashman: "(I would like to) hhhrrrruuunnnnhhh!! (with her)". That's a part
that Nik could play well, I suspect. (Lemmy would have to be Flashman, of course.)
Well this should have been dreadful but isn't half bad, actually. It's pretty much based on the awful 1981
remake but the pace is drawn back a bit from the breathless canter that made this the title track of the Sonic
Attack album - and always sounds as though the band themselves know it's no good and are rushing to get
through it and onto the next number as quickly as possible. But here it's measured, and Nik's lead vocals
are at least twice as good as Harvey's had been on the '81 version.
Watching the Grass Grow
Another bad song. It starts off with some pleasant synthy intro before accelerating to 100mph with a burst
of lead guitar. It's similar to the Do Not Panic version but perhaps better rendered - slightly faster and
tighter. The best bit about this particular song is the middle section where Nik sings "Post-future
reality...it's just the real world" and the band go into a slowish three-chord riff, managing to sound like
Hawkwind instead of Inner City Unit. It's in this middle section that Brock can really be heard for the first
time, albeit somewhat indistinctly. Once the song moves back to the verse, Clive Deamer's drum style
becomes more apparent, and he goes in for some crisp rolls and fills, having almost a poppy style which is
nonetheless very effective.
A long spoken vocal exchange between Nik and Harvey introduces this and was probably meant to be
comic (perhaps it actually was at the time) but it fortunately comes to an end and lets the song break out.
Harvey sings and that along with Huw's lead guitar is the best thing here. The sound is on the indistinct
side, with Brock of all people disappearing into an undifferentiated layer of murk. Nik throws in a decentish
sax solo in the instrumental middle passage, but this rendition isn't a patch on the one to be found on the
Live 1982 (Collector's Edition) album. Near the end of the number Dave's voice can be heard among the
backing vocals and this is almost the first time you would know that he is appearing on this album.
Damned By The Curse of Man
Well this is why I own this CD. This track isn't to be found anywhere else. It's a fairly simple number,
with some spouting lyrics sounding as though they might have been penned by Michael Moorcock over a
descending sequence of three chords in a minor key. There are some nice washes of keyboard, where
Harvey is doing the sort of thing that had been Steve Swindells territory five years previously. Huw throws
in some pleasantly noodling lead guitar and there's even a bit of flute from Nik, but Mr. Deamer tries to go
all 80's here, and undoes the delicacy of it all by doing something that sounds like the soundtrack to one of
the Rocky films.
That marks the end of the 1984 live recording. The second half of the album is from 1988, precise gig
unknown...but the sequence of 1988 tracks here (Ejection; Motorway City; Dragons and Fables; Heads;
Angels of Death) occurred in a run of gigs between 28/11/88 at the Bournmouth Academy and 15/12/88 at
the London Town & Country Club, so this recording is probably from early December 1988.
24/11/2004: According to the sleeve notes of the original white cover "Undisclosed Files" vinyl album, these
live tracks, which comprised Side 2, were recorded at Nottingham Rock City on 7th December 1988.
"Undisclosed Files" (without the "Addendum") was a promo version of this album and Side 1 had a slightly
different tracklist than that shown above. The 1984 tracks consisted of Orgone Accumulator, Sonic
Attack, Watching The Grass Grow, Coded Languages, and Damned By The Curse Of Man. And then Side
1 closed out with an otherwise unobtainable 1988 live version of Master Of The Universe. The album as
represented in the vinyl promo version has never been issued on CD...
Starts off with the control-tower-to-pilot tape from the Captain Lockheed album, while a synth keeps a
syncopated rhythm, joined by bass drum and then (finally!) Dave's guitar crunching away. Alan Davey
does the lead vocals this time. The synth chugs away throughout the song and this actually helps; for some
reason Ejection often sounds as though it is going to go out of control and disintegrate into a thrashing
mess. This is one of the better renditions and would be perfect if the sound quality hadn't that fuzzy edge to
it. Which is odd, as from this track onwards the recording is from 1988 but the sound quality seems no
better, and indeed qualitatively no different; perhaps a mastering issue rather than a recording one?
A long slow intro of the usual synth arpeggios, with some indifferent rhythm guitar chords from Dave
Brock - there's very little or no effect on them and they sound febrile and half-hearted. But at long last he
*sings*, if not as well as normally,.and maybe this gets him into it: as his guitar playing picks up too, so that
by the time they get to the middle section, he's thrashing away like, er, a high octane combine
harvester...(or is that threshing?) Huw's wonderful guitar solo is semi-faithfully executed, in a looser and
more drawn-out fashion, and from there the track more or less fades out with an extended instrumental.
Dragons and Fables
It's hard to think of this as a Hawkwind track, so strongly is Huw Lloyd Langton's identity stamped upon
it. Like most of the rest of this album it's a little too fast and a little too light: this one would benefit from a
really thunderous arrangement, which is not going to happen here as Dave Brock doesn't play on this
particular number. For the record, the other musicians who play on the 1988 tracks are Richard Chadwick,
Alan Davey, Huw Lloyd Langton and Harvey Bainbridge
A slightly pacier and more dynamic arrangement than some of the others out there. This has some stately
traditional organ sound and a subdued pattering synth as the only backing to Dave Brock's vocals on the
first verse. For the second verse, the whole band plays, with Alan Davey producing a subtly disturbing
undertone with a simple rhythmic variation on the root note. A long middle section features some
exceptionally good melodic lead guitar from Huw, and the song finishes off with the last verse being
whispered before it fades, and mutates into...
Angels of Death
Here's another one that has a syncopated feeling to it, with sequenced synths being the dominant instrument
instead of Dave's guitar, as it should be. The resulting feel is somwhere between pedestrian and restrained,
as if something is being held in reserve. I'm not even sure that Dave plays on all the verses, although he
does crash and bang away on the choruses, too low in the mix, but not sounding 100% even so. Again,
though, he does pick up as the song progresses, so that by the time this one closes out, the band are firing
on at least four cylinders :-)
Well, overall this is not a bad album, but it's not one of the best live Hawkwind recordings, either. The main
difference between the 1984 and 1988 recordings is the presence of Nik Turner on the former material, and
his absence from the latter. Both gigs are very similar in terms of the sound, and once again perhaps it is
Huw's contribution that is the most consistent thread running throughout the whole album. As for whether
Damned By The Curse of Man makes it worth buying, I'd say no: but committed fans who enjoy live
Hawkwind and don't yet have this CD should add it to their collections.