|Weird 108 â€“ â€œLive 1966-73â€� CD review
|The final Weird Tape (no. 8) for some reason did not get reissued on CD when all the other titles in the
series became available in 2000 â€“ 2001. But thanks to the good offices of Voiceprint, itâ€™s here now
and features much the same livery as the earlier Voiceprint / Weird reissues, with retro-futuristic artwork by
The material (3 tracks of which are previously unreleased, aside from their appearance on the original â
€œWeird Tapes Vol. 8â€� cassette version) is a mixture of archival pre-Hawkwind recordings and 1973-ish
live tapes. The first of the latter is the opening track, credited as Space Is Deep (Space Ritual). This
means not that itâ€™s by Nikâ€™s mob, but that itâ€™s the same as the version that appeared on the
Space Ritual Alive album. This works really well when heard in isolation from the rest of that ouvre, and
has been well placed at the start of this album where it manages not to sound out of place despite having an
entirely different sonic signature to everything that follows.
Down On Her Knees is one of the previously unreleased numbers, and judging by the surging rocked-out
sound itâ€™s a live recording from the very early 70â€™s. Musically itâ€™s very basic: a mid-paced 2-
chord workout. The low-in-the-mix vocals and rhythm guitar are unmistakably Brockâ€™s, but thereâ€™s
also a fuzzed, stinging lead guitar which sounds very like some of the stuff on the Captain Lockheed album.
The bass is probably pre-Lemmy (it doesnâ€™t have the jamming variability of his Space Ritual Alive
contributions), so Iâ€™ll hazard this is of 1971 vintage. My guess would be that this is from a festival
appearance with someone (Paul Rudolph?) guesting on lead guitar. It reminds me slightly of the Watchfield
Free Festival tracks, in terms of having the same looseness of feel: and the wayward sound quality does
suggest an audience recording with the bandâ€™s stage sound being blown about by the wind.
Live And Let Live is another of the new tracks and is claimed to hail from 1973. Again, itâ€™s a
somewhat sludgy live recording, quite experimental in that amorphous way that the band explored years
later on tracks like Douglas In The Jungle. This could have been the prototype for that track, with a loose
floppy bassline keeping some sort of time going, while Brockâ€™s guitar chunders and snarls away, synths
bubble and squeal and the vocals are no more than snatches of indecipherable conversation. It shouldnâ€™t
work but it does.
Etchanatay features an intro made up of a blend of swishing audio generator and echoed flute; then a
typical Brock riff (think of the coda to â€œLighthouseâ€�) fades in and supplants it, with the rhythm guitar
and bass in unison playing a chord pattern like E â€“ F â€“ E â€“ D (though I havenâ€™t checked if it is
those exact chords) with more of the fuzzed lead guitar and some synth melody. This one too is claimed to
be from 1973, and buried in the rather soupy mix is a familiar spoken vocal: the voiceover by John G.
Neihardt which was later (1990!) included in the track â€œBlack Elk Speaksâ€�. You can make out the
line â€œHetchetu aloh!â€� which is Lakotah (Sioux) for â€œit is so!â€�. Seeing as I just posted a 1991
interview with Harvey Bainbridge (â€œYesterday Painâ€� ?!) in which he claimed that this had been a
new direction for Hawkwind in 1990 with the Space Bandits album, it is surprising to hear it featuring so
early in the bandâ€™s career like this.
After this we hit a run of, to be honest, not very good tracks from the earlier end of the spectrum covered
by this album. Taking them in order, Roll â€˜Em Pete, Come On and Dealing With The Devil are all by
the Dharma Blues Band and were probably laid down in 1966. Each was included in the Dawn Of
Hawkwind Voiceprint album which Iâ€™ve previously reviewed here and thereâ€™s nothing much further
to add about them. We also have Bring It On Home which is maybe from a year or two later and was a
Dave Brock solo effort with session musician backing. Itâ€™s quite bit more polished than the Dharma
Blues Band tracks but again, itâ€™s covered in my review of Dawn Of Hawkwind.
This CD closes out with 2 more live tracks from the early 70â€™s â€“ Dreaming (that is, You Know Youâ
€™re Only Dreaming) and (You) Shouldnâ€™t Do That. As with the other pieces from this period the
sound quality is a little murky but the performances are good. Dreaming has some tasteful flute colourings
and an arrangement thatâ€™s very faithful to the original studio recording (though harder-hitting) â€“ which
again, makes me suspect that this is from 1971 rather than 1973, not that it matters at all. If you listen
closely to the drums, it seems likely that the honours are being done by Simon King rather than Terry Ollis
(who Brock once described as a â€œdowners freakâ€� with an â€œextremely primitive styleâ€�) since
there are a number of quite polished excursions round the kit; though the pace is definitely more Ollis than
King, and it may have been early in the latterâ€™s tenure with the band. (He joined on 6th January 1972.)
The ending is also interesting, with a synth-dominated fade-out that contemporary episodes of Dr.Who or
whatever always used to denote the departure of aliens, leaving the earth as their flying saucers ascend into
Interestingly, these last two tracks are flagged as being in mono (unlike the others of the same era) and are
probably therefore from a different audio source. The CD packaging presents thanks to Nick Loebner and
Steve Freight (Yahoo! Hawkwind Group stalwarts both) and I wonder if they perhaps were able to supply
an audio source for these tracks to replace those formerly present on the cassette version of this album but
since lost? [*** See footnote] This would explain the 5 year hiatus between the release of the other Weird
titles on CD and the delayed appearance on Weird 108 (released on 27/3/2006).
Shouldnâ€™t Do That, like the preceding track (from which it segues without any break), is a live
recording that aims at replicating the studio arrangement of the original; and like the other live tracks here,
doesnâ€™t quite succeed in these aims due to the harder edge of live Hawkwind. This is mostly found in
the overdriven rhythm guitar and dense pounding of the drums and bass. The vocals are buried fairly deep
in the mix and sound like comatose moaning courtesy of Nik Turner, with some really dated backing vocals
more to the fore. The sound quality of this and (You Know Youâ€™re Only) Dreaming is noticeably
muddier than that of the other early 70â€™s live cuts, so this bears out the idea that these may have been
sourced from audience recordings, probably made on one of the cheap cassette recorders of the day.
So, is it worth getting? Most of these tracks can be obtained elsewhere and arenâ€™t anyway of the
highest quality â€“ so this title, like the others in the Weird series, is aimed at the hard core fan rather than
the casual Hawkwind buyer. For those of us who fall into the former definition, the 3 numbers that donâ
€™t feature on any other album make this an essential purchase, but itâ€™s not one of the strongest titles
even among the Weird Tapes â€“ itâ€™s a little better than Weird 106 (another delayed release) but still
struggles to get past 5/10.
*** Footrnote: Steve Freight clarifies his involvement thus: At the [Sept 2005
TMTYL] launch party I spoke to Dave Brock and Rob Ayling and asked why this disc
had never been released. Dave said it was down to Rob and Rob said he knew nothing
I think Dave didn't want to get involved in any discussion on this and left. Rob and I
continued talking and I said that fans thought this was to be the bonus disc under the
collectors series and not a mispressed Space Brock. Rob said that no decision was ever
taken on the bonus disc and Space Brock just happened to be handy.
I said I would write to Rob re Weird 8 and sent him a CD transfer I had done from the
I believe that Dave supplied the master tapes for transfer and tidy-up. Maybe Nick
Loebner did supply tapes or can update on his name check.
I'm on the sleeve for having suggested the release.
26th Nov 2008: Nick Loebner adds this - At the time WEIRD108 was first released on
cassette I ordered a copy and paid extra for higher quality, Chrome tape.
Consequently my tape has survived the years better than most others. I mentioned it to
Kris Tait who borrowed my tape. I think it was used in preparing the masters (the
original tapes presumably having been lost?)