Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Levitation - Tracks & References

The view according to Harvey Bainbridge:

“I think the final result was quite classy, almost Hawklords-ish. The thing about rock music is that it works on analogue, because there is lots of noise, but when you put it on a digital machine it’s so clean that the tones have to be good. In that sense, Levitation does well, it’s a pioneering album.” (Interviewed for Sonic Assassins)

What they said then:

“Bronze informed me that this was the best Hawkwind album EVER,” wrote Malcolm Dome. Whilst he considered this somewhat overstated, Dome heard “a return to the style of the early 70s… blistering sci-fi imagery [used] as an angry searchlight.’ Particularly praising the “agoraphobic wilderness of ‘Motorway City’,’ and “the desolate synthesisers of the J.G. Ballard-esque ‘Dust of Time’,” Dome rated Levitation as “an album of the year.”

What they say now:

“The album is filled with excellent riffs and melodies,” says SavageHippie.com, reserving its criticism for the lyrics. “I’m not saying these are bad lyrics, mind you,” they say, having quoted from ‘Who’s Gonna Win The War’. “They just aren’t as clever as when Calvert was in the band.”

Tracks and references:


Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable notes the ability of floating unaided in mid-air as a not uncommon attribute of Roman Catholic Saints and recounts the legend of Joseph of Cupertino (1603-63) who levitated so frequently that he was banned from the choir and had to practice his devotions in private. 

Motorway City

“Where you exit on the right”. Not a song about driving in England, then?

In the early 80s, during live performances of this song the light show would include slides of flying dragons. A possible link to Roger Zelazny’s novel Roadmarks (1979), which includes a metaphysical highway that has routes off into the past and future, patrolled by such creatures.


Psychosis is defined as severe mental derangement involving the whole personality.

World of Tiers

The collective title for a series of five novels by Philip Jose Farmer, commencing with The Maker of the Universe (1965); they are set in pocket universes created by God-like beings with unimaginably advanced technological abilities. 

“Harvey was playing a riff and Huw & Ginger came out with the rest of the music spontaneously.” (Marion Lloyd-Langton)


Who’s Gonna Win the War

‘Already weeds are writing…’ is cannibalised from Brock’s earlier song ‘We Took the Wrong Step Years Ago’, though without the busking!

Space Chase

“Huw was inspired to write ‘Space Chase’ from the ambiance of Bronze Studios, Chalk Farm.’ (ML-L)

The Fifth Second of Forever

Noted as being from the film of the same name, but don’t spend time searching your copy of Halliwells, this was fictitious. 

In the Calvert poem “The Ten Seconds of Forever”, the protagonist spends the fifth second thinking of “The vermilion deserts of Mars, the jeweled forests of Venus”, common imagery in 1930s SF. This track is also known as ‘Circles’.

Dust of Time

The middle, instrumental, section of this track has often been played live as a stand-alone number entitled ‘The Island’, possibly named after a collection of poems by Francis Brett Young.

From the same era:

Nuclear Toy

B-side to 7" release of ‘Who’s Gonna Win The War’. The lyrics allude to nuclear plants such as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, site of the Three Mile Island nuclear facility which, in March 1979 had a bit of ‘Meltdown’ trouble, and also Windscale, the name of Sellafield before they realized that public relations could be a good thing. ‘Strontium 90’ is a by-product of the fission of uranium and plutonium in nuclear reactors.

Heard on the tour:

Shot Down in the Night

“It’s a lot more personal than you’d think – it’s about rejection (rejecting, not being rejected). It’s also political, about the cultural big brother – and clones, people who just subscribe to something so they’ll belong.” (Steve Swindells)

New Jerusalem

Alludes directly to William Blake’s Preface to Milton (1778) which was set to music a century later by Charles Parry and subsequently became a standard part of The Last Night of the Proms. 

Dangerous Visions

Written by Tim Blake’s mid-tour replacement Keith Hale, for his band Blood Donor, for whom he'd also written ‘It’s A Mystery’, later to appear on Toyah’s Four From Toyah EP. “Dave heard a tape of Keith Hale’s stuff,” Huw Lloyd Langton told Simon Veness during an interview at the Lewisham Odeon “He particularly liked this track, ‘Dangerous Visions’, and suggested we have a go at it.”

Dangerous Visions is a 1967 new wave science fiction anthology edited by Harlan Ellison and coincidentally featuring work by SF authors who would have an influence on Hawkwind songs (J G Ballard, Roger Zelazny, Philip Jose Farmer). Again Dangerous Visions appeared in 1972, while a final volume, The Last Dangerous Visions, much-mooted but never published, possibly ranks as the greatest lost title in science fiction history.

Around the same time...

It wasn’t just Hawkwind who were preoccupied with the dangers of nuclear radiation (see ‘Who’s Gonna Win the Win’ and ‘Nuclear Toy’). Hawk-refugee Nik Turner was also warning of its risks in a 1979 7” single with some interesting bedfellows, as I noted in a space-rock collectables feature for Record Collector a few years back…

RADIO ACTORS Nuclear Waste / Digital Love (Charly Records CYS 1058, 1979) 

Space-rock supergroup! Nik Turner! Steve Broughton! Steve Hillage! Gilli Smyth! Mike Howlett! And, err, Sting. Prices are all over the place on this item, probably because of Sting’s involvement. Turner: “We had some studio time in London. Mike Howlett had been working with Sting and the Police and brought him down to sing on it. For the b-side we used this old compressor that was outside the studio to create the rhythm track. We felt really strongly about the nuclear thing and tried to align ourselves with Friends of the Earth. We wanted them to organise a demonstration but they said, ‘We can’t have demonstrations unless we agree it with the police,’ which I thought was a bit limp.” ‘Do you find it attractive to be radioactive / emitting killing rays?’ Well, put like that, probably not.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

PXR5 - Tracks & References

The view according to Dave Brock:

PXR5 was a bodge-up of bits and pieces, a final flushing of the toilet at Charisma.”

What they said then… 

“[Death Trap] points out – and not for the first time – that The Stranglers owe not a little to Hawkwind,” thought Giovanni Dadomo, who also considered that Robot “pretty much [sums-up] the live Hawkwind experience. Hypnotic percussive pulse, wailing guitar and synth and Calvert’s first person lyric.”

What they say now…

Discussing the Atomhenge Charisma Years boxset, in R2 magazine, Oz Hardwick noted “the musique concrete of ‘Life Form’, the quirky pop of ‘Jack of Shadows’ and, naturally, the trademark spacerock of ‘PXR5’, while considering the era overall as containing “some of the band’s most diverse explorations.” Reviewing the same collection for Vive Le Rock, Jon Truman declared the band’s four Charisma LPs as “brave, experimental and ground-breaking.”

Tracks and references:

Death Trap

The Stations of the Cross are representative of incidents occurring during the passage of Christ from the Judgement Hall to his crucifixion at Calvary. 

Paul Hayles, on the origin of the song: “[Calvert] had a crash whilst trying out a car he was thinking of buying, breaking the neck of a girl we all knew.”

Jack of Shadows

Let’s hear it again for Roger Zelazny. Shadowjack, in Jack of Shadows (1971), is a supernatural thief seeking vengeance against all those responsible for his execution on a world which has one face always pointing at its Sun.

Uncle Sams on Mars 

“America has left the moon...” Gene Cernan was the last man to stand on the moon surface, leaving the moon and completing America’s lunar expedition in the early hours of Thursday 15th December, 1972. Uncle Sam arrived on Mars in 1976…in the shape of the unmanned Viking orbiter and lander spacecraft. NASA communications sampled on this track include President Nixon’s famous telephone call to the Sea of Tranquillity to speak to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and the Apollo 11 launch.

“He’s got his bucket and spade in his left hand…” the traditional child’s accouterments on seaside holidays in Great Britain.

McDonald’s hamburgers: McDonald’s were still rare in Britain in those days (the first having opened in London in 1976).

Gill Scott-Heron’s ‘Whitey on the Moon’ might be an influence on the song’s title.

The title is grammatically incorrect, unless, of course, there are lots of Uncle Sams, all on Mars. Perhaps it’s a deliberate attempt at ambiguity, as with the missing apostrophe in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake… Or less prosaically, perhaps it’s just a typo.


A version of the lyrics for this track appeared as early as 1972, forming part of the Space Ritual tour programme.

Life Form

A later version of this track appears on Spacebrock, noted as being used in the film Any Given Sunday (Oliver Stone, 1999).


From the Czech word robota and first used by Karel Capek in his play R.U.R (1921). 

The three laws of robotics were devised by SF writer Isaac Asimov as a foundation for the behaviour of robots in relation to human beings. 

High Rise

The first ‘High Rise’ tower blocks in the UK were built after the Second World War. ‘The Lawn’, in Harlow, now has Grade II Listed status.

The novel High Rise (J.G. Ballard,1975) chronicles the social collapse into barbarism of a society living in a tower block: “…a commentary on the hideous possibilities of advanced technology and the rat-like nature of trapped human beings” said The Financial Times.

Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955) is one of only three films to star James Dean.


Considered to be a reference to the disintegration of the line-up that recorded Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music; the three crew members who are mentioned as having not survived would be Rudolph, Powell and Turner.

A Note on the Album Cover

Notoriously, PXR5 was released with a back-cover image showing a plug incorrectly wired, with the 'HM Govt. Health Dept. Warning' that 'This wiring can seriously damage your health'. Subsequently, it came with a irremovable sticker placed over the offending image.

Don't Try This At Home

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Chronicle of the Black Sword - Tracks & References

The Chronicle of the Black Sword 
Nov/Dec 1985 tour
(Oz Hardwick)

This one is a little different from previous tracks & references in that every song - Needle Gun aside - is a direct reference to Mike Moorcock's Elric saga. When I wrote the original notes here for the first edition appendices of Sonic Assassins, I relied on the greater knowledge of Hawk-fan Alan Linsley, so the commentary that follows on the majority of the songs was with his kind input in compiling. 

The view according to Alan Davey: 

On mixing the sound of Warrior on the Edge of Time and the technology of Church of Hawkwind: “Out of that came the Black Sword tour sound, which was very successful because nobody else was doing that at the time.” 

What they said then:

Reviewing the album for Sounds, Neil Perry declared it “a hammy, mixed-up, mystic onslaught. The tripped out punkerama is toned down, but the manic automaton thud still sends the songs to places other bands fear to tread. The ship is back on course, tuned in, turned on and definitely not burnt out. For all children aged six to 60.”

What they say now:

“I love the variation in this album,” says the website Forgotten Vinyls. “Hawkwind may be going for a space rock concept record that can at times be pretty weird (see the opening of ‘Chaos Army’), however they don’t neglect their roots of simple 80s rock music. An excellent album with complementing intricate artwork, I’ll definitely be exploring more of the band’s back catalogue.”

Tracks and references:

Song of the Swords

‘Your path is chosen, you have no choice.’ Discussing his Fantasy heroes with Colin Greenland in Death is No Obstacle Moorcock commented “The character never has a real choice, they’re always fated by the formula to complete the quest.”

Shade Gate

The supernatural portal through which Elric follows his evil cousin Yyrkoon in search of the twin black swords, Mournblade and Stormbringer.

This is the first of three consecutive tracks inspired by events from the prequel novel Elric of Melnibone.

Sea King

Aka Straasha, Lord of the Water Elementals, whom Elric calls upon for aid when Yyrkoon attempts to have him drowned at sea. Like ‘Song of the Swords’, this song had an additional verse not present on the studio album, but in this case it was reinstated for the tour.

Pulsing Cavern

Having accessed it via the Tunnel Under the Marsh, upon entering the Pulsing Cavern Elric observes ‘a faint pinkish light now came from the walls…The air was warm and thick and salty.’ ‘The whole Elric saga has… very heavy sexual undertones,’ Moorcock points out in his 'The Secret Life of Elric of Melnibone' essay published in Sojan

Elric The Enchanter

Pt1 – The chorus is adapted from the poem ‘Time Ship’, which Moorcock performed with Hawkwind at the Rainbow (18th December,1981).

Pt2 – This later became a mainstay of the Bedouin set list.

Needle Gun

The weapon of choice for another of Moorcock’s characters, Jerry Cornelius; most of Moorcock’s heroes are facets of the Eternal Champion.

Lyrics [uncredited, by request] by Roger Neville-Neil, later to pen 'The War I Survived' and 'Heads' on The Xenon Codex.


Elric’s wife in the later original stories, Zarozinia of Karlaak first appeared in Kings In Darkness (Science Fantasy #54, 1962). Possibly inspired by the steadying influence on Moorcock of Hilary Bailey (they married the following year, though later divorced). 

The penultimate Elric story Sad Giant’s Shield (Science Fantasy #63, 1964) sees Zarozinia abducted by the servants of Chaos and ‘Her lovely body was dreadfully changed so that it now resembled the body of a white worm.’ When Elric arrives to rescue her, Zarozinia impales herself on Stormbringer. 

The Demise

In an interview with Forearm Smash fanzine on the opening night of the Black Sword tour, Brock confirmed that “‘The Demise’ is wrongly titled actually, really it’s called ‘Lords of Chaos’, and the stupid company had written the wrong title.” The correct title was restored for the Live Chronicles album.

Sleep of a 1000 Tears

Surprisingly for an Elric concept album, this is the only track to actually feature a Moorcock credit.

Chaos Army

‘It was with astonishment that they sighted Jagreen Lern’s horde. Every fiend and warrior on Earth seemed to have come to fight under the Theocrat’s standard’.’ from Doomed Lord’s Passing (Science Fantasy #64, 1964).

Horn of Destiny

Another mis-titled track, again corrected on Live Chronicles, as ‘Horn of Fate’.

In the final story of the saga, Elric is tasked by the Lords of Law with locating the Horn of Fate. ‘The first blast will wake the Dragons of Imrryr, the second will allow the White Lords entrance to the earthly plane…The third will herald the death of our world!’ – from Doomed Lord’s Passing (Science Fantasy 1964).

From the same sessions:


Appearing as a lively B-side to ‘Needle Gun’, this Davey instrumental is named after ‘Aricoh who was known as the Keeper of the Two Black Swords’ (Elric of Melnibone). 

Also played live:


“I was working at Chappell’s music in Bond Street at the time and wrote the lyrics during my lunch hour! The character reminded me of Huw in some respects, i.e. fiercely loyal to his friends.” (Marion Lloyd-Langton)

Moonglum of Elwher was introduced in the second Elric story While The Gods Laugh (Science Fantasy #49, 1961). In an article published in Sojan, Moorcock described the character as “to some extent a close and valued friend of mine who has been a lot of help in various ways over the last few years.” At the climax of the Elric saga, Moonglum goes the way of most of Moorcock’s characters who get too close to Elric – he is slaughtered by Stormbringer. 

The Dreaming City

Imrryr the Beautiful, the sole city of the Dragon Isle of Melnibone and Elric’s ancestral seat. The inhabitants ‘dream monstrous and magnificent dreams, for it was in their dreams that the nobles of Melnibone found most of their pleasures; they had ever been a moody, inward-looking race and it was for this quality that Imrryr had come to be known as the Dreaming City.’ Elric of Melnibone (Hutchinson 1972).

Studio vs. Live - The Debate

“In a way, the studio album was a bit more of a taster, the live album was after we’d been playing it for a while and so we knew a bit more of what it was all about.” (Dave Brock)

The Chronicle of the Cursed Sleeve

I talked to the album's cover artist, John Coulthart, for an anniversary feature on The Chronicle of the Black Sword for Record Collector in 2015; space considerations prevented quoting his comments in full in that article, so they are presented here in their unedited form:

The Black Sword album for me has always been a combination of pleasure and disappointment. I was very pleased initially to hear that Hawkwind were writing a concept based on the Elric books, a series I'd enjoyed for many years. Cover discussions were a little more detailed than usual since this design was sketched out beforehand then approved by the Dave Brock and co. Prior to this I'd been creating something vague after equally vague requests; communication back then was all done via post and call box since I didn't own a phone. 

This was the first album where I was able to create an integrated front and back cover design. A friend had recently found me a copy of George Bain's Celtic Art: Its Methods of Construction (1951), a study of the creation of Celtic knotwork, and I was keen to use this somehow. Rather than do a cover that looked like a fantasy paperback the idea was to use the knotwork style to create something that was suitably Hawkish whilst also fitting the Elric theme. The front cover has some nods back to earlier Hawkart in the winged sphere - which goes back to Barney Bubbles and his obsession with Ancient Egypt - and the eye-in-a-triangle, a symbol which first appeared on the cover of the Hawklog booklet in the In Search of Space album, and which I scattered throughout many of my Hawkwind designs.

All the lettering on the album was hand-drawn - not very well in places - using letterforms based on examples in the Bain book from the books of Kells and Lindisfarne. I drew the track listing onto the artwork for the back cover, a decision that later proved to be a bad one when the band decided to change the running order of the songs, hence the large purple square that spoils the design. My lack of any direct contact with the record company made problems like this inevitable; I was trying to do graphic design at a distance without having any communication at all with the printers responsible for the sleeve. Before digital design, the creation of an album cover could be a complicated business involving photo-mechanical transfers, knockout areas, overlays, typesetters and more; if you weren't in direct contact with the printer (or somebody who was) then you simply had to hope for the best.

The result of the above led to the disaster with the cover printing, the front of which has an unwarranted blue cast that dulled the impact of the sleeve and, for me, ruined the whole thing. You can see how the cover should have looked by comparing the background colours of front and back; the front was also printed in its true colours on the back page of the 1985 tour programme. It was this, and the messy appearance of the lettering on the back, that pushed me further towards ending my involvement with Hawkwind and doing something of my own over which I'd have complete control. Another artist, Bob Walker, worked on the Black Sword inner sleeve, and he was eager to continue working with the band so I handed the reins to him.

For a fuller feature on this album, including an interview with Dave Brock, alongside a history of Flicknife Records, see the November 2015 issue of Record Collector, available here.

The Chronicle of the Black Sword, and its live counterpart, Live Chronicles, are available as part of the Cherry Red / Atomhenge reissues.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Distant Horizons - Tracks & References

The view according to Jerry Richards: 

On BOC-L, Doug Bates posted some comments that Richards had conveyed to him regarding the concept of Distant Horizons: “It does contain a loose theme about humankind being enslaved to its technology.” He likened “the civilisation we’ve created as being a machine out of control.”

What they said then:

One web-based reviewer heard Hawkwind “delving into space erotica” and enthused about the sharing of writing credits: “Distant Horizons has many tracks credited to Tree, Chadwick and Richards. This is a good thing; Hawkwind has always been a living spaceship that even Brock cannot control alone.”

What they say now:

Hawkwind fan website Starfarer asked, of the 2011 reissue, “What were Hawkwind in 1997?  Who they were is an easier question (Brock, Chadwick, Richards, Tree) and where they were, too: in uneasy transition from the ending of one model of how-Hawkwind-works to the genesis of another.” It does, though, declare the new version as having extra layers of detail revealed by an improved mix, moving it, in the reviewer's eye, from a 5/10 effort all the way up to an, err, 6/10. Read the site's extensive and well-argued reviewed here.

Tracks and references:

Distant Horizons

It was originally planned to use Distant Horizons as the title for a second Psychedelic Warriors CD, though this never materialised.

The title is misquotes the Boy Scouts’ song ‘Riding Along on the Crest of a Wave’ (‘All our eyes on/the distant horizon’).

Phetamine Street

Mention is made of ‘Ketamine,’ a non-barbiturate, rapid-acting anaesthetic particularly used as a horse tranquilliser, but also as a ‘club drug’ at rave parties.

Waimea Canyon Drive

Waimea Canyon, on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai (see below), is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific – though it is not remotely as large as Grand Canyon itself.


From Arabic (al-kimiya), the long sought method of turning base metal into gold. 

Clouded Vision

Lyrically, this one sounds like a Busking Dave Brock number, with its 'will I ever discover/what lies in store for me' refrain and its coda that 'the answer lies within your mind.' But it also keeps with other themes of the album in declaiming the world's diminishing resources.

Reptoid Vision

Population Overload


Presumably their tour bus doesn’t have any of these nasty oil-driven things?


Kauai is a Hawaiian island, offering “a multitude of natural attractions. Visit Waimea Canyon, or paddle your kayak deep into the depths of Waikanaloa Cave.” Nice.

Taxi for Max

A hidden track, made up (as one reviewer put it) of “noises, whistles and pots clanging under heavy delay effect. Hmmmm … OK already.”

Love in Space

When Hawkwind played this song on satellite channel VH-1, only the vocals and guitar were live – neither Davey’s bass or Chadwick’s drums were plugged in and both musicians mimed to a backing track. “Dave’s guitar was live – and Ron’s vocal as well.” (Richard Chadwick)

Also recorded circa Distant Horizon sessions


“I don’t think they ['Archiac' and 'Morpheus'] were part of the Distant Horizons sessions per se, but they were recorded around about the same time. Ron and I wrote those. In retrospect, those two songs  are the two best tracks on the [Atomhenge] re-release, yet they never made it on to the original. It’s very psychedelic: crawling, screaming acid rock from this crazy old band called Hawkwind, and it’s the new direction that Ron and I, and Richard to a large extent, were keen to push.” (Jerry Richards)

Archiac is a French commune in the Charente-Maritime department in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of southwestern France. Tenuous linkage... doesn't seem to have any relationship to the song!


Morpheus is the God of Dreams. In Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics (Vertigo/DC) he appears as Dream, one of the seven Endless.

Hawkwind Mythology (See also Dave Anderson's car, Tim Blake's telephone call, the Hawklords' dancers...)

Legend has it that this album was rushed, pressed before the band really felt it was a properly prepared record, and suffered from being effectively 'unfinished'. And, unusually in Hawk-myth, this one has basis in fact:

Dave Brock: “It was one of those rushed things where Douglas wanted us to get an album together; we didn’t have enough material and I had to use some of my solo things and it wasn’t particularly wonderful. It could have been really good but it had to be gotten together quickly and that was it. We called it the ‘tombstone’ album because Douglas did [the tombstone cover] on his computer in paint shop.”

Jerry Richards: “We weren’t best served by the cuts that ended up on the official album release, which weren’t the ones that the band had chosen. There was an element of technical nonsense that got in the way of what we’d imagined that album was going to be. I don’t think that was necessarily down to the band, or the mastering plant, or the record company, it was just a lot of copies and crossover and things are going to go astray, and once the damn thing is out there, the cat is out of the bag and that’s it.”

Ron Tree: “Doug Smith told us it had to be done by a certain date. Tracks were mixed when I wasn’t there, and then it was put on the shelf for a month. So we could have had another a month to work on it.” 

Passport-holders only Hawkwind 1997 live CD sleeve

On the Distant Horizon, looking back...

Jerry Richards (interviewed for Sonic Assassins): “I brought a lot of digital expertise into the band as Richard [Chadwick] was, not struggling, but trying to get to grips with programming, drum tracks and sequencer arrangements and what-not, and I probably had the edge at that time with all that technology. A useful addition, so that we could do more stuff ‘in house’ rather than have to farm it out to expensive production units. Arguably people would say that could have been seen as a mistake because what you really want to do in a crisis is to maximise your output, and I think we chose to do that, but we didn’t have all the skills we might have wished for at our disposal. So some of the output from the earlier part of my involvement was maybe a little patchy; that’s not all down to our lack of understanding of equipment and production capability, it was also because the nature of the business itself was changing. Remember, the dance craze was burgeoning with drum ‘n’ bass, and there were a lot of other distractions away from what you’d call traditional spacerock music and esoteric music in general. We didn’t then have the general resurgence in psychedelia and acid rock that we subsequently have had with people looking back to the middle and late 60s, not just The Beatles, but garage rock coming out of America, The Silver Apples, Fifty Foot Hose, so bands that have had an influence on bands that have come through, such as Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized. Hawkwind have always found themselves on the crest of a wave, or down in a trough somewhere, where you’re sculling around trying to find something to get to grips with. But if you’ve been a band for that many years that’s going to happen to you, not that you’re going to be overtaken but you can find yourselves going down alleyways or out on a curve somewhere and before you can get back on the motorway you need to go and explore that territory out in the wilderness, just to give yourself a bit of grounding. You’re trying to reassert yourself and create a brand new vibe and if you’ve got a load of new people who’ve joined your band you all need to settle down and find where you’re comfortable working with one another. You need people to come onto your ideas at an angle, things that you can’t think of because you’re not them. That’s one of the reasons why I like working with Ron, because we pick at each other’s material and by doing that you come up with material that you might have had elements of in your back brain but you need other people’s sensibilities to coalesce it into what it is.

“You were striving to create something you haven’t done before, as an individual, that the band hasn’t done before - or maybe for some time - and you’re trying to explore those avenues with a new approach. And coming into the band, my mind-set was very strong, so I was willing to take on what seemed insurmountable problems and break them all down and deal with them piece-by-piece. It’s a standard managerial approach but it does work and there are fundamentals in the business that you need to be mindful of and stick with. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve got as much energy as you would like to be able to put into the creative process, because the band at that time was experiencing great difficulties in its management structure and its strictly business capacity, and I did turn a lot of my attention towards that, arguably to the detriment of some of my musical input which can be seen as being a bit patchy. You’ve got to have an eye on some objective, some sort of purpose to where you want to get to, whether writing a song or a concept album or putting on a stage show that has a dramatically layered-out theme, especially in the world of Hawkwind where you’ve got fans who come along and are fascinated by all of these things. As long as you’ve got a clear-ish objective, it doesn’t matter if you take circuitous routes to actually get there as long as you arrive there all around the same time. I think Ron and I introduced that kind of feel and concept back to the band, where Dave could feel comfortable with the newer elements of things that were being introduced, because it was just as much as a wrench and a change for him, as it was for us to join the band.”

The 2011 reissue, with extra tracks, was released by Atomhenge/Cherry Red Records and is available in a variety of formats.

Monday, 30 January 2017

The Earth Ritual Preview EP - Tracks & References

The view, according to Frenchy Gloder: “Lemmy was a friend from the punk days and I just asked him as a favour because in my mind if Lemmy did it then the others would just follow. So I was eternally grateful to him for that; he was supposed to do a track for the Hawklords – Friends & Relations album that we did in 2011; he couldn’t do it in the end, but I’m eternally grateful for him doing 'Night Of The Hawks' because that created a big, big, wave. We were supposed to be doing an album, The Earth Ritual, which was going to be the follow up to Space Ritual with a gatefold… Some people who were in Hawkwind at the time, such as Harvey [Bainbridge], weren’t on the A-side and so weren’t going to be on the radio... Harvey was mightily pissed-off, being their bass-player at the time. And Harvey was the one who said that if it wasn’t for Flicknife, RCA would have taken Hawkwind more seriously. I love Harvey, he’s a great friend, but I don’t know why he would say that.”

What they said then:

“‘Night of the Hawks’ is a crushing war song… and should be bought by everyone who has ever slagged off the ‘Lords. Including me.” (David Tibet, Sounds 17 March 1984)

Tracks and references:

Night of the Hawks

“It was written as a Hawkwind anthem, for everybody to sing along with! A reflection of the festival scenes… people looking like peacocks in their bright colours.” (Dave Brock)

Lyrics partly by fan Julian Bishop, hence the ‘thank you’ credit in the 1984 tour book.

Dream Dancers

Dragons & Fables

“I wrote the lyrics in 1972 for Amon Din – I suppose the lyrics were meant to convey what it felt like being a free spirit following a nasty period of being imprisoned by a jealous maniac (not Huw, he was a breath of fresh air!).” (Marion Lloyd-Langton)

Green Finned Demon

Captain Nemo was the mysterious anti-hero of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870).

Also played live:

Mark of Cain

Not played on the Earth Ritual tour of spring 1984, but included in the subsequent autumn tour of the UK, and again for a series of dates in June 1985.

“Words and music by Huw, signifying Huw & Marion’s belief in the Almighty,” (ML-L)

“Occasionally I thought about [the conflict between religion and Hawkwind’s ‘Chaos’ imagery] but the bottom line is that your internal religious feelings are yours. Anything that Hawkwind does is entertainment – unless you’re a complete idiot you don’t take any of it seriously. If you haven’t got that mustard seed of belief in you, you can get written off to all spectrums of sci-fi and God knows what…” (Huw Lloyd-Langton)

In Genesis, Cain is the first son of Adam & Eve. When Cain murdered his brother, Abel, he was cursed to a life of hard toil by God, who set a ‘mark upon Cain’ (Genesis 4:15) which prevented anyone from killing him. 

Got Your Number

“Words & music by Huw; the lyrics speak for themselves ‘Christ Crucified’ – Huw is not a bible-bashing Christian but often said, ‘if that’s what they did to Christ…’ then we should not be surprised when justice doesn’t serve us? That’s not to say we shouldn’t fight for it!” (ML-L)

Only recorded by Hawkwind for a session on BBC Radio's The Friday Rock Show, but appears on The Lloyd-Langton Group's Night Air album.

The Curse of Man

A Michael Moorcock poem, recited by Moorcock at the Hammersmith Odeon on the Earth Ritual tour (13th & 14th March, 1984, also at Oxford Apollo 17th March 1984) and by Nik Turner during the Autumn 1984 tour (the later occasions set to an electronic musical backing by Bainbridge). Published in Back Brain Recluse #1 (1984).

Watching the Grass Grow

Originally from the Inner City Unit album Passout and re-recorded by both ICU for their subsequent Punkadelic LP and by Turner for his solo album The Prophets of Time.

‘We know where all the flowers went today’ parodies the 1950s anti-war folk song ‘Where Have all the Flowers Gone?’ (Pete Seeger & Joe Hickerson).

‘Tell me Doc Spock have you got all your answers,’ a reference to parenting Guru Dr Benjamin Spock.

The Right Stuff

The title comes from Tom Wolfe’s legendary history of the early days of the US space programme and the pioneering test pilots like Chuck Yeager who pointed the way to the stars. First printed as a series of articles in Rolling Stone in 1973, a highly-regarded film adaptation by Philip Kaufman was made in 1983.

The Earth Ritual Preview is included in Atomhenge's reissue of The Chronicle of the Black Sword.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Choose Your Masques - Tracks & References

Choose Your Masques Soundcheck
Bristol Colston Hall 31/10/82
(Marc Sperhauk)

The view according to Harvey Bainbridge: 

“I’ve never thought of Hawkwind as being a heavy metal band. I always thought we were a bit cleverer than that.” (On the RCA-era Hawkwind’s drift into heavy rock).

What they said then:

Church of Hawkwind saw the band slipping into an esoteric rut destined for oblivion,” commented Dave Dickson, in Kerrang!. “Choose Your Masques, while not exactly ‘commercial’ has indications that their imaginative flair has been rekindled.” 

What they say now:

Choose Your Masques
(ATOMHENGE) www.cherryred.co.uk

For the casual listener picking up previously out of print albums and for the dedicated Hawkwind enthusiast exploring the side roads and alternative pathways that the vast range of bonus material has illuminated, the acquisition and reissue of Hawkwind’s 1976 – 1997 catalogue under curator Mark Powell has been a delight. 

We note this to show how Choose Your Masques, a solid enough early-80s album which has a lot of good things going on but doesn’t scale the heights of its provocative RCA stable mate Sonic Attack or indeed match their key 1970s recordings, can really flourish in a programme like this. Embellished by the inclusion of so many unheard songs and alternate mixes of its electronica fused heavy rock, it’s possible to enjoy it in a whole new context. Discover here, for example, how ‘90s return to form ‘Right To Decide’ lyrically started out as the unknown ‘Radio Telepathy’, putting a fresh slant on the development of a genuine Hawkwind classic. 

Therein resides the historian’s quibble, however. What’s lacking is the perspective of the main protagonists on these ‘rejected’ tracks... the whys and wherefores of their omissions or burials that would have awarded an already impressive package the final rating star.
(Ian Abrahams - R2 Magazine, 2013)

Tracks and references

Choose Your Masques

‘And the Masks of War are grinning/ And from under them you howl/ Out the slogans of the part you play/ For the Battle’s starting now’ – an extra verse included in the demo but dropped from the album was preserved for posterity in the tour programme. 

Dream Worker

‘I have come, but I do not choose now, to do what I came to do,’ sampled from the BBC Radio 4 adaptation of The Lord of the Rings and featuring Ian Holm as Frodo Baggins. 

Arrival in Utopia

A word coined by Sir Thomas More for his novel, Utopia (De Optimo Reipublicae Statu deque Nova Insula Utopia, 1516) that came to represent visionary schemes of social reform.


Silver Machine

“What on Earth possessed Brock to revamp this?” asked Dave Dickson in Kerrang! “Take a severe rap across the knuckles.”

Void City

The refrain ‘Void City, Here We Come’ is a Sci-Fi echo of Jan & Dean’s classic ‘Surf City’.

Solitary Mind Games

“It’s just harmonics with a few stray notes and a G-diminished thing on the lower strings,” Huw told Bruce Stringer (Music Street Journal). “A finger picking pattern which Dave Brock actually inspired.” 

Fahrenheit 451

451 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which paper will spontaneously combust, and Fahrenheit 451, a classic work of science fiction by Ray Bradbury, adapted in many different mediums, most notably filmed, in 1966, by Francois Truffaut.

The Scan

Waiting for Tomorrow

“It was inspired by thinking about the threat of nuclear war and ultimately Armageddon and written whilst Huw was rehearsing at Martin Griffin’s studio in Cornwall. I remember having a migraine and going to bed and waking up and penning these lyrics.” (ML-L)

From the same sessions:

Candle Burning

Neither released or played live, but cut as a demo around the time of the Choose Your Masques sessions. “I love lighting candles and watching the flames dance and these lyrics were inspired by music Huw was playing in a candlelit room (in a bedsit in Bayswater).” (ML-L)

Also played live:

Ghost Dance

Refers to a revelation received by Wavoka, a Paiute Indian, in 1889 – the ‘Ghost Dance’ would reunite Native Americans with friends and relatives in the ghost world. This led to a belief that the performing of such a dance would cause the ground to open up and swallow all non-Indians. The fervour with which it was adopted contributed to the massacre at Wounded Knee.


‘Starflight’ finishes with the first two lines of The Lord’s Prayer followed by ‘Mea Culpa’ (from the Latin ‘My Fault’). ‘Ejection’ was originally recorded by Hawkwind for Calvert’s Captain Lockheed project (this version appears on the re-mastered CD of Doremi), The lyric ‘explode into space’ might allude to Steppenwolf’s ‘Born to be Wild’.

Social Alliance

The ‘creatures of the night’ refrain might be inspired by the coda of the Rocky Horror Picture Show song ‘Touch-a-Touch-a-Touch-Me’.

Nik Turner, Choose Your Masques tour
(Marc Sperhauk)

Choose Your Masques On Tour!

When I was writing the first edition of Sonic Assassins, I had some very kind and extensive emails with Marc Sperhauk, famous in Hawkwind mythology for buying Dave’s guitar on the final night of the US tour in 1978, at the Old Waldorf, San Francisco. Marc included in his emails a bit of a ‘tour diary’ from his travels on the 1982 Masques tour, some of which made it into the main text, but which are largely reproduced here:

Bristol Colston Hall 31/10/82

I spent the night on the tour bus riding to Bristol. The band travelled separately (by car I believe). The crew would sleep on the bus and arrive long before the band, for the long and arduous setup. Building the tour and hauling in all those TV sets, in addition to the sound equipment, was a huge undertaking.  I spent the morning helping carry equipment, which was a good political move as far as the roadies were concerned, and erased any misgivings about me for the rest of the tour. I had an open invitation to the roadie bus, but only used it rarely, as I preferred travelling on my own to see the sights of the various cities and towns. I think this was the first night I noticed that Nik would go out to play with the support act, Baron Rojo. It just seemed natural to Nik to show some support for these guys, who had a pretty thankless task.

Southampton Gaumont 1/11/82

Southampton had an orchestra pit in front of the stage, and the band allowed me to hang out there to take photographs. Some of the best shots I have are from this show. Harvey mentioned later he was entertained by my contorting and cavorting down there. In fact they were always open to my camera, even allowing many candid backstage shots.

Dunstable Queensway Hall 4/11/82

This oval shaped hall had the worst sound ever – it wasn’t possible to compensate for the reflected and echoed sound, everyone knew this at the sound check, and it turned into a miserable night.

Norwich East Anglia University 5/11/82

This college venue was quite small, and seemed more like the US shows than any other night.

Ipswich Gaumont 6/11/82

I think this is where we had a Spinal Tap moment, as Harvey and I got lost in a labyrinth under the stage, trying to find the stage door.

Harvey Bainbridge
(Marc Sperhauk)

Leciester De Montfort Hall 7/11/82

I met up with Brian Tawn and he drove us up to this gig. It was here that I first saw the amazing array of bootleg merchandise that was available. Vendors outside the hall had every manner of T-shirt, football scarves, badges and so on. A lot of it was significantly better than the official tour merchandise, a fact that Harvey noted and complained about extensively.

Folkestone Leas Cliff Hall 9/11/82

A picaresque venue on a cliff overlooking the sea. Stage was too small for the backdrop, and barely held the TVs. Bob Calvert joined the band singing some numbers (he was expected because he “lived near there.”). Before the show Nik went for a night swim; he appeared in the dressing room quite wet and excitedly claimed he was caught in a rip tide and almost dragged out to sea. Was in a record store in the afternoon and Dave wandered in and bought an Australian copy of Roadhawks I had looked at a few minutes before. I was surprised he had to shop for this stuff and talked to him about it, and first learned he kept a kind of archive.

The next morning I met Martin, Huw and [dancer] Jane in the lobby of their hotel to accept an offered ride to the next gig. I don’t recall why this came up, and it was the only time I actually travelled with any members of the band. What struck me at the time was how mundane it all was. I was in the backseat with Jane, and most of the conversation with Huw and Martin was about the available radio. I remember thinking afterwards I could have asked Huw all sorts of things about the early days, but it just didn’t come up.

Guildford Civic Hall 11/11/82

Sat in a great balcony for the first time for a full view for the stage, and I remember I was really impressed with the way the TV set graphics integrated with the backdrop, lights, dancers, and so on. It was a full visual composite that was lost from anywhere too near the stage – where I usually was.

Hammersmith Odeon 12/11/82 and 13/11/82

Mike Moorcock performed both nights. I believe both nights were sold out. This was when I was truly overwhelmed by just what a big deal Hawkwind was in the UK. The Odeon was an amazing situation, probably the closest to the true rock star experience. Backstage was off-limits to fans (perhaps the only time for any of the dates I was on), and though I wasn’t asked to leave (Harvey even took me on a walkabout through the labyrinth of the theatre, eventually finding a small bar on a third floor somewhere backstage) I ended up not staying after the shows because it was just too overwhelming. I had first or second row seats thanks to the band, but the people sitting there were not the typical fans I had rubbed shoulders with, but older, better dressed, people. A smartly dressed woman next to me assumed I was with the press due to my camera. The second night I stayed back at the soundboard with Dil the sound guy and found that much more comfortable.

Chippenham Gold Diggers 15/11/82

A dark cold club and an odd place to end the tour. However, they opened the pub after hours and there was a small, bittersweet, end of tour party that went until dawn. It still wasn’t what one might expect. People sitting around, having a few drinks, chatting and laughing. Not the full-blown kind of insanity one might expect from the psychedelic warlords. Jane gave me the sweetest kiss when we said goodbye that I’ll never forget.

Marc Sperhauk and Dave Brock
(Marc Sperhauk)

Choose Your Masques is contained in the RCA Years Boxset from Atomhenge. A compilation of the  Hammersmith gigs has been released as 'Coded Languages', also from Atomhenge.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Hawkwind In Your Area - Tracks & References

The view according to Richard Chadwick: 

“Just a collection of songs we had floating around that various people in the band had clubbed together… it was made on the cheap! They were hard times…”

What they said then:

Keith Henderson, for Aural Innovations, contrasted the live cuts from 1997 included on this album, with the ‘Passport Holders’ CD from the same year (HW’97): “the sound is more subdued and takes a lot of the energy out of the tunes.” Conceding that in other circumstances this “smoother mix might have been preferable,” Henderson favoured “the rawer and punchier sound on HW’97.” Also on Aural Innovations, Paul Ward was disappointed with the CD’s studio material, though he singled out ‘Hippy’ for praise (“a slow, yet powerful, track”) comparing it to “early PIL… both the vocals and bass line could have come off one of Lydon’s better creations.” The editor of Aural Innovations, Jerry Kranitz, used In Your Area to benchmark the current state of Hawkwind: “I can confidently say that the creative spirit is alive and well … a solid release by a tight band that still rocks straight into the cosmos.” 

What they say now:

Err, where is it???

Tracks & References:


See ‘Tracks & References’ Doremifasolatido

Hawkwind in Your Area

‘In Your Area’ a Madchester phrase, much used in a live context by bands such as The Happy Mondays, circa 1990.


See ‘Tracks & References’ Distant Horizons

Love in Space

Hawkwind had already recorded an instrumental called ‘Love in Space’, written by Alan Davey for the White Zone CD. “I was trying to think of a title, so Dave said ‘call it ‘Love in Space’’. Then he wrote his own song and took it back – that’s okay.” (Alan Davey)

Rat Race

Though “Rat Race” is given to embody the relentless pressure to succeed (particularly in the cities), the expression originally referred to a form of jazz dancing practised by American teenagers in the 1930s.   

Aerospace-Age Inferno

References are made to ‘Silver Machine’ (‘…worth more than you’re worth’), the Human Torch from Marvel’s Fantastic Four (‘Flame On…’) and Pink Floyd’s ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun’ (‘Set the controls for the heart of the Earth…’).

First Landing on Medusa

In Greek mythology, the visage of the Gorgon, Medusa, was so terrible that anyone who looked upon it was turned to stone. 

I am the Reptoid

“They’re here now taking women up there and impregnating them with alien sperm to generate the next race… The planet’s going through a cycle, everything changes every so often and we’ve gone as far as we can, we have to evolve into the next stage… a combination between alien and human. That’s why people get abducted, they’re just experimenting.” (Ron Tree, VH-1)

Ron Tree
(Andreas Stuwe)

The Nazca

In 1926, the first over-flight of Nazca Pampa, in Peru, created a stir by revealing a landscape covered with ancient man-made outlines of people and animals. Debunking the fantastical claims of UFO mythologists, Nigel Davies (The Incas) concedes that “Probably we shall never reach a precise conclusion as to their meaning.” 


According to the website Common Errors in English, ‘Hippy’ is an adjective describing someone with wide hips. ‘Hippie’ was coined by ‘older, more sophisticated hipsters looking down on the new kids as mere “hippies”… confusing these two is definitely unhip.’ You’d think this band would have got it right.


A treeless, grassy plain in central US and southern Canada, home to the prairie dog. 

Your Fantasy


Canadian-based Luxotica is a company that supplies fire spinning/dancing equipment – “Luxotica is about sharing the joy and empowerment and belief in yourself,” says their advertising. 

Diana Park

There is a Diana Park Hotel, in Estepona, Spain. There’s also a Diana Park who goes to La Canada High School (according to her website, in 2004). Brock notes this track as a reference to Princess Diana.