Choose Your Masques Soundcheck
Bristol Colston Hall 31/10/82
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
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.
‘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.
“What on Earth possessed Brock to revamp this?” asked Dave Dickson in Kerrang! “Take a severe rap across the knuckles.”
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.”
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.
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:
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:
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’.
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
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.
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
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.