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Hawkwind: Psychedelic Space Rock Warriors on the Edge of Time
03.13.2014
02:44 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Hawkwind
Motörhead
Michael Moorcock


Barney Bubbles cover for Hawkwind’s Space Ritual

When you’re writing on a daily basis about popular—or unpopular—culture, it sure helps if you’ve got a great deal of enthusiasm for the topic at hand. You can’t feel lukewarm because if you don’t care about something, why should you expect your readers to care, right? The whimsical nature of what we cover here at Dangerous Minds does come down to an editorial policy of, well, whimsy on a daily basis. Luckily we’re all enthusiastic people!

Like many of you, I’m on a never-ending quest to find “something new to listen to” or something old that’s “new again” if only because I missed out on it the first time. Right now, the thing I am absolutely off-the-scale enthusiastic about is Hawkwind. I am hoping to share my enthusiasm here with you the reader in the hopes that you’ll get something out of it.

The other day—Monday—I noticed that there was a new-ish (2013) box set of Hawkwind’s Warrior On The Edge Of Time album and that it had been remixed for 5.1 surround by the incomparable Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree. As I have written here in the past, I’m interested in pretty much everything and anything when it comes to classic albums that have been snazzed up by Mr. Wilson—his name is the mark of quality when it comes to 5.1 surround—even stuff that I normally wouldn’t be that interested in (Yes, Jethro Tull, XTC). That’s not the case with Hawkwind. As soon as I saw that his Warrior On The Edge Of Time existed, via an Amazon recommendation, I couldn’t hit the buy button fast enough. “Assault And Battery” on the human anatomy—my human anatomy—in 5.1 surround as remixed by the one and only Steve Wilson? Count me in.

It arrived the next day—Tuesday—and that evening, after inhaling copious amounts of entertainment insurance (the nice little man who sold it to me called it “Lemon Skunk,” I think, and he said that it was the best weed in the shire!) I sat down in the darkness to let the majesty of Hawkwind’s Warrior On The Edge Of Time LOUDLY wash over me.

Now I should mention that I have not listened to this album in a very, very long time. Don’t get me wrong, I know every note of it but I probably haven’t heard Warrior On The Edge Of Time since 1983. My sense memory of listening to the LP I owned as a teenager is still very strong however, so maybe that’s what had me salivating over the prospects of what the extended audio field of a 5.1 remix could do for such a freaky, wild sounding album.

I was not disappointed.

Hawkwind was/is a band that had to either be recorded live in concert or else live in the studio. They’re hardly a jam band, but to lock into that monolithic Stooges meet Neu! groove would have been impossible to achieve otherwise. The way that Wilson has refashioned Warrior On The Edge Of Time gives the listener an amazing sense of what it would have been like to be IN the studio with them (not in the control room, but standing among them in the studio) and then he takes the weirdo electronic “space rock” noises they were known for—and Nik Turner’s sax—and weaves those distinctive sonics in and out of the 5.1 configuration in a manner that is both trippy as hell, and from a creative standpoint, the choices he made are simply thrilling. The vocal treatments JUMP out of the speakers and hover around you in the room like holograms or ghosts.

It’s really impressive stuff. I was stoned, true, but then again I usually am. These motherfuckers were just… far out. Hawkwind were a group who set out to push the boundaries as far as they could go at a time in history when boundary-pushing was all the rage. They to my ears, are the sole British prog rock group of the 1970s who were looking to Amon Düül II, Can, Neu! and other Krautrockers for inspiration. In that regard, a pretty good argument could be made that Hawkwind are also the missing link between prog and post punk via their influence on groups like Public Image Ltd. or the Psychedelic Furs. And of course there’s that whole Motörhead connection…

It’s kind of strange how low of a profile Hawkwind have in the US. I think most people who have never sampled the wares write them off as a “crazy hippie” band or assume that because Lemmy played bass with them during their classic era that this implies the music must somehow be moronic. Maybe it’s the participation of fantasy overlord Michael Moorcock and the spoken word bits that marks Hawkwind as “music for nerdy boys,” I don’t know. The only people who seem to care about the band stateside seem to be Motörhead fans, whereas YOU, yes YOU THERE listening to Faust reading this, you might find that there is much for you to enjoy, too, in the classic Hawkwind albums.

Have a listen to Hawkwind’s Warrior On The Edge Of Time in stereo and try to imagine how sick it would sound coming out of five speakers and a subwoofer.
 

 
The promo film for “Silver Machine” that was filmed for Top of The Pops. This would explain why their amazonian gogo dancer Stacia has her clothes on…

 
Below, Hawkwind do “Urban Guerilla” and here Stacia is more casual in her attire, you might say…

 
The terrific BBC documentary on Hawkwind over the decades:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘The Chronicle of the Black Sword’: A Sword & Sorcery concert from Hawkwind and Michael Moorcock

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Without the influence of mercurial Robert Calvert, whose factitious relationship with the band came to an end in 1979, Hawkwind returned to the more reliable world of Sword & Sorcery for their 1985 album The Chronicle of the Black Sword. Inspired by occasional Hawkwind member and collaborator Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné series of novels, The Chronicle of the Black Sword was an ambitious project that led Hawkwind move into their most Spinal Tap moment when they toured an extended stage show for the album.

A film recording was made of Hawkwind performing The Chronicle of the Black Sword at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, December 1985, which was released as a video. It all looks frightfully dated now, with its mime and dreadful video projection, and is so dark it would appear to have been shot with the lens cap on (which maybe no bad thing) but the quality of Hawkwind’s performance somehow makes it all worth it.

Track List:

01. Narration (“The Chronicle Of The Black Sword”)/“Song Of The Swords”
02. Narration/“Sea King”
03. Narration (“Dead God’s Homecoming”)/“Master Of The Universe”
04. “Choose Your Masques”/“Fight Sequence”
05. “Needlegun”
06. “Zarozinia”
07. “Lords Of Chaos”/“The Dark Lords”/“Wizards Of Pan Tang”
08. “Moonglum”
09. “Elric The Enchanter”
10. “Conjuration Of Magnu/Magnu”
11. Narration (“The Final Fight”)/“Horn Of Destiny”
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Hawkwind: Documentary on Space Rock’s Sonic Warriors

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They may have looked like the oldest hippies in town, but before Punk, Hawkwind was the unwashed boy band of counter culture. Their music - the hymn book for the disenfranchised, the geeks, the loners, the smart kids at school, who never tried to please teacher. To be a fan was like running away to some intergalactic circus. John Lydon was a fan, and the Sex Pistols regularly performed “Silver Machine” - Hawkwind’s classic Dave Brock / Robert Calvert single, with its defining vocal by Lemmy (Ian Kilmister). Like millions of others, this was the song that first introduced me to Hawkwind, when it was played under a visual cornucopia from a performance at the Dunstable Civic Hall, on Top of the Pops in 1972.

Formed in 1969, Hawkwind were a rather sweaty and masculine mix of Acid Rock (LSD was handed out at gigs) and Space Rock. They appealed to those with an interest in Jerry Cornelius, Ballard, Burroughs, Philip K Dick, Freak Brothers’ comics, black holes, Gramsci, Kropotkin, Stacia and Derek ‘n’ Clive. In sixth form at school, we discussed the merits Quark, Strangeness and Charm against Warrior on the Edge of Time; Hawklords versus Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music or Doremi Fasol Latido. Hawkwind were an albums band, unlike Punk and New Wave which then seemed defined by singles, issued as keenly as revolutionary pamphlets. There was a ritual to playing thirty-three-and-a-third, long-playing discs: opening the sleeve, reading the liner notes or lyrics, cleaning the disc and stylus, listening to all of side 1, then side 2. It was like attending mass and sharing in the holy sacrament.

Hawkwind evolved from its original line-up - Dave Brock (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Nik Turner (saxophone, flute, vocals), Huw Lloyd-Langton (guitar, vocals), John A. Harrison (bass guitar, vocals), Dik Mik (Synthesizer), Terry Ollis (drums), Mick Slattery (guitar), to include amongst others such wayward talents as poet and singer Robert Calvert (who died too soon), Lemmy, and author Michael Moorcock. Being a fan of Hawkwind was like a rites of passage, that opened doors to other equally experimental and original music.

More than forty years on, Hawkwind, under the helm of its only original member Dave Brock, is still touring the world, bringing an incredible back catalogue of music and tuning people in to a world of possibility.

Hawkwind tour the UK in December, details here.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Michael Moorcock: “Starship Stormtroopers”

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Great 1978 essay from the Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review where sainted SF writer Michael Moorcock takes a heavy swing at right-wing science fiction writers and fans. Great stuff in here.

An anarchist is not a wild child, but a mature, realistic adult imposing laws upon the self and modifying them according to an experience of life, an interpretation of the world. A ‘rebel’, certainly, he or she does not assume ‘rebellious charm’ in order to placate authority (which is what the rebel heroes of all these genre stories do). There always comes the depressing point where Robin Hood doffs a respectful cap to King Richard, having clobbered the rival king. This sort of implicit paternalism is seen in high relief in the currently popular Star Wars series which also presents a somewhat disturbing anti-rationalism in its quasi-religious ‘Force’ which unites the Jedi Knights (are we back to Wellsian ‘samurai’ again?) and upon whose power they can draw, like some holy brotherhood, some band of Knights Templar. Star Wars is a pure example of the genre (in that it is a compendium of other people’s ideas) in its implicit structure—quasi-children, fighting for a paternalistic authority, win through in the end and stand bashfully before the princess while medals are placed around their necks.

Star Wars carries the paternalistic messages of almost all generic adventure fiction (may the Force never arrive on your doorstep at three o’clock in the morning) and has all the right characters. It raises ‘instinct’ above reason (a fundamental to Nazi doctrine) and promotes a kind of sentimental romanticism attractive to the young and idealistic while protective of existing institutions. It is the essence of a genre that it continues to promote certain implicit ideas even if the author is unconscious of them. In this case the audience also seems frequently unconscious of them.

(Link here.)

Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment