‘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 Melnibon√© 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”
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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.
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion