image001.gif (18104 bytes)

HAWKWIND
COSMIC CALYPSO AND SONIC SURPRISE
NICK KENT PREVIEWS THE NEW ALBUM, DANCER, CHORDS AND ROAD SHOW

FROM NME DATED 11/11/72

Unless you're deaf dumb and blind, or alternatively haven't been keeping up with the music press, you will know that Hawkwind embark this week upon their fabled Space Ritual, once a germ in the brain of Robert Calvert and now a full blown spectacular, around the country.

Now the question you will doubtless be asking is.... will this great creation, surely the most adventurous project that the Sonic assassins have constructed in their career so far, change the world as we know it?

Or, perhaps more realistically, how will a bunch of loveable freaks like Hawkwind, so renowned for their untogetherness, keep it together?

I can't supply you with all the answers, but yours devotedly did venture down to rehearsals - at Jubilee Studios in cosmic Covent Garden by the site of the old U.F.O experiments - to attempt to pick up on the flow of the proceedings.

Once inside, I perceived certain members of the band vaguely attempting a rehearsal; Dave Brock cutting a fine figure in an Afghan coat, was seated on an amplifier playing around on his beloved custom-built guitar, while Nik Turner seemed also intent on pursuing his musical studies. DikMik had fallen asleep by some speakers, while wandering poet Calvert, back in the merry throng once again, looked earnestly confused.

At the appearance of a newcomer, things came to a halt and I found myself interviewing bassist Lemmy the lurch.

The first item of news is that the famous bass player has purchased "new knobs" for his 25 instrument (actually it was 27.50p but 25 is a rounder sum, and anyway, Lemmy still hasn't paid anything for it .)

I probed deeper; how were rehearsals going? some mumbling to the effect that things were coming together.

The night before, the scene had deteriorated into a party, while manager Doug Smith was conspicuous in his absence owing to his belief that the cosmic combo would perhaps get things together better without his constant hustling  for them to constructively rehearse.

The whole concept for the Space Ritual is apparently based around Robert Calvert's idea of a space ship which loses control, with the songs built around it's adventures lost in space.

The emphasis is on an adventure rather than a moral thesis.

The idea is one the band have been toying  with for a year now, beginning as a fantasy which United Artists, their record company, were none to keen to finance (first conception was for  an inflatable plastic dome to be taken around the country and set up like a circus, so building up a total environmental setting   complete with multi screen projectors showing all manner of films)

Now that "Silver Machine" has pointed to their commercial mass appeal, the fantasy has become a reality (complete with all the compromises such a transaction produces) and here they all are, ready to go.

The whole spectacle will last roughly two hours complete with all new songs except for "Born To Go" (recorded for posterity on the "Greasy Truckers" album) and "Brainstorm" (to be found in 12 minute form on the new "Doremi Fasolatido" album available on November 10)

All the new numbers will eventually find their way onto the Space Ritual double album, probably to be recorded live.

Aficionados of the supreme three chord bliss of Hawkwind need not be too worried by these new ideas - the music will be served up with that loveable raw "joi de vivre" that's been the bands trademark since the beginning.

Already a new dancer, Renee has been brought in.

A veteran psychedelic performer for bands like the Quicksilver Messenger service ( between '66 and '68) and the Jefferson Airplane for two years, Miss Renee posseses an uncanny control of her limbs and is an undoubted asset to the bands line-up.

Stacia, the bands resident dancer, will probably not take to the road with the Ritual.

Her reasons stem from a personal desire to improve her dancing talents which means she will spend the time practising with an instructor.

Still, it's all very much in the air at the moment, and there's yet a chance that Stacia will be performing during the time the show is on the road.

The new album "Doremi Fasolatido" (title along with cover concept courtesy, Barney Bubbles, mastermind behind the "In Search Of Space" sleeve and the "Glastonbury" package amongst others) is an extension and further definition of the bands talents so far.

The first side features "Brainstorm", a natural single which the band perhaps wisely refuse to release, fearing the label that comes with successful single releases.

A live favourite, it sounds remarkably powerful from the acetate, as does "Space", a Dave Brock odyssey with a would you believe strange calypso beat.

I wouldn't either, but there it is, and it sounds good too (note for all those who call Hawkwind a three chord band; this number has at least six chords with a couple of minors thrown in for good measure, so that's a bonus in itself).

The second side has "We Are Always watching You", more cosmic paranoia, and "The Watcher", a Lemmy composition in which yours devotedly detected a slight Troggs influence.

The package is particularly fine - a gatefold with the new Hawkwind "insignia" on the cover and a design of the band  drawn as ancient Vikings. Reports say the record has an advance of 80,000.

So there we were, discussing the weather and other such trivia when the band felt it was time for a rehearsal.

Trooping into the main room, the band set up slowly and began with a fine version of "Born To Go".

Previously I had tried to ascertain certain details such as what costumes the band would be wearing - Levi's, retorted the charming and elegant drummer, Simon King.

I must admit, the thought of such masculine (no AC-DCs here kids) degenerates such as Hawkwind dressed in asexual space drag did  appear a trifle absurd, but one never knows just how fame can affect a band, even one as unpretentious as the Sonic Assassins.

The lighting would be the main consideration, it seemed while such themes as placing elfin like Mellotron player Del Dettmar on a six foot high projection which turned around constantly had not beenn welcomed by certain parties and was thus dropped.

Robert Calvert's role in the Space Ritual will be basically as poet - he will appear at specific points in the event to recite his work and will appear on just one number.

When I left, the band had taken on their characteristic roles once again.

Nik Turner was trying to co-ordinate the proceedings with only Dave Brock to support him. Del was silently musing behind his recorder, Simon's gangly frame was seen around his drum kit, Lemmy has disappeared and DikMik looked as if he was going to fall over (DikMik actually never falls over, he only looks like he's going to).

Even now in rock music there's always room for at least one good psychedelic band and that is where Hawkwind score.

Don't expect the Space Ritual to be a grandiose musical experience in the tradition of the Pink Floyd mating itself with the London Philharmonic.

Don't expect mind blitzed corpses to be dragged from venues wrecked by the profound cerebral damage of the spectacle.

In fact, don't expect anything. The band don't really know how the project is going to shape itself.

Anyway you ought to know that surprises are always more fun.

BACK TO THE HOMEPAGE