Robert Calvert Special
Captain Lockheed And The Starfighters
What The Papers Said
Single reviews for "Ejection
All sources and authors unknown
Are you sitting comfortably? here's a tribute to the fighter plane they kept flying when it kept crashing.
There was only one course for the West German fighter pilots - ejection! You may not be hip to the tortuous thinking of the NATO powers, but you will dig the driving, strobe lit beat of the mighty Captain, who seems to be the head of a working party from Hawkwind and former Pink Fairies.
There's not been a hit like this since "Satisfaction", by the Stones. And I do say "hit" because this will dog fight the chart for weeks, or my name isn't Eric Von Stroheim.
Self styled flying coffin Bob Calvert runs amok with a track from his peculiar album. Two chord crashdive. The splintered shards of sound lie embedded in the walls around me, what happened? Where am I? Oooh my head. And in the words of the prophet: what's it all about, what are we doing here? that's one for you Steve. OK?
This comes from Robert Calvert's solo LP. This is not really an LP I expected to enjoy so I was agreeably surprised when, in common with the legendary curates egg, it was excellent in parts. Well, perhaps excellent is overstepping the mark slightly but none of it was actively unpleasant.
As a bonus the LP features Vivian Stanshall and Arthur Brown, heroes both and both, in their own ways, rock casualties, and although their roles are relatively minor it's nice to know they are still functioning somewhere. Neither is featured on the single - at least if they are they're hidden - which is mainly pretty standard Hawkwind, though from the grey swirling thump thump lighter shapes and forms sometime emerge briefly.
Roberts voice and some rather growling guitar are buried well down in the mix, a mix which gives undue prominence to the rhythm - as I have hinted above. The side begins with vaguely aeronautical atmospherics and ends with an explosion. It's the sort of record I'll be asked to play at my awful gigs and I really won't mind playing either.
I don't know if the Hawkwind mystique is still strong enough to bung this into the charts - time alone will, don'cha know, tell.
Unknown source, authored by someone with the initials M.O
There are a lot of misconceptions about heavy metal music.
Robert Calvert has achieved the impressive feat of making the first heavy metal concept album. The (true) story tells how the Lockheed Starfighter was acquired for the German Airforce and so adapted that it was rendered unstable. The result was 162 crashes with almost as many pilots killed. The tragic bungling (essential tests were omitted before the plane was put into operation, (the ejector seats in the first model didn't work at low altitude) is explained in word and song by Calvert assisted by members of Hawkwind, Pink Fairies and others. As usual in this kind of project the spoken parts tend to fragment the music; after a few plays they become too familiar and the listener is constantly urging the speakers on he can get to the music. It's almost impossible to overcome this, but Calvert's tried his best by using caricatured conversations rather than an inevitably dull narrator. There is no such built in faults with the music however, it's very Hawkwind-ish, with a touch of Black Sabbath thrown in for good measure - heavy riffs and echoed vocals in other words. Of the individual pieces, "Ejection" issued as a single last year, perhaps has the edge on the others for its ruthless driving force. As a whole "Captain Lockheed" is an impressive project and coming as it does at a time when most musicians are endlessly seeking the lowest common denominator, a heartening one for the whole of rock. All it needs is your support: go get it!
Unknown source, authored by someone with the initials P.M
When I first heard the plot for this album I didn't expect it to be anywhere as near as good as this. It seemed so pedestrian and as about as worthwhile as the punishment my old gym master used to give out which was writing a two page essay on the bicycle spoke! A brief synopsis of this story: it's set in the early sixties about a guy called Herr Franz Joseph Strauss - the German defence minister at the time. He sponsored an American designed Lockheed Starfighter which was originally intended to be a fair weather fighter. But 'ol Strauss had the plane modified into a heavy duty atom bomber. This was the plane's downfall and resulted in many deaths. It became known as the "Widow Maker". The story is followed by music and narrative. It features a host of musicians including the Hawkwind mob, Arthur Brown and the Ladbroke Grove Hermaphroditic Voice Ensemble. The parts of the characters are played by Viv Stanshall, Jim Capaldi, Tom Mittledorf, Richard Ealing and Captain Calvert. It's funny and extremely morbid at times. Humour is obviously provided by Stanshall and each character and event is treated with biting sarcasm. Strauss is very gullible and a military type fellow who eventually realises his mistake in purchasing the plane. There's a lot of things that happen on this album: a scene between an officer and a recruit who wears mascara. And the patter between the American salesman and Strauss. A warning of the plane's downfall is on side one in the form of "The Gremlin", a track written by Arthur brown and Adrian Wagner. "I am the gremlin" screams a voice in synchronisation with a Moog, "I was there making mischief in the air." eventually the planes start crashing and the German officials, "Do you want to buy a Starfighter?", asks a German youth, "Well buy an acre of land." The album closes with a track entitled "Catch A Falling Starfighter" . . . . can't wait to see the movie.
New Musical Express (NME) 25/05/74 by Mick Farren
Hot from playing the Dan Dare role in Hawkwind's Space Ritual, Robert Calvert now seems to be setting his sights firmly in the upper atmosphere and shooting for a persona somewhere between Biggles and a young Herman Goering.
The cover of "Captain Lockheed And The Starfighters", (which incidentally is the best example of the post-Margitte school of modern album packaging since "Tommy"), tells us in detail about the doomed love affair between West Germany and the Lockheed Starfighter.
Aviation buffs will recall how the Starfighter having been modified for nuclear strike capability, developed an alarming habit of dropping out of the sky and has to date, killed over a hundred pilots.
On this album Calvert chronicles the fantasies behind the facts. It takes the form of alternating rock and roll tracks with pieces of radio drama dialogue.
There's not much to complain about with the music, it's an adequate Hawkwind spin-off. The Lemmy / Simon King rhythm unit pump out their standard pattern like a well oiled racing mill, and are augmented in this instance, by the freak out guitar of ex Fairy Paul Rudolph, who emerges from his Garbo-like seclusion for the first time since - "Here Come The warm Jets".
I'm not too keen on Calvert's voice. It's a little too gung-ho for my taste, but to cuts, "The Right Stuff" and "Ejection" stand out on their own as credible rock and roll songs.
The main problems are the lyrics and the long dialogue passages.
Despite the combined acting ability of Calvert, Viv Stanshall, Jim Capaldi, Tom Mittledorf and Roger Ealing, the spoken material, with it's Peter Sellers German and cross fade sound effects, will really not stand up to much replaying.
Even Firesign Theatre and National Lampoon albums have a tendency to become tedious after a few plays, and the material on "Captain Lockheed" in no way comes up to that kind of standard.
It could be that Calvert is working, in this case, in the wrong medium. If British radio ever dragged itself out of the Mickey Mouse format that it seems so content to wallow in, this kind of thing might find an ideal slot as a late night radio show.
The overall feel leads one to believe Calvert is pitching for Art with a capital A. Although it is capable of satisfying an audience raised on Mandrax and Marvel comics, the fact remains that if Calvert is going to make it through to the level of J G Ballard's auto wreck obsession, or Burroughs terminal paranoid scenarios, he has to go a lot further than Freudian psycho-jokes about the airplane as a phallic symbol, and a certain nostalgia for the Wizard and Hotspur.
"I'm an aerospace-age warrior I can fly sideways through sound" seems to miss out in both directions. It neither makes it as jet age poetry nor as the kind of rock and roll simplicity that Iggy Stooge achieved so perfectly on "1969" or "No Fun".
Calvert seems to treat the rock album as a simple and immediate way of presenting an essentially literary concept. He has yet to realise that there is a lot more to it than the basic linear approach of "Captain Lockheed", and that to achieve the multi-level density of Firesign Theatre or Zappa's "Billy The Mountain" requires a far higher degree of thought and concentration than he has expanded.
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