Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Hall Of The Mountain Grill - Tracks & References

The view according to Simon House: 

“…a bit of a change, I think. Because of the Mellotron I suppose, it’s sounding a bit classical.” (Melody Maker, 19th October 1974)

What they said then: 

Alan Niester, for Rolling Stone, thought it, “as close to being genuinely listenable as anything done by this band yet, if they keep this trend going they might even start to sell some records in this country.” 

What they say now:

“The slicker sound of a band about to sack the blackhearted Lemmy over a drug bust when once one would have been a recommendation,” noted Ian McCann, reviewing the re-mastered CD in 1996.

Hall of the Mountain Grill - DJ Promos

Tracks and references:

The Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear in Smoke)

An early version of the lyrics appeared in the 1972 Space Ritual tour programme, complete with an eventually unused opening section extolling the band’s ‘Spaced out rock and roll’. A reworking of this song, vocals by Langton, was recorded as part of the Choose Your Masques sessions and issued on the B-side of the 1982 studio cut of ‘Silver Machine’.

Psychedelic Warlords, New Zealand 7"

Wind of Change

The phrase is taken from a speech made in 1960 to the South African parliament by the then British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, about the rise of national consciousness: “The wind of change is blowing through the continent.”

"'Wind of Change' was written to coincide with a sequence of images that I had created with no song in mind.” (John Smeeton, The Cyberspace Interviews)


Also known as ‘Dragon Rider’ and probably inspired by the Pern stories of fantasist Anne McCaffrey (1st. ‘Weyr Search’, Analog Magazine 1967, novelised as Dragon Flight) which featured a race of dragons that could bond symbiotically with Humans.

“I had the idea for ‘D-Rider’ during rehearsals at Clearwater Castle, sitting in the woods meditating amongst the bluebells and playing my oboe. “It seemed a nice idea for a song, people riding around on dragons before the Earth had properly formed. ‘My momma knows just where we are’, it’s fairly ambiguous, is this Mother Earth or our own Mothers? There’s a reference to Stonehenge, ‘the ring has formed out of the stone’ and I’m writing about the Tetragrammaton, which is taken to be the sacred sound of God, the sound of Jesus’s name. There’s a lot of magic and metaphysics in Hebrew; at the time I was reading a lot of books on magic and incantations – in a positive way.” (Nik Turner, interviewed by the author for Record Collector)


Busking Dave Brock strikes again for the opening section.

You’d Better Believe It

Includes a reference to the constellation of Orion, the Hunter of Greek myth; Orion includes three of the brightest stars in the sky.

Hall of the Mountain Grill

The title was a play on the classical work In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Greig, a setting to music of the Peer Gynt tale of Henrik Ibsen.

Lost Johnny

Mentions are made of Valium, Morphine and Tuinol (a barbiturate), Werewolves, and New York (popular myth suggests that alligators roam the sewers there). There are references to Sally, who might be Stacia (‘who makes it big in photographs/on the strength of what she shows’) and an evil looking Simon (King? House?).

“It’s Lemmy’s song. It was written for Lemmy, for Hawkwind. They were doing Hall of the Mountain Grill and Lemmy was concerned he wasn’t going to get any songs on to it, so I said ‘Let’s write one’. I had this idea about all these loser characters, of which we knew many, looking for drugs and ‘baying at the moon’. I mean, it wasn’t Terry Ollis and it wasn’t Steve Took, and it wasn’t nine other people ... it was a combination of all of them, or seven versions or whatever it was. I put it down on a piece of paper, handed it to Lemmy and he took it away and put the music to it and came back and we changed a few things and that was ‘Lost Johnny’. I can’t sit down with a guitar, a blank mind and somebody else and come up with a song. I usually have to go away by myself and write the lyrics, and that song was no exception.” (Mick Farren, Sonic Assassins 2nd edition)

Goat Willow

Common name of the tree Salix Caprea and also known as Pussy Willow. Once used in the manufacture of clothes pegs.

This instrumental is recalled as being used during the late-70s by Anglia TV in the UK as backing music for a documentary on bee-keeping monks.


“Dave, how about ‘Paradox’, that was a good number” suggested Lemmy at the rehearsals for the Hawkestra. “No, boring, that,” replied a weary Brock. 

Also played live:

It’s So Easy

A live cut with studio overdubs, this song had to accommodate a lyric change from ‘all so fucked up’ to ‘all so mixed up’. A demo studio version appears on EMI’s Parallel Universe compilation.

A note on the album title:

The Mountain Grill was a greasy spoon café at 275 Portobello Road, a regular haunt of various Hawkwind members.

What this author says:

From there [In Search of Space], they became more sophisticated, more assured, in the delivery of their psychedelic sci-fi visions. The success of Silver Machine financed the operatic Space Ritual tour while the arrival of former High Tide violinist Simon House, for their Hall Of The Mountain Grill LP, the best, most well-realised, Hawkwind album of this era, vastly enhanced their musical dexterity. (Reviewing the UA-era box-set This Is Your Captain Speaking… Your Captain Is Dead for Record Collector)

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