Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Distant Horizons - Tracks & References

The view according to Jerry Richards: 

On BOC-L, Doug Bates posted some comments that Richards had conveyed to him regarding the concept of Distant Horizons: “It does contain a loose theme about humankind being enslaved to its technology.” He likened “the civilisation we’ve created as being a machine out of control.”

What they said then:

One web-based reviewer heard Hawkwind “delving into space erotica” and enthused about the sharing of writing credits: “Distant Horizons has many tracks credited to Tree, Chadwick and Richards. This is a good thing; Hawkwind has always been a living spaceship that even Brock cannot control alone.”

What they say now:

Hawkwind fan website Starfarer asked, of the 2011 reissue, “What were Hawkwind in 1997?  Who they were is an easier question (Brock, Chadwick, Richards, Tree) and where they were, too: in uneasy transition from the ending of one model of how-Hawkwind-works to the genesis of another.” It does, though, declare the new version as having extra layers of detail revealed by an improved mix, moving it, in the reviewer's eye, from a 5/10 effort all the way up to an, err, 6/10. Read the site's extensive and well-argued reviewed here.

Tracks and references:

Distant Horizons

It was originally planned to use Distant Horizons as the title for a second Psychedelic Warriors CD, though this never materialised.

The title is misquotes the Boy Scouts’ song ‘Riding Along on the Crest of a Wave’ (‘All our eyes on/the distant horizon’).

Phetamine Street

Mention is made of ‘Ketamine,’ a non-barbiturate, rapid-acting anaesthetic particularly used as a horse tranquilliser, but also as a ‘club drug’ at rave parties.

Waimea Canyon Drive

Waimea Canyon, on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai (see below), is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific – though it is not remotely as large as Grand Canyon itself.


From Arabic (al-kimiya), the long sought method of turning base metal into gold. 

Clouded Vision

Lyrically, this one sounds like a Busking Dave Brock number, with its 'will I ever discover/what lies in store for me' refrain and its coda that 'the answer lies within your mind.' But it also keeps with other themes of the album in declaiming the world's diminishing resources.

Reptoid Vision

Population Overload


Presumably their tour bus doesn’t have any of these nasty oil-driven things?


Kauai is a Hawaiian island, offering “a multitude of natural attractions. Visit Waimea Canyon, or paddle your kayak deep into the depths of Waikanaloa Cave.” Nice.

Taxi for Max

A hidden track, made up (as one reviewer put it) of “noises, whistles and pots clanging under heavy delay effect. Hmmmm … OK already.”

Love in Space

When Hawkwind played this song on satellite channel VH-1, only the vocals and guitar were live – neither Davey’s bass or Chadwick’s drums were plugged in and both musicians mimed to a backing track. “Dave’s guitar was live – and Ron’s vocal as well.” (Richard Chadwick)

Also recorded circa Distant Horizon sessions


“I don’t think they ['Archiac' and 'Morpheus'] were part of the Distant Horizons sessions per se, but they were recorded around about the same time. Ron and I wrote those. In retrospect, those two songs  are the two best tracks on the [Atomhenge] re-release, yet they never made it on to the original. It’s very psychedelic: crawling, screaming acid rock from this crazy old band called Hawkwind, and it’s the new direction that Ron and I, and Richard to a large extent, were keen to push.” (Jerry Richards)

Archiac is a French commune in the Charente-Maritime department in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of southwestern France. Tenuous linkage... doesn't seem to have any relationship to the song!


Morpheus is the God of Dreams. In Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics (Vertigo/DC) he appears as Dream, one of the seven Endless.

Hawkwind Mythology (See also Dave Anderson's car, Tim Blake's telephone call, the Hawklords' dancers...)

Legend has it that this album was rushed, pressed before the band really felt it was a properly prepared record, and suffered from being effectively 'unfinished'. And, unusually in Hawk-myth, this one has basis in fact:

Dave Brock: “It was one of those rushed things where Douglas wanted us to get an album together; we didn’t have enough material and I had to use some of my solo things and it wasn’t particularly wonderful. It could have been really good but it had to be gotten together quickly and that was it. We called it the ‘tombstone’ album because Douglas did [the tombstone cover] on his computer in paint shop.”

Jerry Richards: “We weren’t best served by the cuts that ended up on the official album release, which weren’t the ones that the band had chosen. There was an element of technical nonsense that got in the way of what we’d imagined that album was going to be. I don’t think that was necessarily down to the band, or the mastering plant, or the record company, it was just a lot of copies and crossover and things are going to go astray, and once the damn thing is out there, the cat is out of the bag and that’s it.”

Ron Tree: “Doug Smith told us it had to be done by a certain date. Tracks were mixed when I wasn’t there, and then it was put on the shelf for a month. So we could have had another a month to work on it.” 

Passport-holders only Hawkwind 1997 live CD sleeve

On the Distant Horizon, looking back...

Jerry Richards (interviewed for Sonic Assassins): “I brought a lot of digital expertise into the band as Richard [Chadwick] was, not struggling, but trying to get to grips with programming, drum tracks and sequencer arrangements and what-not, and I probably had the edge at that time with all that technology. A useful addition, so that we could do more stuff ‘in house’ rather than have to farm it out to expensive production units. Arguably people would say that could have been seen as a mistake because what you really want to do in a crisis is to maximise your output, and I think we chose to do that, but we didn’t have all the skills we might have wished for at our disposal. So some of the output from the earlier part of my involvement was maybe a little patchy; that’s not all down to our lack of understanding of equipment and production capability, it was also because the nature of the business itself was changing. Remember, the dance craze was burgeoning with drum ‘n’ bass, and there were a lot of other distractions away from what you’d call traditional spacerock music and esoteric music in general. We didn’t then have the general resurgence in psychedelia and acid rock that we subsequently have had with people looking back to the middle and late 60s, not just The Beatles, but garage rock coming out of America, The Silver Apples, Fifty Foot Hose, so bands that have had an influence on bands that have come through, such as Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized. Hawkwind have always found themselves on the crest of a wave, or down in a trough somewhere, where you’re sculling around trying to find something to get to grips with. But if you’ve been a band for that many years that’s going to happen to you, not that you’re going to be overtaken but you can find yourselves going down alleyways or out on a curve somewhere and before you can get back on the motorway you need to go and explore that territory out in the wilderness, just to give yourself a bit of grounding. You’re trying to reassert yourself and create a brand new vibe and if you’ve got a load of new people who’ve joined your band you all need to settle down and find where you’re comfortable working with one another. You need people to come onto your ideas at an angle, things that you can’t think of because you’re not them. That’s one of the reasons why I like working with Ron, because we pick at each other’s material and by doing that you come up with material that you might have had elements of in your back brain but you need other people’s sensibilities to coalesce it into what it is.

“You were striving to create something you haven’t done before, as an individual, that the band hasn’t done before - or maybe for some time - and you’re trying to explore those avenues with a new approach. And coming into the band, my mind-set was very strong, so I was willing to take on what seemed insurmountable problems and break them all down and deal with them piece-by-piece. It’s a standard managerial approach but it does work and there are fundamentals in the business that you need to be mindful of and stick with. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve got as much energy as you would like to be able to put into the creative process, because the band at that time was experiencing great difficulties in its management structure and its strictly business capacity, and I did turn a lot of my attention towards that, arguably to the detriment of some of my musical input which can be seen as being a bit patchy. You’ve got to have an eye on some objective, some sort of purpose to where you want to get to, whether writing a song or a concept album or putting on a stage show that has a dramatically layered-out theme, especially in the world of Hawkwind where you’ve got fans who come along and are fascinated by all of these things. As long as you’ve got a clear-ish objective, it doesn’t matter if you take circuitous routes to actually get there as long as you arrive there all around the same time. I think Ron and I introduced that kind of feel and concept back to the band, where Dave could feel comfortable with the newer elements of things that were being introduced, because it was just as much as a wrench and a change for him, as it was for us to join the band.”

The 2011 reissue, with extra tracks, was released by Atomhenge/Cherry Red Records and is available in a variety of formats.

Monday, 30 January 2017

The Earth Ritual Preview EP - Tracks & References

The view, according to Frenchy Gloder: “Lemmy was a friend from the punk days and I just asked him as a favour because in my mind if Lemmy did it then the others would just follow. So I was eternally grateful to him for that; he was supposed to do a track for the Hawklords – Friends & Relations album that we did in 2011; he couldn’t do it in the end, but I’m eternally grateful for him doing 'Night Of The Hawks' because that created a big, big, wave. We were supposed to be doing an album, The Earth Ritual, which was going to be the follow up to Space Ritual with a gatefold… Some people who were in Hawkwind at the time, such as Harvey [Bainbridge], weren’t on the A-side and so weren’t going to be on the radio... Harvey was mightily pissed-off, being their bass-player at the time. And Harvey was the one who said that if it wasn’t for Flicknife, RCA would have taken Hawkwind more seriously. I love Harvey, he’s a great friend, but I don’t know why he would say that.”

What they said then:

“‘Night of the Hawks’ is a crushing war song… and should be bought by everyone who has ever slagged off the ‘Lords. Including me.” (David Tibet, Sounds 17 March 1984)

Tracks and references:

Night of the Hawks

“It was written as a Hawkwind anthem, for everybody to sing along with! A reflection of the festival scenes… people looking like peacocks in their bright colours.” (Dave Brock)

Lyrics partly by fan Julian Bishop, hence the ‘thank you’ credit in the 1984 tour book.

Dream Dancers

Dragons & Fables

“I wrote the lyrics in 1972 for Amon Din – I suppose the lyrics were meant to convey what it felt like being a free spirit following a nasty period of being imprisoned by a jealous maniac (not Huw, he was a breath of fresh air!).” (Marion Lloyd-Langton)

Green Finned Demon

Captain Nemo was the mysterious anti-hero of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870).

Also played live:

Mark of Cain

Not played on the Earth Ritual tour of spring 1984, but included in the subsequent autumn tour of the UK, and again for a series of dates in June 1985.

“Words and music by Huw, signifying Huw & Marion’s belief in the Almighty,” (ML-L)

“Occasionally I thought about [the conflict between religion and Hawkwind’s ‘Chaos’ imagery] but the bottom line is that your internal religious feelings are yours. Anything that Hawkwind does is entertainment – unless you’re a complete idiot you don’t take any of it seriously. If you haven’t got that mustard seed of belief in you, you can get written off to all spectrums of sci-fi and God knows what…” (Huw Lloyd-Langton)

In Genesis, Cain is the first son of Adam & Eve. When Cain murdered his brother, Abel, he was cursed to a life of hard toil by God, who set a ‘mark upon Cain’ (Genesis 4:15) which prevented anyone from killing him. 

Got Your Number

“Words & music by Huw; the lyrics speak for themselves ‘Christ Crucified’ – Huw is not a bible-bashing Christian but often said, ‘if that’s what they did to Christ…’ then we should not be surprised when justice doesn’t serve us? That’s not to say we shouldn’t fight for it!” (ML-L)

Only recorded by Hawkwind for a session on BBC Radio's The Friday Rock Show, but appears on The Lloyd-Langton Group's Night Air album.

The Curse of Man

A Michael Moorcock poem, recited by Moorcock at the Hammersmith Odeon on the Earth Ritual tour (13th & 14th March, 1984, also at Oxford Apollo 17th March 1984) and by Nik Turner during the Autumn 1984 tour (the later occasions set to an electronic musical backing by Bainbridge). Published in Back Brain Recluse #1 (1984).

Watching the Grass Grow

Originally from the Inner City Unit album Passout and re-recorded by both ICU for their subsequent Punkadelic LP and by Turner for his solo album The Prophets of Time.

‘We know where all the flowers went today’ parodies the 1950s anti-war folk song ‘Where Have all the Flowers Gone?’ (Pete Seeger & Joe Hickerson).

‘Tell me Doc Spock have you got all your answers,’ a reference to parenting Guru Dr Benjamin Spock.

The Right Stuff

The title comes from Tom Wolfe’s legendary history of the early days of the US space programme and the pioneering test pilots like Chuck Yeager who pointed the way to the stars. First printed as a series of articles in Rolling Stone in 1973, a highly-regarded film adaptation by Philip Kaufman was made in 1983.

The Earth Ritual Preview is included in Atomhenge's reissue of The Chronicle of the Black Sword.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Choose Your Masques - Tracks & References

Choose Your Masques Soundcheck
Bristol Colston Hall 31/10/82
(Marc Sperhauk)

The view according to Harvey Bainbridge: 

“I’ve never thought of Hawkwind as being a heavy metal band. I always thought we were a bit cleverer than that.” (On the RCA-era Hawkwind’s drift into heavy rock).

What they said then:

Church of Hawkwind saw the band slipping into an esoteric rut destined for oblivion,” commented Dave Dickson, in Kerrang!. “Choose Your Masques, while not exactly ‘commercial’ has indications that their imaginative flair has been rekindled.” 

What they say now:

Choose Your Masques
(ATOMHENGE) www.cherryred.co.uk

For the casual listener picking up previously out of print albums and for the dedicated Hawkwind enthusiast exploring the side roads and alternative pathways that the vast range of bonus material has illuminated, the acquisition and reissue of Hawkwind’s 1976 – 1997 catalogue under curator Mark Powell has been a delight. 

We note this to show how Choose Your Masques, a solid enough early-80s album which has a lot of good things going on but doesn’t scale the heights of its provocative RCA stable mate Sonic Attack or indeed match their key 1970s recordings, can really flourish in a programme like this. Embellished by the inclusion of so many unheard songs and alternate mixes of its electronica fused heavy rock, it’s possible to enjoy it in a whole new context. Discover here, for example, how ‘90s return to form ‘Right To Decide’ lyrically started out as the unknown ‘Radio Telepathy’, putting a fresh slant on the development of a genuine Hawkwind classic. 

Therein resides the historian’s quibble, however. What’s lacking is the perspective of the main protagonists on these ‘rejected’ tracks... the whys and wherefores of their omissions or burials that would have awarded an already impressive package the final rating star.
(Ian Abrahams - R2 Magazine, 2013)

Tracks and references

Choose Your Masques

‘And the Masks of War are grinning/ And from under them you howl/ Out the slogans of the part you play/ For the Battle’s starting now’ – an extra verse included in the demo but dropped from the album was preserved for posterity in the tour programme. 

Dream Worker

‘I have come, but I do not choose now, to do what I came to do,’ sampled from the BBC Radio 4 adaptation of The Lord of the Rings and featuring Ian Holm as Frodo Baggins. 

Arrival in Utopia

A word coined by Sir Thomas More for his novel, Utopia (De Optimo Reipublicae Statu deque Nova Insula Utopia, 1516) that came to represent visionary schemes of social reform.


Silver Machine

“What on Earth possessed Brock to revamp this?” asked Dave Dickson in Kerrang! “Take a severe rap across the knuckles.”

Void City

The refrain ‘Void City, Here We Come’ is a Sci-Fi echo of Jan & Dean’s classic ‘Surf City’.

Solitary Mind Games

“It’s just harmonics with a few stray notes and a G-diminished thing on the lower strings,” Huw told Bruce Stringer (Music Street Journal). “A finger picking pattern which Dave Brock actually inspired.” 

Fahrenheit 451

451 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which paper will spontaneously combust, and Fahrenheit 451, a classic work of science fiction by Ray Bradbury, adapted in many different mediums, most notably filmed, in 1966, by Francois Truffaut.

The Scan

Waiting for Tomorrow

“It was inspired by thinking about the threat of nuclear war and ultimately Armageddon and written whilst Huw was rehearsing at Martin Griffin’s studio in Cornwall. I remember having a migraine and going to bed and waking up and penning these lyrics.” (ML-L)

From the same sessions:

Candle Burning

Neither released or played live, but cut as a demo around the time of the Choose Your Masques sessions. “I love lighting candles and watching the flames dance and these lyrics were inspired by music Huw was playing in a candlelit room (in a bedsit in Bayswater).” (ML-L)

Also played live:

Ghost Dance

Refers to a revelation received by Wavoka, a Paiute Indian, in 1889 – the ‘Ghost Dance’ would reunite Native Americans with friends and relatives in the ghost world. This led to a belief that the performing of such a dance would cause the ground to open up and swallow all non-Indians. The fervour with which it was adopted contributed to the massacre at Wounded Knee.


‘Starflight’ finishes with the first two lines of The Lord’s Prayer followed by ‘Mea Culpa’ (from the Latin ‘My Fault’). ‘Ejection’ was originally recorded by Hawkwind for Calvert’s Captain Lockheed project (this version appears on the re-mastered CD of Doremi), The lyric ‘explode into space’ might allude to Steppenwolf’s ‘Born to be Wild’.

Social Alliance

The ‘creatures of the night’ refrain might be inspired by the coda of the Rocky Horror Picture Show song ‘Touch-a-Touch-a-Touch-Me’.

Nik Turner, Choose Your Masques tour
(Marc Sperhauk)

Choose Your Masques On Tour!

When I was writing the first edition of Sonic Assassins, I had some very kind and extensive emails with Marc Sperhauk, famous in Hawkwind mythology for buying Dave’s guitar on the final night of the US tour in 1978, at the Old Waldorf, San Francisco. Marc included in his emails a bit of a ‘tour diary’ from his travels on the 1982 Masques tour, some of which made it into the main text, but which are largely reproduced here:

Bristol Colston Hall 31/10/82

I spent the night on the tour bus riding to Bristol. The band travelled separately (by car I believe). The crew would sleep on the bus and arrive long before the band, for the long and arduous setup. Building the tour and hauling in all those TV sets, in addition to the sound equipment, was a huge undertaking.  I spent the morning helping carry equipment, which was a good political move as far as the roadies were concerned, and erased any misgivings about me for the rest of the tour. I had an open invitation to the roadie bus, but only used it rarely, as I preferred travelling on my own to see the sights of the various cities and towns. I think this was the first night I noticed that Nik would go out to play with the support act, Baron Rojo. It just seemed natural to Nik to show some support for these guys, who had a pretty thankless task.

Southampton Gaumont 1/11/82

Southampton had an orchestra pit in front of the stage, and the band allowed me to hang out there to take photographs. Some of the best shots I have are from this show. Harvey mentioned later he was entertained by my contorting and cavorting down there. In fact they were always open to my camera, even allowing many candid backstage shots.

Dunstable Queensway Hall 4/11/82

This oval shaped hall had the worst sound ever – it wasn’t possible to compensate for the reflected and echoed sound, everyone knew this at the sound check, and it turned into a miserable night.

Norwich East Anglia University 5/11/82

This college venue was quite small, and seemed more like the US shows than any other night.

Ipswich Gaumont 6/11/82

I think this is where we had a Spinal Tap moment, as Harvey and I got lost in a labyrinth under the stage, trying to find the stage door.

Harvey Bainbridge
(Marc Sperhauk)

Leciester De Montfort Hall 7/11/82

I met up with Brian Tawn and he drove us up to this gig. It was here that I first saw the amazing array of bootleg merchandise that was available. Vendors outside the hall had every manner of T-shirt, football scarves, badges and so on. A lot of it was significantly better than the official tour merchandise, a fact that Harvey noted and complained about extensively.

Folkestone Leas Cliff Hall 9/11/82

A picaresque venue on a cliff overlooking the sea. Stage was too small for the backdrop, and barely held the TVs. Bob Calvert joined the band singing some numbers (he was expected because he “lived near there.”). Before the show Nik went for a night swim; he appeared in the dressing room quite wet and excitedly claimed he was caught in a rip tide and almost dragged out to sea. Was in a record store in the afternoon and Dave wandered in and bought an Australian copy of Roadhawks I had looked at a few minutes before. I was surprised he had to shop for this stuff and talked to him about it, and first learned he kept a kind of archive.

The next morning I met Martin, Huw and [dancer] Jane in the lobby of their hotel to accept an offered ride to the next gig. I don’t recall why this came up, and it was the only time I actually travelled with any members of the band. What struck me at the time was how mundane it all was. I was in the backseat with Jane, and most of the conversation with Huw and Martin was about the available radio. I remember thinking afterwards I could have asked Huw all sorts of things about the early days, but it just didn’t come up.

Guildford Civic Hall 11/11/82

Sat in a great balcony for the first time for a full view for the stage, and I remember I was really impressed with the way the TV set graphics integrated with the backdrop, lights, dancers, and so on. It was a full visual composite that was lost from anywhere too near the stage – where I usually was.

Hammersmith Odeon 12/11/82 and 13/11/82

Mike Moorcock performed both nights. I believe both nights were sold out. This was when I was truly overwhelmed by just what a big deal Hawkwind was in the UK. The Odeon was an amazing situation, probably the closest to the true rock star experience. Backstage was off-limits to fans (perhaps the only time for any of the dates I was on), and though I wasn’t asked to leave (Harvey even took me on a walkabout through the labyrinth of the theatre, eventually finding a small bar on a third floor somewhere backstage) I ended up not staying after the shows because it was just too overwhelming. I had first or second row seats thanks to the band, but the people sitting there were not the typical fans I had rubbed shoulders with, but older, better dressed, people. A smartly dressed woman next to me assumed I was with the press due to my camera. The second night I stayed back at the soundboard with Dil the sound guy and found that much more comfortable.

Chippenham Gold Diggers 15/11/82

A dark cold club and an odd place to end the tour. However, they opened the pub after hours and there was a small, bittersweet, end of tour party that went until dawn. It still wasn’t what one might expect. People sitting around, having a few drinks, chatting and laughing. Not the full-blown kind of insanity one might expect from the psychedelic warlords. Jane gave me the sweetest kiss when we said goodbye that I’ll never forget.

Marc Sperhauk and Dave Brock
(Marc Sperhauk)

Choose Your Masques is contained in the RCA Years Boxset from Atomhenge. A compilation of the  Hammersmith gigs has been released as 'Coded Languages', also from Atomhenge.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Hawkwind In Your Area - Tracks & References

The view according to Richard Chadwick: 

“Just a collection of songs we had floating around that various people in the band had clubbed together… it was made on the cheap! They were hard times…”

What they said then:

Keith Henderson, for Aural Innovations, contrasted the live cuts from 1997 included on this album, with the ‘Passport Holders’ CD from the same year (HW’97): “the sound is more subdued and takes a lot of the energy out of the tunes.” Conceding that in other circumstances this “smoother mix might have been preferable,” Henderson favoured “the rawer and punchier sound on HW’97.” Also on Aural Innovations, Paul Ward was disappointed with the CD’s studio material, though he singled out ‘Hippy’ for praise (“a slow, yet powerful, track”) comparing it to “early PIL… both the vocals and bass line could have come off one of Lydon’s better creations.” The editor of Aural Innovations, Jerry Kranitz, used In Your Area to benchmark the current state of Hawkwind: “I can confidently say that the creative spirit is alive and well … a solid release by a tight band that still rocks straight into the cosmos.” 

What they say now:

Err, where is it???

Tracks & References:


See ‘Tracks & References’ Doremifasolatido

Hawkwind in Your Area

‘In Your Area’ a Madchester phrase, much used in a live context by bands such as The Happy Mondays, circa 1990.


See ‘Tracks & References’ Distant Horizons

Love in Space

Hawkwind had already recorded an instrumental called ‘Love in Space’, written by Alan Davey for the White Zone CD. “I was trying to think of a title, so Dave said ‘call it ‘Love in Space’’. Then he wrote his own song and took it back – that’s okay.” (Alan Davey)

Rat Race

Though “Rat Race” is given to embody the relentless pressure to succeed (particularly in the cities), the expression originally referred to a form of jazz dancing practised by American teenagers in the 1930s.   

Aerospace-Age Inferno

References are made to ‘Silver Machine’ (‘…worth more than you’re worth’), the Human Torch from Marvel’s Fantastic Four (‘Flame On…’) and Pink Floyd’s ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun’ (‘Set the controls for the heart of the Earth…’).

First Landing on Medusa

In Greek mythology, the visage of the Gorgon, Medusa, was so terrible that anyone who looked upon it was turned to stone. 

I am the Reptoid

“They’re here now taking women up there and impregnating them with alien sperm to generate the next race… The planet’s going through a cycle, everything changes every so often and we’ve gone as far as we can, we have to evolve into the next stage… a combination between alien and human. That’s why people get abducted, they’re just experimenting.” (Ron Tree, VH-1)

Ron Tree
(Andreas Stuwe)

The Nazca

In 1926, the first over-flight of Nazca Pampa, in Peru, created a stir by revealing a landscape covered with ancient man-made outlines of people and animals. Debunking the fantastical claims of UFO mythologists, Nigel Davies (The Incas) concedes that “Probably we shall never reach a precise conclusion as to their meaning.” 


According to the website Common Errors in English, ‘Hippy’ is an adjective describing someone with wide hips. ‘Hippie’ was coined by ‘older, more sophisticated hipsters looking down on the new kids as mere “hippies”… confusing these two is definitely unhip.’ You’d think this band would have got it right.


A treeless, grassy plain in central US and southern Canada, home to the prairie dog. 

Your Fantasy


Canadian-based Luxotica is a company that supplies fire spinning/dancing equipment – “Luxotica is about sharing the joy and empowerment and belief in yourself,” says their advertising. 

Diana Park

There is a Diana Park Hotel, in Estepona, Spain. There’s also a Diana Park who goes to La Canada High School (according to her website, in 2004). Brock notes this track as a reference to Princess Diana. 

Monday, 23 January 2017

It Is The Business Of The Future To Be Dangerous - Tracks & References

The view according to Richard Chadwick: 

(On suggestions that It is the Business of the Future to be Dangerous is best interpreted as a Richard Chadwick solo album) “That’s bizarre! It’s not the case at all!”

What they said then:

“The new, mostly instrumental It Is the Business of the Future to Be Dangerous finds the group's current incarnation - a trio led by charter mastermind Dave Brock - too often coasting on those big swooping space-grooves, but even marginal, water-treading Hawkwind is pretty darn great. (Pulse magazine).” 

What they say now: 

Writing on his ‘Starfarer’ Internet site, Steve Youles reflected that “Many Hawkwind fans hate this album – Very techno sounding and not my cup of tea at all.” [Can I interject here? I love it!]

Tracks and references:

It is the Business of the Future to be Dangerous

“It is the business of the future to be dangerous, and it is among the merits of science that it equips the future for its duties,” wrote mathematician Alfred North Whitehead (1861 – 1947) in Science and the Modern World (1925).

Space is their (Palestine)

The title is a pun on the final line of ‘The Black Corridor’ – ‘Space Is There’ – which used to be read by Calvert. ‘Space is their (Palestine)’ has a sample of Calvert saying this line. Also a play on Sun Ra's film and album Space is the Place

Tibet is not China (part 1)

“Part one, was written and structured, but Part two is a first-time jam, I really like that.” (Alan Davey) 

Tibet is not China (part 2)

When Hawkwind appeared on the VH-1 satellite channel, Brock was asked by the show’s presenter about the “Free Tibet” emblem on the CD’s cover. This led to Brock inciting the audience to “throw red paint over the Chinese Embassy.” The unexpected off-shoot was that “they were really taken with Dave as a character and did tentatively approach him with the idea of being one of their presenters because of his demeanour; he was really good on TV.” (RC) 

Let Barking Dogs Lie

“That’s about Dave’s guard-dogs, protectors of the inner-sanctum.” (AD)

Wave upon Wave

“It was something Steve Bemand said to me, when we were tripping together. We had some good Acid and it was coming on in waves, ‘wave upon wave’, instead of just peaking.” (AD) 

Letting in the Past

Does indeed let in the past... being a reworking of Church of Hawkwind's 'Living in the Future', which itself borrows from 'Assault & Battery'.

The Camera that could Lie

A play on the expression ‘the camera never lies’. More letting in the past as well, this time from Sonic Attack's 'Living on a Knife-edge'. 

3 or 4 Erections In the Course of a Night

References the Denis Quaid film Dreamscape (1984), concerning somebody who has the ability to enter and manipulate people’s dreams. “We sampled the film, and included a horse whinnying… just a bit of studio madness.” (AD) 

Techno Tropic Zone Exists

The title is virtually the only line from the Agents of Chaos track ‘A Day’ which wasn’t recycled into ‘Treadmill’.

Gimme Shelter

Interviewed on a promotional film for the Gimme Shelter charity EP, Richard Chadwick noted “The reason we’re involved in this, is because it’s vitally important that something is done… there shouldn’t be people homeless in this country, there’s no reason for it.”


“‘Avante’ – that’s the other end of ‘Letting in the Past’, fourteen minutes later and I’m still jamming around.” (RC) 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Space Bandits - Tracks & References

The view, according to Bridget Wishart:

“I can still remember the buzz of listening to the finished song on the speakers in the studio. I've never heard it sound like that since; it always sounds a bit thin on record or CD.”

What they said then:

“The first half has the plausibility of the original version of Flash Gordon,” wrote Roy Wilkinson (source unknown). “By side two they’ve acquired the hi-tech authenticity of, ooh, a really good episode of Blake’s Seven.” El Rose, however, thought it “a fairly satisfactory slice of cosmic boogie…. Not great Hawkwind, but at least above average.”

What they say now:

“A return to the Hawkwind sound of the seventies,” says Background Magazine. “Not a sensational album, but it's certainly above average. The new members add new energy and subtlety to the band.” So there you have it, then and now. Above average!

Tracks and references:


“Dave wrote the most of the music and I did the some of the middle bit. Bridget is fairly complicated, deep and arty, and I think she said [the lyrics were] about herself.” (Alan Davey)

“The lyrics were part written from when I was in a band called Next Year's Big Thing. I rewrote them, adapting and adding to suit the song. The chorus was new, as were the spoken words. The first time I heard 'Images' played on Radio 1 I was really chuffed, and when one of my students said she'd heard me on the radio I felt a great sense of achievement.” (Bridget Wishart)

Black Elk Speaks

Nicholas Black Elk (1863-1950) was a Native American shaman of the Lakota (Sioux) tribe, though he abandoned these practices after his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1904. His story is recounted in John Neihardt’s Black Elk Speaks (1932). The words used on this track are spoken by Neihardt, abridged from two sources: The Earth Prayer and The Offering of the Pipe.

Black Elk is mentioned in Dee Brown’s seminal history of the American peoples, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, as being present (as a child) at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Hetchetu (or hecetu) is Lakota for “so be it”. A Grandfather represents the male aspect of the Creator.


“10% of royalties from “Wings” go to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds”, notes the album sleeve. “I still get letters of thanks every now and again, for the odd bits that they get,” adds Davey.

Out of the Shadows

The lyrics, apparently described by Richard Chadwick as “an anarchist’s manifesto,” were taken from a song by American fan Doug Buckley and given completely new backing music by Brock and Davey. “‘Out of the Shadows’ was written in a sound check at Shank Hall, Milwaukee, it was a good riff, so I wrote it down.” (AD)


“All there is in ‘Realms’ is my vocal and bass guitar and a good tab of acid. I did it one night, and when I got up next morning and played it back, there was this great film soundtrack music. But I’ve never worked-out how I did it… there’s a big reverb backwards section…” (AD) 

Ship of Dreams

The ill-fated liner R.M.S. Titanic was known as the ‘Ship of Dreams.

T.V. Suicide

“…The price is hell” a play on the title of the television game show The Price is Right.

“Everything I need is on my TV”. Bainbridge claims not to own a television set.

Also played live:

Back in the Box

“The first lyrics I wrote for Hawkwind were the ones I sang on ‘Back in the Box’. I turned up at Dave’s one sunny afternoon and wrote them on the back of an envelope. The first run through I thought was great but the engineer wasn’t recording, so I sang them again and that’s the take on the CD [Palace Springs].” (BW)

From the same era:

Hi-Tech Cities

‘Minds in a circuit,’ originally from a demo called ‘Radio Telepath’, later reused in ‘Right to Decide’. Big Brother was the supreme ruler of ‘The Party’ in Orwell’s 1984 and now a metaphor for government intervention. ['Radio Telepath' is included on the Atomhenge Choose Your Masques expanded reissue]

Space Bandits on Video!

“I worked on videos for 'Back in the Box' and 'Images'. For 'Back in the Box' it was on the spot improvisation with mirrors, but for 'Images' I story-boarded and directed the video. Unfortunately I didn't have control over the editing and was frustrated many times by the editor insisting on showing shots of Dave's guitar playing over Simon's violin solo, and his lip syncing needed constant attention. I think it was finally straightened-out but after fifty hours I was ready to murder!” (BW)

Space Bandits on the US Tour!

“We toured the USA and Canada in The Grateful Dead's old greyhound bus; it was painted on the outside with a flying horse and we had a mad hippy driver who could drive and drive and drive, and through the most terrible weather. I'm glad I slept through it but one night driving up through the Rockies there was a blizzard blowing and only one passenger windscreen wiper was working... Harvey was sat there directing the driver yard by yard from pole to pole for hour upon hour. Our tour manager was also our mixer man and he had brought along his wife for the ride, and his friends to be roadies. They all though they were in a Jack Kerouac novel. They were a crazy lot; I don't think any of them had done the job before! It was lucky they were a nice bunch! Doug was Harvey's roadie, one night he tripped coming off stage just as I was coming on. He bowled into me knocking me back down the steps and into my flight case/wardrobe, which in turn fell over and shut with me trapped inside. All very Spinal Tap!

Touring America, 1990
(Bridget Wishart)

“When we were in Denver, The Grateful Dead were there as well and I talked to some people who'd sold their Dead tickets so they could come to our show... true fans... we played above a Veggie Mexican Cafe that did excellent burritos that gave us the wickedest farts! The cafe was next to a refuge for homeless or alcoholic men, and when Harvey and I went out for cigarettes the only shop around was a liquor store that looked liked Fort Knox, and the comments we got from the men on the streets were quite intimidating. Harvey's a tall bloke and they didn't bother him, but I was glad to get back to the venue!” (BW)

Space Bandits is reissued in January 2017 as part of Atomhenge's 'Hawkwind The GWR Years' box set.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Xenon Codex - Tracks & References

The lack of a view, according to Huw Lloyd-Langton: 

“I haven’t heard it – simple as that!” (Interviewed by the author).

What they said then:

 “This creature of dinosaur-like proportions has no apparent sense of direction and looks to be in a severe fit of pain, with a desire, it seems, to be put out of its misery for good.” (‘Captain Kirk’, source unknown).

What they say now:

Having already dismissed The Chronicle of the Black Sword, Trevor King rounded on The Xenon Codex: “Little had changed apart from the dreadful electronic drum sound and a preponderance of high-tech keyboards.” 

Tracks and references:

The War I Survived

Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (Kurt Vonnegut, 1969) is a novel concerned with the blanket firebombing of Dresden by the allies in 1945.

“‘The War I Survived’ didn’t come easily at all. I was staying in London during the summer of 1987, on Nassau Road, in Barnes. A room at the top of a house with a big picture window – with an aerial view looking off toward Putney Bridge. I selected a book, and decided to write a lyric based on Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. I was thinking back to the days when Calvert would select a book for inspiration. It seemed like a great idea to do something like he would do. I was always consciously trying to write something that might sound like it was inspired by Calvert back then. I listened to his music a lot. Getting into his words and wit. That’s what I liked best about Hawkwind – Bob’s words. So there I was reading Slaughterhouse-Five, jotting down my impressions. Trying to find images that impressed me, or phrases that struck me as key phrases. Then I wrote image fragments, over and over. Trying to get them to flow together. It was the jigsaw puzzle that I played with that summer when I wasn’t out on the streets or at a gig.” (Roger Neville-Neil, lyricist for 'The War I Survived', interviewed for Sonic Assassins).

Wastelands of Sleep

“It’s about sadness and depression… everything going wrong, but 'escape in sleep/from all of your sorrows'.” (Kris Tait)

Neon Skyline

“It was written for Ledge of Darkness, but when that didn’t come off it got used because it was around.” (Alan Davey)

Lost Chronicles

“It was written for Huw to play a long guitar solo over. I had this chord sequence, all very nice and pretty, and said, ‘Huw, the sequence goes around and around, and each time it goes around we build it again. We just have to decide how many times you want to go.’” The music starts with Bainbridge playing a slow and studied progression over a synthesiser wash and a quirky, recurring off-key oscillation. The composition builds gradually, the bass and drums coming in early, meandering around like a travelogue film score, as the musicians await the arrival of the maestro. Langton appears mid-track and throws in a glorious guitar line that weaves spellbindingly through the remainder of the piece until he reaches a natural peak and takes his leave on the penultimate cycle. “Just ‘take it away, Huw, off you go’, which he was simply brilliant at doing.” [Harvey Bainbridge, Sonic Assassins]


Probably originally considered for Choose Your Masques, as this instrumental turns up on a bootleg of demos for that album under the title ‘See’.


The concept of the artificially maintained disembodied head being enslaved for its mental powers is a fairly common SF convention, as in Greg Bear’s novel Heads. The concept is also used to good effect in the comic book series Nexus, wherein a collective known simply as The Heads work together to provide a source of fusion power.

“The lyrics for ‘Heads’ was written around Easter 1987 in a flat over a butcher’s shop on Rosehill Parade, in Oxford. The words came easily and just flowed out of the pen. Many things converged to spark this lyric: my living conditions, being in contact with new ideas and uniquely skewed perspectives. Not to mention that the people I found myself around were making some mighty interesting plans for the future. I had joined the Oxford University Speculative Fiction Group as an excuse to get and socialise, drink a pint or two, listen to the university types talk about the science fiction books they liked or about their own lives. This is where I first heard about Alcor. I made a mental note to find out more. 

“Alcor Life Extension Foundation is a cryogenics company in California. A place where you can arrange to have yourself frozen for the future. There was only one catch – you had to die first. For a modest fee, you can arrange to have your life insurance pay for cryogenic storage. Your put on ice, and science and technology should make advancements while you sleep the big sleep in their fridge, hopefully to the point where they can figure out how to reanimate you. And then you’ll find yourself living in the future. Why, it’s the next best thing to immortality. Step right up and sign on the dotted line.

“I think in 1987 it would have cost $35,000 to have your head frozen. $100,000 to have your full body frozen. A couple of chumps in the fiction group had signed up for it. I was all ears listening to them boasting about the details. It sounded like a good idea for a Hawkwind song. I kept thinking about it. What would be your last thoughts as you drifted off into oblivion? What about all the people you knew? Watching their last signs of life as you yourself were iced. Eventually I sat down and the words just came. One of those rare trance-like states where you find several hours have passed – but it only felt like a few minutes. Some of the best stuff comes to you when you don’t try, between being awake and asleep, or the subconscious starts singing, spilling its guts all over the page.  I thought about it for several days. Made a few changes. And then sent the lyrics to Dave with the working title ‘Spare Parts’.” (Roger Neville-Neil, interviewed for Sonic Assassins)

Mutation Zone


Probably stands for electro-magnetic current, or possibly a twist on E=MC2

“I gave him this weird thing called ‘E.M.C.’, which was this attempt to do trance music, although it didn’t work out unfortunately. [Bidmead] didn’t know what to do with it, so I just said, ‘I’ll do it then.’" (Harvey Bainbridge, Sonic Assassins)

Sword of the East

‘…blood of the past…’, a spiritual successor to ‘Hassan I Shaba’, refers to the Crusades of the 11th – 14th centuries, a series of expeditions instigated by the Roman Catholic Church to secure dominion over the Muslim-held Palestine. 

Good Evening

“It seemed like we all went mad, plugged in and hit the record button; ‘Good Evening’ was the result. Dave put all the weird noises on the end.” (AD)

A Note on the Album Title: 

Barney Bubbles claimed to hail from the planet Xenon (as did former Roxy Music collaborator Brian Eno), first mentioned in Hawk-lore on the cover notes for Doremi...

The Xenon Codex is released as part of Atomhenge's GWR Years box set in January 2017

Monday, 16 January 2017

Sonic Assassins - Print Edition

The print edition of Hawkwind: Sonic Assassins is now live for ordering! Amazon US have it immediately available... Amazon UK are taking orders but awaiting the print files from Createspace, which can take up to five days, so should be fulfilling orders by the weekending 21st January. I had a quick look at some Amazon Europe sites and they are either taking orders for imminent fulfilment, or are ready to go with orders.