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.

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