Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Alien 4 - Tracks & References

Ron Tree, Alien 4 tour, Collection of Dave Brock

The view according to Ron Tree: 

“I was doing stuff about aliens, because I know they exist, there is no doubt. Anybody who doesn’t [believe in aliens] is a fool, a total fool.”

(Hand up here, sorry. Your blogger is a fool, then!).

What they said then: 

The collective voice of Hawkwind’s web-based fandom got one of their earliest opportunities to dissect a Hawkwind studio album with the release of Alien 4. “It’s really heavy and when Ron shuts his trap, it’s brilliant!” wrote Andy Gilham. Jill Strobridge liked its “dramatic solid sound” whilst Martyn Lawrence thought ‘Sputnik Stan’, “really hits the spot.”

What they say now:

Mott-the-Dog, in an on-line review very appropriately comments that “If you want to go into cosmic interstellar overdrive and you’re never sure whether to wag your tail or your head then this is the album for you,” and thinks Alien 4 “a magnificent return to form… a science fiction concept album in support of the oppressed people of planet Earth.”

Tracks & References:


A touchstone for UFO believers is the concept of the alien abduction, with its mythology of genetic experimentation and unaccountably missing time. The idea first came to wider attention in the 1960s by the alleged experiences of Betty and Barney Hill, who under hypnosis claimed to have been taken captive and studied by extra-terrestrial visitors. 

Alien (I am)

This track contains a sample of dialogue from The Mind’s Eye, a fourth season story of Star Trek - The Next Generation.

Reject Your Human Touch

Blue Skin

The music (with new lyrics) is recycled from ‘I am the Eye Which Looks Within’, a number performed on the 1994 European tour. 

Beam Me Up

The legendary Star Trek ‘return to ship’ command. 


Vega (Alpha Lyrae), located in the constellation Lyra, is the fifth brightest star in the sky and is 25 light years from Earth. Together with Deneb and Altair this pale blue star makes up the ‘Summer Triangle’. “One of my calmer moments.” (Alan Davey)


“Xenos” from the Greek, meaning “strange” or “foreign”. “Morphing”, generally used in SF to describe the changing of one physical being into another, again from the Greek “morphe”.  The booklet for the ensuing tour’s live set describes this as “an alien in his bloodshape, germinating and infesting like a virus.”


The title is possibly a reference to Brock’s enthusiasm for the work of Arthur Brown, the title perhaps a nod in the direction of Brown’s Kingdom Come album Journey.

Alan Davey's handwritten lyrics for 'Sputnik Stan'.
Used in the 1st edition of 'Sonic Assassins' by kind permission.

Sputnik Stan

The Russian Sputnik 1 satellite was the first artificial object to orbit the Earth, in October 1957, whilst Sputnik 2 took the first animal (a dog called Laika) into space.

“I saw this programme on the Discovery channel, about the problem of space junk – there is a phenomenal amount. Apparently within twenty years the odds of an astronaut on a space-walk being hit by this stuff will be very high. I figured at some point they’d have to send a scrap-merchant up there – it triggered this idea.” (AD)


In Yoga, Kapal represents the head. 

“A really good track, one of the best instrumentals. It’s that thing again of mixing synthetic with rock, it can get quite heavy, intense.” (AD)


A poem by Kris Tait, written in response to an incident at a free festival when Hawkwind were attacked on stage; the words appeared on the sleeve of the Palace Springs album and were set to music by Brock.

Death Trap

Jerry Richards first Hawkwind album appearance, playing lead guitar on this track.


A reworking of the keyboard riff from ‘Wastelands of Sleep’. 

Are You Losing Your Mind?

Reworks the music themes from 'The Iron Dream', from Quark, Strangeness & Charm.

A word on the album title: 

Area S4, the title of the EP released to promote the album, is a military base just south of the notorious Area 51 complex in Nevada. It is at this establishment that conspiracy theorists claim the recovered alien spacecraft from the Roswell crash-landing of 1947 were back-engineered and test flown. Alien 4 almost certainly is a reference to the then four members of Hawkwind.

Sputnik Stan... The Return!

Alan Davey
Sputnik Stan Vol. 1: A Fistful Of Junk
Earthquake, EQRCD018 / EQRV001 (CD/LP)
Who is his mate? Telstar Tim?

Sputnik Stan made his debut ‘appearance’ in Hawkwind’s live set during 1993, going on to appear on their 1995 Alien 4 album, a character in his own eponymous song from then bassist Davey, an orbital scrap merchant inspired by a documentary about the amount of man-made debris circling the planet. Think Steptoe & Son meets Red Dwarf. Since then Davey’s departed the ranks and Stan, well, we’d assumed he was still out there somewhere, chasing fading satellites unsung. Weighing them in, getting paid. 

Well, communications have been restored with the SS Garbage Can, via Stan’s on-board computer Mel Function (we see what you did there, Alan), resulting in his story being updated with this album, packaged alongside a 20 page comic illustrated by co-lyricist Kevin M Sommers. The end result, in the vein of Hawk-legend Bob Calvert’s Captain Lockheed, is a mix of dialogue, space fx, and Davey’s booming basslines, growling vocals and vivid musicality.

What started life as a two-verse and repeat song, witty as it was, has finally given proper life to the intriguing sci-fi concept lurking underneath; indeed there’s a promise of a second volume to follow. The idea may indeed have legs, based on this first volume, packed with muscular rockers, atmospheric spacey soundtracks and bubbling electronics. Ian Abrahams (Record Collector)


  1. Are You Losing Your Mind? is a reworking of the track Iron dream from Hawkwind's 1977 album 'Quark, Strangeness And Charm'.

    1. Quite right... missed that one! Updated now. Thanks!