Nobody would of ever dared believe that when Dave Brock and
his merry band of hippies, buskers, street musicians, poets, and hangers on got
together in 1969, that they could ever have gone on and made such an impact on
the world of Rock ‘n’ Roll. They influenced generations of musicians,
creating their own genre of Rock, inventing what was to become known as
Space/Rock or Stoner/Rock, still practiced these days by mainstream bands such
as “Monster Magnet” or “Foo Man Choo”. They had a profound influence on
Ambient Music, became one of the most sampled bands in rock history, or most
unbelievable of all, they are still going strong over thirty three years later.
Albeit, only Dave Brock remains from the founder members, and even he left once,
although only for one European tour.
Over the years countless musicians have come and gone (many
returning to the ranks three or four times), some making little impact and some
leaving a lasting impression. Not least their dancer Stacia, who, although
always having difficulty dancing to the pulsating rhythms from the music, had no
such problem in getting her kit off, much to the delight of the audience.
Hawkwind were very popular on the European College Gig Circuit, making Stacia
the first totally naked girl that many young spotty male students ever saw.
Although Stacia had no musical input, she still left a lasting impression on
many a young mind.
Their influence on today’s Nu-Heavy Metal scene should not
be underestimated either. After their bass player was sacked mid tour of the
United States of America in 1975, he came home to the United Kingdom to
immediately form the heaviest metal band of all time, a certain “Motorhead”.
That bass player was, of course, the one and only Lemmy. Others to have made big
impressions have been poet and lead singer Bob Calvert, who sadly died in the
Eighties. However, he had completely transformed the band when it imploded in
the late Seventies. Nik Turner put saxophone, flute, and most importantly a
sense of fun back into rock music, just as everybody was actually starting to
take themselves too seriously. The drummer from Cream, and arguably the finest
drummer of his time, Ginger Baker also found himself warming the drum stool for
a while in the Eighties. In 1972 they even had a hit single “Silver
Machine”, which in that heady summer was only kept off the top spot by Alice
Cooper’s “Schools Out”.
So, not a bad history then. But what of today? Well, the band
is still going, in actual fact with so many ex-members, there are two Hawkwinds.
One is led by Hawkwind’s original leader Dave Brock with a group of hired
hands (drummer Richard Chadwick has been with Dave Brock for nearly twenty
years, but is still considered to be a new boy by some of the fans). The other
turned into “Nik Turner’s Space Odyssey, the Hawkwind Experience”, which
‘sometimes’ has as many as four of the original classic line-up.
Sadly there have been no new recordings out of any Hawkwind
camp since the winter of 1997, Distant Horizons, and to be honest that wasn’t
much cop. As well as losing their minds over the years, Hawkwind also lost all
control of their back catalogue. There are over 300 CDs of various quality
floating about on the shop floor, but, as is proved by the inside of this
album’s cover, with its list of twelve current Hawkwind fan clubs, there is
still tremendous interest in the music.
So what do this bunch of late fifties, early sixties
musicians do? Well, of course, you milk them for all it’s worth by releasing a
live album once a year from your Christmas concert. Yes, all you old hippies out
there, horror of horrors, just like Cliff Richard or Status Quo, they rub the
old machine down once a year for a Christmas jaunt round the country to fill up
the coffers once again. But is it any good I hear you ask? Well, judging by this
collection recorded on December 29th, 2000 at the London Astoria by the Dave
Brock version of Hawkwind, I would say absolutely. What you get is over two
hours of wonderfully varied Hawkwind music, a round up of most of their greatest
hits including a song from their first album to a new one. Famous author and
long time Hawkwind collaborator Michael Moorcock phoning in his parts from
across the Atlantic. (Although surprisingly Silver Machine is not dragged out.
Or was it played at the concert but left off the album? Or is Dave Brock still
playing it cool?)
Many surprise guests coming on to play from Hawkwind’s
past, and possible future (a certain Jez Hugget takes a bow for taking the wind
instrument role on this recording), all played by consummate musicians that they
certainly were not at the beginning of this journey, played with far more
enthusiasm than by lesser mortals who drag themselves around the Rock ‘n’
Roll circuit twelve months of the year. This was definitely not the way things
were planned when it all started out in Notting Hill London 1969, but a positive
way for the nice people from Hawkwind to spend their twilight years; and like
Santa, they only have to work at Christmas.
Happy Christmas Everybody, Mott the Dog.
Dave Brock - Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
Alan Davey - Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
Richard Chadwick - Drums Vocals
Ron Tree - Vocals, Bass
Harvey Bainbridge - Bass, Keyboards
Simon House - Violin
Tim Blake - Keyboards, Vocals
Jerry Richards - Guitars
Keith Kniveton - EMS, Synthesizers
Jez Huggett - Saxophone, Flute
Captain Rizz - Vocals
Michael Moorcock - Telephone Vocals