All the Hawkwind we haven't been discussing

John Majka john.majka at GMAIL.COM
Sat Oct 29 23:34:02 EDT 2011

As I have a few spare minutes, I thought I'd post regarding all the Hawkwind
news that I've read little or nothing about lately on our list.

1)  Huw Lloyd-Langton's tour of the USA.
With the constraints of my job as a pharmacist, trying to see all the
concerts I want to attend can be challenging at times, but I did manage to
narrow the HLL USA tour down to the two or three closest locations to me,
and then to further whittle those options down to just one:  St.  Louis, MO.
I made the 4 and 1/2 hour drive from Indianapolis to St. Louis just with
enough time to check into my hotel and head off to the venue a bit in
advance of door opening.  The show was at a place called Fubar (apparently
primarily a metal bar) and I suspect the night's entertainment was little
lightweight in comparison to what is usually featured.  A tour bus was
parked outside, and I managed to witness Huw entering the establishment.  I
had on a Hawkwind 40th anniversary tour shirt, and this got the attention of
a fellow wearing a Gunslinger shirt, who turned out to be a gentleman named
Chris who is the US tour manager for Gunslinger.  We chatted quite a bit and
shared HW stories.  Before long, Tommy Grenas (this time playing with
Brainticket) also joined in before we all sauntered inside.  Chris and I
managed to chat with Huw a bit during the opening band before he excused
himself and took the stage.  He played an acoustic set, all the details of
which I won't remember, but he opened with "Shine a Light" from his Elegy
album, and then went on to include Rocky Paths, a particularly good " Hurry
on Sundown," " Solitary Mind Games" (with Joel from Brainticket adding some
flute), "The Fifth Second of Forever" and a piece by perhaps the brother of
Ray Davies (of the Kinks)....  I didn't quite catch who Huw said had written
it.  Despite all the recent gossip that Huw is washed up as a guitar player,
I'd like to take this opportunity to say that he played quite well and is
back on the scene!  It's good to see him performing again after a number of
years of ill health.  The only thing that could have pleased me more would
have been to hear him play electric guitar.  After Huw was Brainticket, who
were the unexpected hit of the evening.  They featured a female singer in
spacy silver garb who was quite entrancing.  During a quieter moment in one
of their songs someone in the crowd shouted, "You are way too cool to be
playing here!"  Surely that was a sentiment shared by all!  Last up was
Nektar.  I'm not a huge Nektar fan, but I was thrilled that they opened with
"Tab in the Ocean," which is my favorite piece of music from them.  Unable
to contain my uber-nerd status as Hawkwind superfan, and just leave my idols
to themselves, I had to approach Huw at the end of the show and ask him to
sign the 30 or so albums and books and so on I had brought with me.  I
apologized for so imposing upon him, but he seemed genuinely interested that
I had cared enough to amass this stuff.  He told many amusing anecdotes
regarding almost each and every album as he very kindly sympathized with my
obsessive compulsiveness.  I particularly remember he laughed about the back
cover of Choose Your Masques, and told me that originally (in place of the
masks seen therein) an artist had painted photo realistic likenesses of each
band member, but that Dave had protested the finished protect, simply saying
he "didn't like it."  Huw explained that Dave was going through a mid-life
crisis was self-conscious about seeing all those wrinkles so clearly
reproduced!  Huw was particularly interested in the Ian Abrahams book, which
he said he had never seen before.  He carefully wrote down the author's name
and the title of the book to track down a copy for himself.  We continued to
chit chat until the club closed, and I headed back to my hotel.  Never
having met the man before, I was favorably impressed with his extreme
kindness toward a total stranger.

2) Recent Huw releases
For those who haven't been out of their caves in a while, Cleopatra have put
out a HLL album called "Classical Guitar Tales" which is, as the title
suggests, a collection of acoustic pieces of mainly classical fingerpicked
acoustic guitar.  It's a fine album, though some who might be expecting
something more raucous could find it understated.  I highly recommend the
disc.  There is another limited "Live at Gravesend" release which is both
frustrating and comforting.  The recording quality is no better than
bootleg.  I'd say it sounds like a single microphone stuck in a room to
record this recent all-electric performance of an incarnation of the Huw
Lloyd-Langton Group.  Additionally, each disc of the 2 CD set is not
indexed, but merely a single long track, which makes going to specific songs
extremely annoying.  The backing band is also completely amateurishly bland,
as we are treated to drum fills that don't end at the right place and so
on....  But having voiced all of these complaints, I have to celebrate the
fact that Huw's electric guitar playing is glorious, putting all doubts
regarding his abilities to rest.  His leads are both creative and proficient
throughout (even if the recording quality--or lack thereof--sometimes makes
that fact hard to hear).  I'm pleased to hear that he's opening for Hawkwind
on their upcoming tour.  I see no reason why he shouldn't be in the current
lineup of the touring band, and on the next studio album, really.  Huw is
back on course!

3)  Recent Hawkwind releases
The "Parallel Universe" 3 CD set should be required for all fans of
Hawkwind.  Considering that we're talking about previously unreleased 70's
Hawkwind studio material, you would think there would have been more
discussion and excitement about this collection, but I've read almost
nothing about it.  Ignoring the material that can be found elsewhere, what
we get is... the mono single versions (A and B sides) of the "Hurry on
Sundown" single, an early and different version of "You Know You're Only
Dreaming," an alternate version of "The Reason Is," a different mix of "Be
Yourself," an unreleased instrumental jam called "Hog Farm," a different
version of "Kiss of the Velvet Whip,"  a version of "Seven by Seven" with
different vocals, an unedited version of "Brainbox Pollution," stellar
studio versions of "It's So Easy" and "You'd Better Believe It" and an
alternate take of "Wind of Change."  Pristine, EMI quality.

There is also "Leave No Star Unturned" which is taken from master tapes of
the January 27, 1972 performance at the Cambridge Corn Exchange.  The tapes
are somewhat damaged and flawed, but still this is a very listenable
performance of what would otherwise be an unavailable recording.    For
those accustomed to bootlegs with a less than perfect mix, this release is a
revelation.  For those who think "Bring Me the Head..." is an abomination,
maybe you should proceed with caution.  

4) Hawkwind Japanese Remasters  
These are the top of the heap in terms of sound quality and remastering.
The discs themselves are the recent remasters pressed as High Material CDs.
Supposedly the greater optical purity improves sound quality... and my own
subjective opinion is that this is true.  The packaging reproduces the
original albums in gatefold cardboard sleeves with all the associated
booklets etc.  The 2nd CD sleeve for the "Quark Strangeness and Charm" set
strangely reproduces the sleeve of the 1994 "Quark" EP including the back
cover, which of course lists the 4 songs from that EP which are NOT on this
disc.  The 2nd disc of the Hawklords album reproduces the sleeve of the "25
Years" 12 inch single.  The sleeves for the 2nd and 3rd discs of
"Levitation" are reproductions of the two different "Who's Gonna Win the
War?" 7 inch singles (Flicknife and Bronze).  There are also 3 postcards
included with this set.  The sleeve for the 2nd disc of the "Sonic Attack"
set reproduces the sleeve of the "Angels of Death" single.

5)  Hawkwind vinyl remasters
Back on Black has put out limited editions of the United Artists albums
(minus Warrior and Roadhawks) as 180 gram colored vinyl reissues of the
recent remasters.  These things look and sound great, and they all have
gatefold sleeves.  The first album is now 2 LPs on blue vinyl, "In Search of
Space" is 2 LPs on red vinyl, "Doremi" is 2 LPs on grey vinyl, Space Ritual
comes in 2 volumes (the first containing 2 translucent blue LPs and the
second containing 2 translucent yellow ones)--not to confuse the second
volume of the first Space Ritual album with the later album called "Space
Ritual Volume Two", "Hall of the Mountain Grill" is 2 yellow LPs, and
"Masters of the Universe" is  one clear vinyl LP.  These are extremely nice
releases, but don't perfectly reproduce all the packaging.  "In Search of
Space," for example, does not have the die-cut zipper sleeve or booklet.
Still these are remarkable releases for the collector.

John Majka

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