Here’s a really interesting ‘twofer’ from the extended Hawkwind universe. Recorded live in London in 2014, these two live discs take a trip down memory lane with Alan Davey, a member of Hawkwind from 1984 to 1996 and again from 2000 to 2007, as well as being part of the Hawklords for a short period.
In 2013 he formed his Psychedelic Warlords, with frontman Craig High, keyboard player Zoie Green, guitarist Simon Wilkins and former Motorhead drum tech Billy Fleming on drums, these two concerts being recorded the following year to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Lemmy’s favourite Hawkwind album, the classic Hall of the Mountain Grill (which is, to my mind, alongside Warrior on the Edge of Time, their finest album), and Robert Calvert’s debut album, Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters, which had never been performed live in its entirety, and it’s wonderful to see these released on both limited edition coloured vinyl and CD.
What, I expect your average Hawkwind fan is asking, particularly due to the propensity of numerous ófficial bootlegs’, live albums, and compilations, is “why should I buy this?”, and I understand this completely. As a Hawkwind fan myself I got incredibly frustrated (until the Esoteric Atomhenge reissue programme) with the numerous different reconfigurations of Hawkwind albums (official or otherwise) that flooded the market, it seemed to cheapen the brand and muddy the waters.
There are several reasons to buy this package, one of which is Captain Lockheed in its entirety, a unique event that celebrates Calvert’s unique (and idiosyncratic) vision, and the fact that for Hall of the Mountain Grill Davey eschews the current Hawkwind ‘best of’ set list for something different.
Hall of the Mountain Grill, for so many people, is the pinnacle of the Hawkwind UA era, and it’s wonderful to hear it presented here in its entirety, with some superb performances from Davey and band. From the opener The Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear in Smoke) (from where the group got their name), which is full of power here, to tracks like the immense You’d Better Beleive It, and the absolute classic Lost Johnny, the band, led by Davey, are all over this, they absolutely nail these songs, and whether it’s a testament to the original composers or Davey’s Psychedelic Warlords, they don’t sound like 45-year old songs, they brim with vitality and life and sound as fresh as they’ve ever been.
Encores of the fantastic It’s So Easy and the banger that is Motorhead close the first disc off in style, I imagine that as a Hawkwind fan this was a superb gig to see, and it’s great that this event is now available on CD.
The second gig, which covers the late, great Robert Calvert’s debut album, is my favourite of the two. Having never heard Captain Lockheed and the Star Fighters (it’s on the bucket list, OK!) this live rendition is full of energy and takes the songs and spoken word interludes from Calvert’s satire and brings them to life on stage.
If you didn’t know, Calvert’s original album was a satirical take on the German Air Force’s purchase of the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, known as ‘the Widowmaker’ (title of one of the tracks on here), quite an obscure comcept, but Calvert was never one for the obvious, and that’s what made him a unique performer.
Tracks like the aforementioned Widowmaker, Ejection, The Song of the Gremlin (Parts 1 & 2) and Catch a Falling Starfighter are performed with real verve and style by the band, and they take Calvert’s songs from the archives, dust them off and rip their way through them with complete respect for the source material, but sound like they’re having a blast playing them as they shine a light into one of the darker corners of the extended Hawkwind family album.
These two albums are an absolute delight from start to finish. Bringing ‘lost’ Hawkwind and associated recordings to life in a contemporary setting is not an easy task to fulfil, and Alan Davey and his Psychedelic Warlords definitely don’t disappear in smoke, instead they embrace the band’s legacy and run with it, creating an exciting, vibrant and vital live collection from it.
Hawkwind fans, trust me on this one, these are two albums well worth adding to your collection.
Hall of the Mountain Grill
01. The Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear in Smoke) (7:53)
02. Wind of Change (5:06)
03. D-Rider (6:51)
04. Web Weaver (4:41)
05. You’d Better Believe It (7:55)
06. Hall of the Mountain Grill (3:39)
07. Lost Johnny (4:31)
08. Paradox (7:42)
09. It’s So Easy (8:37)
10. Motörhead (4:51)
Time – 61:46
Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters
01. Franz Josef Strauss, Defence Minister, Reviews the Luftwaffe in 1958 Finding It Somewhat Lacking in Image Potential (1:16)
02. The Aerospaceage Inferno (4:02)
03. Aircraft Salesmen (A Door in the Foot) (1:42)
04. The Widow Maker (4:19)
05. Two Test Pilots Discuss (0:42)
06. The Right Stuff (5:04)
07. The Song of the Gremlin (Part 1) (5:20)
08. Hero with a Wing (4:28)
09. Ground Control to Pilot (0:50)
10. Ejection (5:00)
11. I Resign (0:39)
12. The Song of the Gremlin (Part 2) (5:38)
13. Bier Garten (0:17)
14. Catch a Falling Starfighter (2:46)
Time – 41:47
Total Time – 103:33
Alan Davey – Bass, Vocals
Craig High – Vocals
Zoie Green – Keyboards
Simon Wilkins – Guitars
Billy Fleming – Drums
Record Label: Purple Pyramid
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 16th July 2019