KID SHIRT

Sunday, December 05, 2004

YOUR CAPTAIN IS DEAD



8 days into a serious Hawkwind jag that shows no sign of letting up. As an habit, even crack isn't this relentless, this unforgiving.

I confess to a huge weakness for pre-Lemmy, Dave Anderson era 'Wind with the dual oscillator attack of Del Dettmar and Dikmik. "In Search of Space" has not been off the deck for a whole week now and we're not talking CD-player on random-shuffle/repeat, this is vinyl, so it's lift off record/turn over/put needle on record/press start: again, again, again, AGAIN!

Was it Brian Eno who said things become more interesting the more you repeat them (tho' some people would beg to differ about my Girls Aloud posts...)? Strange but true: Hawkwind's Simon King played on some early Eno tracks. I said: Hawkwind's Simon King played on some early Eno tracks. Oh, forget it...

Still, Dave Anderson: total unsung hero. He played in both Hawkwind and Amon Duul II and must therefore be destined for the Acid Rock equivalent of Valhalla. Love the densely compressed, almost muffled, valve-driven sound of "ISOS": it feels as cramped and claustrophobic as a mercury capsule, which may explain the title. In terms of production (if not the music) I always considered it (rightly or wrongly) as the anti-matter book-end of Duul's "Yeti", which Anderson also played on. "Yeti" is a strange indeterminate mixture of convoluted, overwraught mock-operatic flashbacks, amp-searing riffs and pastoral mong-outs, whereas "ISOS" is a far more linear proposition: it knows exacly where it wants to go and it gets there by the shortest possible route. An odd thing for me to say, perhaps, when one track clocks in at around 16mins, but, believe me, these tracks have the potential for near Lamont Young levels of temporal abuse. In summary, then: "Yeti" and "ISOS": non-identical twins separated at birth.

There are further (tenuous) Kraut connections: recorded in 1971, "ISOS" contains a burst of Proto-Motorik in the form of "You Shouldn't Do That" (Neu! wouldn't record "Hallogallo" until December of that year), but Hawkwind's take is too muscular, too top-heavy to be the real deal; purists would argue that 'Real' Motorik should be lean and stripped-back; cruising with its top down; the flickering white-lines of motorway motion implied, not unsubtle and signposted (or induced by methedrine) like Hawkwind's. Kraftwerk finally got behind the wheel in '72 with pieces that would form the template for "Autobahn", like the sublime, gently-pulsating "Klingklang", but their preferred mode of transport sounded like a 25cc scooter (or a bicycle!) in comparison to the formation of tooled-up Harleys driven by Brock and the boys.

Hawkwind as forgotten pioneers of motorik? Well, probably not, but it's a fun idea to run with...you could almost argue a case for Status Quo too, given that motorik's roots (routes?) lay (as MES well knows) in the locked 12-bar guitar-loops of Bo Didley, Chuck Berry and speed-frazzled Nashville Truckstop favourites. But what is motorik without it's motors and it's road-maps? What bastard lineage originally begat it? I'm not sure we'll ever know for sure, but I'm betting that as long as there were drums, and the notion of motion, and mass migrations, and dreams of travel and escape, then the idea of motorik was never far away...

No, I see "You Shouldn't Do That" more as an instance of parallel evolution; an accident in tranced-out acid-riffery. Early Hawkwind's tendency towards linearity was no doubt a side-effect of their pre-record deal busking-days and also a necessity of having to replicate their songs after near combat levels of drug ingestion. Forget Punk's three chords: here's one chord, some acid and a tone-generator; now form a band.

And, finally, to those who say Hawkwind were Prog (well, before Simon House joined), I say: "Feh! A pox upon thee. Fuck off and watch The Matrix Trilogy (Bloated Prog Vanity-Project/CGI-Prog)" Did Gentle Giant ever release a single (a single!) called "Urban Guerrilla" two/three years before Punk kicked off? No...

And neither will anyone else ever again in this wonderful Post-9/11 world of ours.

Repeat after me, boys and girls (note: reference to The White Panthers):

I'm an urban guerrilla
I make bombs in my cellar
I'm a derelict dweller
I'm a potential killer
I'm a street-fighting dancer
I'm a revolutionary romancer
My rising sign is Cancer
I'm a two-tone panther

So let's not talk of love and flowers
And things that don't explode
We've used up all our magic powers
Trying to do it in the road

I'm a political bandit
And you don't understand it
You took my dream and canned it
It is not the way I planned it
I'm society's destructor
I'm a petrol-bomb constructor
I'm a cosmic light conductor
I'm the people's debt collector

So watch out, Mr. Business Man
Your empire's about to blow
I think you'd better listen, man
In case you did not know

I'm an urban ... urban guerrilla
I'm an urban ... urban guerrilla
I'm an urban ... urban guerrilla
I'm an urban ... urban guerrilla

(REPEAT)

2 Comments:

At 7:28 pm, Blogger johneffay said...

'And in the fullness of time, the prophecy must be fulfilled & the Hawklords shall return to smite the land. And the dark forces shall be scourged, the cities razed and made into parks. Peace shall come to everyone. For is it not written that the sword is key to Heaven and Hell?'

 
At 8:27 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife's getting me the new 'Wind 'biography' for Xmas! And it's all your fault, John! :-)

 

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