Sunday, 5 June 2011

Hawkwind – Leave No Star Unturned (Press)

I was recently asked to provide notes for the forthcoming release of the Hawkwind segment of the fabled Six Hour Technicolor Dream show from the Cambridge Corn Exchange, January 1972. This one is due out in August with the initial pressing coming in a limited edition deluxe packaging before reverting to standard CD format for future pressings. There's also a vinyl edition planned for this, details on the label's website. Here's the press release information:

Artist: Hawkwind

CD/Vinyl Release: Leave No Star Unturned

Release Date: 28th August 2011

Label & Cat: Easy Action Recordings, EARS041 (CD) – DPROMLP88 (LP)

On 27th January 1972, Hawkwind, their comrades in Notting Hill / Ladbroke Grove psychedelic proto-punk agitprop The Pink Fairies, and what would be labelled as The Last Minute Put-Together Boogie Band featuring the elusive Syd Barrett were brought together at The Cambridge Corn Exchange under the title The Six Hour Technicolor Dream by local music promoter and 'Head Shop' proprietor Steve Brink. If we'd had the technology of today way back then, then for such a line-up we'd most certainly have on our shelves the DVD with its 5.1 stereo soundtrack, the CD box set, and the Blu-ray package. Instead, what we have is something previously shrouded in mystery and rumour; quarter-inch ReVox open reel sourced recordings that have been whispered of in the circles of those who know. One of only two known copies of this show surfaced in the mid-80s, promptly to vanish into the vaults unheard and unreleased. Thankfully, the other finally emerged from a forgotten loft space in 2005 and made its way into the hands of Easy Action Records via a circuitous route which included an appearance at the famous Bonham's auction house in London's affluent Knightsbridge - what a contrast to the anarchic 'peace and love' characters decrying the evil tentacles of 'The Man' who play on these recordings.

The three bands lining-up that night represent a legacy of huge importance to students, followers and historians of the underground counterculture of the late '60s and early '70s. Leave No Star Unturned delivers the Hawkwind portion of that gathering and in doing so illuminates the band at the start of what can be seen in hindsight as its mainstream breakthrough year – if 'mainstream' could ever be a label applied at any time across the band's forty-year-plus history of being the perennial outsiders surviving, if not on the edge of time, then certainly on the outside of the music industry. But it's 1972 – the year that 'Silver Machine' took them to the top reaches of the Singles Chart and on to Top Of The Pops, the year that Radio One embraced them for In Concert and the year that they embarked on their ambitious science fiction theatre Space Ritual tour – the show that yielded the fabulously dense and atmospheric wall-of-sound that is the Space Ritual Alive In Liverpool And London double album.

Featuring among the Hawkwind ranks here are their ever-present figurehead and Hawklord Dave Brock, the thundering pre-Motorhead bass-playing of Lemmy, space poet and lyricist Robert Calvert, and the freewheeling, improvisational and theatrical heart of the band, Nik Turner. There's an early version of 'Silver Machine', before the single version was captured at The Roundhouse and overdubbed at Morgan Studios with Lemmy's growling vocal, and featuring here an all together different delivery by Calvert (the song's co-writer alongside Brock). There's the second chronologically known live recording of 'Born To Go', blistering versions of 'Master Of The Universe' and 'You Shouldn't Do That', and a contrastingly spacious and spacey rendition of 'You Know You're Only Dreaming'. This is Hawkwind building to a crescendo on stage and off – building up the myth and legend that would make them the embodiment of tripped-out space rock in perpetuity.

The Hawkwind back catalogue of this era, their time on United Artists, has been lovingly managed and maintained for availability by EMI who have generously granted a licence for the release of this historic recording. Hawkwind fans are indebted to them for their support in enabling this show to be widely heard and cherished. The deluxe packaging, and the extensive sleevenotes written by Hawkwind biographer Ian Abrahams support this soundtrack but it's the blistering power and energy of the improvisational Hawkwind that, indeed, leaves no star unturned.


theclarkness said...

Looks good

Anonymous said...

Yep! Look's Very Good!