Tag Archives: Hawkwind

Into The Woods Tour

On Wednesday, with my ears just about having stopped ringing after last Sunday’s fantastic Iron Maiden show, it was time for another gig. The venue this time was the somewhat smaller O2 Academy in Bristol, to see psychedelic legends Hawkwind.

This was to be a very different proposition from the aforementioned show. I arrived at the venue before the doors opened and while there was not yet much of a queue and finished reading Cathi Unsworth’s “Weirdo” novel while I waited.

Magnus Martin, Richard Chadwick, Michel Sosna & Haz Wheaton

The doors opened at 7:00pm and, having perused the merchandise stall, I made my way into the main concert area and found a decent enough spot (practically exactly where I was for last year’s Gov’t Mule show) from which to observe proceedings. At 7:30pm the support act strolled unannounced onto the stage in front of a half-empty O2 Academy. Said act was in fact Hawkwind Unplugged – basically the headliners with acoustic guitars. Seemingly a little disorganised there was a fair bit of in-band discussion throughout their thirty minute set.

Richard Chadwick

Somewhat bizarrely this also included the appearance of a badger hand-puppet wielded by drummer and occasional vocalist Richard Chadwick… Anyway, musically the set was a pretty decent quick trip through Hawkwind history – mainly from the 70s, with one track from this year’s “Into The Woods” album and “Get Yourself Together” from leader Dave Brock’s pre-Hawkwind days that eventually saw the light of day on a 90s archive release.

Setlist:

1. Quark, Strangeness And Charm / 2. Get Yourself Together / 3. Age Of The Microman / 4. Ascent / 5. We Took The Wrong Step Years Ago / 6. The Watcher

1 originally from “Quark, Strangeness And Charm” (1977) / 2 originally from “Dawn Of Hawkwind” (1999) / 3 originally from “25 Years On” (1978) / 4 originally from “Into The Woods” (2017) / 5 originally from “In Search Of Space” (1971) / 6 originally from “Doremi Fasol Latido” (1972)

Hawkwind Live

After a half-hour break the band were back on stage – again unannounced – for their main electric set, and by now the O2 was fuller than it had been, but was curiously still less busy than at any previous gig I’d been to at this venue. Kicking off with “Earth Calling” into a lengthy “Born To Go” and with various trippy images projected onto the back of the stage, this was more like your archetypal Hawkwind.

Mr. Dibs & Haz Wheaton

The band are completed by Mr. Dibs (vocals / synthesizer), Magnus Martin (keyboards / guitar), Haz Wheaton (bass) – the latter bearing a strong resemblance to 70s era Lemmy, right down to the Rickenbacker bass guitar, I thought – and Michel Sosna (saxophone).

Haz Wheaton & Dave Brock

The set was heavily drawn from what many people would argue is the group’s golden era, 1972-76, with the remaining numbers coming from albums released in the last two years, completely missing any material recorded between 1977 and 2015. If you discount the 1977/78 songs aired in the opening acoustic set that’s something in the region of twenty albums worth of songs ignored. That’s something of a shame, but even with nearly two hours on stage there were still plenty of classics (“Silver Machine”, “Masters Of The Universe”, “Sonic Attack” etc.) that couldn’t be fitted into the show so one can’t complain really and it does show that Brock and his troops have belief in their new material to include four recent tracks.

Hawkwind – Into The Woods

I have mentioned before, I believe, about audience noise as people chatter when bands are playing. Despite the relatively small crowd this one was easily the noisiest between songs, in terms of talking, and not just between songs either. Between “Steppenwolf” and “Warrior On The Edge Of Time” Martin stepped out from behind his keyboards to play some acoustic guitar. I could only guess that this was some kind of interlude as the crowd noise was so loud that it rendered his playing virtually inaudible, but I have since deduced it was likely “Darkland” from “Into The Woods”. To make matters worse the folk around me had to endure a chap who alternated between enthusiastic hands-in-the-air appreciation of each new tune with then spending most of the songs talking – very loudly – to the people closest to him. Why do these people spend good money on a concert ticket, only to spend most of their time taking practically no notice of the goings-on on stage?!

Dave Brock

So, rant over… Brock’s Hawkwind do not put on a spectacle like that displayed by Iron Maiden etc., but then they do not have the financial support or resources to do so either. What they do do is concentrate on playing immersive and hypnotic music accompanied by some decidedly psychedelic images – and they do it jolly well.

Hawkwind Live

In view of the audience noise issues I would have to say that whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of Hawkwind live, I will likely stick to their recorded output in future when I can really hear what’s going on and lose myself in the music…

Setlist:

1. Earth Calling / 2. Born To Go / 3. The Awakening (First Landing On Medusa) / 4. You’d Better Believe It / 5. Have You Seen Them / 6. Vegan Lunch / 7. Steppenwolf / 8. Darkland / 9. Magnu / 10. Golden Void / 11. Synchronised Blue / 12. Into The Woods / 13. Brainstorm / 14. Welcome To The Future / 15. Brainbox Pollution

1, 2, 3 and 14 originally from “Space Ritual” (1973) / 4 originally from “Hall Of The Mountain Grill” (1974) / 5, 6, 8 and 12 originally from “In The Woods” (2017) / 7 originally from “Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music” (1976) / 9 and 10 originally from “Warrior On The Edge Of Time” (1975) / 11 originally from “The Machine Stops” (2016) / 13 and 15 originally from “Doremi Fasol Latido” (1972)

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I’m A Freak, Baby…

cover

Just over a year ago I discovered the rather super folk music compilation “Dust On The Nettles : A Journey Through The British Underground Folk Scene 1967-72”, a three-disc set from the Grapefruit label. That, I subsequently discovered, was the second release in a series that started with 2013’s triple-disc “Love, Poetry And Revolution : A Journey Through The British Psychedelic And Underground Scenes 1966-1972”.

Deep Purple

Now I have stumbled across Grapefruit’s latest “a journey through” offering, released during the summer of 2016, is “I’m A Freak, Baby… : A Journey Through The British Heavy Psych And Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-72”. Now, granted the use of the word “underground” doesn’t apply to all the music contained in this latest triple set, any more than it really did with the prior two, as there are a number of very well-known acts featured in each. However, I do think that the majority of the material presented for us to immerse ourselves in is likely to be unfamiliar to many, if not most, listeners.

Uriah Heep

First, though, let’s look at the more familiar fare. Disc one brings us “Do It” by The Pink Fairies and “Cherry Red” by The Groundhogs, the second disc contains Deep Purple’s “Fireball” along with tracks from the Edgar Broughton Band and the Move, whilst the final disc bears “Gypsy” from Uriah Heep, Fleetwood Mac’s “The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)” as well as tracks from Taste and The Yardbirds. All great tracks and, to be honest, the easy recognition of these numbers helps to balance against the unknown songs spread across the rest of the three discs.

Stray

Amongst the acts that are less well-known are a number that can already be found nestled within my music library. These include the opening nine-plus minute “All In Your Mind” by Stray, which was covered by heavy metal legends Iron Maiden on the b-side of their 1990 hit “Holy Smoke”. Others I was already at least partly familiar with include Chicken Shack’s “Going Down”, “Heart Without A Home” by Blonde On Blonde, The Gun’s “Race With The Devil” and “Escalator” from Sam Gopal featuring future Motörhead leader Lemmy on vocals and guitar.

Skid Row

Moving on to the new-to-me artists, I particularly enjoyed the offerings from The Iron Maiden (“Falling”) (not to be confused with the above-mentioned metal band, Dark (“Zero Time”), The Kult (“Occult”), Jerusalem (“Primitive Man”), Barnabus (“Apocalypse”), Egor (“Street”), Cycle (“Father Of Time”) and Irish band Skid Row (“Go, I’m Never Gonna Let You)”) – the latter being the late guitar ace Gary Moore’s first professional band.

Hawkwind

I should also make mention of “Sweet Mistress Of Pain”, a track credited to Hawkwind Zoo. Also known under the alternate title of “Kiss Of The Velvet Whip”, this was recorded in late 1969 by the newly-formed band just prior to their name change, dropping the “Zoo” to become simply Hawkwind – a band synonymous with psychedelic music if ever there was one.

Sam Gopal

Oddly, although I would consider myself more of a rock fan than folk fan, I think on balance that I’ll likely listen to the “Dust On The Nettles” set more often than this one.

Fleetwood Mac

As with the folk anthology the sound quality varies a little, but this is a small price to pay for having some real rarities present. Whilst the former set included a massive sixty-three songs, “I’m A Freak…” contains just forty-eight. However, with a running time of just a few minutes shy of four hours there’s not much to complain about. Well worth digging into…

“I’m A Freak, Baby… : A Journey Through The British Heavy Psych And Hard Rock Underground Scene 1968-72” tracklist:

Disc One:

1. All In Your Mind / 2. Cast A Spell / 3. Hot Smoke And Sassafras / 4. My Son’s Alive / 5. Going Down / 6. Father Of Time / 7. I’m Coming Home / 8. Do It / 9. Time Machine / 10. Cherry Red / 11. I’m A Freak / 12. Rock My Soul / 13. Sweet Mistress Of Pain / 14. Nightmare / 15. Falling / 16. Apocalypse

1. Stray / 2. The Open Mind / 3. The Moochie / 4. Crushed Butler / 5. Chicken Shack / 6. Cycle / 7. The Deviants / 8. The Pink Fairies / 9. Factory / 10. The Groundhogs / 11. Wicked Lady / 12. Charge / 13. Hawkwind Zoo / 14. Stonehouse / 15. The Iron Maiden / 16. Barnabus

Disc Two:

1. Bogeyman / 2. Fireball / 3. Primitive Man / 4. Love In The Rain / 5. Trust / 6. Rhubarb! / 7. Dream / 8. Skullcrusher / 9. Zero Time / 10. Jehovah / 11. Brontosaurus / 12. Bring It To Jerome / 13. Mr. Make Believe / 14. Flash / 15. Street Walking Woman / 16. Go, I’m Never Gonna Let You

1. Writing On The Wall / 2. Deep Purple / 3. Jerusalem / 4. Edgar Broughton Band / 5. Hellmet / 6. Second Hand / 7. Little Free Rock / 8. Iron Claw / 9. Dark / 10. The Velvet Frogs / 11. The Move / 12. Stack Waddy / 13. Samuel Prody / 14. Bare Sole / 15. The Phoenix / 16. Skid Row

Disc Three:

1. Race With The Devil / 2. Heart Without A Home / 3. Ascension Day / 4. Street / 5. Escalator / 6. Gypsy / 7. Garden Of My Mind / 8. Think About It / 9. Trying To Find My Way Back Home / 10. Yellow Cave Woman / 11. Too Old / 12. The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown) / 13. Twisted Trip Woman / 14. Occult / 15. Born On The Wrong Side Of Time / 16. Hollis Brown

1. The Gun / 2. Blonde On Blonde / 3. Third World War / 4. Egor / 5. Sam Gopal / 6. Uriah Heep / 7. The Mickey Finn / 8. The Yardbirds / 9. Morning After / 10. Velvett Fogg / 11. Andromeda / 12. Fleetwood Mac / 13. Sweet Slag / 14. The Kult / 15. Taste / 16. Fusion Farm

The Machine Stops

Hawkwind-CD

Hawkwind Live In Concert
Hawkwind Live In Concert

Following in the wake of “R:Evolution”, the latest album from spin-off act Hawklords, the mothership known as Hawkwind have themselves just issued their own latest album, titled “The Machine Stops”, which is their twenty-sixth studio album (ignoring spin-off releases).

Dave Brock
Dave Brock

Joining founding member Dave Brock (vocals / guitars / synthesizers) in the band’s line-up for this album are long serving drummer Richard Chadwick (member since 1988), vocalist / bassist Jonathan “Mr. Dibs” Darbyshire (since 2007), keyboardist / guitarist / bassist Niall Hone (since 2008), keyboardist Phillip “Dead Fred” Reeves (since 2012) and the new boy – bassist Haz Wheaton.

Richard Chadwick
Richard Chadwick

“The Machine Stops” is a concept album, based on a short story by the same name. Brock, who wrote the majority of the record himself, said “It’s an interesting story written by E.M. Forster in 1909 and it’s exactly what is going on now. It’s about people living on computers so it’s amazing to think the author visualised this would be occurring 100 years later. I thought it was a really interesting concept because people do just live in their rooms while their computer does everything for them.” I have to admit that this is pretty topical subject matter considering the source is so (relatively) old!

Jonathan "Mr. Dibs" Darbyshire
Jonathan “Mr. Dibs” Darbyshire

The band’s record company Cherry Red released a press release stating that the album is “An atmospheric, musical interpretation beginning in tunnels deep beneath the earth, where every need is controlled and catered for by the machine. The struggle to escape and find a way to reach the outer surface is a utopian dream, which could prove to be the most deadly dream of all. Forster’s visionary masterpiece provides a chilling warning of the dangers of isolation, reliance on computer technology and the effects upon society.” I cannot claim to have read the story but based upon the synopsis I intend to rectify that situation.

Niall Hone
Niall Hone

So, that’s where the tale comes from, but what of the musical adaptation that the band have come up with? The album was preceded by a single, “A Solitary Man”, which is one of the most up-tempo tracks on the record. Naturally for a band that’s known for its psychedelic  and space rock there are lots of synthesized beeps, sirens, take-off and other odd sounds woven throughout the various musical textures. There are also some spoken word segments within the music, which aids the storytelling aspect and helps to gel the concept nicely.

Phillip "Dead Fred" Reeves
Phillip “Dead Fred” Reeves

As can often be the case with a concept album I don’t think you can really pick out individual tracks as particular highlights since the record works best when listened to from the opening “All Hail The Machine” right through to the closing, and longest, track “Lost In Science”.

Haz Wheaton
Haz Wheaton

I’d say that the album is best listened to in the dark with headphones on! To me, sonically the album harks back to the band’s golden years of the early Seventies, certainly more so than the previous few releases have, and I would imagine that long-standing fans of the band will love it. Great stuff…tour“The Machine Stops” tracklist:

1. All Hail The Machine / 2. The Machine / 3. Katie / 4. King Of The World / 5. In My Room / 6. Thursday / 7. Synchronised Blue / 8. Hexagone / 9. Living On Earth / 10. The Harmonic Hall / 11. Yum Yum / 12. A Solitary Man / 13. Tube / 14. Lost In Science

Motörizer Tour

Hearing of the sad news that heavy metal legend Lemmy passed away yesterday I have been listening to his work with both Hawkwind and Motörhead today, and it seemed like as good a time as any to have a look back at when I saw the latter in concert.

Motörhead - Motörizer
Motörhead – Motörizer

It was during the Motörizer Tour of the UK back in November 2008 and, despite being a fan of the band for years, was the first time I had seen Motörhead in the live arena. So, for the second time in a week, I headed off to Bristol and to the Colston Hall, where I had seen a number of bands in my youth.

Danko Jones
Danko Jones

From the balcony I watched as the first band of the night, Canadian trio Danko Jones, hit the stage. Promoting their fourth album “Never Too Loud” I hadn’t heard anything by the band prior to the gig so was unfamiliar with their material. I do recall that the band were tight and impressive and had a set full of catchy melodic AC/DC-like tunes. Likely playing tracks like “Baby Hates Me” and “Still In High School” I do remember that they finished their brief set with a note-perfect excerpt of the Rush instrumental “YYZ”.

Biff Byford
Biff Byford

Next up were Yorkshire legends Saxon who were gearing up to the imminent release of their eighteenth studio album “Into The Labyrinth” in January 2009. This was the second time I’d seen this band live, the first being way back in 1982 in the very same venue as headliners.

Saxon - Into The Labyrinth
Saxon – Into The Labyrinth

As main support band Biff and the boys were obviously unable to perform a full set but managed to cram two tracks from their most recent album, “Let Me Feel Your Power” and “Ashes To Ashes” into a set containing some stone-cold classic heavy metal tunes such as “Denim And Leather”, “And The Bands Played On” and “747 (Strangers In The Night)” and still find room for brand new single “Live To Rock”. Fantastic to see them live again so long – a superb performance.

Setlist:

1. Motorcycle Man / 2. Let Me Feel Your Power / 3. And The Bands Played On / 4. Live To Rock / 5. Heavy Metal Thunder / 6. Witchfinder General / 7. Denim And Leather / 8. Ashes To Ashes / 9. Princess Of The Night / 10. 747 (Strangers In The Night)

1 and 10 originally from “Wheels Of Steel” (1980) / 2 and 8 originally from “The Inner Sanctum” (2007) / 3, 7 and 9 originally from “Denim And Leather” (1981) / 4 originally from “Into The Labyrinth” (2009) /5 originally from “Strong Arm Of The Law” (1980) / 6 originally from “Lionheart” (2004)

Motorhead - Motorhead
Motörhead – Motörhead

Following the interval it was time for the main event. I recall my first Motörhead record being the live version of “Motörhead”, backed with “Over The Top”, issued to promote the live “No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith” album. I don’t think I’d heard anything quite like it before!

Lemmy Kilmister
Lemmy Kilmister

Anyway on came vocalist / bassist Lemmy, guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee, with Lemmy announcing “We are Motörhead and we play rock and roll” and bang! – we were headlong into “Iron Fist”.

Motörhead
Motörhead

A set full of classics from throughout the band’s career followed, including two songs from the oft-maligned “Another Perfect Day” record that was made when ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson was briefly a member of the group.

Mikkey Dee
Mikkey Dee

Campbell’s guitar riffs and solo flourishes were bang on the money, under-pinned by Lemmy’s unique bass playing style and Dee’s incredible drumming. To play a track like “Overkill” with the energy that he did at the tail end of a long set is no mean feat!

Phil Campbell & Lemmy Kilmister
Phil Campbell & Lemmy Kilmister

Lemmy himself proved to be every inch the icon and force of nature that I expected him to be and was the very personification of Motörhead and their music. A cover of Bob Seger’s”Rosalie” – many will be more familiar with Thin Lizzy’s cracking version – was a surprise inclusion but slotted nicely into the middle of the set. “Stay Clean”, “Rock Out” and “Metropolis” were other highlights.

Motorhead
Motörhead

The encore began with “Whorehouse Blues”, an acoustic foot-stomper that saw Campbell and Dee playing acoustic guitars, with the latter also handling percussion at the same time, and is one of my favourite latter-day tunes from the band’s extensive catalogue.

Motörhead & Friends
Motörhead & Friends

Then it was onto the home straight with the one-two finale of signature song “Ace Of Spades” and then “Overkill”. Stunning and, frankly, rather deafening. What a great show!

Setlist:

1. Iron Fist / 2. Stay Clean / 3. Be My Baby / 4. Rock Out / 5. Metropolis / 6. Over The Top / 7. One Night Stand / 8. I Got Mine / 9. Guitar Solo / 10. The Thousand Names Of God / 11. Rosalie / 12. Another Perfect Day / 13. In The Name Of Tragedy / Drum Solo / 14. Just ‘Cos You Got The Power / 15. Going To Brazil / 16. Killed By Death / 17. Born To Raise Hell / 18. Whorehouse Blues / 19. Ace Of Spades / 20. Overkill

1 originally from “Iron Fist” (1982) / 2, 5 and 20 originally from “Overkill” (1979) / 3 and 7 originally from “Kiss Of Death” (2006) / 4 and 10 originally from Motörizer (2008) / 6 originally b-side from “Bomber” single (1979) / 8 and 12 originally from “Another Perfect Day” (1983) / 13 and 18 originally from “Inferno” (2004) / 14 originally from “Rock ‘N’ Roll” (1987) / 15 originally from “1916” (1991) / 16 originally from “No Remorse” (1984) / 17 originally from “Bastards” (1993) / 19 originally from “Ace Of Spades” (1980)motorsaxjones

1977 – My Top Ten Albums Of The Year

OK, so still gradually working back through the Seventies, and here are my top ten albums released back in 1977…

  1. AC/DC “Let There Be Rock”
AC/DC - Let There Be Rock
AC/DC – Let There Be Rock

The third album to be released world-wide by the band, and their fourth in Australia, “Let There Be Rock” was a big step forward in terms of the group’s sound and style with more guitar solos – and just guitar in general – than before.

The record contains a number of bonafide classic AC/DC songs, including “Whole Lotta Rosie”, “Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be”, “Bad Boy Boogie” and “Let There Be Rock” itself. The first and last of these were released as singles, along with “Dog Eat Dog”, though only “Whole Lotta Rosie” troubled the lower reaches of the charts in the UK.

An excellent AC/DC record, one of the best from not only the Bon Scott fronted era but the band’s entire history.

2. Billy Joel “The Stranger”

Billy Joel - The Stranger
Billy Joel – The Stranger

A much more restrained affair than the aforementioned AC/DC record, Billy Joel’s fifth studio album “The Stranger” is nonetheless also one of the very best in the artists’ entire catalogue.

Four tracks were released as successful singles in the US – “Just The Way You Are”, “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)”, “She’s Always A Woman” and “Only The Good Die Young” – and the first three of those made the UK top forty too.

Those songs are timeless, and the album remains one of Joel’s best-selling efforts. For me, though, aside from the singles the best of the album can be found in the haunting “The Stranger” and the fantastic “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant”, a real storyteller of a song, which was a highlight of his live set when I was lucky enough to catch it on the 1990 “Storm Front” tour.

3. Fleetwood Mac “Rumours”

Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours

Surely one of the best known and most loved albums of the decade, Fleetwood Mac’s eleventh studio album was the one that saw their international success continue to build upon that achieved two years earlier with their self-titled album – which had introduced Stevie Nicks and Lyndsay Buckingham to the band’s ranks.

To date “Rumours” has sold in excess of forty million copies, taking it into the top ten best-selling albums of all time, actually at number eight. A number one album in the UK, the record spawned four hit singles – “Go Your Own Way“, “Dreams”, “Don’t Stop” and “You Make Loving Fun” – and still had room for classic tracks such as “Songbird”, “The Chain” and “Gold Dust Woman”.

Most folk probably know all about the drama that surrounded the recording of this album, with marriages and relationships imploding, affairs going on and the songs being about (and aimed) each other. That they managed to make a record at all was a triumph over adversity. To have made such a timeless classic is remarkable. A simply brilliant album.

4. Heart “Little Queen”

Heart - Little Queen
Heart – Little Queen

Before they had huge melodic rock hits in the late Eighties, Seattle band Heart were sometimes compared to British legends Led Zeppelin in terms of their fusion of hard rock and acoustics and use of light and shade in their material.

This was only the group’s second studio album release, and appeared during a time of difficulty for the band. When their first album had reached a million sales the group’s record label took out an advertisement to celebrate that the Wilson sisters, Ann and Nancy, took offence to, finding it to be sexist and insulting. That lead to a stand-off between group and label over the recordings for their planned second album “Magazine” for which the group had recorded, but not finished, just five new songs.

The label nonetheless released those recordings, padded out with a b-side and some live tracks just a month before “Little Queen” hit the shelves before legal action meant that it was swiftly withdrawn. Eventually the band re-recorded and finished “Magazine” and it was released in 1978.

“Little Queen” meanwhile kicked off with the storming “Barracuda”, a song inspired by reactions to the advertisement that caused the furore in the first place. That song was the lead single from the album, followed by “Little Queen” and “Kick It Out”. Elsewhere the beautiful “Love Alive” and “Dream Of The Archer” were among the acoustic based numbers that would draw comparison with Led Zeppelin, as would the more bombastic closer “Go On Cry”.

Not the high point of the band’s career in terms of sales success, although it still managed triple platinum in the US, but one of their stronger albums artistically speaking. Great stuff.

5. Jethro Tull “Songs From The Wood”

Jethro Tull - Songs From The Wood
Jethro Tull – Songs From The Wood

As mentioned in my post on 1978, “Songs From The Wood” was the first in a loose trilogy of folk rock albums on themes surrounding nature and the changing world. It’s also probably my favourite of the three records.

Containing a trio of singles – “The Whistler”, “Songs From The Wood” and the winter-themed “Ring Out Solstice Bells”, none of which achieved much in the way of chart success – as well as other cracking tunes like “Jack-In-The-Green”, “Velvet Green” and the superb “Pibroch (Cap In Hand)” this is a great record best summed up by the text of an advertisement at the time, which read “…a new album of old magic… inspired by the thought that perhaps nature isn’t as gentle as we’d like to believe… takes as its theme the natural and supernatural inhabitants of the woodlands of old England… warm and friendly, harsh and bitter by turns. Find a quiet spot and listen to it soon.” An excellent album.

6. KISS “Love Gun”

KISS - Love Gun
KISS – Love Gun

From the depth of Jethro Tull to the shallowness of KISS! Let’s be honest, KISS songs are all about love and sex and having a great time, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

“Love Gun” was the American hard rock band’s sixth studio album. Released just a few months before “Alive II”, their second double live record, and with the folly of the four individual solo albums to come in 1978, this was the last great early albums before the slump leading up to concept album “Music From The Elder” in 1981.

While they were at the top of their game, however, KISS were excellent. “Christine Sixteen”, “Love Gun” and a cover of The Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me” retitled as “Then She Kissed Me” were released as singles, and other classic tracks on the record include opener “I Stole Your Love”, “Shock Me” and “Tomorrow And Tonight”.

7. Meat Loaf “Bat Out Of Hell”

Meat Loaf - Bat Out Of Hell
Meat Loaf – Bat Out Of Hell

As with Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”, this one probably needs little introduction and is also in the top ten best-selling albums of all time, this time at number five.

The record was the first collaboration between Meat Loaf and songwriter Jim Steinman, which because of its enormous success has cast something of a shadow over Meat Loaf’s subsequent recording career.

Of the seven songs on the album four were issued as singles. In the US there were top forty placings for “You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)”, the ever-brilliant “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” and “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad”, whilst here in the UK the first two of those, plus “Bat Out Of Hell” (albeit not until 1979), also made the top forty and all are live favourites to this day.

The remaining three songs, “Heaven Can Wait”, “All Revved Up With No Place To Go” and “For Crying Out Loud”, round out this definitive Meat Loaf album that still stands out as something very special nearly forty years later.

8. Motörhead “Motörhead”

Motörhead - Motörhead
Motörhead – Motörhead

The self-titled debut album from Lemmy’s band Motörhead wasn’t really their debut album at all. The record that they recorded first was 1976’s “On Parole” but the record company behind it, United Artists, shelved it and that album didn’t see the light of day until the tail end of 1979, by which time both “Overkill” and “Bomber” had brought the band chart success in the top thirty album chart.

“Motörhead” was recorded one weekend in early 1977, with the band about to call it a day and break up. Given a couple of days recording time by Chiswick label boss Ted Carroll they re-recorded the majority of “On Parole” (7 of the 9 original tracks) with the addition of a couple of additional numbers.

The song “Motörhead” was released as a single. Technically a cover version, the song was written by Lemmy during his time as a member of Hawkwind and appeared on the b-side to that band’s 1975 single “Kings Of Speed”.

The first recording by the legendary line-up of Lemmy, “Fast” Eddie Clarke and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, the album isn’t blessed with the best production job or performances (“On Parole” may just edge it) but is an excellent snapshot of the band on their way to becoming one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time.

9. Slade “Whatever Happened To Slade

Slade - Whatever Happened To Slade
Slade – Whatever Happened To Slade

Often viewed as a singles band, no doubt due to their extraordinary run of chart hits in the early Seventies, Slade made some very good albums in their time. One of the best, in my opinion, was this one although ironically it was their first album not to chart since their first flush of success. Even 1976’s “Nobody’s Fools” had managed number fourteen but by March 1977 when “Whatever Happened To…” was released the band’s popularity had declined markedly.

A more straight ahead rock album than much of their previous work, this album contains some great songs. Some of these – the tongue-tripping opener “Be” and “One Eyed Jacks With Moustaches” – I had been introduced to via a taped copy of the “Alive Vol. 2” album from a friend, whilst I first heard the single “Gypsy Roadhog” on the 1980 compilation “Slade Smashes”. Other cracking songs on the record included “When Fantasy Calls”, “She’s Got The Lot” and “It Ain’t Love But It Ain’t Bad”.

The reissued CD version from 2007 also included a number of non-album singles and b-sides from 1977/78 including “Give Us A Goal”, “Burning In The Heat Of Love” and the Elvis Presley tribute “My Baby Left Me / That’s Alright” to make a great album even better.

10. Status Quo “Rockin’ All Over The World”

Status Quo - Rockin' All Over The World
Status Quo – Rockin’ All Over The World

Released during November 1977,  “Rockin’ All Over The World” was Status Quo’s tenth studio album and reached number five in the UK album chart.

Two singles were issued – “Rockin’ All Over The World” which saw the infamous bass playing puppet used when Alan Lancaster was unable / unwilling to fly back from Australia to film the video for the song, and “Rockers Rollin'” – although the latter, a double a-side with “Hold You Back” was not released in the UK.

Recently a remixed version of the album has been issued, so I have already written at some length about this record. Suffice it to say that, despite the lightweight sound of the album, it has remained a much-loved album since I first discovered it around 1981/82 whilst amassing the band’s back catalogue after getting their 1981 album “Never Too Late”.

In the usual round-up of events in this year we find James Callaghan as British Prime Minister and Jimmy Carter becoming President of the USA (replacing Gerald Ford). Liverpool won the old First Division for the tenth time but lost to Manchester United in final of the FA Cup. Top film releases of 1977 included “Star Wars”, “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind”, “Saturday Night Fever” and the James Bond movie “The Spy Who Loved Me”.

Look out for 1976 in the (fairly) near future…

R:Evolution

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Hawkwind In 1971
Hawkwind In 1971

Back in 1969 guitarist / keyboardist / singer Dave Brock formed a psychedelic rock / space rock band under the name Hawkwind and, together with fellow musicians Nik Turner (saxophone / flute / vocals), Huw Lloyd-Langton (guitars / vocals), John A. Harrison (bass), Michael “Dik Mik” Davies (synthesizers) and Terry Ollis (drums), created the band’s self-titled debut album in early 1970.

Lemmy Kilmister
Lemmy Kilmister

In the years since the band have released numerous studio and live albums and seen dozens of musicians come and go from the line-up, including Lemmy Kilmister (who went on to form Motörhead) and Robert Calvert.

Stacia Blake
Stacia Blake

Other notable figures to be connected to the Hawkwind name include fantasy author Michael Moorcock, interpretive dancer Stacia Blake and lighting engineer Jonathan “Liquid Len” Smeeton.

Hawklords In 1978
Hawklords In 1978

Brock decided to disband Hawkwind during 1978 and formed a new group with Calvert and drummer Simon King (both also from Hawkwind at the time) along with bassist Harvey Bainbridge, keyboard player Steve Swindells and second drummer Martin Griffin.

Hawkwind In 1979
Hawkwind In 1979

The new venture was called Hawklords, likely as a result of disputes over use of the Hawkwind name, and they released one album, titled “25 Years On” in late 1978 and by the following year had folded with Brock, King and Bainbridge joining forces with Lloyd-Langton and keyboardist Tim Blake in a new version of Hawkwind.

Hawkwind In 2012
Hawkwind In 2012

Brock still leads Hawkwind to this day, and his band most recently released “Spacehawks” in 2013, a collection of new and re-recorded catalogue songs.

Hawklords In 2012
Hawklords In 2012

Meanwhile, Hawklords have risen from the ashes, initially in order to play benefit shows for the late Robert Calvert.

Harvey Bainbridge
Harvey Bainbridge

The band is now comprised of ex-Hawkwind (late 90s version) members Bainbridge on keyboards (the only one present in the original Hawklords line-up), guitarist Jerry Richards and vocalist Ron Tree now joined by drummer Dave Pearce and the newest recruit – bassist Tom Ashurst.

Jerry Richards & Ron Tree
Jerry Richards & Ron Tree

The reignited band have since released four new studio albums – “We Are One” (2012), “Dream” (2013), “Censored” (2014) and the new record “R:Evolution”.

This album is something of a cracker, to be honest. I reckon it’s easily the best of the aforementioned four records, and is equal to anything that Hawkwind themselves have released for a while too.

Dave Pearce
Dave Pearce

My favourite tracks are “Evolver”, “Space Monkey”, “The Last Change” and the brilliant near-ten-minute “Shadow Of The Machines”. Whilst “One Day” is reminiscent of “Hurry On Sundown” (from Hawkwind’s 1969 debut) and therefore arguably somewhat derivative, but overall this is an excellent album.

Basically, if you know and enjoy Hawkwind’s output you are likely to appreciate what the Hawklords have achieved here. Great stuff…

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“R:Evolution” tracklist:

1. Re-animator / 2. Blink Of An Eye / 3. Evolver / 4. The Last Change / 5. Space Monkey / 6. One Day / 7. The Dreaming / 8. The Joker / 9. Shadow Of The Machines