Joe Meek’s thumping balls + the Kinks Sacred Riffing + Eddie Cochran’s slippery soul + Krautrock’s endless highway + drugs = the inside of Buddy Bolden’s 21st Century Head cracked open and spilling Bodhisattva blood = Hawkwind ’71 – ’75 = The Greatest Rock Band of All Time.
115 years ago, fueled by the hazy dynamite of cough syrup, rye whiskey, humidity, and the rhythms of a stolen continent baptized by the Christ-calls and sadhappy vaudevillia of the new world, Buddy Bolden invented rock’n’roll
but with an eye on the funky butts, hourglass shapes and cat eyes of the shifty shaking girls
who manlust and liquor sales insisted be made to swing and shimmy even if the music was pounding nails and hollering hoarse and hysterical in your head. After all, you had to make the bi-poles meet
and sweetly and harmonically, and you had to make the Eagle Saloon walls sweat (and later Roundhouse and Dingwalls walls and Hope and Anchor and Kaiserkeller and Commodore and Barrowlands bricks too), you had to beat the demons to death and lay the corpses on the altar of
forever Janus-faced, seeking to please (and get sucked off) and seeking to irritate (and get sucked off). Rock’n’roll made us many promises, but only one band kept all the promises, only one band lived up to the Highway Star refrigerator drone dream of endless four-to-the-floor bompalomp and guitar-slinging sensitive serial killers looking perfect behind puffy lips and puffed pompadours pounding nails into the stage and the brain, only one band sat in the front car of the perfect rock’n’roll roller coaster and rode the rails again and again and never lost the drugs, only one band was the Beatles in Hamburg and the Floyd at the UFO and Stooges at the Grande and the Velvets at the Dom fed into a woodchipper and thrown in front of the sci-fi bullet train that ran right through the center of Sun Studios leaving Elvis with blood dripping down his ears; and that band kept that promise
NOT for one song or one album but for FIVE STRAIGHT YEARS
Of pure rock’n’roll perfection, just as Buddy Bolden dreamed when the sun beat hot on his hazy, hurting head and he mistook the beat of his carotid artery for the bleat of Gabriel’s horn and the migraine for the madness at the end of the world.
And THAT WAS HAWKWIND 1971 – 1975.
If you don’t know the animal
Or if you only know them as a rumor
Let this be simple:
This is Rock’n’Roll,
Between 1971 and 1975 Hawkwind very likely made the very greatest electric rock’n’roll that will ever be produced, beating the century over the head with a sledgehammer.
Hawkwind is history with its finger in the electric socket, it is Vince Taylor and Huey Piano Smith and the Treniers and Sister Rosetta and Little Richard and Eddie Cochran and precious, beautiful, eternal Neu!, and everyone who forever and always knew that rock’n’roll was a race run against time and was a beatdown of self and soul to make thumping dancers and coffee achievers smile and sway with a mouthful of mushrooms and thighs full of sex, Hawkwind, perfect Hawkwind.
Through four studio albums
(In Search of Space, Doremi Fasol Latido, Hall of the Mountain Grill, Warrior on the Edge of Time), one astounding live album (Space Ritual), and to complete the picture, one side of live tracks recorded in 1972 and released as part of the Greasy Truckers’ Comp that are nearly as speederiffic and acidxquisite as the Space Ritual tracks, and one ’72 BBC session very nearly as good.
And as for that live album
Space Ritual is an album that is literally a miracle, a gift, an Abbey Road, a Pet Sounds, a pure expression of the marvelous wonder that is rock’n’roll narrowcasted and blown wide apart. Space Ritual is Rocket 88 pure and Astronomy Domine mindblown all at once, Space Ritual is the sound of Q from Star Trek TNG and The Master from Doctor Who beating on the door of the Ark of the Covenant with Bo Diddley’s skull, that’s how good Space Ritual is. Repeat:
Space Ritual is the sound of Q from Star Trek TNG and The Master from Doctor Who beating on the door of the Ark of the Covenant with Bo Diddley’s skull.
Between 1971 and 1975 Hawkwind delivered on any promise rock’n’roll ever made to us as children when we just imagined it was a pure and beautiful and frantic noise as organized as a 16-car freight train rumbling down Route 66 and barreling through London’s Soho, remember when you believed in rock’n’roll, remember when you just imagined what rock’n’roll was, when it was just a rumor? The sound you heard in your head when rock’n’roll was just a rumor in your child-brain was Hawkwind. Hawkwind ’71 – ’75 are an utter repudiation of Beatleism and all of their melody burlesque, I mean even more than Hendrix was, Hendrix and Sabbath and all those happy grinders were just apologists, pretenders, Hawkwind is the real thing, Hawkwind is rock’n’roll, rock’n’roll beyond riffs and above and around melody and too frenzied to begin or end in any clear way, like a feverish rapid heart beat at war with the universe yet remaining true on course and splitting the sky, that is fucking Hawkwind.
Now…journalistic integrity compels me to issue a buyer beware alert: We are specifically shrieking of the achievements, likely never to be equaled, of Hawkwind ’71 – ’75, what anthologists refer to as the “United Artists era” (i.e., that’s the label the band were on during this time); now, Hawkwind continued after 1975 – shit, they’re still going (and there’s even an album and a handful of tracks before 1971), but the Miracle Years, the years when Hawkwind wore the halo of invincibility, the years when they were the Greatest Rock’n’Roll band that ever walked this planet, were 1971 to 1975. Why those years? Most simply put, the band were never quite the same without bassist Lemmy Kilmister and drummer Simon King; both never let up, both put on Frankenstein boots and stepped on the gas and never lifted their feet, thereby propelling the usually excellent Hawkwind space machine – which contained elements of a prog and ambient and pure acid-sugar ridiculousness – into continual, half-decade long overdrive. There is certainly good Hawkwind music after 1976, some of it first-rate, but the perfect cocaine-covered acid fastball of Jerry Lee Lewis-jamming-with-Tony Iommi inventing the Sex Pistols on Skylab that was Hawkwind ’71 – ’75 was never equaled.
YES, I said Jerry Lee Lewis jamming with Tony Iommi inventing the Sex Pistols on Skylab.
And when I say Hawkwind ’71 – ’75 were the pinnacle of Rock’n’Roll I’m not saying all the other forms of post-minstrel, post-Stephen Foster, post-Crosby pop aren’t valid and powerful and full of beautiful disturbances, I mean for god’s sakes Nick Drake and Syd and Scott and Mike Nesmith and Brian Wilson and Big Star and Association and the Go Betweens and the list is most literally endless,
but the Eagle Saloon Reeberbahn beat-down scream
(underneath an aurora borealis
full of tension and darkness of the most deep blue,
on a floor bouncing from the bass, as all the best old ballrooms must,
and plaster shaking from the ceiling,
the ramalama-maelstrom taking a breath every now and then to watch the mushroom cloud bloom and blow west)
is found most pure most full of caveman stomp and widescreen depth
in the work of Hawkwind 1971 – 1975.
Godfather of Slocore OUT