Happy Birthday, David Brock -- 5 Far Out Hawkwind Jams
photo by John Chase
Hawkwind were hippies who stayed hippies after Altamont, Nixon and the still roaring Vietnam War were seriously bumming out flower power muppet babies across the world.
While many late '60s/early '70s rock ensembles jumped the Free Love ship into the shadowy waters of sign-of-the-times darkness (the Stooges, Velvet Underground and Black Sabbath all come to mind), Hawkwind blazed (ahem) full-speed ahead with the thematics and stylistics of true blue psychedelic rock. And where some chose politics as their muse -- and others a fashionable nihilism -- David Brock and company chose Option 3: Cosmological escapism.
Brock was Hawkwind's founder and lone constant, and, as proven by his band's incredibly schizophrenic catalogue, brought his fascination with the universe to a multitude of genres.
"Silver Machine" (1972)
With a driving Motorik beat lifted from German Krautrock bands like Kraftwerk and Faust, "Silver Machine" is a deep-fried slice of sci-fi pie. For many Hawkwind aficionados, the years in which the band released the psychedelic triumvirate of In Search of Space, Doremi Fasol Latido, and Space Ritual, is their definitive era. This version of early single, "Sliver Machine" features future Motörhead guitarist, Lemmy, on vocals and perfectly captures the early '70s desperately clinging to the psychoactive aesthetic of the 60s.
"Kerb Crawler" (1976)
While Hawkwind's mostly widely celebrated material is their earliest, Brock would continue to churn out almost a record per year for over three decades. Their dubiously titled 1976 full-length, Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music, found the band stymied by awkward transitions in personnel and style. "Kerb Crawler," is a tribute to Brock's car and fittingly sounds like a sub-Aerosmith windows-down highway jam forever damned to late night classic rock radio
"Quark Strangeness and Charm" (1977)
The very next year, Hawkwind had refashioned itself after the glam-new wave-punk explosion of the late 70s, as evident in their appearance on the Marc Bolan show. They perform the title track from their album Quark Strangeness and Charm, and, we have to say, Brock's Lou Reed b/w David Bowie impersonation is pretty solid.
"Elric The Enchanter" (1985)
By the mid-80s, Hawkwind had done enough dicking around with trends to realize that they needed to get back to basics. And there was no better way to do that than write a concept album, The Chronicle of the Sword, based on the novels of sci-fi-slash-fantasy author, Michael Moorcock.
"Garden Pests" (1994)
But by the 90s, Brock's trans-genre lust had been reignited by electronic dance genres like house and its fist-pumping younger cousin, techno. Hawkwind's response was Electric Teepee, a 90s-hippie (post-rave, pre-Burning Man) exercise in arpeggios.
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