by Mott the Dog
‘Take Me To Your Leader’ is the 21st all new
studio album to come out under the Hawkwind banner since the band’s
conception in 1969. (The number would run into hundreds if you counted
all live albums, compilations, and semi legal bootlegs). It is also a
fine return to form by the original lords of Space Rock. Hawkwind’s
last studio album was ‘Distant Horizons’ from 1997, which quite
honestly should have stayed on a distant horizon. The following year
‘In Your Area’ was released which was a better album, but being half
live and half studio did not quite make up for the disaster of Horizons.
Part of this slump in form may be attributed to the
fact that long time Hawkwind bass and keyboard player Alan Davey (he
joined as a mere slip of a lad of twenty in 1984) temporarily left the
band in 1996 to work with his own band ‘Bedouin’ who are worth
checking out on their own, but then that is a story for another day. But
the cat came back, and although Alan Davey joined the band fifteen years
after its conception, he had become an integral part of the band, as is
shown by Hawkwind’s rejuvenation here.
Hawkwind of course have been and always will be led
by their captain Mr. Dave Brock, who’s contribution here is stamped
all over every nuance, a man still at the absolute peak of his creative
powers. Dave Brock is joined on ‘Take Me To Your Leader’ by long
time Hawknaut drummer Richard Chadwick who joined in 1988, and has
stayed the flight ever since. Dave Chadwick had a tentacle in writing
four of the songs on this album, one with sole credit ‘Digital
Nation’ which has already become a staple of the Hawkwind live show,
as I am sure it will remain for many years to come.
The album is topped and tailed by two tributes to
their former front man Robert Calvert. The first story on this album is
a re-recording of the Hawkwind classic ‘Spirit Of The Age’ written
by Robert Calvert and Dave Brock in 1977 for the album ‘Quark,
Strangeness and Charm’. The story is of travel in deep space and being
frozen in time, leaving behind your loved ones, so quite obviously upon
your return, they are no longer still around. So, if on your space
journeys you have an android for company and she doesn’t love you,
things can become a little complicated! Sound a little strange? Well
what do you expect from Hawkwind!
Just to make things a little weirder, Matthew Wright,
a long time Hawkwind fan and popular children’s TV presenter in
Britain, has been invited into sing Robert Calvert’s words and
what’s even weirder is that it works perfectly. ‘Spirit Of The
Age’ has been brought dragging and screaming into the year 2005, and
even if you have the original it is well worth getting this album to get
your story updated.
‘Spirit Of The Age’ is brought to a fine Hawkrock
conclusion, and then blends neatly into ‘Out Here We Are’, the first
Alan Davey song to materialize, emphasizing the importance of his role
within the band. Beautiful layers of Hawkwind keyboards are layered one
upon another to give you that sound that only the masters of Space Rock
This slow paced instrumental track shows you all the
classic traits of the Hawkwind vibe, whilst adding a few twists of its
own with a very jazzy feel in the mid section, leaving room for some
stunning saxophone work for sometime Hawknaut Jez Huggett. The song
lulls you along in a swish of sound, relaxing your ears to the sonic
waves, but as the song drifts out, the second Alan Davey song
‘Greenback Massacre’ launches off from its platform, reminding you
never to turn your back on any Hawkwind as it can instantly whip into a
tempest at the flick of a switch.
‘Greenback Massacre’ is probably the best new
Hawkwind rocker since ‘The Secret Agent’ on Hawkwind’s album
‘Electric Teppe’ (1992). The unmistakable sound of Dave Brock’s
guitar leads us into another song, this time written by Captain Brock,
‘To Love A Machine’. You do start to worry a little about the
band’s fixation with love and machines, but then those in glass space
ships and all that.
The title track is led in by some smoky blues piano,
which shows the band are not afraid to delve back to their roots
(scratch any band hard enough and you will come up with a Robert
Johnston riff), but as the song slowly appears the bass work is so heavy
it will make your speakers rumble, and your windows fall out. I’m
pleased to say the moggies for several blocks scattered when this first
dropped out of the CD player. The perfect centrepiece to any Hawkwind
This is strongly followed by Richard Chadwick’s
‘Digital Nation’, everything a Hawkwind song should be, futuristic
to an extreme. It also allows Chadwick’s punk flag to fly high,
frightening when you think about it that time has slipped by so quickly
that although Richard Chadwick started out his musical journey as a
member of the punk revolution, he has now been the mainstay of a band
that is regarded as the oldest hippies in space.
‘Digital Nation’ also shows off some more
influential work by Jez Huggett, this time on flute. As the songs are
led up for inspection they just get better and better.
Next is an Arthur Brown song (yes he, the very same
god of Hellfire). ‘Sunray’ twists the dials up a notch with the band
giving rock solid support to a Brown crazed (sic) vocal. Arthur Brown
has certainly lost none of his passion over the years and his screams as
the song reaches its climax are as chilling as ever, whilst
ex-Hawkwinder Simon House adds some sonically enhanced violin to the
mix, whilst James Clemas plays keyboards as if being auditioned for the
role of ‘Phantom Of The Opera’.
‘Sighs’ is just a minute burst of some spaced out
Hawkwind to introduce the last proper song on the album ‘Angela
Android’, which could be ‘Spirit Of The Age Part Two’; more
stories of consorting with metalloids, taken at a very fast space race
time, with tongue firmly poked in cheek. (I Hope!) The songs close out
with an amazing cameo appearance by Lene Lovich who plays out the role
of the aforementioned android, when she springs into life, giving the
androids side of events.
The final number on the album is a rant by Arthur
Brown paying tribute to the eccentricity of Robert Calvert, who twenty
years after his death still has a great influence over the band. Brown
plays it as if he is actually having a conversation with the great man,
whilst the band jams up the Hawkwind groove behind him.
All in all a fine return to form from the spaceship
Hawkwind. As ‘Take Me To Your Leader’ took three years to get
together, we shall not be expecting any new product in the immediate
future, but this will be a standout album among the many highlights of
Hawkwind’s space journey.
If you still think that Hawkwind was a one hit freak
wonder with ‘Silver Machine’ (1972), ‘Take Me To Your Leader’
would be a good point to find out that there is more to the Hawkwind
machine than a thin silver varnish.
The axis of Hawkwind has now expanded to a quintet
with Jason Stuart joining the band, providing a great contribution to
this album on the keyboards. The artwork on the front cover by Peter
Pracownik of an alien landing is worth the price of the album alone.
The band is now out on the road in Europe, getting
your musical appreciation improved by getting some Hawkwind.
‘Take Me To Your Leader’ is dedicated to the
memory of John Peel and Tommy Vance.
Dave Brock / Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Synths
Alan Davey / Bass, Vocals, Keyboards, Synths
Richard Chadwick / Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Jason Stuart / Keyboards
Simon House / Keyboards, Violin
Arthur Brown / Vocals
Matthew Wright / Vocals
Lene Lovich / Vocals
Jez Huggett / Saxophone, Flute, Trumpet
James Clemas / Keyboards
Spirit Of The Age
Out Here We Are
To Love A Machine
Take Me To Your Leader
A Letter To Robert