Hawkwind’s 32nd studio album, which they released in their fiftieth year (2019), is a collection of Hawkwind Standards re-recorded and then rearranged by Mike Batt of Wombles fame!
Firstly, the album’s title is a little unfortunate as it definitely not a case of “All Aboard.” Since the previous year’s Road to Utopia album, two of Hawkwind’s illustrious crew have been jettisoned. Multi-instrumentalist and frontman Mr Dibs and young bassist Haz Wheaton have joined the growing list of previous Hawkwind members. This goes to prove that you should not become too musically influential in the band or popular with the fans if you do not wish to walk the Space Plank to the Milky Way by incurring the wrath of Hawk main man, founding Hawkwind Captain, Dave Brock.
But the reconfigured band have put together a musically appealing collection compiled into a space concept album. The two multi-instrumentalists, Dave Brock and Magnus Martin, combine well with the rhythm section of Niall Hone and longtime Hawkwind skins-man Richard Chadwick.
First up is album opener Flesh Fondue (actually a revamped version of the Star Cannibal track from the Church of Hawkwind album some thirty years prior.) It has a driving guitar-based riff and hurtles along very nicely, allowing David Brock to vent his feelings about people who eat the flesh of the beast, as the good Captain is a devout Vegetarian/ Vogan/Vegan / Vulcan or such.
The following songs are all very compelling with the necessary keyboards (the piano is particularly well used), dripping guitar solos, compact drumming, smooth vocals, freaked out saxophone and loads of Hawk noise such as boops, bleeps, whooshes, etc., to give it all that seventies space rock feel. However, the bass guitar of Niall Hone is noticeably low in the mix.
The title track We’re Not Dead Only Sleeping, plus the Fantasy of Faldum, and Sixty Five Million Years Ago are particularly effective.
But hereby hangs the problem. The actual album is only just over forty minutes long. Not very long in this day of compact discs. Still, I suppose “Never mind the quantity feel the quality.”
You do get a Bonus Disc of newly recorded acoustic versions of old Hawkwind standards, but then if you do own the originals it’s pretty superfluous.
In fact, if you count the last album and then take out the re-recorded track on this album, over the last two albums there has only been thirty minutes of original new music. Has the Hawkwind silver machine after 50 years, 46 past and present Hawknauts, finally run out of space dust?
Only the time and space continuum will tell us.
Written by Mott the Dog from Fletchers’ Folly on Pattaya’s Darkside.