Dave Brock (Hawkwind) - "SpaceBrock" (Voiceprint 2000, UK)
From Aural Innovations #14 (January 2001)
Is it the greatest album HW have released since 'Quark'? Er, no.
But is it a good album and a worthy addition to any HW collection? Yes.
Despite what it says on the cover, this is really a Brock solo album: the only other Hawk to appear is drummer Richard Chadwick and he's only on 3 tracks. Even 'Church of Hawkwind' had more involvement from other band members than this. A few other names are credited with contributions, but these include 'Dr Technical' and 'Hawkman' and one suspects these are Mr Brock's alter egoes rather than separate entities. Could be wrong though.
So what do you get for your moolah? Well you get seventeen tracks, yes seventeen ladeez and gents, plus a rather attractive CD booklet - really quite impressive. The first thing the Hawkfan will notice is that some of the titles are familiar: yup, there are some *remakes* here. Now I go along with the consensus that says there's nothing wrong with a remake if it adds something to the original or reworks it in an interesting way. Only partial success on that score here: the CD kicks off with an electronically-enhanced version of 'Life Form' which makes a cracking opening track (always thought it was random filler on PXR5), but then we get 'Assassination' (aka 'Some People Never Die'), a (slightly) reworked version of the 'Church of Hawkwind' track- now I loved the original but I can't see the point of this. Elsewhere 'First Landing On Medusa' makes another appearance and as far as I can tell is identical to the version on 'In Your Area'... c'mon, the exact same track on two successive albums? What are we meant to think of that?
Happily the track called 'Earth Calling' turns out to be a completely new song, and would be a latterday HW classic if was a bit *longer*. But once the whole band get hold of this it should be a scorcher.
What else? Well anyone who was at the Astoria will have heard the primal space riffage of the title track - excellent. There's a beautifully done electro piece called 'Dreamers', and a great multi-layered guitar and synth workout, 'You Burn Me Up'. There are also two trance-techno numbers - 'Sex Dreams', which I find a bit throwaway, and 'Do You Want This Body', which is brilliant - one of the most addictive beats you'll ever hear. Either of these could be a club hit, and given their eye-catching titles may I suggest they be released as a double A-side or similar and who knows we might get to see the Hawks back in the singles charts! There's a great sample at the start of 'Do You Want This Body' with a man desperately trying to communicate his vision... it sounds absolutely right for our Dave - sounds like it must be from a movie-anyone know?
The album is largely instrumental, while those tracks with vocals tend to have a few lines repeated as a refrain. This works fine as far as it goes but one can't help suspecting ongoing writer's block in the lyric department. There's even a track which is credited to Brock/Shakespeare due to its use of the famous "to be or not to be" soliloquy: OK, you can't get a better lyricist than Big Bill, but some original words *would* be nice, even if they're not quite up to the Bard's standard!
Final point is that I do find much of the filler forgivable when the album is played straight through, as it sounds like a suite of electronic space music and actually hangs together remarkably well as a whole.
I suspect this album is intended as a showcase of a particular side of Brock/Hawkwind's music, so let's hope new fans will be won over. But if this is the aim, then get the techno stuff out on single NOW! With 12" remixes, sexy cover art and a lotta lotta hype!
Reviewed by Nick Medford