Hawkwind - "Dawn of Hawkwind"
(Voiceprint/Blueprint 1999, BP309CD ltd. ed. with book)
From Aural Innovations #7 (July 1999)
From the personal archives of the Hawklord himself, Dave Brock, comes this new compilation of old recordings from c. 1966-1971 that documents the birth of the greatest band of all-time. (Sorry for that bit of blatant fandom). As if telling you a story (which it really is), Brock himself does voice-over narrations at key places in the album. Once the 13 tracks (43 min.) have completed, we understand more about the amazing turn music took in just a short period of time. Nothing like it has happened since.
The first recordings are from the Dharma Blues Band (1966), standard readings of things like Skip James' "My Baby's Gone" and Sonny Boy Williamson's "Dealing with the Devil. The abrupt transition in music lore 'round about 1967 is echoed here by Brock himself when he states simply, "Well then, from there, I went into the world of psychedelia." Indeed! "Illusions" is a very early spoken-word version of what would become "Mirror of Illusion" on the first Hawkwind album, and then eventually "Mask of Morning" on the 1990 'Electric Tepee' album. This is undoubtedly the most interesting tidbit on the compilation, and illustrates how a single idea can be molded into several different forms, all effective in their own individual ways. From a radio broadcast contest is a snippet of a very Dylanesque tune, another of what Brock describes as 'boring music,' then some rockier blues tunes with driving guitars. Brock then formed the four-piece Famous Cure and went on tour in Holland... here we get a taste of the same blues rock (entitled "Diamond Ring" but it sounds like "Dealing with the Devil" again), but the guitar playing is fully psychedelic here. After the earlier version (Hawkwind Zoo) of "Hurry on Sundown," we next hear (as on the remastered S/T album) Brock's solo "Cymballine," penned by Roger Waters. An excellent song... I don't even know the original, and here it sounds more like '67 Moody Blues anyway. To round things off, the first true Hawkwind sound appears in an early (unreleased before?) version of "Master of the Universe," one of many classic space-rock anthems to come.
'Dawn of HW' is not *really* a Hawkwind album of course, but it's a cool thing to have if you're interested in how the entire space-rock genre was developed from the old delta blues style. And I am one of those people. Of the very early material, only "Bring it on Home" has been heard before on various HW compilations over the years (including the so-called 'Acid Daze' releases), so most of this is newly uncovered. The 28-page book includes a slew of fabulous old photos of Dave Brock and friends, and reproductions of odd documents that record some of his bands' activities. My favorite line in the book (from a Famous Cure promotional brochure in 1967) reads, "The business side is still always their weakest side, but people don't notice this when they play." Funny, I still believe that's true over thirty years later. Well, products like this are nice items for us rabid Hawkfans to snatch up, so perhaps they're still improving their business side after all.
Available through Voiceprint.
Reviewed by Keith Henderson