have always felt mildly that the brain is a very powerful engine
in a slightly inadequate chassis." - M.M.
However, due to Calvert's
mental instability and his more or less frequent submissions into mental
hospitals, Moorcock performed as Calvert's 'stuntman' from time to time.
- Moorcock in his own words on his performances and
his feelings about those early Hawkwind days - from 'Record Collector'
/ June 96
was Bob Calvert's understudy, basically. When he was in the loony
bin, I would attempt to tour with them. I first got involved with the
group while I was organising free gigs under the motorway at Ladbroke
Grove, in the days when we all felt the community spirit. I'd written
'Sonic Attack' for them, Bob got carted off
by the men in white coats, and that's when I appeared with them. What
I liked about Hawkwind
was that they seemed like the crazed crew of a spaceship
that didn't quite know how everything worked but nevertheless wanted
to try everything out. There was a sense that they were completely
out of it, but yet were producing something actually very interesting.
And they weren't pretentious. There were a lot of people who the minute
they stated using electronic music started talking about Stockhausen,
which I think is crap, frankly. They didn't have any of those hi-faluting
claims for themselves. I enjoyed doing it, and I have a lot of admiration
for Dave Brock and what he did with the band. I like the fact that they
stuck to the principles they believed in,particularly the first decade.
see a great deal of difference between Hawkwind and what Punk
was doing. It
was just the same, really, with different haircuts.
There was as much idealism, disgust with hypocrisy, and Hawkwind had
this reputation as a peace and love band, but
none of the lyrics were like that at all. It
was urban stuff that could have been written ten or twenty years later.
I was always very sceptical about the whole peace and love aspect of
it all. I was for the sentiments, but you needed something more than
just a peace sign and another joint."
"We were in the
happy position of being the only band the Sex Pistols
had any time for! The only 'long hair' band that is, the Hawkwind,
Motorhead axis in general. If you look at lyrics like "Kings of
Attack" and "Needle Gun" (all mine), you see more
in common with punk than peace and love. Our lyrics weren't that dissimilar.
don't forget, refused to play the media game
very much as the Pistols refused. We didn't have the pleasure of telling
Bill Grundy he was a miserable old hack, but we might have done, more
reasonably. John L. and some of the others were far more interested
in power, however, than we were.
I knew early on that punk was just another form of dandyism
and I'm a great fan of dandyism. The true dandy, as exemplified by a
certain version of Jerry Cornelius, has
to be able to keep their cool on all occasions.
As punk sank, like hippies, into mere fashion, I lost interest. I spent
time at Blitz because I knew a fair number of the people there and was
vaguely involved with some New Romantics, but I must say I preferred
the return of grunge."
I've written for Hawkwind, The Deep Fix and Blue
Oyster Cult. Done some session work, notably on the Calvert albums Lucky
Leif and the Longships and Hype. I used to be in demand for banjo work
- I was the only Brit who could play five-string that anyone knew. Generally
these jobs have been casually arrived at. Eric Bloom suggested I write
him a song, so I did. It worked. I wrote some other songs. Same with Hawkwind.
I just do it if I'm asked.
In 1975, while Calvert was working
with Brian Eno
and Paul Rudolph
on 'Lucky Leif...' Hawkwind collaborated
with Moorcock on their 'Warrior at the Edge of
Time' album that featured various spoken words / sound collage
tracks, performed by Moorcock himself - some of them remained
on the band's set list for many years.
More collaborations and performances with Hawkwind followed in the
early eighties on the 'Sonic Attack' +
'Choose your Masques' albums and in
1986 on their 'Chronicle of the Black Sword'
double-album - the latter one was a double-concept-album based on
Moorcock's famous Elric cycle. Many
fans consider the 'Black Sword' album
as the highlight of Hawkwind's output in the 80's
"Rock and roll is a working holiday for me. (...) I didn't
make the rock music as much my own, I suppose, as the science fiction,
but that's still the impulse. But my preferred position in a band
is as a sideman and backing vocalist. I happen to have a good voice,
so tend to do the songs when I'm on stage, but really I'd rather
be in the shadows working up an interesting harmonic. Happily, I'm
not the most self-conscious individual in the world and I absolutely
love stage work--rock and roll, acting or reading or performing
something of my ownI would almost certainly be doing something
like that if I wasn't writing. But writing needs a rather solitary,
disciplined life and I tend to prefer it as my base."
same year Hawkwind's 'Warrior...' album was released,
Moorcock recorded his own solo album:
were Turkish and Persian lesbians with
huge houri eyes like those of sad, neutered
cats, French tailors, German musicians;
Jewish martyrs; a fire-eater from Suffolk; a
barber-shop quartet from Britain's remaining
American base - the Columbia Club in Lancaster
Gate; two fat prudes; Hans Smith of Hampstead.
Last of the Left-Wing-Intellectuals - the
Microfilm Mind; Shades; fourteen dealers in
the same antique from the Portobello Road,
their faces sagging under the weight of their
own self-deception; a jobless Polish french-
polisher brought by one of the dealers;
a pop group called The Deep Fix'
- from Moorcock's
'The Final Programme', 1965
This was the first
mention of 'The Deep Fix', that became a feature
of Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius books - and the name of Moorcocks
own band to accompany him on his musical FAIRground.
Fix was the title of a short story of mine I did in the early
60's and I used it in the Cornelius series
as a band title, so I just used it for the album. It was based on a
concept, a kind of fairground at the end of the world - people avoiding
reality essentially, it's sort of the big party when you don't want
to face the facts.'
More on the story
in Moorcock's own words - taken from the sleeve
of the CD re-release of the NEW WORLD's FAIR
album in 1995:
'In the early 1970's
Ladbroke Grove was and still is crammed with
rock and roll poeple and it was almost impossible not to know at least
half-a-dozen musicinas who were either already famous or would soon
become famous. In this atmosphere, with Islands's amazing studios ten
minutes from my house and almost everyone you knew working in some capacitly
for the music business, it felt a little weird if
you didn't have a recording contract.
I was doing a lot of stuff with Hawkwind at the time, both writing and
performing and it revived my interest in music.
I had begun in the mid 50's, doing rock and roll and bluegrass as well
as R&B and skiffle.
Those early years in the clubs of Soho, where British rock first began,
were fairly similar to the 60's in Ladbroke Grove - everybody knew everybody
and it was quite often possible to be involved in a session with someone
like Charlie Watts on drums, Long John Baldry doing vocals and Pete
Green playing guitar. I cut my first demo with EMI in 1957, and it was,
even by the standards of the day, considered too dreadful to release.
So it was perfectly natural, living as I did in Ladbroke Grove, to slide
back into doing music. Also I was helping Jon Trux
(publishing manager of FRENDZ)
and others put on concerts under the motorway in Portobello Road - my
first performance with Hawkwind was at one of these gigs, and at that
first performance I did 'Sonic
I think it was Dave Brock who encouraged me
to do a demo of two songs I'd written, Dodgem Dude
and ' Star Cruiser', and I somehow found myself having lunch with an
A&R man from Liberty Records who casually asked me when I intended to
schedule my first LP. Almost without realizing it,
I had a record contract and 'New World's Fair' was the result.
I was already doing some stuff with Steve Gilmore and Graham Charnock
- and I insisted that they be represented on the album, which is why
you'll hear several of their songs on it. Steve was at the time working
with Sam Shepard (now more famous as a film
star, but then a writer who had co-scripted 'Zabriskie Point' by Antonioni
and whose first collection of poems was called 'Hawkmoon') and it's
Sam's lyrics you'll hear on 'Song for Marlene'. It was a very
small world, in many ways. The idea was mine and Dodgem
Dude, in particular, set the theme for NWF. Ironically, Liberty
Rec. never showed any great interest in taking it beyond the demo stage
and the record wasn't released until some seven years after the album.
'The Deep Fix' was formed in 1972. By the
time we made the album it consisted of myself, Steve, Graham, Pete
Pavli (late of the Thrid Ear Band and High Tide), with Simon House
(Third Ear Band / High Tide / Hawkwind), Snowy White and Kumo.
The original album was musically a bit more ambitious than it turned
out, partly because some of the people weren't happy with doing eccentric
rhythms and bar lines, while some tracks were abandoned altogether.
If you listen to 'The Brothel in Rosenstrasse' or even 'At The Time
Centre' (music for both songs by Pete Pavli) you'll have a better idea
of the flavour I was aiming for.
'Brothel in Rosenstrasse' is in many ways more typical
of the The Deep Fix, who gave their final performance (with Adrian
Shaw on bass) at Nik
Turner's 'Bohemian Love Inn the Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, in 1978
- in many ways the Grand Finale of the alternative music scene as we
had experienced and enjoyed it.
After that, our music got less and less commercial and times had changed
so radically that nobody, except occasionally Flicknife, actually wanted
to produce it."
"The work Pete
Pavli and I did on Gloriana and
The Entropy Tango, two ambitious projects, scarcely got beyond
demo stage before we grew tired of the record industry's increasing
orthodoxy. Like many of our contemporaries who were not quite young
enough to feel immortal and not old enough to have grown cynical, we
gradually dropped out of doing music. 'The Deep Fix' did a few numbers
on Flicknife and then we went our different ways. Since then, of course,
there had been a lot of interest in this album and some of the other
stuff we did." (M.M.)
Moorcock himself describes the Gloriana/Entropy Tango sessions - quite
rightly - as 'ambitious' and 'less commercial'... - however, I think
they are musically by far the best work he did - and Pete
Pavli, bass-and cello-player extraordinaire, surely had more
than his fair share in these intriguing avantgard-ish compositions.
Unfortunately, like the equally stunning and experimental Revenge-recordings,
that Pavli did with Calvert, this material never went beyond demo-stage...
- however, one can only hope that they, like the Revenge-recordings,
will be released officially...someday.
And there's not only a strong connection between these songs and the
tracks by Calvert and Pavli
- one of these songs, entitled BUGATTI,
even has a musical twin: "The Brothel in Rosenstrasse" - both
songs are based on the same rhythms, chords etc...
To describe these recordings is QUITE difficult... a lot of those I've
heard are semi-acoustic - many of them feature Pavli's fantastic cello-playing
- and I assume that the equally gifted Simon House had his violin-bow
in a couple of them as well. You have fabulous, highly poetical tango
and waltz numbers (Entropy Tango + Lost in the Megaflow), songs which
feature almost spoken word renditions of Moorcock against semi-classical
- at time mediaeval lieder renditions....and all sorts of strange mixtures.
Mike Moorcock makes equally inventive use of his peculiar voice - the
Pierrot and the Jester
are recurring figures in these songs - and indeed, at times he sounds
like quite a melancholic, maybe forgotten jester, reciting songs to
a long gone (or still awaited) audience... - Fascinating stuff!
As far as I know this material is only available in bootleg formats
- but if you have an ear for the more experimental sounds: get them.
....well, talking about music...always a hopeless thing - so: here you
can listen to 2 tracks from those highly praised recordings:
had some great times in rock and roll, though, and it's nice to have
enjoyed all the things that most people only get a chance to fantasize
about. My own stuff tends to be more melodic than Hawkwind but even
less commercial ("Another Quiet Day in Auschwitz" somehow
never made it even to the indie charts. . . ) and the work I've done
with my partner (ex-High Tide and Third Ear Band, bass and cello Pete
Pavli) is much more complex. I gave up recording it when we couldn't
find an engineer who didn't want to lay down bass and drums first. We
were using neither. Pete and I both had an enthusiasm for Schoenberg,
Captain Beefheart and, in my case, Iggy Pop."
After these recordings with Pavli, Moorcocks musical activities seems
to have come more or less to a hold - but surely enough his output as
a writer hasn't decreased for a bit. After all: writing novels remains
his favourite form of expression - and there's certainly some truth
in Moorcock's comparison btw. writing and modern (pop-ular) music:
rock 'n' roll itself didn't develop as much as I hoped. No, so far the
novel is still proving to be the most flexible and complex medium of
However, Moorcock did some rare guest-appearances with Hawkwind (via
sattelite-phone during their 30th anniversary show) and appeared on-stage
at a Nik Turner gig in 1995, when the latter was doing a gig in Moorcock's
now-hometown Austin, Texas.
Word has been around that there are plans for a new collaboration with
Hawkwind - based
an a Moorcock idea - the working title has been named as "The
Destruction of the Death Generator". However...nothing's
showed up so far...
better than going on stage at the Hammersmith Odeon with two thousand
people, and getting approval just for stepping on stage. Everybody cheers.
You can't get better than that. But in a sense it is just a bit too
easy for me. And with writing novels there's a lot more hard work involved.
And it's slightly less boring than recording.
(from an interview in 1995)
My private wish: Some good and/or rich producer should throw some money
against Mr. Moorcock and Mr. Pavli for a fully-fledged recording of
their Entropy Tango & Gloriana
Well, good luck, gentlemen, wherever you are...