were recorded on Christmas Eve 1977 - Calvert and Brock formed a
short-lived side project of Hawkwind
for this, featuring Harvey Bainbridge on bass and Paul Hayles on
Calvert hesitated to perform during these days, as he felt yet again
an upcoming manic-or-depressive tension. Eventually he showed up
in full combat dress; obsessed, as he was during that time, with
the iconography of the First World War. Straight out of this state
of mind came the highlight of this performance - the improvised
Over the Top.
At first Calvert recites his poem The
Awakening - then wanders, as he is improvising the lyrics, through
some haunting World-War I imagery. Truly a piece of instant on-the-spot-poetry.
The 'White Feather' he refers to, is traditionally a sign of cowardice.
Young ladies gave them to young men, not seen in uniform yet, to
brand them as 'chicken' - so that they would have to join up if
they were to impress them. Calvert ends the song with a sudden,
chilling "Goodbye, genocide."
This Ep. was re-released by Anagram on CD-FORMAT in 1992 as 'Mighty
Hawkwind Classics' - the CD features three other Hawkwind Ep.`s
- without Calvert, unfortunately. Though there are better live-versions
of Free Fall and Death Trap around, Over the Top is worth the whole
album. Material: > More infos on the SONIC
ASSASSINS period. > Read some memories
on this gig and the Sonic Assassins period by Paul Hayles
- who played keyboards in this line-up and for Hawkwind as well.
TRACKS: Over the Top
Fall / Death
THE KID FROM SILICON GULCH an electronic musical for the cybernetic
'Will Brad Spark,
private eye of the cybernetic age, solve the mystery of the murdering
Though this project is among the more unknown of the many works
of Calvert, it is certainly among the very best - and WAY ahead
of it's time.
So: Time to bring into the fore - hence I've decided to set up an
extensive 'special' on THE KID - feat.
notes on the performance and it's performers, an outline of
the play and it's plot - in 6 parts incl. excerpts from the original
script, sound files and animations, lyric-pages for each of the
featured songs [see below] - these are also feat. sound-files of
the original backing-tracks and performance recordings - all of
this accompanied by photos from the original staging of the play
in London, April 1981. A lot of this material can be seen and heard
here for the first time. >>
You best start from HERE.
Mostly in 1981
and 1982 - following his outstanding electronic-musical THE
KID FROM SILICON GULCH - Calvert staged a couple of shows that
were announced under the Cabaret "label".
For one of these shows he also used the word "KRANKSCHAFT"
for the first time - a term/word he also used later on for some
line-ups of his backing-band. I assume he took the english "crankshaft"
and re-coined or fused it with the German "Krank" - which
simply means to be ill. In any case an oddly sounding and yet a
rather distinct amalgam.
The KRANKSCHAFT CABARET and other shows (Quark, Strangeness and
Charm / 14 Days of pure HYPE o.a.) featured
- again - a highly original mixture of elements: songs, sketches,
poems, stand-up compedy pieces and - of course a great deal of instant,
on-the-spot and in-your-face improvisation. With his inborn-sense
of humour, his lust for word-plays, his rapid ways of thinking and
and associations-apparatus under full-throttle it was quite a live-experience...
and even from the very few audio-recordings in existence, one can
imagine that these performances must have been a fascinating experience,
not only seeing an artist at work, but also seeing his his thoughts
and wits working out this very minute.
As far as I know all these shows were performed in a couple small
theatre and concert venues in London, like the Theatrespace or The
Marquee club. Most of these Cabaret evening also featured some songs
from THE KID FROM SILICON
GULCH and again Calvert was backed up by the same team: Pete
Pavli and Jill Riches (soon
to become Jill
Calvert...) who played in some sketches and did the
backing or other lead-vocals. And like THE KID... all this was (or
probably had to be) done on a very low budget - you could also say:
in a strictly minimalist way. Which wasn't a bad thing at all, as
Minimalism always appealed to Calvert. One of his favourite pieces
was this brief explanation of some of the major art-form of the
is art produced by people with absolutely no money.
Constructivism is produced by people with a little bit of money
who have to built it all themselves.
Futurism is: It'll be allright on the night."
CABARET level is kind of misleading in regard to the extreme variety
of moods and formats these shows contained. Listening to the recordings
one can tell that the biggest part of the audiences surely came
for the ex-lead-singer of Hawkwind - expecting mostly some kind
of a rock-music related event. Of course they were sympathetic to
everything Calvert delievered, but it were definitely the songs
they wanted to hear the most - even if the music came from a big
reel-to-reel machine, placed prominently on the stage - with Calvert
"only" singing the vocals live.
however - and fortunately - did not prevent him from also delivering
some of his more "serious" poems like "The
Red Baron Regrets" or "Cleaning
a Rapidograph". Apart from those he also performed a number
of poems that he never presented elsewhere like the brilliant lyrics
he wrote for the world-famous TELSTAR
tune or the hilarious persiflage BIG BAD GIRLS OF LONDON. (see the
list of texts
Besides these elements Calvert and his crew performed a couple of
sketches from the CAPTAIN LOCKHEED album, on sketch based on his
SECRET ROCK DEAL" a.o.
The songs were a mix of solo-recordings - again a good couple from
the LOCKHEED album - and a selecton of tracks he did with HAWKWIND
- like Steppenwolf,
Strangeness and Charm and Born
All in all: this was -again- quite an ambituous and kind-of-ahead-of-it's-time
format - done on an extremly low-budget-level. ...and (yet) again
- the tragic aspect: like with THE KID FROM SILICON GULCH no proper
recordings of any of these shows seems to be in existence.
So, despite of the more than unsatisfying quality of these recordings
I have put up some of them in a slightly illustrated format (incl.
sound-files) - and the rest can be explored here for the first time
in text-format - some of them with annexed audio-files of audience-recordings.
are some of the texts and lyrics (incl. soundfiles) that
Calvert often featured in these shows: The
Little Bit that won't Lie Down [flash-animation] / Telstar
Red Baron Regrets [flash-animation] /
In Defense of the House of Lords / Big
Bad Girls of London / The
Dance of the 39 Steps / True
Brit / England
without the Times / Churchill's Secret Rock Deal [a sketch based
on the poem
w. the same title] / High
Seas / Irish-Non-Rebel-Song
- 'And now, for all you speeding street smarties out there,
the one you've all been waiting for, the one that'll pierce
your laid-back ears, decoke your sinuses, cut clean thru the
schlock-rock, MOR/crossover, techno-flash mind mush. It's the
new Number One with a bullet... It's Tom, Supernova, Mahler
with a pan-galactic biggie...'
And the Hype goes on. And on... HYPE,
an amphetamine-hit of a story hy Hawkwind collaborator Robert
Calvert. Who's been there and made it back again. The debriefing
session starts here.
HYPE - the novel
may change but the Hype goes on."
HYPE was published in 1982 by the New English Library - and is out
of print today.
Calvert on his novel: "HYPE focuses on the music business but it isn't
based on my own experiences as such. It is derived obviously from
stuff I picked up hanging around record companies. I've drawn characters
who are recognizable types but not individuals from these experiences,
but the story line of the book and the events in it are not based
on my own experiences but are fiction.
The book describes what happens to a young band that is exploited
by a record company and internal power struggles between two over-ambitious
individuals, who use this band as an elaborate game of spy vs. spy.
I wanted it to be a comedy and had in mind doing it almost like PG.
Woodhouse would might have written about the music business, had he
known about it. I wanted to write about the music business in the
late 70's the way he wrote about Hollywood in the 20's. Although the
plot is very much a sort of fast moving thriller type it has got elements
of black humour and sarcasm."
Read extended comments of Calvert on the HYPE project on the QUOTES
> And another PREMIERE:
read 'Overkill', the closing
chapter of the HYPE novel - in which the 'hero' Tom Mahler
gets killed onstage and his cunning ex-manager finally arrives in
his dream-job position... to turn kinda moody... if only for an instant...
HYPE - Lp
solo-record after his split from Hawkwind. Though this record came
out of Calvert's novel by the same name, it was released first.
"This bloke Tom Mahler actually did become quite real to
me at one point. I didn`t actually plan to do an album of the book
until I was about a quarter of the way into it."
This is maybe his strangest recording while being the most mainstream
one - probably because of it. Than again... the mainstream-ish tone
is only the surface of the whole thing - the more or the deeper
your listen to it, the more the whole concept of "mainstream"
falls apart... - only this time this is mostly achieved via the
lyrics, that "deconstruct" the whole music industry AND
the idea of stardom itself...
HYPE is another concept - or rather
a story-telling album circling around the novel's central character
named Tom Mahler, it supposedly features the songs of Mahler's own
band, who gets hyped by a cunning manager - mostly because of an
ongoing internal rivalries amongst the excetutives of Mahler's record
company. After all the money that has been pumped into the biggest
hype-campaign fails to turn Mahler into the Pop-Hero of all times,
and the career of Tony Cahn, the responsible executive, is endangered,
the order is given to assassinate Mahler onstage. The exploitation
of the inevitably following Mahler cult finally delievers the real
Calvert's lyrics are sharp and witty as ever though some of the
songs still remain a bit too mainstream-ish for my taste - like
Calvert couldn't really make up his mind if he should go for the
downright-pop-song-format or for it's parody. So, some songs seem
to meander somewhere in between in re. to production and sound.
Still, there are several very good and catchy tunes on it - e.g.
'The Luminous Green Glow...', 'Hanging out on the Seafront' or -
in the new CD-edition: 'Lord of the Hornets' - originally released
as a single appears here in a much better, 'punchy' version than
the original single release. An album that gets better the more
you listen to it - always a good sign, after all.
Amongst the musicians were: Simon House / Pete
Pavli (adding once more some fabulous 'licks' on his cello)
/ George Csapo / Michael
Moorcock / Nik
Turner (with one of the dirtiest sax-solos ever heard) / Trev
There were also 2-3 performances of a stage show version of HYPE
- rumourous reports said they were fairly chaotic and I also read
a truly devastating review somewhere - for these or other mysterious
reasons all the other shows got cancelled. > More of Calvert's comments
on HYPE on the QUOTES
pages. >>>a little world premiere:
- listen to COULDN'T
GO ON - an UNRELEASED TRACK
from the HYPE session. TRACKS: Over my Head / Ambitious
/ It's the Same / Hanging
out on the Seafront / Sensitive
/ Evil Rock / We
Like to be Frightened / Teen
Ballad of Deano / Flight
105 / The Luminous
Green Glow of the Dials of the Dashboard (at Night) / The
Greenfly and the Rose / Lord
of the Hornets
A compilation featuring
tracks of Hawkwind and other related bands and musicians. Calvert
appears on 'Golden Void' and a furious live-version of Robot
- better than the original one from PXR5,
featuring a frenzy, almost violin solo by Simon House turning into
sheer white noise with Calvert paraphrasing, trance-like and threatening,
Asimov's three laws of Robotics, which are: 1/ a robot may not injure
a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to
harm. 2/ a robot must obey the orders given it by humans except where
such orders would conflict with the first law. 3/ a robot must protect
it's own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with
the 1st and 2nd law.
The picture was taken in 1977 during the QUARK...
tour - the bands best period.
FRIENDS AND RELATIONS II - Lp / w. Hawkwind
gathered from misc. HW tracks and other bands circling in the Hawkwind
Calvert appears only on one track with HW - a splendid live version
of Spirit of the Age
Lp / with The Imperial Pompadours
- aka. Inner City Unit
The first side
features a collection of various Inner
City Unit songs - pure punkadelic cover versions of a wide and
weird range of songs. ICU was a band which was then featuring Hawkwind's
The - I dare to say - 'concept' behind the first side of this record
was conceived by Barney
Bubbles, the late sleeve designer for Hawkwind and later on
for the famous 'Stiff' label. He approached the band with a number
of songs which he played to them only once and then asked them to
do cover versions from them...
If these results were already quite strange, they are mainstream
compared to the utter weirdness AND complexity of the album's b-side...
- on which Mr. Calvert appears. It's difficult to find out who did
what on this track - but I guess it's safe to expect that Calvert
did most of the lyrics and montage --- and a great piece of a soundmontage
it is!! -
Calvert only appears on the second side - a strange and sinister
sound and text collage about Mr. Hitler and his Third Reich dreams
- resp. the genocide nightmares that arose from them.
Mysterious and satirical / cynical texts -at least some of them
are taken out of 'Mein Kampf' - in combination with some Wagner
recordings and a bit of almost Beefheartian-jamming in the background.
This collage spreads over the entire B-side and is nicely entitled
'Insolence Across the Nation'.
- If I remember correctly, Nik
Turner told me that this was actually all recorded in his living
Later on Calvert recruited Steve Pond and Fred 'Dead Fred' Reeves
from ICU for his own backing band - mostly appearing under his favourite
band's name 'Krankschaft' - sometimes also as 'Maximum Effect'. >
NEW: the complete transcription of
ACROSS THE NATION lyrics - incl. soundbits and illustrations.
A wild ride into the abyss of the infamous third Reich... > Find out more about ICU
on the CollabRelations
pages and on Steve Ponds ICU
in-depth review of the ERSATZ album on Julian Cope's 'Head-Heriatage'
FRIENDS AND RELATIONS III - Lp
features Calvert's Widow's
Song - obviously a remnant from his 1st solo record CAPTAIN LOCKHEED
AND THE STARFIGHTERS - it was probably taken from the record
before it's release as the lyrics do still appear in the booklet,
but the song has vanished from the record...
- this version - released here for the first time - has been recorded
with the tracks for Calvert's forthcoming solo album entitled "Freq"
- the vocals on this track were performed by his wife Jill
Again a wonderful tune, wrapped in Calvert's sarcastic, yet subtly
humorous lyrics. (picture is taken from a promo-photo session for
the Lockheed album). > see and listen to an
animated version of The Widow Song.