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Music

The Maiden and the Bear.

 

You’d think it would be rare,

For a bear to shave his hair.

But he was lurking in his lair,

When he thought his fur was square.

 

He decided then and there,

Not a moment would he spare.

He loudly did declare,

That his fur he could not wear.

 

On his way he did then fare,

Till he reached the barbers chair.

Handling razor with great flair,

The barber shaved the big brown bear.

 

The bear tipped him rather spare,

Which wasn’t very fair,

As to shave Bear is rare –

I bet you wouldn’t dare!

 

Bear walked out down the stair,

Into the crowded square

And all the folk did stare,

Or mumble out a prayer.

 

The crowd called out the Mayor

Like a trooper he did swear,

The mayor was going no-where,

He wouldn’t face the bear!

 

Now the trumpets they did blare,

But the Bear he didn’t care,

For he was unaware,

That they called a legionnaire.

 

A soldier on a mare,

Decided he would dare,

But the bear without the hair,

Slapped the soldier, stole his mare.

 

Then the bear without the hair,

Rode the horse right out of there,

And the people everywhere,

The gossip they did share.

 

But when the bear got to his lair,

He found a maiden there.

And the Bear gave her a scare,

Because the bear was bare.

 

Now the Maid was rather fair,

And she gave the Bear a glare.

Said the Bear I do not care,

Is to shave my hair to err?

 

But she stood up to the bear,

Said your clothes may be threadbare,

Now put on your underwear.

For some clothes you need to wear.

 

Now the maiden and the bear,

They do make a handsome pair,

Riding out upon their mare,

It was a true love affair.

 

But the bear without the hair,

Got entrapped within a snare,

Which the mayor who didn’t dare,

Had baited with a pear.

 

Was it the end of the affair?

Well, the Maid who loved the Bear,

Stopped the Mayor with just a stare,

Cut the wire from the Bear!

 

But she rode off like a hare,

Left the bear just standing there.

To his lair he did repair,

Once again a solitaire.

 

So the moral for the Bear,

Who was left in deep despair,

Is that if you want an heir,

Don’t find a Maid beyond compare,

 

You need to be aware,

That a bear without his hair,

May seem so debonair

But his love life’s going no where.

 

The secret I will share,

The bear must grow his hair.

Then a lady bear I swear,

Will come and share your lair!

Deep in the Hive are they really alive?

The elder statesmen of 'space rock', Hawkwind have had more incarnations than The Doctor. For those who grew up on lineups featuring Lemmy, Bob Calvert, Nick Turner, Huw Lloyd Langton not to mention talented musicians such as Ginger Baker and Simon House, it is tempting to dismiss the last twenty five years (!) of Hawkwind's output. Thoise more recent albums have generally been more mindful and melodic, lacking the energy, drive and raw edge that characterised earlier albums, although the live band never lost its sparkle.

So what of The Machine Stops, the 2016 offering from Dr Technical and his current crew? It can be summedup easily: The Machine Stops represents a remarkable return to form! The concept of The Machine Stops is a society where people live isolated in hexagonal cells, communicatiung only over the internet and reliant on 'The Machine' to serve their needs. Naturally the protagonaist escapes to discover the outside world is 'green' and not the scorched landscape of Damnation Alley. Inevitablly the machine starts to fail. Based on (inspired by?) a century-old novella of the same name by E.M. Forster, an astonishingly accurate vision of some aspects of modern society that reflects a real current anxiety that we could all end up in our private bubbles serviced only by Amazon Drones.

Perhaps the greatest loss to Hawkwind was the departure of Bob Calvert, poet-musician he was responsible for the best of Hawkwind's short, focused rock songs, the classic example being the Hawklords album. Somehow The Machine Stops manages to capture, above all, the spirit of that classic album in rolling basslines, catchy riffs and tight lyrics. Most of all it has a continual feeling of excitement as well as some touches of humour. If this album had come out in the early 80s, very little of it would have been a great surprise. But this is not a dated album, it makes excellent use of modern production techniques and sounds. By refernecing eBay and the modern world, rather than following Forster's proto-steampunk vision Hawkwind's Machine is an extrapolation of today's world where social networks replace social interaction.

Interestingly, one lesson Brock has learned is to 'leave them wanting more' - several of the tracks woudl have been excellent starting points for the extended improvisation and exploration that characterised early Hawkwind albums, to the point where the end of some tracks actually feels too abrubt. That said, live performances of the material have been the opportunities to explore these avenues, notably and excetional extended jam book-ended by Synchronised Blue - for me the stand-out track on the album - see the footage below for proof.

 So let's run through the album and look at each track in turn.

 

 

Ever go to a gig, and then discover it has become a live album?

It's happened to me several times and there's something magical about having a live album that, just maybe, has you shoudting in the crowd! Here's a list, bouyed up by the decision of the BBC to record and broadcast several performances at Readinmg 1983. It may not be complete:

Black Sabbath: Live at Hammersmith Odeon - recorded live at Hammersmith Odeon 31 december 1981, 1 & 2 January 1982

Hawkwind: Coded Languages -  recorded live at Hammersmith Odeon 12/13 November 1982

Stevie Ray Vaughan: Reading 1983 - recorded live at Reading Festival, 1983

Thin Lizzy: BBC Radio One Live in Concert - recorded live at Reading Festival, 1983 (I also saw the last gig of the preceeding tour in Hereford Leisure centre, the lacklustre live album Life was reciorded on this tour over several nights at Hammy Odeon).

Hawkwind: Live Chronicles - recorded live at Hammersmith Odeon  3/4 December 1985

Man: Live At Reading Festival 1983 – Nights At The Roundtable: Concert Edition 1983.

Big Country: At the BBC - this compilation of BBC sessions and live recordings includes several songs from Reading 1983.

Marillion: Early Stages - CD 4 of this box set is theior Reading 1983 performance.

Fairport Convention:The Other Boot - recorded live at Cropredy Festival 1986

Fairport Convention: The Third Leg - recorded live at Cropredy Festival 1987

 

I have a CD here that not a lot of folk have got, so here's my first music review for thirty-odd years...

Poet, musician and lover of all things feathered and furred, Mick Calladine has been a feature of the Derbyshire music scene since the heady days as vocalist of I Married a Werewolf in the early nineties. From time to time Mick produces a demo of what he's up to musically and yesterday he handed me a copy of his 2015 opus "Old Rat Tabs Again'. He carefully pointed out that in Heanor, tabs are ears - which I think I could have worked out from the cover shot...

Mick Calladine Flapping his lugholes

Cover Design not by Roger Dean or Hipgnosis...

So, in the car and off with the Hawkwind, on with the Rat-ears, and what do we get? Six up-tempo tracks led by insistent acoustic guitar and the sort of tunes that you feel familiar with after a few moments.

It's consistent bunch of singable songs, all marked marked by a cheerful faith that the right partner is just around the corner and probably nearer to a folk-rock feel than anything else. Opener Nightingale Nightmare owes a little inspiration to Richard Thompson and the closing track Teenage Fire is an earnest fifties-style ballad, nodding towards Leiber and Stoller, but backed with some howling (but restrained in volume) guitar.

One thing that stands out is all the songs stand or fall by their songwriting - unlike some demos, this disc isn't showcasing flash techniques or clever gimmicks - making for a result well-worth listening to more than once. The overall feel and unpretentious, wistful humour and lack of pretension across all six tracks suggests Mick Calladine might be Derbyshire's answer to John Otway. Those distorted Barrat-esque guitar breaks just strengthen that impression.

If I have any criticism of the production on 'Rat Tabs', it's that Mick's distinctive voice isn't the best one for backing his own singing and a less gritty backing vocal would help push his voice forward. That said, you can't really have different singers on a solo recording! I'd also like to hear how these songs would sound with a bass track as a counterpoint for the melodies, but the mix is rhythmically balanced, so I think drums would be redundant unless you wanted to totally change the arrangements.

This is a demo, not a big studio production, so you can excuse a few rough edges, but overall the sound is clear and well balanced. With no percussion or keyboards, the sound still feels full but not crowded.

Stub