THE TWELVE-LEGGED GROVE MACHINE!

HAWKWIND: DAYS OF THE UNDERGROUND
Joe Banks
(Strange Attractor)
9/10

Emerging out of the late-60s Ladbroke Grove squat scene, Hawkwind’s story has always seemed to be one of sheer luck more than design, from being in the right place at the right time, cloistered in a space-rock cocoon of bleeps, whooshing sounds, squawking sax and garage-rock guitars while the zeitgeist – both cultural and political – spirals chaotically around them.

The band’s now fifty-year trip has been told before, through other excellent and insightful biographies, but Joe Banks has, perhaps wisely, given the enormity of the task, restricted his book to the band’s first decade – arguably Hawkwind’s Golden Age – when a bunch of freaks soared to the top of the charts, going on to take on the punks at their own game.

Daunting at first, unlike most biographies Days Of the Underground is comprised of different types of chapter – the standard chronology of events; in-depth album-by-album appraisals; searching interviews with key players; and, perhaps most importantly, essays in which Banks adroitly gets to the nub of the musical, philosophical and historical context surrounding the band, their coterie and their environment, throwing early-70s West London in particular and the post-hippie comedown in general into vivid relief.
Gerry Ranson

Days Of The Underground is available here.

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