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As all that is solid melts to air and everything holy is profaned...

Monday, August 01, 2016

In Search of Space-the Hawkwind Log

August 1972. Silver Machine by Hawkwind had been released 8 June and by July it had reached number 3 in the UK charts. I didn’t buy the single, but I remember going to visit my school friend Iain MacDonald at the Kings Arms Hotel in Castle Douglas which his parents then owned. I was still a glam fan, listening to T Rex and Bowie and Slade. But Iain had the first Black Sabbath album, Aqualung by Jethro Tull and In Search of Space by Hawkwind, recorded in 1971. A few weeks later Iain sold the Hawkwind album to me for £2.50. He played the Sabbath and Tull albums and then the Hawkwind one.

While it was playing I read the 24 page Hawkwind Logbook which came with the album. Without exaggeration it was a life changing moment. I had just started reading science fiction. J G Ballard’s short story ’The Terminal Beach’ in an sf short story collection is the one I recall most vividly, an account of a typical Ballard subject wandering among the ruins of a nuclear test site on a Pacific island. I may or may not have already started reading Michael Moorcock’s pulp fictions.

What blew my not quite 14 year old mind away was the combination of the psychedelic space rock music on In Search of Space and the Bob Calvert/ Barney Bubbles text and images of the Hawkwind logbook. The entries in the log, all dated, mix past, present and future. It begins with part of Michael Moorcock’s ‘The Black Corridor’, and goes on to include a whole range of alternative/counterculture references, from the magical and mystical to the political and ecological, filtered through acid inspired science fiction.

 It is not possible to pick out individual entries in the Log to illustrate. The Log plus music are a totality, a complete and complex ‘situation’ which is too information rich to be compressed. What the complex totality did for me was inspire an interest in the alternative/counterculture which has lasted 44 years. It even influenced my understanding of punk. In the extremely hot summer of 1976 I visited London and wandered around the Notting Hill/ Ladbroke Grove haunts of Hawkwind. When White Riot by the Clash was released in 1977, I was able to connect its references to the 1976 Notting Hill carnival riot to a place I knew and so realise the contemporary relevance of punk - which I might otherwise have missed.

And finally… here is what I encountered all the years ago - the music and the text/images. Enjoy


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