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Calvert, Robert: Captain Lockheed And The Starfighters

If you know anything about the venerable space-band Hawkwind, you know that the late Robert Calvert was their charismatic frontman and lyricist. And if you know the names Dave Brock, Nik Turner, Lemmy Kilminster, Del Dettmar, Simon King, Paul Rudolph, Vivian Stanshall, Brian Eno, Arthur Brown and Jim Capaldi - then you know that all the key members of Hawkwind - along with a few notable guests - are on this record. So think of it as a great album that Hawkwind never made.

More or less every second track is music, and every other track is vocal - a Zappa-esque / Python-esque skit that takes its inspiration from a scandal in Germany in the 1950s. The German government purchased some 700 new Lockheed F-104 Starfighter jets,, and had them so heavily modified that they killed many Luftwaffe pilots - who quickly dubbed the plane the 'Widowmaker', or the 'Flying Coffin'. Calvert's satirical version of this story has the German airforce demanding an improved air capability, testing it, negotiating the purchase, a couple of idiot mechanics who know nothing about the planes, and so on. Very typical of English satirical dark wit. A concept album with a difference.

But the humor can only be played so many times before it gets old - so if you program your iPod to play just the musical tracks, it's interesting as a 40-plus minute Cantebury-era piece with clean vocals in a clear, well enunciated style, psychedelic bluesy acid-rock instrumentation with heavy bass and pronounced guitar licks, often veering off into a Floydian spacey vibe.

"The Aerospace Inferno" is a standout, a mildly heavy piece with psychedelic guitars wailing over a deep groove. and clear singing ... Set your controls for the heart of the earth... (Sound familiar?) "Catch a Falling Starfighter" was released as the B-side on a single - a slow piece, irony-laden and sad, very simple but very catchy.

Originally released in 1974, this Eclectic Discs reissue was remastered from the original master tapes and features fully restored artwork. It includes three bonus tracks including a previously unreleased extended version of "The Right Stuff".

This isn't music to be takes seriously. Treat it as a fun diversion, and appreciate the musicianship as a bonus.

 

Track Listing:
1. Franz Josef Strauß, Defence Minister, reviews the Luftwaffe in 1958
2. The Aerospace Inferno
3. Aircraft Salesman (A Door in the Foot)
4. The Widow Maker (Dave Brock, Calvert)
5. Two test pilots discuss the Starfighter's performance
6. The Right Stuff
7. Board meeting (seen through a contract lense)
8. The Song of the Gremlin (part one) (Arthur Brown, Calvert, Wagner)
9. Ground Crew (last minute reassembly before take off)
10.Hero with a Wing
11.Ground Control to Pilot
12.Ejection
13.Interview
14.I Resign
15.The Song of the Gremlin (part two) (Brown, Calvert, Wagner)
16.Bier Garten
17.Catch a Falling Starfighter

Bonus Tracks:
18.The Right Stuff (full version) (Recorded at Olympic Studios in October 1973 - Previously unreleased)
19.Ejection (single version)
20.Catch a Falling Starfighter (single version)
 

Added: June 2nd 2007
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Score:
Related Link: The Label's Web Site
Hits: 2216
Language: english

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