Pete lent me In Search of Space” / “Dun another Martin silly tape” / “Had an ‘aircut” / “Got Pictures at an Exhibition back from Dave”
There it is again – a reference to “a silly tape” for Martin. Whoever the hell Martin was. There’s obviously something ‘artistic’ going on, but nothing so memorable to….well, allow the 50-year-old me to bloomin’ well remember what I am banging on about!
However, the most important mention in this somewhat dysfunctional diary entry is the one that tells me that Pete loaned me Hawkwind’s ‘tour de force’ album “In Search of Space”
“In Search of Space” was Hawkwind’s second album, first released in 1971. It contains just 6 tracks, fifteen minutes of side one swallowed up by the hypnotic rhythms and cosmic repetitiveness of “You Shouldn’t Do That” (fyi, link goes to vastly inferior live – and curtailed – version), where bass, drums and fuzzy guitar are punctured by sax breaks and Dave Brock mumbling “should do that, shouldn’t do that” over and over. I LOVE this cut so much that it almost overwhelms the rest of the album for me.
As if by complete contrast “You Know You’re Only Dreaming” has an almost traditional blues feel to it, albeit one with a psychedelic bent.
Side Two’s opener, “Master of the Universe” is a permanent fan favourite, representing for many the true sound of 70’s-era Hawkwind, starting off silently before slowly building to its mind-numbing dope-enhanced riff. (People always said that Hawkwind sounded much better if you were on drugs – really?)
“We Took the Wrong Step Years Long Ago” is a so-so chugs-along acoustic effort, whilst “Adjust Me” sounds like the band are merely improvising a spacey electronic ‘nothing’ song that includes unnecessary chipmunk-style vocals.
“Children of the Sun“, the album’s closer, builds to its climax and contains a riff that sounds suspiciously like a slowed-down version of T.Rex’s “Children of the Revolution” and you do have to wonder if Marc Bolan (consciously or unconsciously) co-opted it.
However – and I think this will become a repeated theme as this diary blog continues – it is the LP’s sleeve that drew me to the album as much as the contents.
The 12″ album cover offered a perfect canvas for artists and designers to flourish. Something that is almost impossible to achieve with CD sleeves (too small) and impossible with MP3 downloads. Us kids of the seventies used to pore over each and every element of the record sleeves, soaking up even the smallest printed details
“In Search of Space” was designed by the ‘infamous’ Barney Bubbles, a graphic designer (real name Colin Fulcher) who became – for many years – Hawkwind’s permanent ‘artistic collaborator’. Not only did he design the band’s album sleeves, he was also responsible for their logo, posters, stage sets, stage lighting and special effects.
Bubbles later went on to design iconic sleeves for the likes of The Damned, Elvis Costello, Carlene Carter & Ian Dury, as well as becoming a music video director (his finest moment being The Specials’ “Ghost Town“). He was also responsible for creating the logos for the NME and Strongbow Cider.
The world lost him -sadly to suicide – in 1983, but his influence over record art & design will stick around forever. There is a book of his work entitled “Reasons to be Cheerful” (itself an Ian Dury song title) for anyone interested in this art form.
For “In Search of Space” he produced a striking die-cut interlocking fold-out sleeve (inside, opened, shown on right) which contained not only the vinyl in a straightforward white inner sleeve but also a 24-page book entitled “The Hawkwind Log“, supposedly telling the story of the spacecraft “Hawkwind”, found abandoned at the South Pole. It’s a pamphlet style compilation of pictures, spacey quotes and sci-fi data, written by Bubbles in collaboration with Hawkwind’s ‘space poet’ Robert Calvert.
Here’s an example of the writings…. Space/time supply indicators near to zero. Our thoughts are losing depth, soon they will fold intro each other, into flatness, into nothing but surface. Our ship will fold like a cardboard file and the noises of our minds compress into a disc of shining black, spinning in eternity…..
Good job I had a haircut today or someone may have mistaken me for a drug-fuelled hippy when I walked around mumbling “should do this, shouldn’t do that“!