Live 1973 – from the Japanese single of ‘Urban Guerilla’
When I was ten or so, I discovered my older brother’s copy of the NME Encyclopaedia of Rock, published in pre-punk 1976. Partly, I suppose, because I looked up to my brother so much, I read it religiously and swallowed its opinions wholesale. It wasn’t complimentary about Hawkwind: “One critic has described a typical Hawkwind set as ‘four hours of 4/4 with the occasional trot in 8/8’,” it sneered. “Others have suggested the band is long overdue to add a fourth chord to the three they already know.”
In fact, it’s hard to emphasise enough how much of an outsider band Hawkwind were, even in their heyday in the 1970s. Founded in Ladbroke Grove in the last gasp of the previous decade, they were routinely dismissed as hippy recidivists, a poor man’s Pink Floyd, riding on the rapidly disintegrating tailcoats of psychedelia and the counterculture.