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Date: 17/11/19

Background Radiation

Last weekend, having finally got my arse in gear to tackle the next stage of the redecoration (too minor a task to be bigged-up as A Project™, unlike the stairs marathon of earlier this year) and paint the skirting boards and doorframes (three of the bastards) in the hall, I felt that I needed some background music to keep me going.

I picked two albums from my external hard drive, the first being Calling All Stations, the final album from Genesis.

Having it up at sufficient volume to hear it out in the hall (a thing made easier on the conscience by the fact that I knew that my neighbours were away), I could hear well enough to realise that - for all the disappointment I remember when first hearing it in 1997 - it wasn't a bad album at all; far from being their best, but Ray Wilson's vocals fitted in well with the material. I was, however, struck again by two or three tracks being faded out rather earlier than I felt they ought to. Still, at least it couldn't feature another one (or two) of Phil Collins' lachrymose self-pitying ballads, which had taken the gilt off the gingerbread of at least three of the band's previous five efforts.

My second choice was from the year before the envoi of Banks and Rutherford (because CAS was effectively their project, with Wilson only coming in quite late in the process).

Alan Davey is a multi-instrumentalist (mostly on bass) who had been (and would be) the bass player for Hawkwind over a period of twenty-odd years, starting in the early 1980s.

By the time of the release of his album Captured Rotation in 1996, he had taken leave of Commander Brock and his crew, unhappy with the ambient direction the band had gone in (they had effectively lost me by that time too, and for much the same reason).

Listening to it in full for the first time in probably twenty years - and distracted only by my kicking the paint tin over while I was trying to move it with my foot (hooray for tiled floors) - I found that it was - musically, sonically and conceptually - a very interesting album; a point which was confirmed to me when I put in on my .mp3 player and listened to it in bed a couple of nights later.

Never Comedown is a very good track, but I've chosen the closing number Pre-Med for your cosmic elevation. Davey plays all instruments and the vocals are provided by Ron Tree, who at that time was Hawkwind's lead vocalist and fill-in bass man.

There are two things which I find most engaging: firstly, the opening half especially sounds like classic Hawkwind from the Lemmy period; and secondly, the play-out or coda has a great chord sequence (I'm a sucker for those, always have been) and a guitar part which is reminiscent of old Brock himself.

All in all, a nice re-discovery. Enjoy your trip!

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