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Dave Brock

When not tied to his duties as commander-in-chief of English prog/space-rockers, HAWKWIND, enterprising singer-songwriter/multi-tasker/instrumentalist DAVE BROCK delivered the odd solo album or three. Responsible for ground-breaking HAWKWIND albums of the 70s such as `Space Ritual’, `In The Hall Of The Mountain Grill’ and `Quark, Strangeness And Charm’, it’d be an impossible task for the soloist to emulate such neo-psychedelia nuggets.
Born 20th August 1941 in Isleworth, Middlesex, the guitarist’s formative years were spent listening to New Orleans-styled jazz, while spots performing alongside key YARDBIRDS men, ERIC CLAPTON and Keith Relf, kept the proverbial howlin’ wolf from the door. From busking on the streets of London to forming his first proper combo, the Dharma Blues Band, the mid-to-late 60s culminated with a brief spell in embryonic HAWKWIND group, The Famous Cure. For the whole of the 70s, HAWKWIND were the act to follow; the mainstream UK Top 3 success of `Silver Machine’ in ’72 (penned by BROCK and newbie ROBERT CALVERT), became a bit of an albatross around their neck – at least in the singles department.
A demanding decade for the ever-evolving HAWKWIND ended in acrimonious terms when BROCK and his band (who had to call themselves, HAWKLORDS, for two sets) were forced into a legal battle with their management team. Back in circulation in time for the 80s, HAWKWIND continued onwards and upwards on their trek for sonic superstardom.
Meanwhile, space-cadet DAVE BROCK was in full control as his career kicked off with two singles (the fanclub `Zones’ as Dr Technical & The Machines and `Social Alliance’) plus the electronically-generated debut LP, EARTHED TO THE GROUND (1984) {*7}. Opening with the glorious 8-minute title track, and pursued by the newsreel sounds of JFK-inspired `Assassination’, the record sort of drifted into TANGERINE DREAM and schizoid-punk territory from there on in.
Exactly four years on and aided by songwriting cohort and newly-installed HAWKWIND member, Crum, THE AGENTS OF CHAOS (1988) {*5} had elements of Kraut-rock and post-punk industrial (think NEU! and THROBBING GRISTLE). The metallic `Hades Deep’ was counterbalanced with the dreamy `Wastelands Of Sleep’; but one had to remind oneself not to panic, this was not HAWKWIND.
BROCK’s solitary 90s set, STRANGE TRIPS & PIPE DREAMS (1995) {*7} was as it said on the tin – Dave letting his listeners find space, time and continuum through pounding tracks such as the 7-minute `White Zone’ (very ORB/ORBITAL), the ghostly and acoustic `Bosnia’ and `Space’ (a re-visit of HAWKWIND’s `Space Is Deep’).
Another group track, `Clouded Vision’, kicked off the MEMOS AND DEMOS (2001) {*7} set, a record that boasted other updates, ranging from `Didn’t Have A Problem’ (aka Agents Of Chaos piece, `In The Office’), `Love In Space’, et al. Pulsating, hypnotic and thrash-y in their re-vamped execution, the speedy synths and soundscapes made one almost wish one was setting off for the Moon – via Hawaii.
Despite being his sparring partner when in HAWKWIND, the deceased Bob Calvert was Dave’s inspiration for his resultant set, THE BROCK/CALVERT PROJECT (2007) {*6}. Augmented by HAWKWIND guys Alan Davey, Richard Chadwick, Jason Stuart and vocalist Trixie Smith, the words of CALVERT (taken from his 1977 publication and other more recent works) had a posthumous edge to the proceedings; Robert died of a heart attack in 1988.
Now in his 70s but looking every part the ageing hippy rocker (long hair, moustache and baggy trousers), David Anthony Brock delivered his long-awaited fifth set, LOOKING FOR LOVE IN THE LOST LAND OF DREAMS (2012) {*6}.
The market subsequently swamped by rivals to the HAWKWIND empire: HAWKLORDS and NIK TURNER, respectively – although Dave would wish them well in their mission to keep alive the soul of space-rock they’d all attempted to create – the sonic singer/songwriter was back in the cosmic race to search the galaxy a la BROCKWORLD (2015) {*6}. A winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award at 2013’s Prog Awards ceremony, DAVE BROCK somehow conjured up a dynamic burst of incendiary star tracks in `Life Without Passion’, `Age Of Psychedelia’ and the mind-numbing `Horizon’.
© MC Strong/MCS Nov2012-Jan2016

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