Updated: Jul 25
Joe Banks takes a unique approach in ‘Days of the Underground’: a chronological précis of all the Hawkwind albums from 1970 to 1980 interspersed with a chronology of events, interviews with the main players and associates, and essays on British psychedelia and counterculture within the context of 1970s Britain, the origins of space rock and ‘
New Worlds and Dangerous Visions: Hawkwind as the Ultimate Science Fiction Band’. The sheer scale of detail and insightful analysis is impressive and the best thing of all is that Banks gives extensive descriptions of all the tracks and the inspirations behind them, a refreshing departure from de rigueur historical biographies, concentrating instead on a defined period in time and focusing on the music.
I particularly appreciated the ‘sci-fi connectors’, lyrical inspirations and there’s even a filmography. ‘Days of the Underground’ really made me think of the role of Hawkwind as a genre spanning group, and collective and to reinvestigate their music and Hawkwind’s significance as a daring and one-off free thinking, free festival band with an ethos developed in an ‘underground’ culture whose emphasis was never on virtuosity or pandering to pop and rock market. It is fortunate indeed that ‘Silver Machine’ opened up their music to an even wider audience.
They were also the prime underground band in respect of appealing to prog rock and jazz fans like myself and never suffered the hostility from punk rockers that many prog bands did: it is worth noting that Van Der Graaf Generator, the subject of Joe’s forthcoming book, also escaped that fate!
‘Days of the Underground’ is luxuriously presented and packed with photographic memorabilia, and has the right balance between fact, interpretation and opinion due to meticulous research and intensive listening.
(Strange Attractor Press, 2020)