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Robert Calvert: Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters

Album Reviews:

Mojo (Publisher) (p.118) - "Quite possibly the only album to feature both Lemmy and Brian Eno, CAPTAIN LOCKHEED AND THE STARFIGHTERS is a tragi-comic rock requiem for an American Cold War jet fighter plane."

Album Notes

Lockheed remains something of an overlooked landmark for the backing musicians alone. Besides assorted Hawkwind types and associates like author Michael Moorcock, other sorts from Brian Eno and producer Roy Thomas Baker to dyed-in-the-wool English musical nutters like Arthur Brown and ex-Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band member Viv Stanshall, lead participant on the weird and wooly "dialogues" peppered throughout, make an appearance. The latter's ranting German-accented performance on the opening snippet, "Franz Joseph Strauss," sounds like someone escaped from an insane asylum, while his more-English-than-thou bits on the other parts are just as gone: check out "Board Meeting" and "Ground Control" for quick but effective examples. If not quite as space rock/trip-out as Hawkwind itself, Calvert brings a lot of that band's chugging, freak-out atmosphere to the fore, while his own vocals, when they appear, are, a touch surprisingly, fairly cool and calm in comparison. The occasionally explicit nods surface more than once; there's talk about a "silver machine" on "The Aerospaceage Inferno," while one can tell Dave Brock and Lemmy are playing guitar and bass almost by default. Similarly, the sax player could only be Nik Turner. The whole album allegedly is something of a concept story about said captain and the sleek combat planes he flies (the Starfighters being a type of plane used by the US Air Force in the '60s), but even without the story at work it's still a trip. There's the aggressively tweaked vocals on "The Right Stuff," which with what sounds like Eno on keyboards sends things halfway to the freaked-out zone of prime Roxy Music. "The Song of the Gremlin, Pt. 1," meanwhile, has an introduction that Ween must have assuredly heard somewhere along the way, it's that completely crazy. Well worth searching out. ~ Ned Raggett


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