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Robert Calvert

Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters

Review by Gary Hill

This Robert Calvert disc is, in many ways, a lost Hawkwind album. Certainly much of the music sounds like Hawkwind and a number of Hawkwind people guest on the disc. Two songs (“Right Stuff” and “Ejection”) have been frequently performed by Hawkwind.

The disc is a concept album about Germany’s purchase of the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. The planes earned the nickname “Widowmaker” because of an extremely bad safety record. For the most part (with only one real exception) the disc is an alternating pattern of humorous satire theatrics and actual songs.  In addition to Hawkwind alums appearing here, Arthur Brown also shows up – along with a few others. It’s a great album and highly recommended to both Calvert and Hawkwind fans.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Franz Joseph Strauss, Defence Minister, Reviews the Luftwaffe in 1958
The sounds of an airplane starting are heard. Then we get some marching music. A voice that sounds very frustrated is heard over the chaos that's going on in the background. The voice goes on a rant about rebuilding the German Air-force. Tweaked military music is heard and segues into the next song.
Aerospaceage Inferno
Coming straight out of the previous piece, this hard rocker is very Hawkwind-like. It’s a killer tune.
Aircraft Salesman (A Door in the Foot)
Another bit of theater, this is a section of dialog with a salesman telling the Germans that they can modify the Starfighter to make it a multifunction plane for them.
Widow Maker
This hard rocking space tune is very much in keeping with the first few Hawkwind albums. It’s catchy and quite cool.
Two Test Pilots Discuss the Starfighter's Performance
Another bit of dialogue, this one with a pilot bragging about how well his Starfighter handles.
Right Stuff
This rocker is often performed by Hawkwind. As such, you can imagine that this sounds like that band – and it does. It’s also rather in keeping with the early era of the group.
Board Meeting (Seen Through a Contract Lense)
Here is a bit with negotiations between the salesmen and the German government for the planes.
Song of the Gremlin, Pt. 1
A little weird and creepy, this rocker is again quite a bit in keeping with Hawkwind musical sounds.
Ground Crew (Last Minute Reassembly Before Take Off)
Here’s another bit of dialogue, this one documenting some of the chaos involved in getting the planes ready to take off.
Hero with a Wing
Sort of a poetry reading meets song, this starts slow and mellow and builds very gradually. It never fires out into fast paced or hard rocking territory, but does get more intense.
Ground Control to Pilot
This check list read off should be familiar to hardcore Hawkwind fans – as it has shown up – and in variations – as the intro to “Ejection” when they’ve performed it.
Ejection
A hard rocker and possibly the strongest cut here, this is another that Hawkwind has done – and in fact it’s more of a Hawkclassic than “Right Stuff.”
Interview
Here’s another dialogue with someone interviewing to be a Starfighter pilot.
I Resign
Breaking with the tradition of the rest of the disc, we get two little interludes in a row here. This is essentially a chorus of all kinds of pilots resigning amidst the sound of planes crashing.
Song of the Gremlin, Pt. 2
This cut is an extension of the earlier one – but this is more jazz oriented and really makes me think of early King Crimson quite a bit. It’s another standout on the set.
Bier Garten
Here’s another little theatrical bit – with the sounds of a Bier Garten (or beer garden). A voice asks if anyone wants to buy a Starfighter and it is obviously taken as a joke.
Catch a Falling Starfighter
This is very much in keeping with old style Hawkwind music. It’s also a great, if understated track and an excellent way to end the set in style.
 
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