The 10 best Hawkwind songs, by Monster Magnet's Dave Wyndorf

Hawkwind
Hawkwind's one-time dancer, Stacia
(Image: © Redferns)

Monster Magnet frontman Dave Wyndorf knows a thing or two about Hawkwind. Without them, he says, “Monster Magnet would probably only have about five records out! They’re one of the most influential bands, them the Stooges and Sabbath!” So, naturally, when asked to compile a list of essential Hawkwind tunes, he jumped at the chance, the only problem being culling that list down to just 10…

BE YOURSELF (Hawkwind, 1970)

“This is on the first album, and it’s just got that Hawkwind thing before they really settled into their groove. It features the delay heavily, which freaked me out when I was a kid. I mean, I bought those Hawkwind records without knowing who they were; I bought them right from the bin, based on the name, the covers, and the song titles, back when you actually had to do your homework on that shit. Be Yourself is an awesome psychedelic Hawkwind song, as are most Hawkwind songs, but it’s primal, and it’s got Huw Lloyd-Langton with his guitar sound, which they never had again, because he left. It’s an awesome song, and speaks of things to come.”

MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE (In Search Of Space, 1971) 

“This is on my favourite Hawkwind record, In Search Of Space, the original version of Master Of The Universe. Not that I have anything against the Lemmy version, which is fucking awesome, and up tempo, but that original version gets me because it’s really spooky. The whole record’s just got a really weird sound to it, and the guy’s declaring himself master of the universe; what the fuck else do you want from a song? Master Of The Universe has got it all, and in the background you’ve got Nik Turner following the song with what sounds like a metallic goose, screeching! That goddamn saxophone!”

YOU SHOULDN’T DO THAT (In Search Of Space, 1971)

“Mainly because, again, it’s weird, and kind of restrained. And there’s a guy in the background going, ‘You get no air! You get no air!’ a million times. I was like, ‘What’s he saying?’ I remember hearing that on my stereo, in my room when I was a kid; I had this tiny little attic room, and I’d be up there listening to Hawkwind and this guy going, ‘You get no air!’ I’m like, ‘Is he saying, ‘You get nowhere’ or ‘You get no air’? On our first couple of Monster Magnet records I didn’t publish the lyrics, just because I thought it was cooler not to print them, and people would come up with what they think was on those records, and it’s always better! So, yeah, I didn’t know what he was saying. I also remember sending away to the Hawkwind fan club, in 1971 or ‘72, and they sent me – get this – a manilla envelope with a news letter, which told me all cool stuff about Hawkwind, and a little space man, like a toy space figure! That was so fucking cool! That was the only band I only signed up to a fan club with.”

WE TOOK THE WRONG STEP YEARS AGO (In Search Of Space, 1971) 

“That’s on the same record and it’s one of those big acoustic numbers that Brock would do so well. I just thought it was so cool, because it was pretty much telling me that we’re all fucked! It wasn’t like, ‘Yeah, we can clean everything up’, it was, ‘We took the wrong step years ago!’ It’s way too late so you might as well do more acid and get into the light show. Awesome!”

CHILDREN OF THE SUN (In Search Of Space, 1971) 

“That’s another acoustic one, and it sounded like a science fiction novel to me. I found out later that it was based on all these science fiction novels and all this kind of stuff, and it makes sense now, where all this stuff was coming from. It’s a great acoustic number, and it could have been a heavy number, easily, because all their chord changes are pretty much interchangeable. The great thing about Hawkwind is that they were all the same, and the same that I liked, but they took on these different tonalities depending on which instruments they used, or what tempo. This was like another variation of that structure, but now with a really serious ombré, an ominous thing, like, ‘All right, we’re getting in a space ship and taking off now!’ And Nik Turner comes in with a flute at the end, drenched in reverb, which was unusual for them, but the flute really makes it.”

THE WATCHER (Doremi Fasol Latido, 1972)

“Lemmy singing! ‘We are looking in on you now/There’s nothing you can do now!’ That’s really scary! And, again, it’s the traditional Hawkwind thing, but you never get tired of it. I think that was the first vocal Lemmy did for Hawkwind, and I remember, as a kid, going, ‘Wait a minute, that’s not the usual voice! Who’s that?’ Whenever Lemmy sings for Hawkwind everything gets a lot more human, like he’s the rogue of the bunch. It’s dirty, earthier, and he sounds more like a bloke. The other guys can’t not sing, but Lemmy can talk/sing, and that really killed me, too, when I was a kid.”

BORN TO GO (Space Ritual, 1973) 

“That’s a great song: ‘We were born to go as far as we can fly!’ That was the first music proper on the live album, Space Ritual, and it totally blew me away when I got that album, like, ‘Oh my God, it’s a new song!’ It was never on anything else, they just put it on the live album, and it’s really killer, really, really heavy! And it’s got that grind, that up tempo Hawkwind grind, where it really does sound like a fucking space ship taking off!”

THE PSYCHEDELIC WARLORDS (DISAPPEAR IN SMOKE) (Hall of the Mountain Grill, 1974)

“I just love it! It’s got one of my favourite Hawkwind grooves ever. They had these rocking chords, but it was very tribal, because sometimes they’d have two drummers, and Brock always had a really good handle on it. That one’s just amazing. I listen to it a lot!”

LOST JOHNNY (Hall of the Mountain Grill, 1974)

“That’s another Lemmy song, and that one’s great, it’s like an old acid rock song. That’s gotta be all his song; it sounds like an early ‘70s acid rock band, more than a Hawkwind song. It sounds like it could be a Motörhead song, and that version is just awesome. The words are great, too! ‘Can I get a Valium/Can I get it soon/Lost Johnny’s out there/Howling at the moon!’ Fucking wow! And because Hawkwind’s in my head as space stuff, when he talks about the Valium, all I can think about is he’s getting a Valium for some poor overworked pilot, like Captain Kirk’s up there having a nervous breakdown. I’m sure that’s not what it was though.”

HASSAN I SABBAH (Quark, Strangeness and Charm, 1977) 

“The last one? Oh man… I’m not gonna go for an obvious one, because it’s too obvious. I have to go for Hassan I Sabbah off Quark, Strangeness, And Charm, because it’s a really cool song that gets lost. I liked it because it was scary, and he screams the words ‘Black September! Black September!’, which is this really terrifying terrorist organisation from the ‘70s. It was just really weird and gave me the creeps, but it’s cool, and I remember seeing Hawkwind around that time, which was around the time of punk rock, so Hawkwind couldn’t get a job. They had to play these smaller places, and I saw them at this small place, and Calvert came on, he was a fucking madman, and he came on with short hair – which he’d never had before – camo pants, reflector shades, and a giant sabre! He’s swinging this sabre around and I was like, ‘Wow! That’s fucking great!’”

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