For progressive rock fans, there is an amazing tour going on this summer. Three of the most incredible seventies-era European bands have gotten together for a one of a kind US tour. The groups involved are Hawkwind, Nektar, and Brainticket – and these shows look to be every bit as wild as they were back in the heyday of prog.
In celebration of this event, Cleopatra Records have issued retrospective box sets for each of the artists participating. The label have always prided themselves on going the extra mile with these type of packages, and this series is no exception.
Of the three groups, Hawkwind are the most well-known. As indicated in the title, Space Chase 1980 – 1985 represents the early eighties incarnation of the band. The collection contains material from six albums, one EP, and a single. The list of guest stars is impressive, and reflects the amount of respect Hawkwind had amassed since thier 1969 debut. In addition to such names as Ginger Baker, Nik Turner, and Harvey Bainbridge is former Hawkwind member Lemmy Kilmister, who went on to form Motorhead. Lemmy always said that he was sacked from the band for “Doing the wrong drugs.”
Nektar were always considered part of the German Krautrock scene, even though they were English. A big reason for this was the fact that they lived in Hamburg, but their music played a big role as well. The Nektar Retrospektive 1969 – 1980 is a two-CD affair drawing from a total of eight LPs, and a couple early singles from the days when they were known as Rainbows.
Nektar were a textbook progressive rock band, whose metiere was the long-form track. They really began to hit their stride in 1972 with A Tab In The Ocean’s 15-minute title tune. In 1973 they upped the ante with one of prog’s classic maneuvers. Side one of Remember The Future was Part I of the title cut, side two was Part II. By 1974′s Down To Earth, they were writing a concept album about the circus, and appeared on the cover as clowns. Folks, you cannot make this stuff up.
Of the three groups, Brainticket are undoubtedly the most obscure. They didn’t even make Julian Cope’s 1995 book Krautrocksampler – the book that launched an awakened interest in the genre worldwide. Be that as it may, they were the real deal. Cleopatra have done an outstanding job with the Brainticket box set. There is no skimping on this four-CD set, which contains six full albums recorded between 1971 and 1980.
Brainticket were primarily a vehicle for the unlikely named multi-instrumentalist Joel Vandroogenbroeck. Their debut Cottonwoodhill is probably their proggiest effort, and comes with one of the greatest album covers of all time. There is a veritable plethora of fantastic music contained here, all the way up to and including Biomechanoid from 1980. Again, the artwork is superior. Vandroogenbroek managed to secure the use of a powerful image from the hand of H.R. Giger.
All three of these packages come with much more than simply the music of these bands. Cleopatra have included extensive booklets chronicling each groups history, along with mini-posters, and even old-fashioned buttons. My suggestion is to get each one of these sets, familiarize yourself with the artists involved, then hit one of these once in a lifetime shows.