Fittingly, science fiction provides the best analogy for the experience of reading Days of the Underground, Joe Banks’ rollicking and magisterial history of the mighty Hawkwind…. the classic scene of the crashed, half buried space-ship, lights humming to life, and, as jarring seismic shocks begin to emanate, the firmament splits, cracks, boils and steams — then, after a shudder, an epic enormity slowly begins to rise, its true span and heft finally revealed, and as hunks of earth tumble down its surface, it finally rips free of its tethers and blazes off into the starry void of space. Legitimately legit like that! It’s a total joy — from tip to tail. If you think you adore Hawkwind now, wait ’til you read this book.
Also, the book provides a scrupulous accounting of their sprawling and unwieldy discography. As I read along, it was clear that these songs weren’t out-takes or otherwise surplus to requirements and over time the descriptions began to form a complete shadow discography…. Weirdly, they cumulatively reminded me of the outlines in 3D comics – the main studio albums being the blue outline and this run of songs, the pink. And together they vibrate and pop. Dunno – Something like that. But utterly compelling. So as soon as I finished the book I put together a comp of the alternate tracks scattered amongst the major releases. Together they make for an absolutely killer listen. Download the comp here.