the works of Robert Calvert

- part II: 1974 > '75 -

Anyone who knows my work would realize
that however bad they might think it is, it's all intentional. -- R.C.

This list of Calvert's works is broken up into six parts.
This part [ II ] includes the works from '74 to '75.

jump straight to part I / III / IV / V / VI

....roll down to explore part II....

solo Lp

"I've grown up with the Starfighter jets, which have accounted for the lives of many young pilots. It has become so much a part of me that I've had to write about it in order to get it out of my system."
Captain Lockheed... was Calvert's first solo-album - and remains his most well-known up to date. It already showcases his combined talents as a writer, musician and 'comedian'. In a captivating way he formed a brilliant cross between a Rock concept album and a Monty Python`esque radio play. Subject: the Lockheed affair in Germany. Franz Joseph Strauß, then mad-defense-minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, was dying to put back some of the glamour and glory into what had remained from the former fabulous German airforce, the "Luftwaffe". At Lockheed's he ordered hundreds of the notorious STARFIGHTERS - which were so neatly re-designed, that they constantly crashed into the German soil - and thus taking with them the lifes of more than a hundred young, dashing pilots. The planes soon became famous under their nicknames like 'Flying Coffins' and "Widowmakers". In combination with some anecdotes and sketches about the tragic/romantic ceremonies around the test pilot's 'brotherhood' this formed the perfect matrix for a black-comedy concept-rock-album.

Japanese cover of the EJECTION singleThe songs are mostly pretty straight-forward, high energized rockers - pretty much in the fashion of the songs Calvert previously (co)-wrote for Hawkwind - with a few remarkable ekseptions, like the wonderful, highly poetic ballad HERO WITH A WING, (possibly) Calvert's very own version of the Icarus myth. Other stand-out non-rockers are the wonderful funeral-march Catch a falling Starfighter and The Song of the Gremlin - the latter a great collaboration with Arthur Brown and synth-pioneer Adrian Wagner.
For the sketches that appear between the songs Calvert could win the famous and highly eccentric musician/comedian Vivian Stanshall (Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band) and Jim Capaldi. The list of musicians to be heard contains almost the entire Hawkwind line-up plus Arthur Brown, Paul Rudolph & Twink, Adrian Wagner and Brian Eno.
Many of the Lockheed-songs like The Right Stuff and Ejection remain on the set-list(s) of Hawkwind until today - and are greeted as, well, true Hawkwind-classics. So, if the band comes through your area, you still have the chance to hear these gems in their full-blown powerful glory.
But not only HAWKWIND are still playing these Calvert songs. The ever so popular "Stoner-Rockers" MONSTER MAGNET are covering The Right Stuff on their 2004 record 'Monolithic Baby'; Calvert songs frequently appear in their live sets and just recently they joined Hawkwind at a Swedish open-air concert for some (Calvert)-songs. - And the same goes for band like Farflung a.o.

> Read various statements of Calvert on his Starfighter obsession, his childhood dreams of becoming a fighter pilot, the Lockheed album and the plans for turning it into a full scale stage-show on the QUOTES pages.
> Read an extensive interview with Calvert from 1973, while he was preparing the Lockheed project - i.e. the album and a stageplay-version of it
Sketch: Franz Joseph Strauß, Defense Minister, reviews the Luftwaffe in 1958. Finding it somewhat lacking in image potential. / The Aerospageage Inferno / Sketch: Aircraft salesman (a door in the foot) / The Widow Maker / Sketch: Two Test Pilots Discussing the Starfighter's Performance (sound-file) / The Right Stuff - (illustrated - plus sound) / Sketch: Board Meeting (seen through a contract lense) / The song of the Gremlin (part one) / Sketch: Ground Crew / Hero with a wing / Sketch: Ground Control to Pilot / Ejection / Sketch: Interview / The Widow Song (animation w. sound) / I Resign / The Song of the Gremlin (part two) / Sketch: In the Biergarten / Catch a falling Starfighter - (animation - plus sound) / (read the Foreword for a summary)

1974 - DISTANCES BETWEEN US - Lp by/w. Adrian Wagner

Calvert contributed one song and a poem to original release of this record. The song is the first and rather different version of the later Hawkwind-classic Steppenwolf - based on Hermann Hesse's book by the same name. A minimalistic but interesting and tense version.
The poem is entitled Messengers of Morpheus - a lyric and sound collage in the manner of the poetry performcances Calvert did during the Space Ritual period with Hawkwind. Adrian Wagner re-released it on CD format in 1990 via his own studio / label - mostly for the sake of Calvert's memory and to support his family.
[ > HERE you can read what Wagner wrote about this album in the liner-notes for the re-release - attached you'll also find a bio-sketch of him. ]
The new editon contains the so far unreleased Stranger in a Strange Land, another track incorporating Calvert's lyrics and vocals. The bigger part of this album is psychedelic, experimental, synthesizer based music with some classic-influences - but you'll also find a great funk/soul-ish number like "Amazon Woman" on it - in short: it's absolutely worth having. Take a look at the ASTOUNDING SOUNDS; AMAZING MUSIC album for more infos on STEPPENWOLF.
> NEW: Adrian Wagner's liner notes on his collaboration w. Calvert for the re-release of Distances Between Us - incl. a resume of his past and present undertakings.
Distances Between Us / Lying-Waiting-Dreaming-Thinking... / Born from the Womb into a Sea of Life... / Messengers of Morpheus / Stranger in a Strange Land / Amazon Woman / Solstice / Mourning Glory / Steppenwolf - (illustrated - plus sound) / Music of the Spheres

1974 / 79 - CRICKET STAR - single / with Adrian Wagner

In the same year Wagner and Calvert collaborated once more on two quiet odd numbers: CRICKET STAR and HOWZAT?. The former is the first and only reggae song Calvert ever made. Not being a Reggae-fan at all ("I think if you heard one you've heard quite a few of them...") it isn't surprising that CRICKET STAR sounds more like a Reggae-satire, than a serious attempt in that "genre".
However, Calvert managed to convince UA about this project after the success of "Captain Lockheed" and the recordings took place in July '74 with the help of the former T. Rex percussionist Steve Took at Trident Studios. The release was meant to coincide with the West Indies Cricket Tour of England. However, the tour was cancelled and apparently the record company didn't like this odd piece of music anyway - or rather it's genre. Back then the executive told Calvert, that Reggae was a kind of "ethnic minority cult" - certainly no music to be sold in large quantities...
CRICKET STAR was eventually released in '79 after Adrian Wagner approached Robert about a new recording of the song - which turned more into a "joke version". This was released as a flexi-pic-single on Wagner's own label.
HOWZAT was never officially released - it's a somewhat strange mainstreamish-pop-song with "ba-ba-ba-huh" backing vocals, not an entirely "serious" song as well, I suppose...
> NEWS, July 04: to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the CRICKET STAR release in 1979, Adrian Wagner has re-released the song on a special single-cd - to be ordered exclusively via
e-bay. More infos on this and some personal memories on the recording and fate of CS can be found here - or READ Wagner's recollections right HERE.
> LISTEN to an excerpt of CRICKET STAR
> LISTEN to Calvert's memories on the recording of CRICKET STAR - and why it wasn't released.
> Read Calvert's comments on CRICKET STAR on the QUOTES pages.

> Read a short interview snippet w. Steve Took on his involvement w. Calvert / Cricket Star

1974 - DOWN TO EARTH - Lp / CD by Nektar

An Lp by the then pretty successful band Nektar - loosely based on the idea/concept of a travelling circus show. Calvert was invited to appear on a couple of tracks in the role of the "Ringmaster". He isn't doing any vocals (unfortunately) but delievers his announcements in a wild mix of German and English. I suppose the band invited him after hearing his 1st solo-album Captain Lockheed... - as his performance style is pretty similar to the more frenzy parts of the songs and sketches featured on this album.
Lots of guest musicians appear on DOWN TO EARTH - the (un)usual courtesy-credit on Calvert reads: "Robert Calvert appears by courtesy of inter-city-rail."

Musically it's miles away from anything that Calvert did himself - and absolutely not my cup of tea - sounds like very outdated (then-)progressive type of music with some jazzy influences - just got to have a liking for Nektar, I suppose.


Another concept album. It's subject: the history of the USA and that of the Vikings, who discovered America a long time before Columbus. Produced by Brian Eno the record combines - in sharp contrast to Calvert's 1st solo-album - radically different styles:rock music and word experiments, electronic collages, a Country-persiflage and the best Beach Boys parody you'll ever going to hear. All humour and satire has gone into the songs this time - just listen to "Moonshine in the Mountains" or "The Lay of the Surfers", in which, through a little twist of pronounciation the Beach Boy's "Barbara Anne" turns into a horde of surfing and looting "Bar-Bar-ians".
But....apparently all this was too strange, innovative and experimental for many critics; the record got bad reviews and consequently flopped commercially.
A highly underrated record, still. Musicians on this record: Paul Rudolph / Simon House / Mike Nichols / Mike Moorcock / Nik Turner a.o.

> Read various of Calvert's statements on LUCKY LEIF on the QUOTES pages
- and Paul Rudolph's memories on the recording sessions.
> Read an extensive interview/article on Calvert from the time of the Lucky Leif release.
Ship of Fools / The Lay of the Surfers / Voyaging to Vinland / The Making of Midgard / Brave New World / Magical Potion / Moonshine in the Mountains / Storm Chant of the Skraelings / Volstead of Vodeo Do / Phase Locked Loop / Ragna Rock

...this list is as complete as it can be from the informations I've gathered so far.
If you know of any other works that don't appear on the following page/s,
please get in touch.

works pt. I / III / IV / V / VI
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