I was sat in a ‘summer house’ – cum studio – cum boys playroom – cum shed in suburban Paris in September 1991. It was hot, but I was used to that having worked in the unforgiving Greek sunlight on the island of Kythera. I had left those climes a week earlier and it was quite a culture shock to be sat here amongst friends I had previously met on that said island a few months ago.
Things were being rolled on an LP cover… Phillipe wiped the baccy off the sleeve, held it up and (in a very strong French accent) said, ‘Hey Neil, you like ‘awkwind?’
‘Yeah I love Hawkwind.’ I replied. There was a momentary pause… Then Phillipe said, ‘Ah oui.’
He put the album on (Choose Your Masques), sat back, lit the fat one, took a deep breath, and repeated… ‘Ah oui..’
The opening and title track (although spelt differently) is Choose Your Masks; the psychedelic throb pulsed through the room as the bifta passed hands and each recipient said, ‘Ah Oui’ in appreciation of both the music and Gods chosen pleasure.
My obsession / interest / need for / love of Hawkwind began in late 1982, and coincidentally with this actual album… Here’s an extract from a recent gig review I wrote explaining how…
Hawkwind are an institution and my relationship crawls back to 1982 when I hitched a lift from Denbigh to Rhuddlan and this guy in the car had the brand new Choose Your Masques blasting out; the track Arrival In Utopia to be precise, which culminated in the tripped freaked out ‘If you wanna get into it, you gotta get out of it.’ I was instantly into it and instantly out of it.
Paul Bod had started hanging out with us and he introduced earlier Hawkwind into our otherwise punk record collections and my sisters and myself embarked on a journey that was highlighted when my band [Sons of Selina] supported the mighty Hawks in 1999, it was a huge tick on the ‘Things To Do Before I Die List’.
It was quite a momentous step for a 15 year old blinkered punk rocker to take. From all that noisy stuff to the eclectic space rock that is Hawkwind. I was hooked and there was no turning back. I got to see the band in Coulston Hall, Bristol in 1989 – I was working in Devon at the time and a gang of us sat there, mouth agape as the band gave us a sensory spectacular show, with my highlight being Hassan-i-Sabah (hashish hashish!!) and lazers carved out two giant skulls in dry ice / smoke above us in the crowd.
I of course formed Sons of Selina because of Hawkwind and my want to hear a punkier Hawkwind… I guess we sort of got that during the Ron Tree era, but I prefer the ‘other’ eras, if I’m honest… all the other eras. Here’s to several more…