Robert Calvert - "Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters" (United Artists 1974)
Most of you will remember Robert Calvert from his years with Hawkwind, but he also pursued a solo career when he left the band for the first time in 1973. His solo debut "Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters" features several members of Hawkwind, including Lemmy, Dave Brock and Nik Turner. But it's not just this that makes it a kind of a lost Hawkwind album. Musically it has also a lot in common with raw and basic Hawkwind, and the song "Ejection" was actually later adopted by the band for use in their concert repertoire. However, what makes it a bit different is the hilarious concept of the album and the simpler approach to the arrangements. The main character, Captain Lockheed, is obviously an air force pilot from WWII who is hopelessly stuck in the past. He prefers the old "starfighter" planes instead of anything new or modern. One of the funniest moments of the album is in "Song of the Gremlin, Part 2" where none other than Arthur Brown acts the character and screams out his hatred against the evolvement: "Death to the spaceman, his craft and its ugly landing legs!!". There are also several dialogues that more or less works like small sketches spread between the songs. Among the best songs we find "The Aerospaceage Inferno", "The Right Stuff", the melodic "Hero With a Wing" and the earlier mentioned "Ejection". The album may lack the musical sophistication that Hawkwind had developed around the same time ("Hall of the Mountain Grill" and "Warrior on the Edge of Time"), but it's sure worth checking out if you're into the band.
Robert Calvert - "Lucky Leif and the Longships" (United Artists 1975)
Calvert's second solo work was yet another concept album, this time about the Norwegian Vikings who discovered America. But musically it was a quite different thing from "Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters". Simon House was the only member of Hawkwind who contributed on the album, and with the exception of the spacey hard rock of the opener "Ship of Fools" there was almost nothing here that reminded of Calvert's past with the band anymore. Instead Calvert toyed with a wide range of different styles here. However, too many of the songs here lack any musical value to me, such as the awful country of "Moonshine in the Mountains", the Beach Boys parody "The Lay of the Surfers" and the utterly dreadful "Volstead O Vodeo Do". "Magical Potion" is based in a riff that you'll probably have heard at least a thousands times before. Of the better tracks here we have the tasteful ballad "Brave New World" and the anthemic folk of "Voyaging to Vinland" that brings us some Viking-atmosphere. "Storm Chant of the Skraelings" is a weird and repetitive tune, but with some interesting twists. The closer "Ragna Rock" is a decent hard rock song with a slight funky bend. Despite several good songs and an interesting concept, "Lucky Leif and the Longships" features too much nonsense and drivel to be an even and consistent album.