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LPs from the Attic: Hawkwind — Hall of the Mountain Grill

November 2, 2009

Hawkwind – Hall of the Mountain Grill (EMI, 1974)

Do you find irresistible that intoxicating duo of sideburns n’ mustache known as “mutton chops”? Do you also pine for druggy, guitar-overdriven, prog-rock songs about muscle-bound, sword-bearing warriors in space? If so, then you’ll love 1974’s Hall of the Mountain Grill by England’s own pre-Motörhead-Lemmy-sportin’ Hawkwind, who described the band as being “like Star Trek with long hair.” You owe it to that D&D-playing, fantasy-novel-reading, not-any-getting younger self to hear songs like “Web Weaver” while coding alone in your darkened office or “The Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear in Smoke)” while dodging the spouse and playing WoW. But, seriously folks, songs like “You’d Better Believe It”, with its experimental synths and repetitively driving guitar lines, connect stylistic evolution dots (think: Pink Floyd in its early years, The Velvet Underground in its prime, and that mid period between the end of Spacemen 3 and the beginning of Spiritualized) in ways that are exciting and satisfying to discover.

The LP front-cover artwork, created by Barney Bubbles, adds to the sci-fi tension with its darkly fantastic image of a spaceship crashing into (or, is that emerging from?) alien waters. Very much a product of its psych/prog-rock times and befitting the record’s interstellar preoccupations. It would be nearly a shame to have a mere 5″ x 5″ CD insert.

Lastly, a bit of Lemmy trivia for that arse. Lemmy:

  • Served as a roadie for the Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • Wrote Ozzy Osbourne’s hit single “Mama I’m Coming Home”
  • Is God
  1. November 2, 2009 2:44 pm

    Not one of the ones with Michael Moorcock on it, but priceless nonetheless. Referred to with loving guilt by comedian and memoirist Mark Barrowcliffe in his account of his adolescent journey to the dork side, The Elfish Gene.

  2. November 12, 2009 12:51 am

    Does everyone know that the Mountain Grill was our local caff on Portobello? Just south of the railway bridge, the bacon sandwich was a good boost for a go-to press night, all the gang jollying around at Friends a rainy Saturday, with nick and beautiful wraith in shawl and beads. I met Lucinda Cowel there, she was that Jewel of the East, Norwalk, a real fast thinker in a field with a rampaging bull. The Mountain Grill had the warm cook-smell of fat, sugar, starch and gluten, a plate of Barney goes all, “Spud and sausage, bake-beans and a biscuit, thanks Mrs. D.” and the damp clothes smell and tobacco above it all.

  3. Jay St. Orts permalink
    November 16, 2009 6:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing that, David; I enjoyed “leafing” through your blog, too. You have worked with and know many interesting creative people!

    I wondered if the Mountain Grill was a real place, given the back-cover photo–and figured/hoped it was. For some reason, the context of our music-related conversation and the scene you described–with its rich cooking and other aromas–made me think of the non-performance scenes in Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii where one sees the band sitting down to eat together amidst the din of orders being taken and plates being delivered and so on.

  4. November 16, 2009 11:50 pm

    Since I am unable to correct mistakes in my comment on your site, I do so here: I spelled Nik’s name wrong plus sundry other typos, including an enigmatic reference to “a plate of Barney” which is an interesting thought, but not what I intended, what exactly I did intend I am not sure… Funny about the title, Hall of the Mountain Grill, Barney told me about the title at the time and said how cool it was, but I didn’t get the joke, since we always called the place the Bridge Caff. It was only recently while reading about Portobello Road that I read and was reminded of its proper name and then seeing the title, some 45 years later, at last got the ha-ha.


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