As a confirmed lover of all that is space rock I am a sucker for the science fiction story in song.
The USA has very seldom managed to convincingly get the sound right though, Europe seemed to have the whole thing sewn up, even when Blue Oyster Cult worked with Michael Moorcock it sounded less than convincing.
There is however one notable exception, Jefferson Starship’s Blows Against the Empire. It is an anarchic strange record that no other band at no other time could have produced. It is not really Jefferson Starship, or what they would become, but Paul Kantner with the Planet Earth Rock’n’Roll Orchestra. The Orchestra consisted of most of the musicians from the Grateful Dead, the Airplane, C.S.N.Y and whatever passers by could play along. They collectively managed to record this, the first David Crosby solo album, Sunfighter, Baron Von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun and Nash’s Songs for Beginners in a very short time.
It was an incredibly creative period for this collective that produced some of the most memorable, strange music that scene would see.
Now it’s not space rock in the Hawkwind sense, it is however out there as far as you or for that matter anyone can go. Basically the hippies are going to steal the interstellar starship and head off to Nirvana, discover Atlantis and ball in the park. The music veers between folksy banjo fun and heavy crazed jams. None of it makes sense and yet it all makes complete sense.
I have loved this album since the weekend I sat trying to figure out what it was all about with my friend Dave. The various squalls from Kaukpnen and thunderous bass from Jack Casady along with pedal steel and strange harmonies was very confusing. Dave finally summed it all up with “it’s just a trip man…” being the last word in wisdom.
Have You Seen The Stars Tonight continues to be one of my favorite pieces of music and the opening track Mau Mau (Amerikon) is one of the most anarchic sounding things ever. No it is not Hawkwind or Amon Duul but it is out there and worth the trip “if you can feel it man” as Dave would say back then.