Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Robert Calvert — The Last Star Fighter
(Purple Pyramid CLO 1803, 2021, CD / LP / DL)
by Jon Davis, Published 2023-02-17
Most any fan of space rock will be familiar with the name Robert Calvert. His intermittent tenure with Hawkwind produced some of that band’s classic material, and the two solo albums he produced in the 70s — Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters (1974) and Lucky Lief and the Longships (1975) — are well-known, if not much listened to. Much more obscure are the albums he recorded in the 80s before his 1988 death. Hype (1981), Freq (1984), Test-Tube Conceived (1985), and The Cellar Tapes (demo recordings first released in 1986) came out to little fanfare in their time and have only intermittently been available since. This collection features 19 tracks from those four albums remixed by a wide range of artists, starting with Mike Score of A Flock of Seagulls, Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu, Rat Scabies of The Damned, and a host of others, with some songs being tackled more than once. Since I’m mostly unfamiliar with the original versions, I can’t comment on the changes, but in general, these tracks come off as quirky New Wave with a science-fictional attitude. Some lean more towards the electronic side and some more towards rock, and as a package they provide variety enough to be an enjoyable listen. If you’re a fan of both Hawkwind and some of the electronic music of the late 70s and early 80s, you’ll probably enjoy The Last Star Fighter. Think of Ultravox, Depeche Mode, and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark before they got really big and got more pop-oriented, and cross that with Quark Strangeness and Charm. Something like that. In any case, it’s great to shine a light into an overlooked corner of Robert Calvert’s distinctive work.
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