Mike Batt and Clapton-assisted makeover of selected hits is curiously appealing.
There are few certainties in this world, but you’d imagine one of them is that Mariachi trumpets and Hawkwind songs don’t mix. Mike Batt would beg to differ. On this new collab with Dave Brock, Batt – the producer, songwriter and arranger of The Wombles, Katie Melua and Steeleye Span fame – has applied a new dressing to a clutch of vintage Hawkwind tunes. And in its own slightly WTF way, it works. Lemmy’s 1972 track The Watcher has long since been beefed up from a stoned, brooding meditation to a bass-driven juggernaut on stage, and it’s this version that forms the platform for Batt’s muscular treatment. Some typically lithe, blues-soaked guitar licks from guest star Eric Clapton certainly help, while harmonica stabs and honky-tonk piano add to the sense of hurtling into rising chaos. The protopunk boogie of 1977’s Quark, Strangeness And Charm is redrawn with brass in the chorus, and alongside a comfortingly Hawkwind-esque sonic swirl in the background, they add extra punch to an oddball anthem. It doesn’t always work – PSI Power with ritzy horns? – but touches like the timpani and Floydian sax on The Age Of The Micro Man lend it an extra sense of weary unease. JS