In several ways the album It Is The Business Of The Future To Be Dangerous (1993) meant a break with the past and a change of style for the future of Hawkwind. Back in the early nineties a new generation discovered the music of this British space rock band. In the slipstream of the acid house movement emerged a new one that combined electronic dance rhythms with the ambient and psychedelic music of the seventies. Hawkwind discovered that rave parties in those days had the same sense of freedom and tolerance as the free festivals in the seventies.
The band had been using synthesizers from the beginning, but mainly for creating psychedelic and spaced out sounds. In essence Hawkwind has always been a rock band. With this album the rock elements were almost abandoned. The drums were still used, but the role of the bass had been taken over by sequencers. The band also started to experiment with digital sampling like the Tibetan singing on Tibet Is Not China, the dogs barking on Let Barking Dogs Lie and even with reggae rhythms on The Camera That Could Lie.
At the time Hawkwind were a trio consisting of Dave Brock (vocals, guitar, keyboards, synthesizers), Alan Davey (bass guitar, backing vocals, wave sequencing, synthesizers) and Richard Chadwick (drums, percussion, vocals). This album was the second one recorded as a trio after Electric Teepee (1992). In the early days the band was like a pigeon house, with people flying off and on. In later days Hawkwind mostly consisted of five or six members. The more members, the more argues about the music, about the role in the band and about money. Brock, Davey and Chadwick felt that they shared the same ideas on the same wavelength. Having more people involved would break the bond. They would be the musical nucleus of the band for almost twenty years; in 2011 Davey got sacked by Brock. The vocals are not the strongest part, and for this the album is mainly instrumental.
Another prominent thing concerning this album is that it's remarkably political, that is, for Hawkwind standards. The title was taken from the 1973 live album Space Ritual. Space Is Not Their (Palestine) was actually used to raise money for Palestinian families. The song was later remixed and became better known as Assassins (Of Allah); the title Tibet Is Not China speaks for itself. Let Barking Dogs Lie and Letting In The Past are songs about travellers, vagabonds like themselves and the way they're treated in society. The Camera That Could Lie is about the ever increasing influence and danger of cameras in every day's life. And then there is an anti-war song, Gimmie Shelter, covered from The Rolling Stones.
The new reissue comes with a lot of bonus material. The single version of Gimmie Shelter features guest vocals from actress Sam (Samantha) Fox. Then there is a bonus disc that contains two EPs that were also issued in 1993. The Solstice Remixes EP contains four remixes of Spirit Of The Age, a Hawkwind-classic, remixed by Astralasia, originally a side project of several members of the Magic Mushroom Band. Eventually it became the solo project of MMB-drummer Swordfish. The second EP Decide Your Future containing the main song Right To Decide, which is more of a traditional Hawkwind-song. This is probably why it wasn't on the album.
When a band head for new directions obviously not all fans are happy with it, but it's impossible to please everybody. However, changes attract also new people to the band. Thus it's important to keep developing, to explore new directions and every now and then to re-invent yourselves. Therefore in my opinion It Is The Business Of The Future To Be Dangerous is one of the better Hawkwind-albums.
**** Erik Gibbels (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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