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Silver Machine - Easy Or Hard?

"Ooh, did you know there's a James Last version of 'Silver Machine'??" Yes, I did, thank you. But he wasn't the only guy to knock out an easy listening/cheapo cover of Hawkwind's most famous song... And there's been plenty of other, err, harder versions too...

James Last - from Non Stop Dancing 1973

A good version with plentiful electronic whooshing and a ridiculously fast guitar solo. And here's the full medley of hot rocking hits it kicks off, which also includes 'Children Of The Revolution' - great segue! - and 'School's Out'.

Hugo Strasser - from Tanzhits 3 (1973)

Another German band leader takes it on. This version's a little underpowered and lacks any electronics, but there's some nice horn work throughout.

From Hot Hits XIII (1972)

Starts promisingly, but then settles into a groove that can only be described as turgid. Half-hearted vocals and what sounds like a kettle whistling in the background. Guitar solo is relatively faithful, however. Longer than the original!

Excalibur - from Sceptre (1973)

Taken from a private press LP recorded by what sounds like a very youthful band who've spent all their budget in a few hours in the studio. Quite basic, and not altogether in tune/time, but the vocals are nice.

The Sooty Show (mid-1970s?)

Sooty and Soo are trying to perform a classical recital, but Sweep keeps interrupting. "What's that, Sooty? Sweep's playing the riff to Silver Machine?? Oh, so he is..." Personally, I wouldn't get on the wrong side of Harry Corbett.

Vardis - from The World's Insane (1981)

And released as a single too, the band presumably inspired to cover it after supporting Hawkwind on the Levitation tour. Transformed here into NWOBHM boogie, it's competent if strangely unexciting.

Robert Calvert - 'Silver Machine Blues' (1988)

A version from the man himself, done in the style of the Chicago blues clubs of the 1940s (err, kind of), and recorded at a gig in Cardiff, January 1988. Not great quality, but good fun. "Best gig of all time!"

Thin White Rope - from The One That Got Away (1993)

Included here mainly because TWR were an amazing band that everyone should know, though admittedly this isn't their finest four minutes. Guy Kyser forgets the words, but listen to that guitar sound!

Reeves and Mortimer - Smash Hits Poll Winners Party 1995

At the height of Britpop, what should funny men of the moment Vic & Bob bounce out to, but a souped-up version of 'SM' with a Space 1999 style dance routine! Cue shots of a bemused crowd. Actually a lot of fun.

Sex Pistols - Crystal Palace, 28 July 2002

John Lydon and gang kick off the first show of their second comeback tour with a suitably snappy version of 'SM', and have been playing it ever since. Lydon was a teenage Hawkwind nut, but the pre-Rotten Pistols allegedly used to do it too.

Psychic TV - 'Silver Sundown Machine' (2012)

This is actually a terrific version, and as the title suggests, appended with 'Hurry On Sundown'. And it's over 18 minutes long! Genesis P-Orridge was a big Hawkwind fan and guested on stage with Nik Turner.

Toyah Wilcox & Robert Fripp (2021)

Oh dear god. If you can wrench your eyes away from Toyah (who collaborated with Keith Hale if you need a Hawkwind connection), just look at the expression on Fripp's face - "Silver Machine!"

N.B. I'm not going to link to William Shatner's version of 'Silver Machine', because it is utterly dreadful - however, his version of 'Sonic Attack' is actually rather good.


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