THE FIRST ELEVEN
Steve Took guitar/percussion,
Adrian Wagner synth/keyboards, (left)
Paul Rudolph guitar/bass, (right)
Russell Hunter drums, (right)
Simon King drums, (left)
Jill Riches & Pauline Roberts backing vocals, with
Nik Turner (left)
and friends helping out under the bandnamethe First Eleven
'Crikit Lovely Reggea' was described by Calvert as "Authentically reggae" while 'Howzat' is a Space Rock track more than suited to Hawkwind.
Of the sessions, Took said:
"We've just recorded a single calling ourselves the First Eleven, and it's a wonderful cricket song which is playing to such programmes as "Top of the Pops" and "Crackerjack". It features such denizens of the underground as Paul Rudolph and Bob Calvert and assorted nutters, I believe Russell Hunter. Dressed up in cricket gear, which I think is a deeply commercial idea. Someone suggested to me last year that I should go on the pubs doing a cricket song, playing a cricket bat with a couple of machine heads and strings on it. Dressed up in my cap and my white outfit on, I thought that was moody and then it strikes me as being highly disgustingly moody. That's quite nice actually, 'cos the BBC would sort of go 'Oh yes, Great Britain and cricket, keep the public's morale up.' Instead of the Wombles, these sort of nutters, yes, a definite plan that should work, I'm going to take it upon myself."
CRIKIT LOVELY REGGEA / HOWZAT
This was recorded in 1974, and on the 22nd July, 1974 at Trident Studios a single acetate was produced with "Crikit Lovely Reggea" on side 'A' and "Howzat" on side 'B'. This came up for sale in February 2005 and as it was the sole acetate of this single this is a historically very important piece!
Unfortunately the single was cancelled by Calvert's record company because they did not feel reggae was commercial. In 1979 Took re-recorded 'Crikit Lovely Reggea' with Robert Calvert, Adrian Wagner, Pete Pavli and Simon House. This new version was released on flexi-disc as 'Cricket Star'. However, this was a newly recorded version of the song with some lyrical changes.
Although this partially re-recorded and remixed version of "Crikit Lovely Reggea" was released as "Cricket Star" in 1979 "Howzat" was not released, although it is the more interesting track. Not only to Took fans because it is a Took-penned song, but also to Calvert, Hawkwind and Space Rock fans because of Adrian T'Vell's review of 'Howzat' concluded: "The flip side would have made a good follow up single to 'Ejection' as it is in a similar vein and has a catchy hook of "Howzat Howzat" that definitely gets the foot tapping - it might even have been a hit.". (Read the entire article here)
Although EMI added "digitally remastered versions" of both songs to the Lucky Leif and the Longships Remastered* album released in 2007, they 'corrected the spelling', who decided they knew better than Robert Calvert on how the song was spelt! So 'Crikit Lovely Reggea' became 'Cricket Lovely Reggae'.
* Its worth noting that they would probably have been better added to Captain Lockheed And The Starfighters album as 'Bonus Tracks'.
Very irritatingly, EMI have wrongly credited Bob Calvert with the song-writing credits for 'Howzat' when it was most certainly written by Took. They could have done this through ignorance, or so that they didn't have to ask Took's Family's permission to release it! Which One? You decide!
LISTEN TO BOTH SIDES OF THE ORIGINAL ACETATE NOW
* Both of the original Acetate Versions of these two songs have now been added to the Radio & Video Player Page, so you can compare with with the digitally remastered 2007 versions. The 2007 versions appear to be slightly longer than those on the acetate created on the 22nd July, 1974. However if you listen you'll notice that the 'digitally remastered versions' are actually playing slightly shower which is why they are longer!!
The information about two unreleased Robert Calvert tracks from 1974 first appeared in the A - Z book on Hawkwind called '25 Years', published in 1993.
With the excellent fighter pilot concept album 'Captain Lockheed & the Starfighters'' completed in January 1974, an album which also features Steve Took as part of the 'Ladbroke Grove Hermaphroditic Voice Ensemble', Robert began to try and convince United Artists to fund the recording of a 'Reggae' single which would have a cricket theme - the idea being to release it to co-inside with the up and coming tour by the West Indies team.
Encouraged by the sales of the album they eventually gave him a budget; in July Robert and friends entered London's Olympic Studios with Producer Roy Thomas Baker. The line up for the sessions was Robert Calvert - vocals/percussion, Adrian Wagner - synth/keyboards, Steve Took - guitar/percussion, Paul Rudolph - guitar/bass, Russell Hunter - drums, Simon King - drums, Jill Riches and Pauline Roberts - backing vocals, with Nik Turner and friends helping out. The sessions were soon over and two songs, 'Crikit Lovely Reggea' and 'Howzat', were taken on master tape to Trident Studios, remixed and finally on the 22nd were cut onto a single acetate.
All was not well, it seems that United Artists Director Martin Davis hated it and the West Indies cancelled their tour, the whole project had been 'Stumped'. In fact if it wasn't for Steve Took, who in an interview with the magazine Penetration said, "We've just recorded a single calling ourselves 'The First Eleven', and it's wonderful cricket song, it features such denizens of the underground as Paul Rudolph, Bob Calvert and assorted nutters and I believe Russell Hunter", it is doubtful that anyone would have known about it at all.
Five years later a new version of 'Crikit' was recorded and released on the Wake Up label. As Robert recalled for an interview in 1987, "... and then a friend of mine Adrian Wagner suggested that I resurrect the song, and it's meant to be a joke, it is a joke song, it isn't the original tape as that got mislaid, the original I remember was very authentically reggae. This is different, there were several thousand pressed as flexi discs, that's all I can remember". The song, now titled 'Cricket Star', was slightly re-written and musically has a more electronic feel. As with the original Calvert, Wagner and Took were involved as were Pete Pavli and Simon House.
In 1990 the original Trident acetate, now in poor condition, surfaced. Side one is as Calvert stated "Authentically reggae" and it's no wonder Martin Davis was horrified that a 'Space rocker' would take such care to re-create the style, yet the flip side would have made a good follow up single to 'Ejection' as it is in a similar vein and has a catchy hook of "Howzat Howzat" that definitely gets the foot tapping - it might even have been a hit.
© 1996 Adrian T'Vell for Mangled Mind Archive*
*I reproduce this piece with full acknowledgement to the author Adrian T'Vell. i have not yet been able to contact him to confirm permission to reproduce the article. If you are Adrian or know him please ask him to contact me using the 'Email Fee' button in the left frame.