I don’t recollect when or how I started reading Michael Moorcock, but it was probably through one of his collections of short stories which in turn led me to Elric of Melniboné, Jerry Cornelius etc. I was always in awe of his storytelling talent, and that he could somehow bring characters so vividly to life, no matter what genre he was working in. Of course, over the years he has also become well-known for his work with bands such as Hawkwind, and here we find him combining both aspects in a musical take on his famous trilogy ‘Dancers at the end of Time’, of which this is the second (I have not heard the first, although I have read the books).
Keyboard player Don Falcone has been the man behind the ever-changing space rock project that is Spirits Burning since its inception more than 20 years ago. He and Michael, along with Albert Bouchard (ex-Blue Öyster Cult) are the core for this release, and they have brought in numerous guests including BÖC members Eric Bloom, Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser and Joe Bouchard, Hawkwind associates Harvey Bainbridge, Steve Bemand, Bridget Wishart, Adrian Shaw and Dead Fred, as well as Nektar’s Ron Howden, The Strawbs’ Chas Cronk, and others.
So, there are great musicians involved, along with one of the world’s finest authors, combining to provide an audio representation of one of that author’s most well-known works, so I was looking forward to this. Which meant that I was soon bitterly disappointed. The vocals are poor, often too wordy as they try and reflect a complex story, the melodies are clumsy at best, and when it does all come together such as on “A Haze of Crimson Light” all it does is shine a light on just how poor some of the other material really is.
If it weren’t for the calibre and history of those involved then I am sure this would have been a self-release, but it has been picked up by a label as many of those involved have sold millions of albums (and in one case, books) over the years. The chances are that if I had seen this for sale in a shop and read what it was about then I would have purchased it, given my love of Moorcock, and I would have been intrigued to hear how they had managed to capture elements in a musical fashion. However, having played it once I would have done what I am doing now, which is putting it to one side and never playing it ever again.
4/10 Kev Rowland