Birmingham at the end of the seventies and beginning of the eighties for me was a joyous time for music. I was heading out of my teenage years and life was full of promise. I`m sure we all felt that there was a `scene` in our hometown when at that age and for me it was no different. There were a number of bands that I was infatuated with such as The Wide Boys, The Denizens, Spizzenergi, Fast Relief, African Star, The Pinkies, Fashion, Eclipse, Dangerous Girls, and a few that gained national recognition The Au Pairs, Duran Duran, The Beat, UB40, Steel Pulse and Dexy`s Midnight Runners. So, when I heard about The Hawks album apart from being intrigued, I have to admit I’d never heard of them as a band. I`d seen Stephen Duffy in an early version of Duran Duran and knew of Dave Twist and Dave Kusworth through bands like The Prefects, The Rag Dolls, The Bounty Hunters, The Jacobites and now The Black Bombers but I have to say The Hawks pretty much passed me by. The band comprising Dave Twist (drums), Dave Kusworth (guitar), Paul Adams (guitar), Stephen Duffy (vocals) and Simon Colley (bass) began as Obviously Five Believers, who in turn became The Subterranean Hawks, before settling on The Hawks. They recorded one single ‘Words Of Hope / A Sense of Ending’ and shone brightly from ’79 until Christmas ’81.
In 2019, when Stephen Duffy and Dave Kusworth last met. Kusworth asked Duffy as custodian of The Hawks ‘cassette archive,’ to release an album. Sadly, Dave Kusworth tragically passed away suddenly in September last year. Duffy has remained as good as his word in bringing these ten songs to release, in honour of his friend.
The album opens with `All The Sad Young Men` and obviously it has that certain of its time feel, which I have to say really appealed to me. There`s a slight psychedelic texture with a steady drumbeat, occasional synth keys, a throbbing bass line, a brief guitar solo and what was to become some distinct vocals. A number with questioning lyrics and a hint of melancholy in the vocal delivery. An acoustic guitar and vocals lead us into `Aztec Moon` a delightfully dreamy almost cinematic offering with a guitar solo mid-way through. It had to me a slightly retro feel and could have been inspired by bands from the mid-sixties.
`Big Store` had a fairly fast pace with some intricate guitar chords that almost seemed slightly off kilter to the rest of the song but gave it a really captivating sense. The lyrics were quite simplistic but seemed to fit in. Towards the end the guitar riff really took off and almost ended up in a tussle with the drums. There was a quite busy / hazy start to `What Can I Give?` which seemed to take shape as it progressed. A number that seemed quite whimsical almost abstract at times relating to the quest to live up to the aspirations of a romantic object of desire.
`A Sense Of Ending` has a charming rawness to it with churning and jangling guitar chords with vocals shared almost remotely atop. There was a real enchantment about `Bullfighter` a slice of indie heaven way ahead of its time.
`Jazz Club` is a strange piece but does have a jazzy sort of feel but is not easy to describe. There`s a more indie feel to `Serenade` which enjoys intermittent harmonies throughout its life and has a decent guitar solo which seems to compete with piano keys.
`Something Soon` has a prominent harmonica leading us along, which at times forces the vocals to try and overcompensate to be heard. We close out with `What It Is` a brief rocky number that seemed to have its roots in the beat bands of the sixties.
`Obviously Five Believers` understandably sounds a little like outtakes or demos from a session but that does not negate the fact that this album alludes so much charm. I loved `All The Sad Young Men`, `Big Store` and `Bullfighter` but i`m sure you`ll have your own favourites.
Life has a strange way of panning out and this album, i`m sure creates more “if only`s” or “what if`s” for the guys involved. It had a sense of nostalgia for more innocent youthful times, and I am grateful that Stephen Duffy honoured the request and has allowed this album to become a sort of tribute to the sadly missed Dave Kusworth.