The HAWKS – ” Obviously Five Believers “

Posted: August 29, 2021 in MUSIC
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The Hawks were a shortlived UK band led by Stephen Duffy and Dave Kusworth and formed in 1979. Duffy had just quit Duran Duran (he was their original lead singer) and was approached about starting a new group by Kusworth (still a few years from forming Jacobites with Nikki Sudden), whose band TV Eye had just broken up. With TV Eye members David Twist and Paul Adams, as well as ex Duran Duran bassist Simon Colley rounding out the line-up, the band were formed and originally went by Obviously 5 Believers (named for a Dylan song), before changing their name to The Subterranean Hawks which was then shortened to just The Hawks.

The Hawks rehearsed constantly, creating a tough yet sensitive sound that was somewhere between Sniff ‘N’ The Tears and Felt. They played live when not rehearsing, gaining a small but rabid following, and released their debut single, “Words of Hope,” in 1980. They broke up not long after, unfortunately, leaving the rest of their material in the practice space. Those practices were recorded, however, and the dozens of tapes sat in a box in Duffy’s house unopened as he went on to lead groups TinTin and The Lilac Time and later a solo career. In 2019, Duffy and Kunsworth met for lunch, caught up, and Duffy promised to dig out The Hawks tapes and release them. Kusworth passed away in 2020 but Duffy has made good on his promise, and here we have the band’s debut album, 40 years after breaking up.

Duffy has said that The Hawks didn’t make demos — “we played live and I sang over the top, just to see what we sounded like” — and refers to these tapes as “field recordings,” but the 10 songs on Obviously 5 Believers show a band that seemed to have it all figured out. A bunch of them seem ready to go: “Bullfighter” is muscular power pop worthy of The Only Ones or The Soft Boys, “All the Sad Young Boys” predates The Smiths’ mopey glamour, and “Big Store” is swaggering and effete a la The Monochrome Set. Other songs are rougher around the edges, and many clearly sound like cassettes that have been stuffed in a drawer for 40 years but that doesn’t make the music any less compelling. The Hawks sound vital and alive on these recordings and it will leave you wanting more and wondering what might have been.

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