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Hawkwind - Topic

California Brainstorm Play

Although this disc says that it was released by agreement with Dave Brock, it really feels a lot like a bootleg recording. The sound quality here is very good, if it is a boot, but as an actual official release it seems a bit flat. The material chosen leans heavily on the instrumental side of the band, with only a few of the songs having vocals. All those things considered, this really is a very good live album and captures some wonderful performances. ~ Gary Hill, Rovi

Blood of the Earth Play

As always with anything remotely resembling a "new" Hawkwind album, as opposed to a live or archive rehash of the past, Blood of the Earth falls between two very sharply defined poles -- either it's the band's best album since the mid- to late '90s, or it's one more step away from the purity of their original mission statement, an argument that could be backed up by the distinctly lackluster retread of "You Better Believe It" that turns up near the end. Unfortunately, that's about as far as that argument goes, as Blood of the Earth continues the past few albums' penchant for pushing ahead, opening with the distinctly atmospheric "Seahawks," pounding on through the near-punkish "Wraith," and (back to the past again), completely rewiring "Sweet Obsession" from its solo Dave Brock prototype. The tribal "Inner Visions" and the near-ambient "Green Machine" offer the most distinct axis around which the album revolves, but every corner secretes a new surprise, until you arrive at "Comfy Chair," which actually fits you just like one. Which probably isn't something you'd expect to find on a Hawkwind album, but strangely, it works really well. ~ Dave Thompson, Rovi

Electric Teepee Play

Electric Teepee was the first album to show Hawkwind's interest in trance/ambient/techno sounds, but those elements do not pervade the album like they do on It Is the Business of the Future to Be Dangerous. In fact, the disc opens with the fast-paced, hard-edged rocker "LSD." That cut is pure modern Hawkwind space rock energy. Another smoking rocker included in this set is the Alan Davey-penned piece "The Secret Agent." It is one of the stronger cuts ever done by the modern Hawkwind, and it alone is worth getting this album. This disc will certainly be perceived as an inconsistent one, but the shining moments more than make up for that problem. ~ Gary Hill, Rovi

Area S4 Play

Following the addition of Richard Tree, Hawkwind moved back in the direction of a harder sound, releasing this EP as something of a showcase for that. Of the four cuts presented, only "Wastelands" reflects the softer sound of It Is the Business of the Future to Be Dangerous, and that soon blends into the sonic chaos of "Are You Losing Your Mind," which has Tree screaming his lungs out. Recommended mainly for those who like their Hawkwind with sandpaper edges. ~ Steven McDonald, Rovi

Warrior on the Edge of Time Play

Hawkwind's fifth studio album found the band enjoying a rare oasis of stability after the multitudinous personnel shifts of the past five years. Only the recruitment of a second drummer, Alan Powell, disturbed the equanimity of the lineup that created the previous year's Hall of the Mountain Grill, although it would soon be time to change again. By the end of the year, bassist Lemmy had departed, vocalist Robert Calvert had rejoined, and the group's career-long relationship with United Artists would be over. In the meantime, Warrior on the Edge of Time ensured that it was brainstorming business as usual. Decorated with a magnificent sleeve that unfolded into the shape of a shield, Warrior on the Edge of Time delivered some of Hawkwind's best-loved future showstoppers -- Simon House's far-reaching "Spiral Galaxy 28948," the frenetic "Assault and Battery," and the monstrous "Magnu" all made their bow here, while the accompanying "Kings of Speed" single was certainly a big hit in the youth clubs of the day, even if it did steadfastly avoid the chart. Remarkable, too, is "The Golden Void," a stately bolero set, indeed, on the edge of time and buffeted by one of the band's most impressive ever instrumental performances. A handful of tracks do betray their age. Michael Moorcock's echo- and effects-laden recitation of "The Wizard Blew His Horn" is impossibly overwrought, although it's worth sitting through simply for the segue into the throbbing "Opa-Loka"; in fact, the entire album is presented with minimal breaks between tracks, to deliver a seamless treat that -- in the light of Hawkwind's next musical moves -- has since seen Warrior on the Edge of Time described as the band's last true "classic." It isn't, but you can easily see why people think it might be. [The CD reissue includes one bonus track, Lemmy's valedictory "Motorhead," recorded during the album sessions but released only as the B-side to "Kings of Speed."] ~ Dave Thompson, Rovi

Levitation Play

An excellent album that thoroughly dismisses any fears that recent personnel upheavals might have damaged Hawkwind in the slightest. Recorded with veteran drummer Ginger Baker as an absolutely astonishing replacement for the departing Simon King and with Huw Lloyd Langton clearly reveling in the guitar hero status accorded by the watching ranks of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Levitation captures Hawkwind at their most confident and brash. Certainly the mighty "Who's Gonna Win the War" has few peers within even the classic lineup's vocabulary, with its drift out of Tim Blake's brief but beautiful "Prelude," a transition to be proud of. Feeling ever so slightly churlish, one could point to the absence of Robert Calvert and Nik Turner as a decisive blow in the songwriting departure -- there is certainly a hint of style over substance hanging around a few of the lesser numbers ("Space Chase," "World of Tiers," "5th Second of Forever"). But the relentless crunch that occasionally deputizes for melody has excitement of its own, especially when paired with a Baker/Harvey Bainbridge rhythm section that simply doesn't know when to quit. Just missing the U.K. Top 20 upon release in November 1980, Levitation has since fallen into a degree of disrepute on account of its contents' ubiquity in the world of less than stellar Hawkwind compilations. Return to the original disc, however, and that reputation is certainly not deserved. ~ Dave Thompson, Rovi

Angels of Death Play

Some five years after Hawkwind left RCA but just a year or so after The Chronicle of the Black Sword restored the band to a modicum of fashion, the label rounded up the best of the three LPs that Hawkwind recorded during the early '80s, presumably to compensate fans for the long unavailability of the original releases. Four cuts from 1981's Sonic Attack and five apiece from Church of Hawkwind and Choose Your Masques (both 1982) certainly hit the high spots of those records. Perhaps the drab Church of Hawkwind is somewhat over-represented, but one would not argue with the inclusion of either "Nuclear Drive" or "Looking in the Future." Similarly, the presence of "Waiting for Tomorrow" utterly crushes any suggestion that Hawkwind were now a spent force -- the return of original saxophonist Nik Turner for Choose Your Masques absolutely reinvigorated the band, even if he would depart again before the Black Sword saga got started. Despite its usefulness to newfound fans, however, Angels of Death did little at the time, and the absence of any rarities renders it more or less redundant for collectors. Today, it is most noticeable for its scarcity. ~ Dave Thompson, Rovi

Quark, Strangeness & Charm Play

Hot on the heels of two decidedly un-Hawkwind-y singles; following in the footsteps, too, of the defiantly transitory Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music album, Quark Strangeness and Charm was the first full flowering of Hawkwind's newly honed drive towards brittle pop, sharp wit, and crystal-clear intent -- attributes that, if they'd ever existed in the past, had been entirely overwhelmed by the sheer grandeur of the space rock rocket blast. Now it was the propulsive riffs and deep space echoes that were held in abeyance, and Quark opened as it meant to go on, with "Spirit of the Age"'s tight keyboards, unobtrusive washes, and the utterly captivating -- if totally skewed -- story of love across the light years. It is hard to visualise just how shocking the change must have been to loyal fans of the era; how they must have trembled before the electrifying jolt of concise lyricism and accessible melodies. Airplay followed, and the band even made their first mainstream U.K. TV appearance in some five years, performing the new album's title track on Marc Bolan's teatime TV pop show. Robert Calvert wore an aviator's helmet and carried a stuffed falcon on one hand, odd apparel indeed for an ode to Albert Einstein's lack of luck with the ladies. Or maybe not so odd, after all. A handful of songs fed back into the traditional Hawkwind mythos -- the post-apocalyptic "Damnation Alley," the near-industrial instrumental "Forge of Vulcan," and the weary, dream-is-over nostalgia of "Days of the Underground." "Hassan I Sabha," an epic of Middle Eastern terrorist rhetoric, even recalled the prosaic realities of the old favorite "Urban Guerilla," although a haunting Arabic refrain and instrumentation catapulted it to a different realm regardless. And so it went on -- Hawkwind's most unexpected album to date and, today, one of their most endearingly enduring; charming, strange, and, if not quark, then certainly quirky. ~ Dave Thompson, Rovi

Choose Your Masques Play

One of Hawkwind's stronger 1980s releases, their last U.K. Top 30 hit, and certainly the high point of their two-year/three-album stint with RCA, Choose Your Masques boasts a vision and energy that neither of its predecessors could match, coupled with some excellent songwriting and -- again, unlike its predecessors -- more than a couple of songs that demanded revisiting. Part of the improvement was surely down to the return of saxophonist Nik Turner, absent since 1978. Both his pen and his instrument are eminently visible across an album that matches a newfound sense of high drama with Hawkwind's traditional emotional punch, with the title track, the "Arrival In Utopia"/"Utopia" suite, and the closing "Waiting for Tomorrow" not only proving their worth in the studio, but restoring Hawkwind to the highest standards in concert as well. Six of Choose Your Masques' ten tracks are also featured on the Collectors Series, Vol. 2 live album, documenting the group's 1982 U.K. tour, and the power of those tracks is again worth the price of admission. Similarly, the re-emergence of the decade-old "Silver Machine," first as a purportedly remixed single, then as the halfway point on this album, brings a lot more to the party than, say, the tired revamp of "Sonic Attack" did on the 1981 album of the same name. Arguably, without the original "Silver Machine"'s unexpected chart success, Hawkwind would never have survived as long as they have, and the doughty old warrior is here treated with all the respect it merits. ~ Dave Thompson, Rovi

In Search of Space Play

In Search of Space strengthened Hawkwind's science fiction-type brand of progressive rock, gaining bass player Dave Anderson and galactic poet extraordinaire Rob Calvert, while losing John Harrison at the same time. The album opens with the mind-numbing galactic haze of "You Shouldn't Do That," a spooky little 15-minute excursion that warps, throbs, and swirls with Dik Mik's "audio generator" and the steady drum pace of Terry Ollis. Then comes the ominous whispering of the title, set to the pulsating waves of Dave Brock's guitar and Turner's alto sax, with Dettmar's synth work laying the foundation. Wonderfully setting the tone, "You Shouldn't Do That"'s improvisational looseness and rhythmic fusion smoothly open up the album into the realm of Hawkwind. The peculiarity never ceases, as "You Know You're Only Dreaming" and "We Took the Wrong Steps Years Ago" delves even deeper into obscurity, sometimes emanating with the familiar jangle of the guitar which then has its acquaintance overshadowed by the waft of the keyboard. Just as "Master of the Universe" chugs and rolls with a foreboding rhythm, "Adjust Me" retaliates with its moaning verse and tonal fluctuations fading into oblivion. The groundbreaking sound which Hawkwind achieved on In Search of Space helped to open up a whole new avenue of progressive rock. This album would lead to their most successful release in Space Ritual, coming two years after In Search of Space, with their interplanetary groove already set for takeoff. ~ Mike DeGagne, Rovi

Doremi Fasol Latido Play

Doremi may not be Hawkwind's most renowned album, but it carries the same type of prog rock spaciness as their first two releases. Even though the keyboard playing is trimmed down just a tad, the introduction of Ian Kilmister, otherwise known as Lemmy of Motörhead fame, makes up for it. With Lemmy's hard-lined guitar playing and Del Dettmar's synthesizer stabs, tracks like "Space Is Deep" and "The Watcher" are infused with elaborate instrumental meanderings in perfect Hawkwind fashion. The longer tracks, both "Brainstorm" and "Time We Left This World Today," have Lemmy getting settled in the band's extraordinary milieu, but end up being the album's strongest cuts. There's a harder feel to the songs all the way through, with the guitar and drums coming to the forefront ahead of Dik and Mik's "generators" and "hot electronics." Doremi is the inaugural album for drummer Simon King, and with guitarist Dave Anderson and percussion man Terry Ollis now departed, Hawkwind still manages to muster up a firm intergalactic space-metal atmosphere...only with a more rugged thrust. ~ Mike DeGagne, Rovi

25 Years On Play

When Hawkwind, fresh from the latest round of breakups and defections, reignited themselves as the Hawklords, few among even the grassroots faithful knew precisely what to expect. The main band's last album, Quark Strangeness and Charm, had drifted far from the miasmic space drone of the "classic" years, and a growing interest in electronics and quirk left the band teetering on the edge of new wave pop -- again, a long way from any sphere the group might normally have orbited. 25 Years On continued that reinvention and, in so doing, emerged as one of the last truly great Hawkwind-related albums before the precipitous dip into cliché and pretension that would scar so much of their 1980s output -- the following year's P.X.R.5 would, of course, complete this final cycle of excellence. Opening with the death-defying breeziness of "Psi Power," passing on through the spacious pomp of "Free Fall" and the self-abusing autobiography of "25 Years" ("Have they really been going that long?" pleaded one U.K. review), the album also dipped into comedy ("Flying Doctor"), sci-fi ("[Only] The Dead Dreams of the Cold War Kid"), and bleeping futurism (the synth-joke "Automotion") -- the same formula, of course, that marked out its predecessors, but a slap in the face for anyone who still tried to accuse the bandmembers of taking their mission too seriously. Indeed, looking back, it seems obvious that it was the Hawks' reputation (however they tried to disguise their name) rather than their music that prevented both album and single from scoring major hits -- they were that in step with the then-current fascinations of the U.K. music scene. ~ Dave Thompson, Rovi

Space Bandits Play

Many Hawkwind fans have never heard this album, and that's a shame because it is one of the strongest and most consistent discs of the band's career. Yes, it is a little weird hearing a female voice singing Hawkwind cuts, but Bridgette Wishart has a great voice and truly captures the Hawkwind spirit. The tracks are some of the most multi-dimensional and dynamic to come from the group, and the presence of violinist Simon House lends a bit of a Hall of the Mountain Grill texture in places. With a disc this strong it is hard to pick standouts, but a couple of pieces do rise above the rest. The album-opener "Images" is pure hard-edged Hawkwind with some wonderful changes. The violin really adds a lot to the number. The environmentally conscious prog ballad "Wings" is definitely another winner. At last check this one was out of print, but if you are a Hawkwind fan and can find it, by all means pick it up. You will not be disappointed. ~ Gary Hill, Rovi

The Xenon Codex Play

Coming from the late-'80s period of the band, this is a strong album from a fertile period in the musical history of this group. Although not considered the classic era of Hawkwind, the band released albums that were consistently quite strong during this era. Xenon Codex, although not the strongest album from that time, has a lot of very good material. Cuts that really set themselves apart from the rest include "The War I Survived" and the awesome "Sword of the East." ~ Gary Hill, Rovi

The 1999 Party: Live at the Chicago Auditorium March 21, 1974 Play

Far more fuss should have been made about this concert recording when it was first unearthed from the archive back in the mid-'90s. Touring the U.S. in 1974, Hawkwind were in ferocious form. True, the sheer cohesion of 1972's Space Ritual performance was behind them, but a live show that brought in material from the recently released Hall of the Mountain Grill, alongside established older favorites, was still among the most dynamic of the day, and the ensuing The 1999 Party: Live at the Chicago Auditorium album ranks among the best live Hawkwind documents around. At first glance, the band is still driving much the same material as it always had. "Seven by Seven," "Master of the Universe," "Brainstorm," and "Welcome to the Future" are all present here. But evolution has seen all four broaden out from their "familiar" incarnations, while the change of surroundings, too, benefits all. But "Brainbox Pollution," "Psychedelic Warlords," and "D Rider" are all newfound classics, while fans of old Hawkwind B-sides will be thrilled to find "It's So Easy" (cut from the live show as the flip to the "Psychedelic Warlords" single) finally nestling in its natural habitat. ~ Dave Thompson, Rovi

Live Chronicles Play

Recorded live during Hawkwind's 1985 The Chronicle of the Black Sword tour, Live Chronicles is a remarkable retelling of that album's own storyline, spread out over four full sides of vinyl and littered with Hawkwind oldies that really could have been written with Chronicle in mind -- and new material that, apparently, was. Following in the footsteps of 1972's Space Ritual with its combination of music and narration (from original Chronicle author Michael Moorcock), the show more or less follows the studio set's running order, opening with the mood-melding "Song of the Swords" and then pursuing hero Elric through a complex tale that is only strengthened by the sheer cohesion of its re-creation -- Moorcock himself later described the live show as "the pure version," although it must be confessed that vinyl alone loses a great deal of the magic. To truly appreciate Live Chronicles, one needs the accompanying video as well (and how often is that said about Hawkwind?). Necessarily lacking some of the studio album's atmosphere, Live Chronicles nevertheless compensates with energy and immediacy -- the version of "Needle Gun" is positively awesome, while "Master of the Universe" clatters with such metallic mayhem that even its rearrangement as a virtual speed anthem cannot dispel its power, an attribute that is only amplified by the song's positioning between the lower-key "The Pulsing Cavern" and "Dreaming City." Complaints, at the time, that the actual sound of the album is a little on the reedy side do still hold true, although that is as likely a mastering problem as anything else. Certainly, with the volume and bass control cranked up to "full," Live Chronicles echoes with all the passion of the concerts themselves -- and all the imagination of Hawkwind at full throttle. ~ Dave Thompson, Rovi

Live '74 Play

Far more fuss should have been made about this concert recording when it was first unearthed from the archive back in the mid-'90s. Touring the U.S. in 1974, Hawkwind were in ferocious form. True, the sheer cohesion of 1972's Space Ritual performance was behind them, but a live show that brought in material from the recently released Hall of the Mountain Grill, alongside established older favorites, was still among the most dynamic of the day, and the ensuing The 1999 Party -- Live at the Chicago Auditorium album ranks among the best live Hawkwind documents around. This set takes the original double disc and prunes it down to one CD, shedding seven tracks while retaining the best of the original set, at the same time avoiding too much duplication with Space Ritual. Yes, "Seven by Seven," "Master of the Universe," "Brainstorm," and "Welcome to the Future" all reappear, but evolution has seen all four broaden out from their "familiar" incarnations, while the change of surroundings, too, benefits all. "Brainbox Pollution," "Psychedelic Warlords," and "D-Rider" are all newfound classics and, while one can bemoan the absence of "It's So Easy," the original album's most sparkling highlight, Live '74 still makes a welcome substitute for the now long-deleted double set. ~ Dave Thompson, Rovi

Collection [Castle] Play

Released within Castle's so-called Collector Series, this double-LP package is nothing more than a random gathering of cuts from the earlier Acid Daze triple album, rearranged to dispense with any trace of chronology and wrapped up in a quite ghastly sleeve. To the uninitiated, of course, The Collection probably looks like a good deal. "Silver Machine" is here. "Master of the Universe." "Spirit of the Age." "Motorhead." But they are never the versions you'd hope to find -- rather, they are those already familiar from such semi-official collections as Text of Festival, Space Ritual, Vol. 2, Bring Me the Head of Yuri Garagrin, Live at Watchfield & Stonehenge, and so forth, a succession of distant live and disinterested studio takes that manage to grind away at even the most patient of listeners. Eighteen of Acid Daze's 25 tracks are included on the Collection vinyl release; the CD reissue drops three, while a similar CD release, The Castle Masters Collection, restores them, but cuts seven songs in favor of just three others. Confused? That's probably the idea. Far easier, then, to eschew this set and simply pick up the original Acid Daze. It doesn't sound any better, but it's a lot simpler to wade through. ~ Dave Thompson, Rovi
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