Hawkwind

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Hawkwind

Hawkwind - Hawkwind ©1970 United Artists
1. Hurry On Sundown
2. The Reason Is?
3. Be Yourself
4. Paranoia (part 1)
5. Paranoia (part 2)
6. Seeing It As You Really Are
7. Mirror Of Illusion
8. Bring It On Home
9. Hurry On Sundown
10. Kiss Of The Velvet Whip
11. Cymbaline

With the sixties coming to a close and the Beatles breaking up, the world was ripe for a new revolution in music. Regardless of that need, Hawkwind nevertheless appeared on the scene with their brand of drug-infused psychedelic rock that would ultimately put them on the path to becoming the prototypical "space rock" band, a designation that has lasted through nearly four decades of existence. The band almost started accidentally, coming together from jam sessions. Many musicians have come and gone from Hawkwind's lineup, but founder Dave Brock has been the mainstay of the band. It should be noted that even he tried to quit his own band at least once, but simply couldn't walk away.

The initial Hawkwind foray into the music world was this self-titled release that came out on Liberty Records in 1970. With the majority of the seven songs being written in jam session format, the LP was a somewhat trippy experience no doubt fueled by illegal and dubious substances. The music has roots in the more experimental psychedelic scene of the late sixties but offered a certain amount of electronic influence as well. Hawkwind has since developed a drone-oriented sound which was not particularly in evidence on the debut, instead feeling considerably more rooted on Planet Earth than deep in the universe. The album falls somewhere in the realm early Pink Floyd was exploring, although Hawkwind has a tendency to be a warmer, more organic feeling experience. The music alternates between longer freeform material (such as "Seeing It As You Really Are", which contained more hints at future Hawkwind albums than some of the other tunes) and more orthodox song oriented tracks ("Hurry On Sundown" is pretty catchy).

Although perhaps lacking some of the signature songs that would incessantly reappear on countless live albums and redundant compiliations, Hawkwind is a very strong debut for the legendary band. Its style definitely is a reflection of the late sixties musical scene with their own hallucinatory stamp placed on it. Subsequent reissues of the self-titled debut have naturally appended bonus tracks, including a reprise of "Hurry on Sundown", a Pink Floyd cover, a pre-Hawkwind version of Willie Dixon's "Bring It On Home" by Dave Brock and one other Hawkwind track recorded in 1969. As with many of the studio albums, Hawkwind is a necessary component to enjoying and understanding this prolific and long-lived act.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/2007

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In Search Of Space

Hawkwind - In Search Of Space ©1971 EMI
1. You Shouldn't Do That
2. You Know You're Only Dreaming
3. Master Of The Universe
4. We Took The Wrong Step Years Ago
5. Adjust Me
6. Children Of The Sun
7. Seven By Seven (Original Single)
8. Silver Machine (Original Single Version) (Live At The Roundhouse)
9. Born To Go (Single Version Edit) (Live At The Roundhouse)

In Search of Space finds the gents of Hawkwind more firmly establishing their identity, particularly in terms of the "space rock" genre they would define. The band had dealt with what would be a career long issue of the "revolving door" membership, with several players from the debut album being replaced. But despite the changes, the band would begin truly finding their sound, which borrowed a bit from the debut's jam format and added the drone basslines that would essentially last from this point on. The album opener, a fifteen minute jam session called "You Shouldn't Do That", proves the band wasn't exactly concerned with writing a catchy radio pop song. The song features many elements that would keep popping up throughout the years, including a more defined bass approach, saxophones (courtesy of Nik Turner) and electronics. In Search of Space, true to its title, features considerably more spacy electronic effects. The album also features a Hawkwind mainstay which seemingly has appeared on every compilation and live albums since: "Master of the Universe". Reissued versions include three bonus tracks.

I personally never completely warmed up to In Search of Space. The album, particularly the opener, tends to wander an awful lot for my tastes and never quite completely grabbing onto the song thread. I appreciate where it fits into the Hawkwind development phase, but for the part, I'd prefer to reach for albums released in the immediate years afterwards.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/2007

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Doremi Fasol Latido

Hawkwind - Doremi Fasol Latido ©1972 One Way Records
1. Brainstorm
2. Space Is Deep
3. One Change
4. Lord Of Light
5. Down Through The Night
6. Time We Left This World Today
7. The Watcher

Doremi Fasol Latido, one of Hawkwind's earliest studio recordings, is a muffled, droning affair that unfortunately never quite gets going nor grabs my attention as thoroughly as one hopes. The production of the record seems to stunt the sound, putting on thick muzzlers, scarfs and thick mittens. And it's not exactly a wintery, frosty record that deserves such heavy blanketing. The band's trademark electronic effects (courtesy of the mysterious Dik and Mik and co-conspirator Del) are somewhat muted and unable to completely launch the Hawkwind craft. The sludge inhibits the music quite a bit.

On the plus side, a few of these songs are good, in spite of the muddied production. "Down Through the Night", "Space is Deep" and Lemmy Kilmister's "The Watcher" are all quite nifty, capturing the sonic-missile-in-deep-space quality the band has strived for throughout its career. The band has a tendency to wander within the arrangements of the songs, thus solidfying their "space jam" status. "Brainstorm", for instance, drones on for a good eleven and a half minutes. These are the sort of songs where Lemmy's heavy bass tone carries the tracks quite properly.

Doremi Fasol Latido is too much of a mixed bag for me to thoroughly enjoy. Lacking the grab and overall appeal of other studio releases, it becomes a sort of "second class citizen" in the Hawkwind history. But because it's a studio release and not one of the zillion live recordings of often negligible quality, it's still quite recommended and necessary. However, there are other releases more demanding of instant attention.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2003

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Space Ritual

Hawkwind - Space Ritual ©1973 EMI
1. Earth Calling
2. Born to Go
3. Down Through the Night
4. The Awakening
5. Lord of Light
6. Black Corridor
7. Space is Deep
8. Electronic No. 1
9. Orgone Accumulator
10. Upside Down
11. 10 Seconds of Forever
12. Brainstorm
13. 7 By 7
14. Sonic Attack
15. Time We Left This World Today
16. Master of the Universe
17. Welcome to the Future
18. You Shouldn't Do That
19. Master of the Universe
20. Born to Go

As anyone even moderately familiar with Hawkwind's career knows, there are literally dozens of live releases in the band's back catalogue. Some seem officially ordained while others apparently were released from a bad soundboard recording with nary a hint of approval from any of the band members. In fact, I generally would ward newcomers to Hawkwind away from the bevy of live releases and steer them towards the studio recordings instead. However, along the way Hawkwind has released a few live albums that deserve a bit more attention. Case in point: 1973's Space Ritual. This sprawling live document has the benefit of actually being planned out by Hawkwind so it has relatively good sound quality and a sense of cohesiveness that some of the less desirable live albums lack.

Space Ritual was recorded with one of the more "classic" Hawkwind lineups, which means "Lemmy was in the band" to the layperson. Robert Calvert was in the fold by then, offering between song narratives (such as "Sonic Attack"). The setlist includes quite a few of the band's more notable songs ("Down Through the Night", "Master of the Universe", etc), yet omits the band's biggest hit of the time, "Silver Machine". That's a bit of a headscratcher. Anyhow, for the most part Space Ritual is an able bodied documentation of what a trippy, strange experience an early 70s Hawkwind concert must have been like, minus the topless dancers and various hallucinogenics that surely filled the air and appeared in tab form.

As with many of the early Hawkwind records, Space Ritual has seen itself reissued with varying track list changes and longer versions of certain songs tacked on. Obviously fans will prefer to find these reissues to have even more Hawkwind in their lives, even if it means heaving "Born to Go" and "Master of the Universe" a couple times in the same sitting.

Personally I prefer digging up the original studio versions of these songs when I'm in the mood for early Hawkwind, but in general, Space Ritual ranks as one of their better live albums and certainly a watermark for that time period. It beats the pants off the many, lower quality live records in the band's portfolio, so that's something to keep in mind while building up your Hawkwind collection.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2010

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Hall Of The Mountain Grill

Hawkwind - Hall Of The Mountain Grill ©1974 One Way Records
1. The Psychedelic Warlords
2. Wind Of Change
3. D-Rider
4. Web Weaver
5. You'd Better Believe It
6. Hall Of The Mountain Grill
7. Lost Johnny
8. Goat Willow
9. Paradox

Released in 1974 and following the successful Space Ritual, Hall of the Mountain Grill is probably one of the earliest and most successful examples of the band's "space rock" style. Mixing the band's trademark sound with the swirling and echoing synthesizer and keyboard sounds of Del Dettmar, the album is a truly fun romp through their drug infused musical trip. Moreover, Hall of the Mountain Grill contains some of the band's best early songs: "Lost Johnny" (featuring Lemmy Kilmister providing lead vocals), "Paradox" and "The Psychedelic Warlords" (who apparently disappear in smoke). Lemmy's bass playing provides a thick but nudging undercurrent beneath the electronics and dives into psychedelic explorations. The production of the album is somewhat muted, giving the entire affair the feeling that you're watching from the other side of a glass paned window, but what do you really expect for 1974? ProTools?

All in all, Hall of the Mountain Grill is a thoroughly enjoyable romp and one of the first places Hawkwind curious should stop in trying to wade through the insurmountable piles of CDs that have been issued over time. It has two things going for it: a) it's a studio album and most Hawkwind studio albums deserve to be in your collection and b) it's an excellent album. Need I say more?

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2003

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Levitation

Hawkwind - Levitation ©1980 Castle Communications
1. Levitation
2. Motorway City
3. Psychosis
4. World Of Tiers
5. Prelude
6. Who's Gonna Win The War
7. Space Chase
8. The Fifth Second Of Forever
9. Dust Of Time

Quite possibly the most notable thing about this Hawkwind record is the rather odd figure behind the drum kit: Cream's Ginger Baker. No one has quite adequately described how he showed up in the band for the record, but his contributions are decent. Levitation is from what I consider the least interesting Hawkwind period during the late 70s/early 80s. The album does feature more synthetics than previous albums and acted perhaps as prelude to where they would start going on Church of Hawkwind. But overall, it's not bad at all. Certainly not a classic album by any stretch of the imagination, though tracks like the catchy "Motorway City" or "Dust of Time" are memorable. I think the overall mood of the record is somewhat alien and distant. There is a certain futuristic feel the band seems to be striving for, but it's just not quite there. Close, but not quite. That said, I can still emphasize it's enjoyable for the average Hawkwind fan.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/1999

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The Church Of Hawkwind

Hawkwind - The Church Of Hawkwind ©1982 Griffin
1. Angel Voices
2. Nuclear Drive
3. Star Cannibal
4. The Phenomenon Of Luminosity
5. Fall Of Earth City
6. The Church
7. Identimate
8. Some People Never Die
9. Damage Of Life
10. Experiment With Destiny
11. Mists Of Meridin
12. Looking In The Future
13. Joker At The Gate
14. Light Specific Data
15. The Last Messiah

For a band who lived primarily in left field (incidentally, a field bordered by Stonehenge, just to make things weirder), Hawkwind's sermon in The Church of Hawkwind was not only left field, but the upper deck and top row seats. Perhaps this album would be best served with tiny little pieces of funny paper, as this is one odd trip that Hawkwind would never quite bother with again. You almost wonder if mainman Dave Brock would look upon this album and say, "Dude, that's bizarre."

The Church was a departure in many ways from the more standard 70's Hawkwind sound that had predominately ruled their discography. Featuring a lot more electronic effects, sampled voices, lyrical material direct from the outer stretches of the universe and right back home, The Church stands alone as a trippy album that is both unique and isolated. Though there are some standard droning Hawkwind tunes such as "Nuclear Drive", other tracks act as soundscape collages of a demented imagination. Keyboards are used much more heavily than ever before and in a very ambient, atmospheric way in most cases. Some tracks act as segueways to the next songs, such as "The Church". Completely obscure and frankly flabbergasting stuff like "Some People Never Die" really make this album weird. This particular song samples the voice of a reporter giving a passionate play by play of Lee Harvey Oswald's shooting as well as the death of Senator Robert Kennedy, imploring for someone to "get that gun". Repeated listens of this song have never quite brought forth much clarity. In the end, much of this album lies in layers of confusion but still demands attention due to the depth of oddity displayed here.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/1999

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Spirit Of The Age

Hawkwind - Spirit Of The Age ©1988 Virgin
1. The Forge Of Vulcan (introduction Outtake)
2. Flying Doctor
3. Steppenwolf
4. Hassan I Sabha
5. Twenty Five Years
6. Jack Of Shadows
7. PSI Powers
8. Reefer Madness
9. Fable Of A Failed Race
10. Highrise
11. Quark Strangeness And Charm
12. Back On The Streets
13. Kerb Crawler
14. Only The Dreams Of The Cold War Kid
15. Spirit Of The Age

I don't think too many other bands have quite had so many compilations released as Hawkwind has. As with any band who has little control over their massive back catalogue, there is a wide quality range in what gets released and thus you have to be careful. This particular collection covers the band's years with the Charisma label, including their short stint as the Hawklords. Overall it isn't exactly anything to get excited about. In fact, it's a pretty weak group of songs. Lacking the powerful trance inducing ambient drone of later Hawkwind or the psychedelic jams of their earlier years, the mid-era Hawkwind was somewhat flat throughout. Simply not a very essential purchase.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/1998

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The Xenon Codex

Hawkwind - The Xenon Codex ©1988 GWR/Enigma
1. The War I Survived
2. Wastelands Of Sleep
3. Neon Skyline
4. Lost Chronicles
5. Tides
6. Heads
7. Mutation Zone
8. E.M.G.
9. Sword Of The East
10. Good Evening

It was around this point in Hawkwind's career that they really began to pursue the electronic/synthesizer sound that made more than one rock journalist refer to them as new age music for metalheads. While that may come off as a slight, there is some validity to the tag as the majority of this particular album is indeed futuristic, ambient, and quite good. The opening track "The War I Survived" is prime Hawkwind, driving bass, drone and all. By the mid-section of "Neon Skyline", the true majesty of the work is evident. In fact, the bridge in the aforementioned song is one of the most beautiful and powerful instrumental pieces I've ever heard. There is some plain ol' strange stuff towards the end of the disc, most notably "Mutation Zone", but again Hawkwind has continued to keep themselves modern and valid.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/1997

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Space Bandits

Hawkwind - Space Bandits ©1990 GWR/Castle
1. Images
2. Black Elk Speaks
3. Wings
4. Out Of The Shadows
5. Realms
6. Ship Of Dreams
7. T.V. Suicide

For a couple years, Hawkwind toyed around with female lead vocals, courtesy of former school teacher Bridget Wishart. Packing along the basic ambient drone sound of The Xenon Codex, Space Bandits is merely a follow-up and not really anything groundbreaking. The opener "Images" is an excellent Hawkwind classic that only gets tedious during the freeform musical breakdown in the middle. "Realms" and "Wings" explore a little more of the trancey psychedelica which has become the trademark modern Hawkwind sound. There is also a recitation of an old Indian chief mantra called "Black Elk Speaks". Maybe this isn't the Hawkwind album that defines their sound, but it is enjoyable throughout.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/1998

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Palace Springs

Hawkwind - Palace Springs ©1991 Roadracer
1. Back In The Box (Hawkwind '89)
2. Treadmill
3. Void Of Golden Light
4. Lives Of Great Men
5. Time We Left
6. Heads
7. Acid Test
8. Damnation Alley

Palace Springs is actually the very first Hawkwind album I ever heard and upon years of reflection, I have to admit it is as good of an introduction to the band as one can get. As with many people who decide to check out this long running outfit, I was curious about them due to their early affiliation with Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead. Fortunately that curiosity paid off as a discovery of one incredible band whose music has done nothing but move me for the past decade.

Aside from the opening "Back in the Box", recorded with the 1989 lineup of Hawkwind (which included Bridgett Wishart on vocals, a seemingly short lived stint with the band), this is actually a live recording. Strangely there are no crowd sounds whatsoever and the production is so smooth and enveloping that I have my doubts as to how much was actually recorded live. Regardless of that, Palace Springs is simply a wonderful excursion through the musical space occupied by the Hawksters. The signature droning, jamming sound is paramount here, surrounded by lush electronics and warm synth sounds. Tracks like "Treadmill" invite the listener to lie back, close eyes and dream with the band. The entire album has a very strong sense of flow and unified vision, remarkable considering the constantly shifting nature of this band. Some of the tracks that have appeared time and time again on various live recordings have their strongest reinterpretation here: "Time We Left" and "Damnation Alley" in particular.

Palace Springs is not only a nostalgic listen for me but one that always invites fugure listens with its warmth and overall towering allure. Easily one of my most recommended Hawkwind albums.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2000

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It Is The Business Of The Future To Be Dangerous

Hawkwind - It Is The Business Of The Future To Be Dangerous ©1993 Essential Records/Castle
1. It Is The Business Of The Future To Be Dangerous
2. Space Is Their (Palestine)
3. Tibet Is Not China (Part 1)
4. Tibet Is Not China (Part 2)
5. Let Barking Dogs Lie
6. Wave Upon Wave
7. Letting In The Past
8. The Camera That Could Lie
9. 3 Or 4 Erections In The Course Of A Night
10. Techno Tropic Zone Exists
11. Gimme Shelter
12. Avante

Out of all the Hawkwind albums I own and have heard, It is the Business of the Future... is probably my favorite and strangely is the least typical of the Hawkwind sound. Taking the general theme of Electric Teepee and delving further into electronics and ambient sounds, Hawkwind (now down to three members: Dave Brock, Alan Davey and Richard Chadwick) in fact travels through the first six tracks without any vocals whatsoever. Instead, the music is entirely instrumental with a handful of sampled voices and words, but no real singing. The ambient compositions are repetitive in nature, but in the way that induces a good trance rather than get on one's nerves immediately. To a certain degree this might turn off anyone who doesn't care for a "new age" feel to their music. By the time the album gets to "Letting in the Past", Hawkwind resumes normal sailing with a very typical sounding track. "The Camera That Could Lie" is easily one of the best Hawkwind tracks ever, lyrically playing out an Orwellian fantasy of government spying set to a dub/reggae type rhythm. Absolutely infectious. Hawkwind also displays a little English humor on "3 or 4 Erections in the Course of a Night", complete with a stallion sample. There is also an offbeat, but very Hawkwinded, version of the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter", featuring Richard Chadwick on vocals. All in all this is one excellent and expansive album that is best played late at night with mood set on drift.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1999

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The Entire And Infinite Universe Of Hawkwind

Hawkwind - The Entire And Infinite Universe Of Hawkwind ©1997 Magnum Music Group
1. Master Of The Universe
2. Dreaming
3. Shouldn't Do That
4. Hurry On A Sundown
5. Paranoia
6. See It As You Really Are
7. I Do It
8. Come Home
9. Gaga
10. In The Egg
11. Orgone Accumulator
12. Wage War
13. Urban Guerilla
14. Master Of The Universe
15. Welcome To The Future
16. Sonic Attack
17. Silver Machine
18. Space
19. Accumulator
20. Upside-down Sonic Attack
21. Time We Left
22. Ten Seconds Of Forever
23. Brainstorm
24. Seven-by-seven
25. Master Of The Universe
26. Welcome To The Future
27. Master Of The Universe
28. Dreaming
29. Shouldn't Do That
30. Hurry On A Sundown
31. Paranoia
32. See It As You Really Are
33. I Do It
34. Come Home
35. Sound...shouldn't
36. ...Improvise
37. Improvise...compromise
38. ...Reprise

Considering the massive recorded output of Hawkwind in the past thirty years, there is always the chance that some of the releases are going to be utterly a drag. The Entire and Infinite Universe of Hawkwind, a four disc collection, is one such example. Much of the sound quality is muddy and sounds like a third generation copy of a tape that was recorded from a bad record and then left on the dashboard of a VW Bug while parked in an Arizona parking lot in July. Yes, you can get a lot of Hawkwind here. But it's not the most shining example of Hawkwind.

The first disc, Masters of the Universe (not the same collection that Castle released in 1991), is simply a cruddy mess of a live recording. Well, I assume it's a live recording. The quality is so bad that it sounds like the awful mix tapes I made as a kid using a really horrendously cheap cassette deck and a walkman. There is a ton of tape hiss on this disc and given the performances are nothing particularly splendid or worthy of attention over any other live Hawkwind record, it's nearly impossible to sit through this mess.

Bring Me the Head of Yuri Gagarin is another live disc which does at least have slightly better quality. Well, you can hear the crowd clapping here and there, but at the same time it sounds as though the recording device was placed across the street from the venue. In college we used to film my roommate's band on a fairly cheap Super 8mm videocamera and the condensed, bad sound is precisely what I hear on this. The band's performance is somewhat decent but you spend too much time imagining what it could be rather than actually experiencing it.

The third disc, Space Ritual Vol. 2, is a definite sound quality improvement over the first two discs. In other words, you can actually hear the little things like the instruments. And what they're doing, no less. I am gathering this particular album was recorded while Nik Turner was still playing saxophone with the band as his tripped out sax is everywhere on the recording. Some of the dramatic between song narratives are pretty amusing in a maudlin sort of way, especially the bit in "Time We Left". At least this disc is spirited and not a bad time to hear as it captures the early 70s lineup in good form.

The final disc, Text of the Festival, is again lacking for quality. Yes, you do get to hear a fourth version of "Master of the Universe" and we know that is precisely what you wanted in life. But as with the other two discs that lack for a good clear sound, much of this disc is a bother to hear because of the poor quality.

This four disc collection is definitely one of the least recommended purchases for a fan of Hawkwind, unless you happen to be the rabid collector who simply must have everything in your collection. For newcomers to the band, steer far, far away from this because it truly will be a huge turnoff from what is a great and legendary band.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2000

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In Your Area

Hawkwind - In Your Area ©1998 Griffin
1. Brainstorm
2. Hawkwind In Your Area
3. Alchemy
4. Love In Space
5. Rat Race
6. Aerospace-age Inferno
7. First Landing On Medusa
8. I Am The Reptoid
9. The Nazca
10. Hippy
11. Prairie
12. Your Fantasy
13. Luxotica
14. Diana Park

A mix between live peformance and some newer studio creations, In Your Area is a hodgepodge of varying quality, creativity and interest. The live tracks have a somewhat mushed sound quality to them. You can hear everything that is going on, but the intensity and loudness of the music is robbed. The first six tracks are all live and offer a view of older Hawkwind blended with newer. "Brainstorm", the album's opener, goes back in time to fly into the future with a medley and retooling of "The Camera That Could Lie" from 1993's It Is the Business of the Future to be Dangerous. The music throughout the album ranges from the older, more familiar Hawkwind droning approach to the pleasant ambient-keyboard lush world the band was exploring more in the 90s. Admittedly the latter half of the album is a huge improvement over the live tracks that begin the album. The unfortunate part is that none of this new material quite sways me the way their early 90s music does. It is, by all means, good but not great. In the months I've owned this album, it has almost never completely grabbed my attention while listening and certainly never demanded repeated plays. As far as Hawkwind goes, it's hardly the most required piece they've ever released and more of an afterthought in the scheme of things.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2000

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Yr. 2000 Codename Hawkwind Vol. II: Live From The Darkside

Hawkwind - Yr. 2000 Codename Hawkwind Vol. II: Live From The Darkside ©2000 Burning Airlines Music
1. Gaga
2. In The Egg
3. Orgone Accumulator
4. Wage War
5. Urban Guerilla
6. Masters Of The Universe
7. Welcome To The Future
8. Sonic Attack
9. Silver Machine

Don't be fooled by the slick digipak packaging, with its trippy computer-graphic art and a glossy fold-out with more pretty graphics. Don't be fooled by the sticker on the back promising a "3-D Animated Cover Movie". Don't be fooled by the 2000 release date. This particular pile of crap is older than I am - it was recorded in early 1973-and sounds every bit as crude and low-fi as the date suggests. Simply, the album is an echoey, fuzzy mess. I'm willing to bet that that some Hawkwind fan obtained an nth generation bootleg and mixed Live from the Darkside on his home computer; it sounds better coming through tiny computer speakers than it does on a full-size stereo. And don't even try to play it in your car; the muddy mix blends all too well with the drone from the tires.

The liner notes, which are a snippet from a Melody Maker UK article dated February 6, 1973, state that this concert was "a great gig for the band, and rightfully recognised as such by the audience, who wouldn't let them leave until an hour after the scheduled end." That's nice...but why, then, is the album length only 37:47? And what's up with the song selection? Naturally, "Masters of the Universe" and "Silver Machine" appear, as they must on all Hawkwind collections, but whoever picked the rest of the songs has odd tastes. The first track, "Gaga," is 2:18 of nearly inaudible chatter and droning noise. I suppose that it's a song of sorts...but it smells of performance art, not music. "In the Egg", "Wage War" and "Sonic Attack" are mostly talking, as well, but they at least have the advantage of being coherent pieces.

And the "3-D Animated Cover Movie" that the sticker promised? It's a QuickTime movie best viewed in 250 x 110 pixel size (read: pretty darn small), and lasts a whopping 31.06 seconds. In glorious stereo silence. My advice is to pick up the digipak, stare at the cover art, and wiggle your hand. The results are equally as impressive, and you won't have to spend money on electricity to power your computer.

It's a shame that Hawkwind lost control of their back catalog, because people who want to explore their music get stuck with wretched albums like Live from the Darkside, which does this great band a grievous disservice. For pathetic fanboys only.

Review by Jonathan Arnett

Review date: 10/2002

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Weird Tapes Vol. 1: Sonic Assassins, Dave Brock

Hawkwind - Weird Tapes Vol. 1: Sonic Assassins, Dave Brock ©2000 Hawkwind Records
1. Over The Top
2. Magnu
3. Angels Of Life
4. Freefall
5. Death Trap
6. Nuclear Toy
7. Who's Gonna Win This War
8. The Dream 1
9. Assassination
10. The Dream 2
11. Satellite

I just realized that I have more albums by Hawkwind than any other band. I'd never really thought about it until I bought this disc, but I just looked over my vinyl, cassette, and cd collections and was astonished at the amount of albums I have by Hawkwind and related side-projects. See, Hawkwind is what you might call a "cult" band. They were extremely popular in Europe and the US in the early-to-mid 70s, after which most of the world forgot they existed, though they continued making excellent albums all through the 80s and early 90s. Obviously, with a band that has existed as long as they have, their back catalogue is a huge mess of hastily thrown together compilations, terrible sounding live albums, and reissues of albums that seem to go in and out of print every day. Chances are, if you're a devoted Hawkwind fanatic, there are certain songs that you probably have about ten different versions of, scattered through the many releases in your collection. This collection of songs is actually a very good example of a release that actually is completely worth checking out for fans of the band.

I believe this disc, and the other items in the Weird Tapes series, was originally released on cassette way back in the early 80s, and reissued on CD a few years back. The first five tracks were taken from a live set from 1977, when Bob Calvert was still fronting the band. "Over The Top" and "Freefall", which I think may be exclusive to this release (at least I've never heard them anywhere else), contain typical psychotic Calvert rants, the latter being a detailed description of the skydiving activity, and the former being about, well, I don't really know. The other three live tracks are all previously released songs, but Hawkwind takes "Magnu" and "Angels Of Life" (aka "Angels Of Death") and turns them into complete freeform psychedelic jams. In fact, "Angels Of Life" is recognizable only by the chorus, which is repeated throughout the song. They don't really do anything different with "Death Trap", but it's a competent performance just the same.

The remainder of the record consists of one excellent Hawkwind track ("Who's Gonna Win This War", I can't really tell if it's live or studio), and several Dave Brock solo recordings. The Brock solo stuff is basically just experimental electronic music, not too dissimilar from what they were doing with their Church Of Hawkwind record from around the same time period. It's nothing earth-shattering, but it's quite enjoyable nonetheless.

This is an album that casual fans might not appreciate as much, but for Hawkwind fanatics, it's worth every penny you spend on it. I can't wait to pick up the other albums in the Weird Tapes series!

P.S. Extra bonus points for the awesome 50s sci-fi comic book cover art.

Review by Mark Pennington

Review date: 02/2003

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