29 October 2012 (released)
15 November 2012
There have been so many evolutions of Hawkwind over the years – some with more of musical nature and some stripped to the bone. The amazing thing about them is the way that they shed members like a lizard shedding its skin and still retain an essential ‘Hawkness’.
This incarnation was at its peak in the late 1980’s and was the last to feature Bridget Wishart on vocals and Harvey Bainbridge. The core team of Dave Brock, Alan Davey and Richard Chadwick was also joined by old friend Simon House on violin. The original album was released on GWR as a single album but this has bonus tracks on CD1 as well as a live show from the Omni in Oakland, Cali titled ‘California Brainstorm’.
As with all the material from the time it has left a great deal of the heaviest sound behind and developed into a more musical form with House’s violin working well alongside the keyboards but the throbbing heart is never far away and on ‘Traedmill’ all of the parts ar together to create a wondrous noise that sums up much of the best things about Hawkwind.
The classic Hammond sound in ‘Time We Left’ is reminiscent of bands like Quatermass and Atomic Rooster but the electronic noises that wibble around the soundstage take the song to a great place and all the meandering rhythms carry the listener with – a terrific version of a classic Hawks song. You also get a stunning ‘Acid Test’ that builds inexorably through its 6 or so minutes. I was lucky enough to see Hawkwind live back in the days of Bob Calvert and ‘Damnation Alley’ was always a live favourite; it is great to hear a version that really asks the question of why it wasn’t used as the theme for the movie The bonus tracks on CD1 include a great ‘Damage Of Life’ from the original tapes.
CD2 is a whole show from 1990 and a real treat taking in classics like ‘Brainstorm’ and ‘Out Of The Shadows’ as well as a kickass version of ‘Reefer Madness’ with Bridget on vocals.
You might think that reissues like this will only appeal to the Hawkwind fans but I think that the recordings are good enough to appeal to many who didn’t realise the quality of Hawkwind at their imperious best.