01 May 2012

There's still life in Hawkwind yet!

I am a Hawkwind fan, a statement that will come as no surprise to regular readers but others will wonder what I see in a band that has been going for over forty years and with their best days long in the past.

I started listening to the band in the late 70s, collecting their back catalogue as pocket money, allowed, while avidly awaiting their new releases. My love of the band was cemented by going to see them live for the first time (also my first ever concert) in December 1979. And what a concert it was! The highlight was Tim Blake performing his sublime solo piece New Jerusalem.

After that I was hooked. I saw them live many times and usually came away from their concerts a happy man (okay so they were below par sometimes and I am glad that Ginger Baker's tenure was short - I never wish to hear a drum solo at a Hawkwind concert again!).

Crap cover, great album!

Sadly their studio albums have not always matched their live shows (but that is so often the case). It is almost universally agreed that their best albums were produced in the 70s and perhaps their last classic was 1980's Levitation.

 Again the music is far better than the cover art!

 This is largely true but Hawkwind have produced a number of excellent albums since Levitation: The Chronicle of the Black Sword and Alien 4 really stand out; The remastered Xenon Codex is definitely a good offering as are Sonic Attack and Chose Your Masques; Electric Teepee and The Church of Hawkwind have their moments but Space Bandits and Its the Business of the Future to be Dangerous are not very good at all. I won't discuss their live albums here. Suffice it to say that some are excellent.

 Avoid like the plague!

 But the band hit their lowest point in the late 90s with Distant Horizons, which could have been a lot better (the remastered version is much better but it is still a medioocre album) while  the part live, part studio release In Your Area is appalling and certainly make you wish that you lived in an area whee Hawkwind weren't!

The band did not release another studio album until Take Me To Your Leader in 2005. This album was far better than  the last two mentioned but it was a bit uneven. Still, the re-recording of Spirit of the Age with daytime tv host Matthew Wright (honestly) on vocals, Sunray (sung by Arthur Brown), Angela Android, Digital Nation and the instrumental Out Here We Are all please, Sadly the title track and Letter to Robert are utter duds; the latter I positively hate!

The Following year came Take Me To Your Future, a dual DVD/CD. Basically the DVD side is a sampler for future DVD releases (not all have been forthcoming, sadly) while the CD side is a long EP. It is worth a listen just for what must be the definitive version of Silver Machine

There was a five year wait for their next studio release, Blood of the Earth. While no classic it was a far superior  to TMTYL. I am quite fond of Wraith, Prometheus, Comfy Chair and Inner Visions while the rocking version of Syd Barrett's Long Gone (originally recorded for a Mojo magazine freebie I think) is an utter treat! While it is a good album there is something missing that I can't quite describe in words. Still I thought it would be as good as a forty year old band would produce in their latter years.

How wrong I was......

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