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Thread: Hawkwind, an appreciation.

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    Member DrGoon's Avatar
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    Hawkwind, an appreciation.

    Inspired by a post by @polmico in another thread, I decided to make the 42nd thread on Progressive Ears with Hawkwind's name in the title. Most of the prior threads have either been inactive for some years, or were more specific. I'd like this one to be a general appreciation thread that we can add to as we need to.

    I first happened on Hawkwind in the early 1980s, introduced to it at boarding school by a young teacher who was in his first job out of college. He expressed an interest in taking school pupils to see rock concerts if we could get enough interest to use the school mini bus. My friend Gregor and I keenly scanned through our copies of Sounds and Melody maker to see what was coming up. I mentioned to the teacher that there was a Hawkwind concert soon, but that I didn't know them. He said that would be great, and that he had a couple of their albums if I cared to hear them. He had both Space Ritual and the recently released Live 79 and I very quickly knew that this was something that I wanted to see live. I set out to find a dozen people to justify use of the school the mini bus, and within a day, I had the numbers. We would go and see Hawkwind. It was transformative.

    By the time Sonic Attack was released, I had already used a fair amount of my saved pocket money to buy five earlier Hawkwind albums, and it was clear that this was a band who had extraordinary beginnings, a lot of different line-ups and artistic styles and plenty of talent and energy left in them. While the same teacher had also introduced me to CAN and I was buying up all kinds of Krautrock too, Hawkwind were live, vital and accessible in the present. By the time my first full-time job rolled around in 1985, I had seen them dozens of times, had every studio release, and had even stood in a band signing session next to Huw Lloyd Langton at a convention and signed a bunch of their albums at his urging. Naughty.

    Hawkwind have continued to interest me. Now in their seventh decade, they continue to ply their trade with space rock album releases (something like 33 studio albums so far, with a new one due later this year) and frequent touring. While their 'hit rate' is not what it once was, and despite having had an incredible stable core lineup that reduces in the external influences, Dave Brock can still turn out some inventive ideas, and they continue to be in their element in a live setting with a responsive audience.

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    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Certainly their 70s run is all basically variations of 'pretty great'.

    There are definitely some treasures after that, although I can't say that I've heard more than 25% of their studio output since about Church Of Hawkwind (1982).

    I saw them as a trio in 1992 and they were fantastic.
    Steve F.

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    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

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    Member dropforge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve F. View Post
    There are definitely some treasures after that, although I can't say that I've heard more than 25% of their studio output since about Church Of Hawkwind (1982).
    IMO, 1990's Space Bandits, with Bridget Wishart on vocals, is one of Hawkwind's best outings. The 9-˝-minute "Images" that opens the album is seriously badass.


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    So how do you navigate a band who has put out a couple of hundred releases, and whose career spans over 50 years? With care, and with some guidance, I'd suggest.

    Hawkwind were formed out of a blues rock band called The Famous Cure, who quickly adopted influences from the avant-garde artists that they were associating with in the late 60s. By the time the nascent Hawkwind gelled under the names Group X and then Hawkwind Zoo in 1969 there were elements of blues, folk, psychedelic pop, heavy rock and the german avant-garde all competing for direction. Their first eponymous album from 1970 demonstrates this well.

    Just one year later, Hawkwind had direction, they were a band united (as united at least as they would be for the first 20 years) and they were doing something that was simultaneously new and yet connected to the zeitgeist. From 1971 through 1975 they released on United Artists records an extraordinarily inventive canon of work that remains present and vital to this day. No studio album from this period should be overlooked, although most will name check either 1971's explosive 'In Search of Space' or 1975's Moorcock-inspired 'Warrior on the Edge of Time'. Live stand-out is of course 'Space Ritual'. My personal favorite is 'Hall of the Mountain Grill' but I'd also point to the excellent mix that Brock put down on the period compilation 'Roadhawks'. The band hit a crisis when they ejected bass player Lemmy, and it led to a personnel change that redefined their direction.

    Now fronted by beat poet Robert Calvert and signed to Charisma records, they pre-empted post-punk with a new wave sound that was energetic, related to their former space rock roots, and yet futuristic, slyly clever and witty. Again, I consider these four quite fantasic albums, starting with very obvious Neu! influences on the 1976 release 'Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music' and perhaps reaching a zenith with 1977's 'Quark, Strangeness and Charm' with its incredible opening number 'Spirit of the Age'. At this point, I recall seeing Hawkwind on national TV on the Marc Bolan show but they failed to make a significant impression at 11 years old. Both '25 Years On' (credited to Hawklords for legal reasons) and 'PXR5' are better integrated as a band with Ade Shaw working in the studio with Simon King for a well locked rhythm section.

    Tensions tore the band apart again, and they reinvented themselves around Huw Lloyd Langton, a stunningly creative blues guitarist who had been part of their initial line-up in 1969. Now heavier to suit the mode of the time, these years (on Bronze and RCA records) are still strong but this is where we have to become more discerning - Hawkwind not only were less consistent from this point on, but departed band members with access to tapes were enabling a shocking number of releases (often of the same recordings under different titles). Still, there is much worth checking out in the 80s, initially with Harvey Bainbridge on bass and subsequently with him playing keyboards while Alan Davey brought the spirit of Lemmy back to the sound. The 1980 album 'Levitation' featuring Ginger Baker is strong, as is the 1985 album 'Chronicle of the Black Sword' with its repeat take on Michael Moorcock's eternal champion.

    Huw and Harvey continued for a couple of more albums (including a couple with Bridget Wishart on vocals, which really split opinions) which were variable as whole albums, but contain some great songs. The group then became a three piece and released the strong 'Electric Teepee' before Dave went in a more snyth/trance direction and then brought in Ron Tree. The studio albums from this time have some good songs, but live albums such as 'Love In Space' generally hit higher marks.

    Hawkwind then released sequence of spotty albums through the early 2000s, culminating in the departure of Alan Davey. Bringing in some new personnel revitalized the band, but they failed to capitalize in the studio not least because of unfortunate events such as the untimely death of keyboard player Jason Stuart. Of their more recent album, probably the stand-out is 2016's 'The Machine Stops'.

    Last month Hawkwind announced what will be their 34th studio album, 'Somnia'.

  5. #5
    My first encounter with Hawkwind was in the 80s when I heard Hall Of The Mountain Grill. The perfect album to start with, and still my favorite to this day.
    The music, combined with the mountain picture, provided a wonderful kind of escapism for this teenager.
    I'm not familiar with all the albums, but all the ones I've heard are interesting in their own way. Among other things, I like the combination of relentlessly rocking tracks and ambient moments. For instance, I love the opening of Electric Tepee - "LSD" / "Blue Shift".
    And yes, "Images" is badass, one of my favorite Hawkwind tracks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve F. View Post
    I saw them as a trio in 1992 and they were fantastic.
    I saw them shortly before or after that in Cologne, and was blown away by how they integrated samples and loops into the relentless groove, a lot of it seemingly on the spur of the moment. Alan Davey become one of my favorite rock bassists that night.

    Friend of mine summarized the concert (and Hawkwind's entire purpose on the planet) thusly: They're taking all the drugs so we don't have to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dropforge View Post
    IMO, 1990's Space Bandits, with Bridget Wishart on vocals, is one of Hawkwind's best outings. The 9-˝-minute "Images" that opens the album is seriously badass.

    Space Bandits was my first Hawkwind album ever - picked up at time of release as I had heard images on my college radio station WJRH.

    Good enough that I went backwards to pick up a couple of 70s classics.

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    have been fan since in search of space. Now enjoying the live 50th CD. Only saw in concert once , at the old waldorf in san Francisco, it was the quark strangeness and charm tour.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MaikH View Post

    Friend of mine summarized the concert (and Hawkwind's entire purpose on the planet) thusly: They're taking all the drugs so we don't have to.
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

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    I have dabbled in Hawkwind for about 25 years but never truly caught the bug. Mostly "good" and "interesting" and "fun" as opposed to "great" IMHO.

    But there are some real high points for me, the first one commonplace maybe the last two not so obvious:
    (1) Everyone's favorite, In Search of Space.
    (2) Levitation. Two of my favorite musicians on this one. Ginger Baker and Tim Blake. Baker does a great job adapting to the band's propulsive version of motorik. The live concert on the 3 CD box is even better than the studio LP.
    (3) Electric Tepee. Spinal Tap would've killed for that album title. The band's most consistently seamless space voyage.

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    ^^^^^^^^

    I have not heard them in decades and decades, but Levitation and Electric Teepee are remembered in the back recesses of my brain as both being pretty great.

    One of my greatest and oldest friends was a huge fan of Hawkwind, and he kept me up to date with what he thought were their very good to great releases, post the classic era.

    But Barney’s been gone 25 years, so I am very out of touch....
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

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    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

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    PS

    My personal favorite is, I think, In Search Of Space.
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

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    I realize they're "80s Hawkwind," but I'm surprised more folks don't like Choose Your Masques, Chronicle of the Black Sword and The Xenon Codex. Really cool albums...

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    Quote Originally Posted by MudShark22 View Post
    Space Bandits was my first Hawkwind album ever - picked up at time of release as I had heard images on my college radio station WJRH.

    Good enough that I went backwards to pick up a couple of 70s classics.
    Space Bandits succeeds as a complete listening experience. It's not a concept album, but at times it feels like one.

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    I've had Warrior for a couple of years and really liked it but never pursued further until maybe 2 or 3 years ago. I'm addicted now. But haven't heard everything yet, and I still haven't heard anything after Sonic Attack. Joe Banks book on Hawkwind is a really good companion for an Hawkwind voyage

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    Quote Originally Posted by dropforge View Post
    I realize they're "80s Hawkwind," but I'm surprised more folks don't like Choose Your Masques, Chronicle of the Black Sword and The Xenon Codex. Really cool albums...
    My favorite Hawkwind albums are Warrior On The Edge Of Time and Chronicle Of The Black Sword. And while, yes, I am a fan of the subject matter, it's primarily the music that pulls me in.
    I like the part where Icarus hijacks the Little Red Hen.

    http://www.discogs.com/user/moecurlythanu/collection

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    My first concert at 15 years old was the 1973 Space Ritual Tour.....

    fan...

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    Quote Originally Posted by dropforge View Post
    I realize they're "80s Hawkwind," but I'm surprised more folks don't like Choose Your Masques, Chronicle of the Black Sword and The Xenon Codex. Really cool albums...
    All good albums. 'Choose Your Masques' has Nik Turner back for a guest role, Harvey Bainbridge stepping up to chart some interesting synth directions, lyrics from both Michael Moorcock and Bob Calvert used in several of Brock's more inventive songs and two great Huw Lloyd-Langton penned songs. The best of the RCA albums, although I find quite a bit to like on the other two (Sonic Attack and Church of Hawkwind) as well.

    'Chronicle of the Black Sword' is one of my favorites, and quite a nostalgic one for me, as I saw much of the UK tour including some very special gigs at the Hammersmith Odeon with Moorcock taking command of the stage. The 'Live Chronicles' album of this tour is worthwhile.

    I would say that 'Xenon Codex' is a bit spotty, but it has a couple of standout tracks and not too much filler so it's a good listen. The tracks 'The War I survived' and 'Sword of the East' are both very good, but 'Heads' is my favourite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mythos View Post
    My first concert at 15 years old was the 1973 Space Ritual Tour.....

    fan...
    Superb. What a way to start.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bytor View Post
    I've had Warrior for a couple of years and really liked it but never pursued further until maybe 2 or 3 years ago. I'm addicted now. But haven't heard everything yet, and I still haven't heard anything after Sonic Attack. Joe Banks book on Hawkwind is a really good companion for an Hawkwind voyage
    I'll grab a copy of that at some point. I missed the hardback. I liked Ian Abrahams' 2004 book 'Sonic Assassins', though I haven't read the more recent edition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve F. View Post
    One of my greatest and oldest friends was a huge fan of Hawkwind, and he kept me up to date with what he thought were their very good to great releases, post the classic era.

    But Barney’s been gone 25 years, so I am very out of touch....
    There's been few great albums in the last 25 years, Hawkwind's songwriting having reached something of a nadir around then, and taking a slow climb out of it. Ron Tree (formerly Ron Bastard of the band Bastard who played regularly at the Royal Park pub next door to me in Leeds) came in as singer after Bridget Wishart and gave Hawkwind some punky vocals again, but live album 'Love In Space' is the best of this period, the studio albums being dense with filler. Things have slowly improved, remakes of classic tracks notwithstanding, and after a short recharge of a couple of years away from the studio, they released their best effort in recent times with 'The Machine Stops'. I'd listen to those two if you're inclined to explore some of their more recent work. The last few on Cherry Red have all been decent, if not great.

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    A huge fan here. My favourite classic album by them is "Warrior on the Edge of Time". For many reasons "Warrior ..." can be seen as a milestone in the vast oeuvre of Hawkwind. As their last album on the United Artists, as well as the last album with Lemmy on bass, "Warrior ..." ends the classic phase of Hawkwind. Also, "Warrior .." is the first album on which fantasy author Michael Moorcock actively intervened. Moorcock, who has been closely associated with the band for a long time, actually shaped this space-rock masterpiece.
    Although most of the songs are still determined by the great guitar-riffs typical of Hawkwind (for instance, outstanding song "Magnu") there are increasingly passages in which the keyboards are not only used for space bubbling effects, but also sometimes powerful Mellotron carpets are created , like on "Assault & Battery / The Golden Void". Quite a lot of keyboards, especially 'tron, and clearly ordered structures instead of jams. This tendency was already evident on the "Hall of the Mountain Grill". At "Warrior ...", Hawkwind probably best in their entire career had presented to the listener with a convincing scenario of space fantasy that the band brought to a successful conclusion by consistently and stylishly played music, which should be the beginning of the upcoming phase of the band's history that will never be so gloomy again, but musically similarly rich. In this respect, an unreserved recommendation can be made for "Warrior ...".
    I agree with all those who say that "Warrior on the Edge of Time" is Hawkwind’s ultimate accomplishment, as well as a definitive cornerstone for the space-rock genre whose Hawkwind are true progenitors.

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    A friend of mine pointed out that Hawkwind were a great band to do the ironing to - correctly. Maybe not the most sophisticated band but a fine bit of noise. Silver Machine was part of my growing up.

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    I'd like to recall here two Hawkwind's DVDs that I really enjoyed, both released in 2004. First is "Solstice at Stonehenge". This DVD was released to mark the twentieth anniversary of Hawkwind's gig at the Peoples' Free Festival at Stonehenge during the Summer Solstice 1984, and this small-scale snippet of film is a beautiful yet important document of a time when there was still an amazing hippy spirit. Highly recommended 'cause Hawkwind blaring the audience into space with their high-voltage space-rock and fantastical showy behavior of Nik Turner, so fasten your seat belts and take a dazzling trip into times and a world that long gone past.


    R-2118493-1274667104.jpeg.jpg








    Second is "Out of the Shadows" DVD that is a live cut of their concert in Newcastle on the 2002 tour.

    hawkwind-in-concert-out-of-the-shadows-dv.jpg

    The Hawkwind core trio Brock, Davey and Chadwick, who have been a constant since the early 1990s, have joined by their two old companions Tim Blake and Huw Langton. As a frontman and now a permanent guest of the band, old hippy Arthur Brown is also here on board.The material on this DVD is known from "Spaced Out in London" CD which was recorded a short time later.
    All in all, there are once again some classics from the band's vast pool, as well as some songs that are rarely played or newly added to the repertoire.
    "Aero Space Age Inferno" and "Song of the Gremlin" are a nice reminder of Arthur Brown and Hawkwind meeting on the recording of Robert Calvert's album "Captain Lockheed". Tim Blake gets his solo time with "Lighthouse". In "The Watcher" Davey can live out his preference for his predecessor Lemmy and show that he would also cut a good figure as a Motörhead frontman.
    The concert is filmed quite well, even if most of the cuts concentrate on the individual musicians. As a bonus, this is followed by an almost 60-minute, very interesting interview with Dave Brock.


    Last edited by Monet; 4 Days Ago at 08:14 AM.

  25. #25
    Member Lopez's Avatar
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    Love each and every incarnation of the band and have a pile of their output from the first album onward. I saw the 1999 party (in 1974) at the Tower Theater in Philly. Stacia was dancing, and Liquid Len was doing the lightshow. Lemmy was on bass and Nik Turner was wearing what looked like a Sleestak costume. My girlfriend at the time did not like them. Then saw them only once more in early 1978 at the tiny Paradise club in Boston. By then they were stripped down to a five-piece with Robert Calvert on vocals. My girlfriend at the time did not like them.
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