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Hawkwind advice please
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Edited May 12, 2017, 20:27
Re: Hawkwind advice please
May 12, 2017, 20:12
1. The Calvert fronted RCA years?

Actually Charisma years...
Unfortunately there's not the definitive Calvert/Hawkwind Album - excellent stuff spread on 4 album next to lame fillers imho.

Best thing I know is the Virgin compilation "Atomhenge - The Robert Calvert Years" which got almost all of the good ones on it.
Vinylwise I'd suggest the Hawklords album (a.k.a. 25 yearson) - although it
leans on the poppy side of punk it captures the Calvert vision of a music/lyric/layout/performance "Gesamtkunstwerk" - great packing by Barney Bubbles and the most consistant of the Calvert era releases. Good songs throughout, shame it hasn't "Death Trap" on it - but that's included on the Atomhenge release of the album (lots of bonus material).

2. The Arista Years (Levitation, Sonic Attack etc)?

(Bronze / RCA years)
Levitation is a must. Excellent headphone album. Synthesizers and Ginger Baker's drums all over the place. A few excellent tunes. Title track brilliant.

Leave the other releases from that era alone - uninspired synth experiments (lots of swirling and noodling) and guitar riffing without a purpose.

3. The Black Sword albums - I'm drawn due to the Moorcock connection but I've sort of gathered that the studio album is patchy and over-produced so I'm thinking of opting for Live Chronicles instead, probably the 2CD Atomhenge release. Am I barking up the right tree?

Get the Atomehenge release of "Live Chronicles" - it's got the Moorcock-spoken narration pieces included. Though I don't like the studio album very much, "Live Chronicles" was Hawkwind's return to form.

4. Anything beyond this point (the free-festival years, 90s, 00s etc).

This Is Stonehenge, Do Not Panic - best of the 80s live releases, only a few Stonehenge 83/84 recordings in fact, most of the stuff recorded around 1980. Definitive "Levitation" version, a few Nik Turner ICU style punk rockers, swirling synths...

The Xenon codex: though mostly still 80s sounding stuff there are some good songs on it and lots of sound experiments - somebody must have given them access to the BBC sound workshop's material and some LSD - guess what happened...
Great cover!

Space bandits: a few excellent Hawkwind rockers (Images, Out of the shadows), long, drawn-out ambient stretches, Simon House's violin back again - good one, though not spectacular

Palace Springs - a good live album from an excellent Hawkwind period - cleverly mixing ancient and recent stuff (heads, treadmill, time we left)

Electric Teepee: Heavy technoid and ambient rockers, some excellent songs (LSD, Secret Agent, Right to Decide), several ambient stretches - a very powerful album, for some the highpoint of 90's Hawkwind

It's the business of the future: Ambient stuff throughout, very few song elements, for electronics fans only - although a funny attempt at a Hawkwind reggae on "The Camera That Could Lie"

White Zone: Even more ambience and electronic experiments - therefore released under the name of "Psychedelic Warriors"

Alien 5 - same as "Black Sword" - the live album from the tour is much better. Called "Love in Space" it's got all the good songs and some Calvert era stuff revived. I'd recommend the DVD version as Hawkwind was on a high showwise - recitations, acrobatics, excellent light & video show.

From then on it's mostly chaos, confusion and demise - unfinished albums released too soon by the management, lots of lineup changes etc...
Only recommendment from that era: "In Your Area" - a live/studio hybrid in typical Hawkwind fashion with excellent spoken words improvisations within songs "Rat Race", Highlight "Hippy" - brilliant song by shorttime guitar player Jerry Richards - good rocking HW stuff in a more punky vein, a few ambient fillers towards the end though.

Around and after the Hawkestra reunion project a couple of live albums - "Yule Ritual - live at London Astoria" (December 2000) recommended - classic songs from almost all eras with several guests and ex-members on board. "Canterbury Fayre" (2001) rather disappointing.

Afterwards several attempts at reestablishing a core lineup, convincing live in the 2000s but not on record. "Take me to your leader" with guest vocals by Arthur Brown(2005) not a bad one, but followed by "Take Me To Your Future" - spare material from the same sessions. Should have packed it all on one disc, would have been a great one.

From the new line-up with Mr. Dibs as first bass player then lead vocalist I cannot recomment any album - they're not bad, but somehow lack strength & full sound - remind me a bit of Brock's early 80s demo attempts soundwise. Kind of a geriatrist's Hawkwind after having committed the same crime/mistake for the second time, that is sacking the bass player that drove the band. Best of the rest probably "Onward".
Couldn't adapt to the sound mixes of the albums, now done by Brock alone - muddy, bass-heavy affairs.
Latest releases (The Machine Stops, Into The Woods) quite promising, but still lacking in drive and suffering from Brock's mixes.

Tried to keep my advice short, but there you go...
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