The masters of spacerock refuse to fade away.
HAWKWIND: Atomhenge 76 (double CD on Hawk Records)
This 85 minute release documents a Hawkwind concert at London's Hammersmith Odeon on October 5, 1976. A prime gig too, featuring the nimble talents of Dave Brock, Bob Calvert, Nik Turner, Simon House, Simon King, Alan Powell, and Paul Rudolph.
You'll find your fave Hawkwind classics from that period here too: "Reefer Madness", "Brainstorm", "Uncle Sam's on Mars", "Hassan I Sahba", and "Sonic Attack", along with the more rare (yet thoroughly vital) tunes: "Paradox", "Chronoglide Skyway", "Steppenwolf", "Back on the Streets", and a ten-minute rendition of the ultra-rare "Time for Sale."
Expect raw, unbridled spacerock, exploding with searing guitar, wailing saxophone, commanding vocals, thunderous drumming, rumbling bass, sultry violin, and electrifying synthesizers. 1976 was a time for Hawkwind to tighten their sound, refining their signature fusion of science fiction and music into a unity that remains today as a pinnacle for other bands to strive for but rarely achieve.
Detail freaks might notice that this concert is the same one found on Griffin Records' "Thrilling Hawkwind Adventures" CD released a few years ago. "Atomhenge 76", though, gives you 32 more minutes of this stupendous performance.
HAWKWIND: Yule Ritual (double CD on Hawk Records)
On December 29, 2000, a very special version of Hawkwind played the London Astoria. This double CD documents 99 minutes of that astounding concert.
The current band line-up of Dave Brock, Richard Chadwick, Ron Tree, and Jerry Richards were joined by band members from the past: Tim Blake, Simon House and more, including SF author Michael Moorcock who phoned in from Texas to supply some chilling vocals for two songs ("Warrior at the Edge of Time" and the always audacious "Sonic Attack").
As if that didn't make the gig momentous enough, the choice of material the band played that night represents a selection of classic Hawkwind songs that have not been heard live for many years, including: "Levitation", "Space Is Deep", "Flying Doctor", "High Rise", "Freefall", "Hurry On Sundown", and more.
The result of this cosmic conjunction is a thoroughly head-spinning dose of a Hawkwind brandishing more than a wingful of its legendary spacerock stamina. Electronics swarm like unleashed bees amidst a turgid atmosphere of blazing guitars and vigorous drumming. When the bass rumbles, the vibrations move the ground underfoot. Sultry keyboards wind like glittering pathways through this cohesive sonic union. The vocals are commanding as they guide the listener through realms of unearthly strangeness. There's even a taste of passionate saxophone and dreamy flute, not to mention House's searing violin passages.
Overall: quite a winning choice.
DAVE BROCK: Memos and Demos (CD on Hawk Records)
Founder and backbone of Hawkwind throughout their cosmos-spanning existence over the last thirty-plus years, Dave Brock presents 71 minutes of solo material on this 2001 release.
Do not be deceived by this release's title, however. This music is far from "demo" quality, and the tracks are hardly abbreviated and crude "memos". Handling all the instrumentation himself (except for organ on a single song), Brock delivers a decent approximation of the full-Hawkwind sound with this selection. His guitar pyrotechnics and synthesizer assaults are stunning and relentless, whether the tuneage is exploring psychedelic weirdness or surgingly brutal rock. There are frequent incidences of trance colliding with jungle to emerge dripping with powerhouse sensibilities.
While not every song achieves stellar proportions, the music is still rigorously satisfying. The CD hits a fiery plateau during its later half with unbelievable crescendos that endure forever and memorably incandescent riffs that will make the listener's cranium bulge with awe.
If everyone's "demos" were this slick, there'd be no need for expensive recording studios.
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