The latest offering from the Hawkwind archives is a set of BBC live and session recordings from 1985-1995.
Release Date: 25th March 2022
Formats: 3CD clamshell box / digital
So here we go with this month’s ATB Hawkwind feature. Atomhenge, the Hawkwind specialists, deliver the goods yet again with another nice little package which might prompt the question of ‘What’s the pull of another Hawkwind set?’
The live outings gathered across the ten years spell covered by Dreamworkers Of Time get the inevitable newly remastered treatment – although it has to be said that we/most fans do enjoy the generally murky sound that comes as almost Hawkwind standard. The 1988 show and 1995 session have their first time on CD too so a grand opportunity to have things ‘handy’ rather than searching through your old tapes as some of us still do.
The headline slot at Reading 1986 (those were the days) kicks off with Dave Brock’s cheery chap welcome after an assault on Angels Of Death (cue shameless plug – from the Sonic Attack album, recently redone) “having a good time? been a good day hasn’t it? I thought so too!” It sounds rather sprightly too, whether that’s the remastering or the drugs…
Amidst the songs that are often the first names on the teamsheet – Assault & Battery, Masters Of The Universe taken at a belting pace, and another pacey thrash cum Space Rock jam through Silver Machine that runs to eleven minutes of mayhem. There’s the bonus appearance of a growling Lemmy on the latter too. A chance too to admire some of the under the radar/underrepresented songs in the catalogue. Needle Gun a basic but fun blast of classic psych rock and Utopia is as punk as anything from the previous decade (with some sonic zaps of course).
Dream Worker/Dust Of Time carries the Sci-Fi flag in the style of the Blue Oyster Cult. A mighty riff and dominant vocal is pure Sandy Pearlman especially in the build up to the closing guitar break, before they get the laser is finally working (!) for Assassins Of Allah – “Yes! that’s more like it!” Brilliant stuff and it’s a buzzing performance in front of a partisan festival crowd.
And so to Hammersmith (when it was still the Odeon) in 1988. Soundwise, we’re a little thinner and a little more distant although the vocals are nice and upfront. The sort of recording suitably mixed for the BBC Radio One In Concert would have sounded ace to the radio listeners in the pre digital/DAB days and indeed is is a pleasure to record that Hawkwind were once on the menu of the nation’s favourite station. Naturally, there’s a healthy handful of tracks from The Xenon Codex – the album of the time – supplemented for once by some less obvious choices all delivered with a general air of urgency.
An enjoyable Rocky Paths and Monglum are typical of the more immediate work rather than the cosmic jams oft associated with Hawkwind, th elatter covered here with Mutation Zones/Tides that segues into Wastelands Of Sleep. The classic from the go-to Hawkwind catalogue comes with a Sonic Attack and Shot Down In The Night, also belted out like they’re on a tight schedule. Perhaps after being buoyed by listening to the Reading set, we’re a bit blase about Hammersmith.
Their first studio session since 1972, for the famous and fabulous Friday Rock Show in 1985 , is right back on track soundwise. One for the radio again but given a much fuller, fitter and meaty balance just like we like it. Just a few swirls in and we’re off onto an quarter hour of intense fervour fuelled by some searing lead lines on Assault Of The Hawk – which is exactly what it is. Social comment gets rolled out with They’ve Got Your Number that boogies along and a concession to something a teeny bit cosmic ends up with Brock declaring “you’ve reached your future state!” I don’t recall how it was back in ’85 but any FRS listeners who’d lost touch with Hawkwind or were just Silver Machine aware, might have experienced a re-awakening.
We head on ten years to 1995 for a Mark Radcliffe session with a similar sketch. And any Hawkwind set that has Right To Decide included, meets with our approval. Twenty minutes of blasting through a maelstrom that combines a series of tracks including the nod to the Alien 4 album as they veer off into Are You Losing Your Mind? that emerges from a dreamy Wastelands Of Sleep. Probably freaking out some of the Radcliffe listeners of the day as they showcase some of their period work. The Assassins Of Allah/The Dream Goes On ventures into ethnic Space rock territory as the band find ways to merge their pulsing and riffing into an Eastern cosmic twist.
All is gathered in the usual nice little package to sit alongside all those other compilations and collections. They’re one of our most featured bands – Fairport is up there too – and as long as Dave & the biys keep going, as long as Atomhenge continue to delve into and reboot the catalogue, we’ll be there.
Here’s a taste of that Friday Rock Show session: