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Hawkwind

Acid Daze: The History of Hawkwind

Review by Gary Hill

Given the subtitle on this, you’d expect it to be a chronological compilation with detailed liner notes. Well, if you want that you need to get Epoch Eclipse. What we have here is a good selection of Hawkwind songs. They are presented in no particular order that I can discern and the liner notes are pretty much non-existent. It’s a good CD to get a bit of a cross section of Hawkmusic, but don’t expect enlightenment beyond the sounds. In many cases I’ve already reviewed these individual tracks on other discs. In those instances I’ve used or modified that original review for the sake of consistency. Mind you, with the liner notes the way they are, I can’t tell for certain if these are the same versions I’ve assumed they are. “Angels of Death” is listed as being on disc 2, but it’s nowhere to be found on the set.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
High Rise

Originally released on PXR5, this is a progish, fairly hard-edged song that is dramatic and powerful.

British Tribal Music

A little explosion leads this off and then they launch out into a frantic rocker that’s a bit strange, but also quite cool. Odd voices come in and out here and there. Different instruments lead the way at different places. This is essentially an instrumental (other than those voices – mostly spoken – more like sound loops). They turn this into an old school Hawkwind grind after a while. It gets more sci-fi oriented down the road and a bit noisy at times.

Spirit of the Age
This is a live version of the song from Quark Strangeness and Charm. I love the science fiction oriented lyrics although the keyboard sound that opens it here is a bit stark and glaring. They turn it into a strong rendition as they carry on, though. I’ve always loved this song, and this is a good rendition. It has a mellower section and a harder rocking jam. Both work quite well.
Urban Guerrilla
Recorded in 1973 and available on the remastered version of Doremi…, this is a hard rocking, almost punky cut. It really seemed to foresee the unfortunate future of our society. "I'm an urban guerilla, I make bombs in my cellar." "So, let's not talk of love and flowers, and things that don't explode, you know we've used up all of our magic powers trying to do it in the road." This one features a definitive Hawkjam.
Master of the Universe
Metallic and spacey, this is quintessential Hawkwind. The vocals are in an almost dream state sort of tone. The composition also features a couple of false endings and a long jam session. This cut is from In Search of Space.
World of Tiers
Featuring a quirky arrangement, this cut is a moving number that really has a tendency to energize a person. This is an additional brief non-vocal composition.
Who's Gonna Win the War

This is a solid song featuring a haunting verse and catchy chorus based on military rhythm patterns.

Ghost Dance
Tribal percussion leads this off. Noises and chanting are added as this is built upon. It has a definite Native American (gone trippy) feeling. I would say that this track should really be called “British Tribal Music.” We get a pretty cool Nik Turner vocal on this.
Earth Calling
This really feels like a radio wave call to another planet, ship or colony. Sound effects are merged with a spoken repeated, “this is Earth calling.”
Motorhead

Starting with a good bass groove, this is a solid rocker. Obviously later covered by Motorhead, this version features a strong violin solo and presence throughout. This does not seem like the original Hawkwind version, though and I’d say Lemmy isn’t even on this.

Watchfield Festival
This is a cool live version of “You Shouldn’t Do That.” We get Nik Turner vocals and wailing sax and this is a great pounding groove.
Disc 2
Magnu
Harder edged and rawer, this one is still quite spacey. It comes from Warrior on the Edge of Time. With its Eastern textures, processed vocals and fantasy lyrics, “Magnu” is quite powerful. It really moves in a lot of musical directions while still maintaining a definite Hawkwind sound. It features some especially strong percussion in the jam late in the track.
Hash Cake '77
This is a live track. It starts with a really strange spoken introduction segment and then moves into a keyboard dominated movement. It’s sort of an off beat piece of atmosphere and noise.
Quark, Strangeness and Charm
The title track of the Quark Strangeness and Charm album, this one is bouncy, fun and classic Hawkwind.
Douglas in the Jungle
This is one of the weirdest cuts on show here. Odd keyboards and other sounds create a shifting wall of sound as the title is sort of chanted. That title is slowed down at one point and we get a weird conversation. It turns in the direction of pure noise as it moves on. Then this punk rock kind of guitar line enters and creates a cool pounding motif as we get other vocals deep in the mix. It dissolves into a strange mélange of voices and pounding music. As unusual as this is it’s also kind of hypnotic.
Dealing With the Devil
Here’s a full on blues treatment. It’s a lot in the vein of the next number. This is a smoking hard edged blues cut that’s quite cool.
Bring It on Home
On this, a bonus track from the reissue of the first Hawkwind album, we find the band blowing some serious blues, harmonica and all. There’s not a lot of what you’d associate as real “Hawkwind” music on this. Instead it’s probably closer to Robert Johnson and Led Zeppelin. It’s a good tune, if a bit odd. The track was a Dave Brock solo number, so that probably explains it.
Hurry on Sundown
Originally released on the self titled debut disc, this is a classic. Pretty, progish acoustic guitar starts this cut. The track becomes more rock oriented, but still progish, although a bit simplistic in structure. Certainly the lyrics to this one are quite prog oriented. "Look into your mind's eye, See what you can see." When the guitar solo comes in, the cut takes on very psychedelic tones, quite reminiscent of The Doors. This is strong space rock with early prog and psychedelic leanings. It even includes some wailing, Hendrixish guitar.
Came Home
Feeling very tongue in cheek, this is Hawkwind doing a country jam – seriously. Of course, they move it out to more standard space rock after a verse like this.
We Do It

This is a pretty typical example of early Hawkwind. It’s got a lot of space keys, some pounding bass and weird vocals barely in the mix. The jam gets pretty intense at times.

Born to Go
I love this pounding space rocker. I think this is a live version and might come from Space Ritual, but I can’t be sure. Suffice it to say this is one of the stronger tracks here – at least on CD 2. This jam gets quite intense at times.
Space Is Deep
Pretty acoustic guitar leads this one off, and as it builds keys shimmer across the top. The track launches out into a balladic sort of texture with a more sung vocal line. All the while the keyboards chirp and twitter across the sky of the piece. This track is a very different beast than the one that came before it, but it’s also a classic “text book” example of “space rock.” This doesn’t move far, instead (like most great space rock) it gains its power from reworkings of the central themes in varying formats and subtle transitions. They do power this one out for good effect later into a more hard rocking version of itself, though. It also drops back the acoustic guitar modes as Dave Brock coaxes all kinds of explorations from his strings. Eventually keys and sound effects take the lead from him, though – coming up gradually at first. Still Brock gets the last word.
You Shouldn't Do That
Starting in an acoustic guitar mode, spacey keyboards join in, then the musical tone turns bouncy while retaining the space rock mode in the vocals, keys and lyrics. This strong number represents classic space rock quite well. As it becomes more electrified, it transforms into a droning piece, then moves into very progish territory while still presenting a classic example of space rock and hippie modes. It drops back into a rather intricate acoustic guitar jam that is both folky and progish to end the number. This guitar jam is accompanied by sound effects oriented keyboards.

 

Seeing It As You Really Are

This comes straight out of the last one and rises with a tone that almost feels like someone sleeping at first. As it grows up it feels more sinister perhaps – or at least more like a psychedelically chemically altered experience. Noise/voices and minor elements work around one another in a dream like pattern of sound. This one again calls to mind early Pink Floyd. After a time the bass brings in a bit of a melody. Then the track starts to coalesce into a real “song.” Still, there are weird voices and other effects wandering back and forth across the mix, but this starts to resemble a Haight Ashbury freak out more than Pink Floyd after a time. They bring up the tempo and the intensity and a guitar wails across the top. This becomes more hard rocking as they carry on but the chanting that has been heard here and there almost becomes a spirit moaning. They continue changing and altering the track until finally crescendoing to end. This one is very dynamic with tempos and sounds shifting and changing throughout.

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