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Hawkwind

Space Chase: 1980-1985

Review by Gary Hill

Those looking for an introduction to the Huw Lloyd Langton period of Hawkwind in the first part of the 1980s might find this a perfect first purchase. It’s a great snapshot of a period of the band. For the serious Hawkind fan, though, all these tracks are probably redundant. It doesn’t mean that this isn’t a recommended set, though. For one thing, some of the pieces are single versions, making it less likely to be in the collection. Truly, though, the packaging is a big part of the allure of this set. It comes in a cool box and is packed with a Hawkwind pin, a full color book and a foldout mini-poster. There’s even a cool full color sleeve for the CD itself. This thing is a great little package. It should be mentioned that I’ve reviewed most of these tracks previously on their original albums. For the sake of consistency the track listings for those have been copied or modified for inclusion here.

 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Levitation

This energetic space rock piece features a rather hypnotic and invigorating rhythmic melody line and some very interesting keyboard work. This is a fitting tune to start the album.

Motor Way City

“Motorway City” is another track which is driven primarily by the rhythm section, this one more in a progressive rock sort of vein.

World of Tiers

Featuring a quirky arrangement, this cut is a moving number that really has a tendency to energize a person. This is a brief non-vocal composition.

Space Chase

A nicely odd keyboard intro leads into a track dominated by a solidly driving rhythmic melody and some energetic instrumental soloing.

Shot Down in the Night (Single Version)
This live version of “Shot Down in the Night” has tons of energy. It’s fun and comes from Live Seventy Nine, but I’m guessing since it’s a “single version” it’s edited from that version. This really pounds and drives as it continues.
Rocky Paths
This is a killer hard edged Hawkwind jam. It’s not a huge departure from the rest of their material of the time, but it’s definitely a strong tune and has some scorching guitar soloing and tasty keyboard sounds. There’s also a cool fast paced bass driven jam later that’s full of drama and power.
Angels of Death

Dark and powerful, this is a very strong Hawkwind number. It has a considerably potent instrumental break.

Living on a Knife Edge

This rises up with a classic hard rock jam and it seems like the band have been playing for some time and we’ve just walked into the room to hear it. The chorus on this is catchy and the track might be stereotypical of that era of the band, but it just plain works. They throw a couple changes our way before they bring this to a halt. It fades out much as it faded in to start.

Nuclear Drive

This rises up with a guitar dominated jam. It’s tasty and spacey and cool. It reminds me of something from Choose Your Masques.

Choose Your Masques

A bouncy heavy texture makes up the bulk of this one. In typical Hawkwind tradition it doesn't really go anywhere (this band can take the simplest progression and through clever usage of overlayers turn it into something incredible), but there is some very tasty guitar work here, and this one is quite easy to sing along with. It runs straight into the next track, and in fact, they are both included in track one of the CD.

Silver Machine (1982 Single Version)

Hawkwind’s biggest hit, this is a smoking hot version. There must be a million versions of this song out there (interestingly enough, William Shatner does a version on his new album, reviewed in this same issue), but they all work quite well. I really dig this hard rocking space stomper.

Waiting for Tomorrow
Also coming from the single of “Silver Machine,” I’ve reviewed the album version of this before and here’s that review, “One of my all time favorite Hawkwind songs, this one has it all, killer spacey yet doom oriented lyrics, a bouncy crunchy main riff structure and Huw Lloyd Langton laying down meaty guitar work all over this. What more could you ask for?” I think this is the same version, but I’m not positive. At least I can’t tell the difference.
Dragons & Fables
This has a cool, somewhat stripped down space rock approach. The vocals make me think of something Rob Halford would do, as long as you take away the major top end screams from his repertoire. This is really an instant Hawkwind classic and features a great hook and some killer vocals.
The Sea King
A metallic Hawkwind tune, this one rocks out quite well, and I’ve always liked it a lot. The chorus on this, with its riff based structure and keys weaving over the top is a nice touch. The track features some interesting guitar lines and some trademark whirring keys.
Needle Gun

While this one is a little on the generic side it’s always been a favorite of mine because it’s so darn catchy. It’s a metallic romp that’s a lot of fun.

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