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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Hawkwind

Sonic Assassins

Review by Gary Hill

This fine CD, another of the year 2000 releases of previously unavailable Hawkwind music, is a great compilation. The recordings presented here are from several different sources. Some of them are from a 1977 live show, while others are Dave Brock solo pieces. The musicians shown on this disc are Brock, Bob Calvert, Harvey Bainbridge, Paul Hayles, Steve Swindells and Martin Griffin.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Over the Top
A hard edged drone with spoken word over top starts this one. It begins gradually building with spoken word. The spoken word segment is basically an introduction to the whole show. The actual song comes in as space oriented spoken vocals. As the cut continues, it becomes a great Hawk jam and the vocals become more a combination of spoken and sung. This one segues into the next cut.
Magnu
This is a Hawk classic. A hard edged Hawk jam, this one features Brock on vocals as opposed to Calvert on the last cut. This is a strong number with sci fi/fantasy lyrics. The song builds in a classic Hawkjam styles as it moves to segue into “Angels of Life”
Angels of Life
This is a solid rocking Hawkwind number with lots of swirling keyboard parts. The arrangement is very cool through this jam. The arrangement here really calls to mind the Space Ritual era.
Freefall
Beginning with some great spacey keyboard textures. These textures are all Hawkwind, but with definite Pink Floyd sort of elements in place. This one drops down to more sedate sections, then percussion takes dominance after a time. The song begins to build a bit as the vocals enter. This one is a great spacey number with quite a few changes. This one again moves directly into the next track.
Death Trap
Frantic hard edged, almost punky sorts of textures make up the majority of this classic Hawk number. The keyboard textures on this one take on a lot more jazzy sort of texture than on the original.
Nuclear Toy
This one is a chord oriented, rather droning sort of number. An almost soaring drone starts over the top, and then science fiction oriented, processed vocals, mostly spoken work comes in overlaid. More Hawkwind space keyboard modes take the dominance for a while, then those keys turn more melodic. These keyboard textures begin a build into “Death Trap”.
Who's Gonna Win the War
This classic Hawkwind slower cut is extremely powerful here, and the chorus is very catchy. This one is killer track.
The Dream 1
More spacey keys begin this one and a high pitched whine sort of sound begins to emerge over the top of that. This runs straight into the next piece.
Assassination
The spacey keyboard textures become lower in nature and atmospheric, and a tape track of the whole assassination related to Oswald become the only vocals. As the piece carries on, it starts to become more and more chaotic and cacophanous. This is also rather hypnotic at the same time.
The Dream 2
As the last cut ends another keyboard texture, atmospheric and almost white noise oriented becomes the mode of this one. Other patterns come out, but with no real melody line, more rhythmic in nature. The keys change to a scream, then back to more scifi tones. Another screaming build takes over to end the piece.
Satellite
This one is a keyboard based cut with audio footage of a John Glenn space mission.
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