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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Hawkwind

Palace Springs (Remastered Edition)

Review by Gary Hill

If you’ve never owned this live CD from Hawkwind (or even if you have, now is the time to get it). This newly remastered edition sounds better than the original release to my ears. If that wasn’t enough, though, they have really upped the stakes. The new booklet is expanded, too and very nice. There are two new songs on the Palace Springs disc that weren’t on the original release, too. It would be well worth the upgrade if those were the only changes here. They aren’t, though. They’ve included a second disc, previously released as California Brainstorm. It also sounds great here and has an extra song added to it. That makes this a “must have” for Hawkwind fans as far as I’m concerned.

I should mention that I’ve previously reviewed the original releases of both of these albums. For the sake of consistency the track reviews here for the previously released songs will be included here. I’ll also tell you what I said about those original albums as a whole. Here’s what I said about Palace Springs: “Coming from a band with seemingly a million albums under their belt, this is really one of their best live discs. It captures a great, if quite short, period of the band and does so with a style and texture that really is incredible.”

And here’s the original overall review of California Brainstorm: “Due to the packaging and recording quality, I always thought this was a bootleg. I’ve now found out that it’s not. I guess I should say that, when I talk about the recording quality, it’s not that it’s bad, but rather that it’s a little flat. So, all that said, when you look at the music that’s here and the fact that this includes Bridget Wishart and Harvey Bainbridge in the lineup – a grouping that didn’t do that much live work as Hawkwind, this is well worth having. It’s got some incredibly cool medleys of Hawk music that seamlessly move from one thing to another and it’s perhaps one of the most blatantly prog rock oriented versions of the band.”

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc One – Palace Springs

 
Back In the Box

Staccato in its textures, this Hawk cut features some stellar vocal work from Bridget Wishhart and a great violin texture that seriously adds to the piece. It includes a great weird interlude.

Treadmill
A more straightforward rock song, this one is made stronger by the violin presence. It has a great instrumental break with lots of killer hawk jamming.
Void of Golden Light/Lives of Great Men
Very lush and dramatic, (although listed as two separate pieces) these two cuts really run together alternating in and out of them. They are combined to create one of the finest excursions into the musical universe of Hawkwind ever.
Time We Left
This short song does a great job of capturing the early Hawkwind sound and this is one of the better renditions of this piece ever recorded.
Heads
Based on a slow keyboard dominated weird groove, this one is quite strong.
Acid Test
Based on a very spacey weirdness, this cut is rather strange.
Damnation Alley

Coming straight out of the previous cut, keyboards bring it in and the number begins to build from there. It includes a nice sedate segment.

The Damned of Life
The first of two bonus tracks, this comes in with something like weird video game music accompanied by effects. It builds out from there as an instrumental that has some definite classical elements to it. It’s quite electronic, but also very proggy. Around the two minute mark it gets more of a rock sound to it. Shortly after that, the vocals join. It works to more decidedly space rocking sounds as it builds. Then after the vocal section they really turn it out into a smoking hot space rock jam. That ends as the next set of vocals enter. Something closer to the first section comes back in to end it.
Treadmill/Time We Left (alternate version)
I like this a lot. It comes in with a little odd texture, but quickly works out to more typical Hawkwind space rock. They work this through the song proper and some shifts and changes before taking it to a different kind of instrumental take on “Time We Left.”
Disc Two - California Brainstorm

 

 

 

Void's End

Coming in gradually, this builds out into quite a powerful space rock jam. This instrumental ebbs and flows as it drifts through various shifts and changes. It has a pretty constant melodic element, but increases and decreases in intensity.

Ejection
The intro to “Ejection” here is cool. Waves of keyboards and sound effects swirl around as Bridget Wishart runs through the checklist for “Ejection”. The band launch out into a raucous rendition of this killer track from there. We get some killer music on this as they carry on. It works through some great space music segments.
Brainstorm
This Hawk-classic is given a frantic hard rocking treatment here. It’s a bit raw, but also quite energized. They take us through a series of changes and alterations, seemingly weaving other songs into the tapestry of this one as they continue. It eventually makes its way back out into the main song.
Out of the Shadows/Eons/Night of the Hawks
As the title suggests, this eighteen plus minute epic works through a number of Hawkwind tracks. There’s some space rock here along with some harder rocking music. It really does work quite well as a cohesive piece of music, rather than a lot of unrelated songs. The resolution into the “Night of the Hawks” segment is quite effective. They drop it way down to end.
T.V. Suicide/Back in the Box/Assassins of Allah
Coming up from the void left behind by the previous number, all kinds of sound effects make us feel like we’ve arrived in Toon Town. They take us through the craziness of “T.V. Suicide” and then drop way down for ambience as they continue. From there they fire back out into “Back in the Box”. This is another hard rocking jam. This continues to modulate around, though – not remaining hard. This is very much theater and has a lot of interesting stuff built into it. I’d almost call it performance art in a way. Though it’s not credited we get a little bit of “Paranoia” from the first Hawkwind album in the midst of this extended jam – right before they lead out into “Assassins…” It’s a scorching rendition of the track – and closes off this twenty minute plus suite.
Propaganda
This is just a short bit of stage banter.
Reefer Madness
Another classic Hawkwind piece, this is performed in a very modern way. It really benefits from Bridget Wishart’s vocals here.
Images
This is a bonus track on this edition. This is actually one of my favorite songs from the Space Bandits album. They give us a rocking rendition here. I saw them on this tour, and this feels very much like the live performance I heard. I’m glad to have this as it’s the first time I’ve heard this live take.
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