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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Hawkwind

Quark Strangeness and Charm

Review by Gary Hill

The production on this is a bit unusual. There are also some punky elements. Both of those things contribute to the late 70s Hawkwind sound. All that said, this has some exceptional music on it. There are a number of songs that really have become Hawkwind classics, and the whole thing just works so well. It's one of my favorite Hawkwind albums, really. And, that says a lot.


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Track by Track Review
Spirit of the Age

Beginning with white noise oriented sound effects that lead into other sound effects; it is nearly two minutes into the cut before actual music emerges. As it does, the sound is almost Smithsish at first (although this predates that band's appearance). The volume gradually rises on the music and the effects start to fall away. The cut becomes a nice rock oriented mid tempo number. Some of the lyrics are sort of a space age/sci-fi love lost ode. The entire song is essentially a commentary on some of the problems of modern society. It just so happens that it is set in a time well beyond our current time. "I would have liked you to have been deep frozen, too, And waiting still as fresh in your flesh for my return, but your father refused to sign the forms to freeze you, Let's see you'd be about 60 now, and long dead by the time I return to Earth, But my time held dreams were full of you as you were when I left, still underage." Other topics covered include android replicas and cloning issues, but all in that entertaining, somewhat humorous vein. Put all this within a proggy, sci-fi oriented midtempo ballad musical format, and you wind up with a stand out cut.

Damnation Alley

More of a high energy fast paced jam, this is classy stuff. It's catchy and much more mainstream than the opener was. I love the spacey proggy jamming on the tune. I dig the groove space section mid-track, too. When it comes out of the extended proggy jam that is a renewed and evolved rocking jam from there.

Fable of a Failed Race
This comes in mellower and slow moving. It builds upward from there. As the vocals join it makes me think of early Pink Floyd in a lot of ways. The closing movement is melodic and very classy.
Quark Strangeness and Charm
The title track, this one is bouncy, fun and classic Hawkwind.
Hassan I Shaba
Starting on violion, this so cool. Dripping with Eastern leanings, this is a hard rocking number that is a Hawkclassic.
The Forge of Vulcan
Cool electronic keyboards begin this and move it forward. This instrumental has some percussion and great space sounds built into it. It's a bit like Hawkwind meets Tangerine Dream.
The Days of the Underground -
Tastefully quirky, this is cool stuff. It's psychedelic rock in a lot of ways. I love some of the trippy layers of sound that dance around this thing.
The Iron Dream
Coming right out of the previous number, this is fast paced, driving kind of space rocker.
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