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Hawkwind

The Emergency Broadcast Years: 1994-1997

Review by Gary Hill

The new box set is a five disc collection of previously released Hawkwind albums. Each gets its own cardboard sleeve with the original cover art-work. Well, two of the discs are a double CD live album that is included in a gatefold cover here. I've done individual album reviews here for each album as part of the track by track. It should be noted that I also reviewed a couple of these discs individually in the past and have modified the reviews here from those for consistency. I've done individual album reviews of the other two in this same issue. One alteration that should be mentioned is that the track listing of Distant Horizons here is altered from the track order on the version I reviewed before. On that original edition the final track was listed as "Taxi for Max," but apparently it's actually "Love in Space," with the song "Taxi for Max" included as the ending section of the previous piece. I've corrected that on this version of the review. I would say that this is a great way to get these albums, and they are well worth having. This package comes in a cool box and includes a fold out that is a poster on one side and the credits for the albums on the other.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc One: The Business Trip Live
Hawkwind had done a live album not that many years earlier with Palace Springs, so this seemed a little soon to put out one. Still, the line up had gotten down to three members (Dave Brock, Alan Davey and Richard Chadwick) and they were doing a lot different set. So, I suppose it made sense. These days I can’t imagine how many live discs the band has out there. In any event, I like this one quite a bit. Considering that it’s got a bit of a different sound than some of their other live recordings and the fact that a lot of this material is newer rather than the classics, that says a lot. If you love to see how much sound three guys can make (think Rush), then this is definitely one for you.
Altair

This is just a short (a minute and five seconds) keyboard introductory piece. It feels like it might have come from some science fiction film soundtrack.

Quark Strangeness And Charm
Here’s a classic song. This one has a pretty, almost pure progressive rock texture in this telling. This seems slower and mellower than a lot of versions of the track, but it’s also full of “quark, strangeness and charm.” Okay, I’m not sure about that first one, but the other two for sure. There’s a great soaring jam later in the track.
LSD
This is one of the cooler tracks from the Electric Teepee CD. It rocks out quite well and has a definite classic Hawkwind feeling to it. There are hints of “Assassins of Allah” on this at times. There is some intense guitar heavy jamming on this later. Not as blatant we also get some tasty bass guitar runs from Alan Davey later.
The Camera That Could Lie

This comes right out of the last track with an almost reggae feeling to it. Of course, it’s Hawkwind styled reggae. Although this is a bit unusual for Hawkwind it’s a great piece of music. The lyrics are very paranoid in nature. As is typical of Hawkwind they move this out into a cool instrumental segment that keeps morphing later. A keyboard section takes it into mellower territory later, but then they fire out into some of the hardest rocking sounds of the disc.

Green Finned Demon
Keyboard based and slow paced, this is a cool song with a definite science fiction meets fantasy theme to the lyrics. This is quite a tasty number. Further down the road the bass begins to move in new patterns and at a higher point of prominence. From there they move out into a more powered up version of the track’s central themes for a killer instrumental excursion. They return to sedate territory after a while to deliver another verse and chorus and then fire back out into even more hard rocking sounds. This is an incredibly powerful piece of music.
Do That
This comes out of the last number and features some killer music. The drums are far more out front here and this is really a chunk of “You Shouldn’t Do That.” Delivered in this format it actually reminds me quite a bit of Rush. Of course, when I say “snippet,” this is over three minutes long and quite a powerful jam. Alan Davey really shines here.
The Day A Wall Came Down
Percussion just about steals the show on this instrumental. It’s got some keyboard layers and other sounds, but tuned percussion and just plain pounding drums really drive this. This is a little strange, but also quite tasty.
Berlin Axis
Coming out of the last track, this one is an instrumental, too. It’s a lot mellower and based pretty purely on keyboards. Waves of ambient sound come and go on this jam. There is some guitar and a bit of melody later.
Void Of Golden Light
I’ve seen this track over the years under a few different names. It’s always been one of my favorites. This version starts on acoustic guitar with a more stripped down approach. To me that causes it to lose some of its magic as the lush arrangement really makes this one – at least the earlier portions. When they kick out into the harder edged section later it is more effective. Further down the road we get some killer guitar soloing.
Right Stuff

Here’s a Robert Calvert tune. This is hard edged and quite tasty. They put in a great version of it. Of course, I’ve always noticed how this number is quite similar to “Silver Machine.” They turn out quite an energized and powerhouse performance here. It eventually dissolves to bass and keys to segue into the next number.

Wastelands
This is a pretty keyboard dominated number. It works well to counter balance the fury of “The Right Stuff.”
The Dream Goes On

Seeming almost like another part of the last track, this one is based on keyboards and drums and gets noisier as it carries on. A great melody line emerges after a short time and then a bit after the one minute mark they power this out into another hard rocking jam. At less than two minutes in length this is still more of an instrumental interlude.

Right To Decide
With an introduction from Dave Brock, this is a frantic hard edged jam. They move this out through a number of variants and alterations.
The Dream Has Ended
As this enters you might make out the familiar melody. While it’s got a different title, the first minute or so of this is actually the haunting “You Know You’re Only Dreaming.” I like this version quite a bit. They move it out into a different jam from there. All the instruments seem to take an equal role at different times on this. See if you can spot the other vintage Hawkwind jam in the end here – a hint for you is it comes from the debut disc.
The Future
Although it’s got a different title, this short keyboard dominated number is “Welcome to the Future.”
Disc Two: Alien 4
This a masterpiece of science fiction based space rock. It's hard-edged at times, and mellow at others, like an ebb and flow kind of composition. There is a story that seems to make its way through a lot of the set.
Abducted

Weird keyboard textures serve as the backdrop for an awestruck and frightened spoken description of an alien abduction. This is a freaky and very cool introduction to the album. This is really exactly the kind of thing you expect from Hawkwind, dramatic and powerful, but also rather alien and quite trippy.

Alien (I Am)
More odd keyboard textures start this. Some sound-clips from Star Trek The Next Generation are heard as this continues to build in rather frightening and trippy ways. It builds upward and some alien processed vocals are heard. Eventually it shifts out to more hard rocking territory for the first "normal" vocals of the album. This is a killer classic Hawkwind rocker as it drives forward. It modulates into a mean sounding section further down the road. This thing really makes its way through so many changes as it winds its way through. Eventually this segues into the next number.
Reject Your Human Touch
There is an almost alien feeling to the angular music on this rocker. It has some killer guitar work and bits of odd sound dancing around it. There are some bits of voices used like loops. Beyond that this is an instrumental.
Blue Skin

The sound of something like space-ship weaponry is heard at this start of this. The cut pound out from there into a driving, electronic meets hard rocking space music number. There are some decidedly theatrical moments here. Mid-track it drops to an ambient section with spoken vocals. It powers outward from there with more killer space rock. More freaky science-fiction stuff that gets rather theatrical emerges after a while.

Beam Me Up

More of an electronic trippy vibe drives the first part of this. It shifts out to more rocking territory as the chorus enters. It really drives forward with classic Hawkwind space elements. It shifts out to sonic weirdness as the intensity and speed increases. It reaches a peak, and then drops down to mellower stuff for a spoken voice that feels just a bit like a Dalek. It builds up to another rocking vibe from there, driving with more of a classic Hawkwind mainstream sound.

Vega
Mellower trippy keyboard elements open this and move it forward. This instrumental is quite pleasant and very pretty. It's a nice interlude after the intensity of the last track.
Xenomorph
A harder rocking jam leads this off with a classic Hawkwind groove. Think "Silver Machine" meets "Assassins of Allah." This stomper is classic and very cool. It's more of a mainstream number than a lot of the music here. A drop to a piano laden segment leads into some more killer jamming as this continues to evolve. It works through some smoking hot space rock zones as they work forward.
Journey
Coming out of the previous cut, there is a real symphonic rock element here. It is still very much rock oriented, but there is a classical texture on both the rhythmic element and some of the melodic ones. I love the bass work on this. The keyboards driving over the top are killer, too. This instrumental is classy.
Sputnik Stan
Seeming to come from the previous track, mellow keyboard textures start this. It powers out from there to a killer hard driving riff to create the basis of the cut. This has a classic Hawkwind type song. In some ways it feels like something that would have fit on the Levitation album to me. There is both cool bass work and keyboard jamming on this killer track. The bass stuff beyond the four minute mark is particularly strong. It really gets into some soaring territory from there. This is one of the highlights here, but really everything is so good that it's hard to pick one.
Kapal
Keyboards and the sounds of nature bring this into being. It starts to rise up gradually from there. It remains mostly ambient until around the halfway mark when it starts to pick and intensify. More trippy stuff ensues as this grows.
Festivals
A harder rocking jam, this is killer space rock. I love the shifts and changes here. It's catchy and meaty at the same time. There is a trippy kind of rhythmic movement with weird bursts of space music in the mix - mid-track. It moves forward from there in classy ways.
Death Trap
A new version of a Hawkwind classic, this rocks. It has some killer guitar work and a real driving intensity.
Wastelands
Another redo from earlier Hawkwind, this melodic mellower number works quite well here.
Are You Losing Your Mind?
A song that continues the alien abduction themes, this is a pounding bit of Hawkwind oddity that works really well. It's classic and yet fresh.
Disc Three: Love in Space CD 1
I'm not sure when this double CD live set was recorded, but the bulk of the material comes from 1995's Alien 4, and it was released in 1996, so that narrows it down. There are a lot of live Hawkwind albums out there, but this stands tall among them. The performance is smoking hot. Additionally, this includes a lot of material that isn't on a lot of the rest, meaning that it stands apart. The recording quality is top-notch, too.
Abducted
Trippy theatrical science fiction sounds are the backdrop for a spoken vocal section that conveys both amazement and fear.
Death Trap
Coming out of the previous cut, this Hawkwind classic really rocks in this live telling. It's on fire.
Wastelands

This melodic number serves as a great segue between the first two cuts.

Are You Losing Your Mind?
They deliver a killer hard rocking take on the song from Alien 4. I like the studio version a lot, but this one blows that rendition away. It's a real screamer.
Photo Encounter
I dig this trippy kind of interlude.
Blue Skin
Photon torpedo blasts are heard earlier on this. The cut is a powerhouse Hawkwind stomper delivered with a lot of fire and fury. This gets into some seriously rocking territory later in the track, making it one of the more intense things here. There is some particularly cool jamming underway.
Sputnik Stan
I really love the powerhouse rocking jam on this live version of the cut. They really throw some killer instrumental work into this thing, turning it into a nearly ten and a half minute excursion. The bass playing is exceptional on this. The song has some great shifts and changes here. I really love the bass solo section after the five minute mark. The bits of space chatter add something in terms of texture. They come back into a fierce version of the song proper to take it forward from there.
Robot
Trippy keyboards bring this older Hawkwind number into being. It powers upward from there as it works into the song proper. When they shift to more electronic stuff there are some clips from Star Trek The Next Generation. They bring it back out into more rocking territory to continue from there and take it to the end.
Alien (I Am)
This powers in electronically and builds outward from there. It becomes a melodic space rocking jam that works well after a while. It's both accessible and meaty. It's delivered in style in this live telling. I love the little bass fill in the transition section after the five minute mark. The cut really works out to a more intensified version of the song proper from there.
Disc Four: Love in Space CD 2
               
Xenomorph

This is a bit punky. It's fierce and driving. It really rocks like crazy. It's a powerhouse number from start to finish.

Vega
Trippy keyboards are the concept on this mellow interlude type number.
Love in Space
A rather catchy cut, this works through some cool changes. The hooks are very accessible. It drops back mid-track for a different kind of vocal section. Then they fire out into smoking hot space rock jamming from there. It's purely on fire as it marches onward. Eventually it makes its way back to the song proper to continue. This piece is close to ten minutes long in this live telling. They use that time to great advantage working through a lot of different things along the journey.
Kapal
Cool keyboards and trippy nature sounds are heard at the start of this number. It gets some percussion and other rhythmic elements as it grows forward. Some Shakespeare is heard as this powers up and marches forward. It continues to evolve without risking into real rocking territory.
Elfin
This mellower cut is very much keyboard based. It's another that's more of an interlude or connecting piece.
Silver Machine
They put in a fiery rendition of the band's biggest hit. This is punky and yet space rock oriented. It's not my favorite live version, but it's a lot of fun.
Welcome to the Future
This classic older Hawkwind song is delivered with a lot of style. It's built around keyboards with the waves of vocals. It gets into some noisy rocking stuff.
Assassins / Space (Is Their Palestine)
It sounds like there is a sitar at the start of this, but I don't see anyone credited as playing sitar, so maybe it's keyboards. That section runs through, and then they work out to a tentative rocking jam from there. They keep it understated for a while, but the intensity starts to build as keyboard textures bringing the middle Eastern themes come over the top. It's past the six minute mark before they really launch into the rocking edge of the cut. Apparently the "Space (Is Their Palestine)" section is at the start and makes up the bulk of the lead-up, or it's improperly labeled because "Assassins of Allah" actually ends the live album.
Disc Five: Distant Horizons
I never met a Hawkwind album I didn’t like. That said, this is one of the more non-descript and lackluster discs in their catalog. It’s Hawkwind, so it’s still good, but I’d recommend getting this one late in your quest to complete your Hawkwind collection.
Distant Horizons
Reggae merges with electronic space rock and weird chanting sounds. It gets more rocking as it builds out later.
Phetamine Street
This comes in with some space and then bass takes it. The track launches out with a Nik Turner era like hard rocking, punky jam. It’s fairly raw and a little weird – and doesn’t really do much for me.
Waimea Canyon Drive
At times it almost feels like there are two songs going on at once. While this is somewhat classic Hawkwind in texture it’s a bit overproduced and hard to latch onto. The mellower section works very well, though.
Alchemy
Now this is more like it. Hawkwind takes us into nearly metal territory. It’s a hard rocking jam that at many points is pure heavy metal. I could imagine Judas Priest doing this. Still, there’s enough Hawkwind space rock in the mix to make it fit. It might not be the most classic of sounds for the band, but it is a great piece of music.
Clouded Vision
The majority of this track is a quirky sort of ballad approach. There’s a more powered up bridge, though. It’s one of the more typically Hawkwind-like pieces on show here.
Reptoid Vision
This killer rocker is very metallic, but also very classic Hawkwind in texture. In fact, if you listen very carefully, I think you’ll hear a definite similarity to a Hawkwind trademark on parts of the guitar. There’s also a killer off-kilter jam mid-track and a cool journey into pure space from there. This is one of the highlights of the set. At over seven and a half minutes in length, it’s also the longest cut on show here.
Population Overload
The keyboard dominated portion that leads this off makes me think of Yes a bit – seriously. From there they take it out to a more typical Hawkwind approach – the spacey type of sounds – with a spoken vocal. This also calls to mind Pink Floyd at points. As it continues the music is sparse and barren, focusing more on rhythmic structures – right to the end where a short lush keyboard sound joins to end it.
Wheels
A harder rocking tune, this is quite tasty. It’s one of the standouts of the set. The early powerful jam gives way to a droning, more atmospheric segment with a spoken vocal line. I’d have to say that a good chunk of the hard rock portion of this feels like it’s lifted from an older Hawkwind song, but I can’t remember which track it is – I can sure hear it in my head, though. The sound of waves hitting a beach end this and segue into the next song.
Kauai
The first half of this instrumental starts and ends with the sounds of waves on the beach. It’s a pretty keyboard based number – at least in that section.
Taxi for Max
The second segment here is weird sound effects and such.
Love in Space
Here’s a spacey sort of instrumental. It’s textural and very techno in nature. It seems an odd way to end things.

 

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