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Dark Matter: The Alternative Liberty/UA Years 1970 – 1974 (Record Store Day 2018) Vinyl

Review by Gary Hill

The music contained on this new double disc vinyl set has only previously been released on one fairly rare CD set. I don't own that release, so I'm glad to have this. Some of the songs here are tracks I've never heard before. Others are variants on songs with which I'm familiar. All of this is killer classic Hawkwind. I highly recommend this to all Hawkwind fans, as it's a classy release on heavy vinyl, and includes some music that's well worth having.

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Track by Track Review
Side 1
You Know You’re Only Dreaming (Original 1970 Version)
A slow, acoustic guitar driven buildup brings this into being. It rises up slowly and gradually in style. The vocal comes in over the top. This has more of a psychedelic rock vibe than the original version of the cut did. The multiple layers of vocals on the song work quite well. As it shifts toward space there is a cool non-lyrical vocal movement that comes in on top of it. Those vocals drop away, and they take it through some cool space rock jamming. A number of changes emerge before they bring it back out to the song proper to continue.
The Reason Is (Alternative Version)
Trippy sounds bring this one in with an almost spooky, otherworldly vibe. It evolves outward from there. It starts to coalesce with some guitar rising up, but that drops away to be replaced by the bass. As it shifts to percussive elements trippy science fiction sounds are heard over the top. This sets up nicely as intro to the next cut.
Be Yourself (Alternative Mix)
A more rock based riff emerges. Vocals eventually emerge over the top as this drives onward. After those end it shifts out to a smoking hot space jam from there. This is part hippie music and part space rock. The guitar soloing and whole concept has a real jam band thing at play. Eventually the more song-like section returns, bringing the vocals with it, to take the piece to its ending.
Side 2
Hog Farm

A cool psychedelic rock riff brings this into being. They work out into some killer jamming based on that. After that section eventually works through, though, saxophone and other elements join, and this turns into trademark Hawkwind space rock. It drops to more pure space for a time before powering back out again. That section seems even more intense and invigorated. This instrumental drops down to fade away at the end.

Sweet Mistress Of Pain (aka Kiss of the Velvet Whip)
The music on the intro to this is the music to "Adjust Me." The cut works out from there to a killer psychedelic meets space rock jam that is trademark Hawkwind. It continues to evolve turning out into a killer space jam.
Seven By Seven (Alternative Vocal Mix)
This is an alternate take of a Hawkwind song that I've always really loved. This space rocker is so classy. The main change I can hear on this are the vocals on the more spoken vocals, but there are changes on some of the sung vocals, too. Beyond that the guitar solo section seems to be mixed a little differently. I think I prefer the album version, but this is an intriguing variant.
Side 3
Take What You Can

The riff that opens this makes me think of a psychedelic take on Bob Dylan. There are definitely space elements at play, too. As the vocals join the psychedelic rock vibe is augmented. The work this through some killer shifts and changes. It gets into some more trademark sounding Hawkwind stuff. The penultimate jam is pretty powerful, and it drops to some trippy space after that. Then we get a short instrumental melodic bit at the end.

Brainbox Pollution (Full Length Version)
A Hawkwind classic, this is a fast paced space rock groove that's quite cool. It's a powerhouse rocker with a lot of psychedelic rock and some cool hooks built into it.
Side 4
It’s So Easy (Original Studio Version)

Starting with a bit of a blast of sound, this works out to a killer hard rocking jam. This is probably more psychedelic rocker than space rock, but it still has enough space rock tendencies within to keep it intriguing. It also has a catchy hook.

You’d Better Believe It (Rockfield Studios Version)
This classic Hawkwind song gets a bit of a different recording here. Overall the tune is greatly different from the one that's on Hall of the Mountain Grill, but there are some different angles to the sound in some ways.
Wind of Change (Alternative Version)
An organ solo opens this in a stark change from the version that wound up on Hall of the Mountain Grill. A slow moving melodic guitar solo emerges as it drives forward, the song still feeling a lot different than the one I'm used to hearing. This gets into some seriously hard rocking stuff as it continues to build forward.
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