It is never less than thrilling
Daryl Easlea 2008-12-12
Or: Hawkwind, Dave Brock and his ever-shifting array of supporting characters, the not-so well-defined years. Most of the heads understand the parameters of the United Artists era between the late sixties and mid 70s; and many see the Charisma years that followed as some kind of high-water mark. But then . . . off we go through an increasingly bewildering array of releases on ever-smaller labels that delighted the hardcore but seldom offered any door for the casual fan to stroll through. This compilation (along with its companion covering 1985-97, The Dream Goes On) seeks to explain this later period. Although this is not always easy music, even at its most clichéd, it is never less than thrilling.
The first disc of the first set contains some of the best music to ever emerge out of Britain. Robert Calvert defined this period with his sophisticated wordplay and conceits. And the music is among some of the sharpest they ever committed to tape. From the sub-punk snarl of Back On The Streets to the faux-Arabic of Hassan I Shaba, this was the era that tickled many a tastebud as it crossed the space-rock new wave divide somewhat effortlessly.
Later, it all got a little bleaty. It's invariably The Man's fault. He is relentlessly on the mavericks' case and this leads to anti-establishment rants only slightly less naïve than Rik from The Young Ones. However, there are many highlights, such as Back In The Box with full Simon House violin flailing from Palace Springs or Wings from 1990’s Space Bandits. A live album for Hawkwind was never simple filler as Dust Of Time from Live Chronicles proves. It matters not that most of the later stuff sounds like improvisations on Bela Lugosi's Dead – this high grade gear and wonderful it is to see so much care has been invested in the packaging, track selection and sleeve notes.