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Hawkwind - Hawkwind Light Orchestra: Stellar Variations CD (album) cover

HAWKWIND LIGHT ORCHESTRA: STELLAR VARIATIONS

Hawkwind

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.81 | 12 ratings

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Progfan97402
4 stars I saw this CD sitting at a local Eugene, Oregon record store. I was thinking, "What's the difference between regular Hawkwind and Hawkwind Light Orchestra"? Of course my worst fear it was some light orchestra doing light orchestral versions of Hawkwind songs that would sound as incompatible as Pat Boone doing big band versions of songs done by hard rock and heavy metal artists of the 1970s and '80s (which Pat Boone seriously did in 1997 with In a Metal Mood: No More Nice Guy). The other fear was Hawkwind was trying to be ELO, The Electric Light Orchestra which would fail big time. Turns out it's nothing more than just another Hawkwind album, with Dave Brock, Niall Hone and Richard Chadwick. It's due to the lack of Tim Blake and Mr. Dibs presence that they were called Hawkwind Light Orchestra. Don't worry, it's still Hawkwind as we all come to know and love, and you know what, I actually like this better than the last couple of regular Hawkwind albums, Blood of the Earth and Onward. Don't get me wrong, they're not bad, but it's like you know, they've done better (I recently gave them a listen again). Aside from "A Song For a New Age", all are brand new. "Stellar Perspective" is the opening song, and once the music kicks in you know right away this is still Hawkwind, despite the "Light Orchestra" being tagged to their name. I can't get over those ridiculous high pitched falsetto vocals Richard Chadwick gives, he sounds like some adolescent boy around 13 years old going through puberty attempting to sing, when in reality it's a middle-aged guy singing this! Also when Dave Brock sings the part that goes: "We only live to transcend" it sounds like he's singing: "We only live choo choo train", and I'm thinking, "What the hell?" Thankfully the CD comes with printed lyrics, yet it still sounds like "choo choo train" instead of "to transcend". I have to listen carefully to hear the proper words, since "choo choo train" would make absolutely no sense in context of the lyrics. "It's All Lies" is very much classic sounding Hawkwind, while "All Of Our Dreams" starts off rather psychedelic, but get more adventurous, but strangely they put in some rather '80s sounding horns (that remind me of Earth, Wind & Fire's horn section heard on Phil Collins' solo albums), but luckily against a wonderful space rock backdrop. "Damp Day in August" is more great instrumental space rock, while "Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bag" repeats that line over and over, with a sinister monster voice saying how four-legged animals are taking over Mankind. Then there's their take on Tim Blake's "A Song for a New Age". Given that I've owned Blake's New Jerusalem since 1997, that song is totally ingrained in my head. Here Hawkwind (Light Orchestra) gives the song the Hawkwind treatment, with electric guitar included. I figure if Hawkwind had performed "Lighthouse" live when Tim Blake was on board, so they should do another one of his songs. I swear time to time Tim Blake is present given some of the synths sound like classic Tim Blake, but then he wasn't on the album, given Hawkwind Light Orchestra was named that to let everyone know that Tim Blake and Mr. Dibs are still with Hawkwind, but not Hawkwind Light Orchestra. Apparently since Tim lives in France, and Dibbs in Derbyshire, they couldn't all be present at once due to location, so the three that live near each other were able to get together and record more material. This was all recorded in 2011, but it took at least a year to be released, as it didn't see the light of day until November 2012.

While Blood of the Earth and Onward might be good, they weren't exactly spectacular. Stellar Variations easily surpasses those two albums. I don't know what they did right here? Perhaps the music seems less compressed and has more life to it. I like how the more experimental and ambient bits flows more easily to the more typical Hawkwind rockers. Don't let the Hawkwind Light Orchestra moniker throw you off. This is as much a Hawkwind album as anything else under the Hawkwind banner, and in fact I lilke even better than other recent albums. If you love Hawkwind, this should be required in your collection.

Progfan97402 | 4/5 |

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