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Hawkwind - This is Hawkwind - Do Not Panic CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.31 | 34 ratings

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5 stars Without question one of the finest Hawkwind live recordings and as the tile implies DO NOT PANIC!

Only about 20 % of the music you will hear on this disc was actually recorded at the mystic prehistoric Stonehenge monoliths located in Wiltshire County in the southern part of England. Now Hawkwing aren`t quite as strange as the monoliths themselves but are certainly one of the strangest rock bands to ever to have their music etched into vinyl.

The version I`ll be using for this short review is the original Nov `84 Flicknife Records vinyl release which came with a different cover than the one pictured here, a cool poster and a 7" 45 RPM single which contained the only two tracks featured on this package actually recorded at Stonehenge ( Stonehenge Decoded and Watching The Grass Grow ). The only reason you would think of for using the whole Stonehenge theme for this release is that was cooler to print " Do Not Panic Hawkwind Live At Stonehenge" than, "Do Not Panic Hawkwind Live At Lewisham Odeon, London" where the bulk of the tracks here were recorded on Dec.18, 1980 as part of the Levitation tour. In other words, a marketing scheme. But there might be another motive......

Both the long-time Hawkfan and those new to the band will glean much from this album and I`ll place more focus on the first London tracks and move on to the two Stonehenge pieces which are equally signifigant here ( after all, they couldn`t very well call the album a live at Stonehenge record if there weren`t any tracks actually recorded at Stonehenge! That would really duping the fans).

After a stormy late seventies period which was plagued with legal squables, personel changes, stylistic deviation ( into punk territory eeek!) and even a name change Hawkwind were back on track with an album entitled Levitation. The album featured consant Commander Dave Brock on guitars, vocals and synths and new members, Ginger Baker on drums ( the ex-Cream guy ), Tim Blake ( ex-Gong ) on synths and the return of an original member Hugh Lloyd-Langton on second guitar along with Harvey Bainbridge on bass. The result was a heavier edged sound which evoked Hawkwind`s days of the earlier half of the seventies. The live tracks heard here reflect a band which had fine tuned itself after a mediocre live album which was recorded earlier in `79 entitled "Live `79". So if you have heard "Live `79" and were not too impressed strap yourself into the ejection seat for this creature. Only one personel change occured on this particular recording with Tim Blake being replaced by Kieth Hale ( ex-Nothingeverhappens ) mid-way through the tour but whose approach to electronic keyboards was very similar.

The live acoustics at the Lewisham Odeon venue afforded a very spacious and pulsating sound for Hawkwind here. You never know which Hawkwind is going to show up for a gig. The "wow man" Hawkwind or the " what the freak was that?" Hawkwind. This was the definitely the former!

We get to hear a heavier classic ( Angels Of Death ) as well as several tracks from the Levitation album . A killer faster version of PSI Power from the `78 25 Years On LP is played here too during which time they had to change their name to Hawklords while legal issues were being sorted out. It is listed here as PSY Power for those very legal reasons, the inclusion of which is revealing of how suprising a Hawkwind show can be, and how suprising Hawkwind as a band can be period. Perhaps the real gem here though, is Shot Down In The Night where they really jam it out with the double guitars are used to great effect an offer contrasts between Lloyd Langton and Commander Brock`s riffing.

This is also a record for older Hawkfans to play detect the anomolies game on some tracks. In much the same ways that Trekkies can identify idioms from particular Star Trek episodes Hawkfans can do the same with Hawkwind's music. I managed to find snippets and introplations here and there. I`ll only give away a couple of the more obvious ones. For example, a good minute and half of Psychosis turns up well as an instrumental section from the haunting Seven Seconds Of Forever which blew so many young space hippies completely away on their 1972 magnus opus " Space Ritual" LP. Plus a few more suprises that you`ll have to detect yourself. Heh heh.

Hawkwind have been criticized ( Commander Brock in particular ) from doing dumb things in the past ncluding stupid business deals ( c`mon he`s a rock star !), many which were beyond his control but perhaps the most notorious one which was his own doing, being the deal he made to have Hawkwind`s " Live `79 " album released in it`s entirety on CD in 1999 without seeking the permission of the musicians involved, management and probably not even his cat in order to settle tax debts. To what extent Dave Brock was involved with naming this superb album Live at Stonehenge ( remember I`m using the original vinyl edition here, the CD title was altered to just say This Is Hawkwind Do Not Panic with Stonehenge written in small lettering) I don`t know for sure but iwhether it was him or managment they should be commended. The two tracks that appear in the package, " Stonehenge Decoded " and " Watching The Grass Grow " ( actually not even really a Hawkwind track !) were recorded on the evening of 20/21st June 1984 in celebration of the summer solice ( could have had something to do with aliens as well ), which drew over 65,000 hippies, lots of cops and numerous other bands who waived their fees for this event, celebration, pilgrimage or whatever you want to call it so many people who couldn`t afford to attend other larger more expensive festivals such as Reading and Glastonbury could come here and trip out. Needless to say, the long haired freaky people didn`t behave that well and climbed up on the stones, smoked too much dope and then the British powers that be shut down the festival in`85 without giving too much notice. Because Hawkwind were the headliners and came on last they didn`t have enough satisfactory material to justify a full length live album ( although many bootleg versions have surfaced of the whole event) that was so appropriate to commemorate this "auspicious" Occasion..

Unused material was discovered sitting in a vault that was up to standard for an official release along with the two ending tracks which are consistent with the 1980 show in London reflect the spirit of this concert that was so special to many people. So ahem that is my theory and what it is of why this album came to be and it sort of disheartens me to hear people criticising the Hawks for selling out here. They could have put out piece of sonic wreckage as they`ve done on more than on occasion ( Bring Me The Head of Yuri Gagarian comes to mind ). Rather what we have here is not only one of the best recordings of Hawkwind in the eighties but one of their best ever which reflects just what Hawkwind is all about not just musically but in concept and spirit. This is definitely one of Hawkwind`s 5 star jewels.

For those diehard vinyl collectors, roughly the first ten thousand copies of the first pressing run of the album ( the one which I own ) like so many Hawkwind albums, came with a poster of the freaked out artwork of the first cover. Worth a few $$$ if you can find one !

Vibrationbaby | 5/5 |


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