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Hawkwind - Quark, Strangeness And Charm CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.69 | 257 ratings

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3 stars "Quark, Strangeness and Charm" is the first time I heard a Hawkwind album and recoiled from the vocals. Bob Calvert took over for most of the album and added an annoying punk vibe to the music. He is a cross between Johnny Rotten and Bowie but not as good as either. Having said that the album is still the better one that features Calvert. This is due to the strong compositions and musicianship throughout. In fact the album features some of the best Hawkwind songs that feature on many live performances.

It begins with live favourite 'Spirit of the Age' that has a rocking riff with typical Hawkwind style. It has the same type of effects that feature on Hawkwind's extensive catalogue, voice overs, sound bytes, and strange electronics sounding like Morse code. The drums on this are a feature and especially the serrated razor guitar sounds. This version is far superior to the live versions due to the mixing and overall production. The lyrics are amusing, "Your android replica is playing up again" and "I am a clone I am not alone, everything is in the same tone as my test tube brother's voice, and there's no choice between us"; no wonder it suits Calvert's vocals. But do we need to hear Calvert sing "that's's the spirit of the age" over and over and over?

'Damnation Alley' follows with an ominous opening effect, drones and creepy atmospheres as rain falls, and it reminds me of a cyber punk dystopia. Calvert is okay on this and it has a heavy riff, with some terrific synth lines. I like the line "thankyou Dr Strangelove, going down to Damnation Alley well good luck to you." The ending instrumental break with cathedral synths is wonderful. Once again this is a great Hawkwind tracks and thus far the album is living up to the hype of some of the glowing reviews.

'Fable Of A Failed Race' is a terrific song woith Brock in fine form, his vocals are so welcome, and the song is like a space ballad with some melancholy atmospheres. 'Quark Strangeness And Charm' is the first song I heard by Calvert on a compilation and I hated it instantly. Over the years it has grown on me especially the lyrics that dwell on the failure of Einstein's way with the laides. It's a quirky piece that grows on you over time. It is as glam rock as Marc Bolan who were friends of the group at the time. I still don't like the vocal style at all. It is too poppy too with its verse, chorus, verse structure and I was used to the improvisational style of Hawkwind.

'Hassan I Sahba' is more like it and I adore this in any incarnation and it has had a few. It is very trippy, with lots of oriental flavours and an overall crunching riff. The repeated phrase is hynotivc and Brock belts this out woth powerful vocals. It certainly is one of the best Hawkwind tracks on a studio release.

'The Forge Of Vulcan' returns to synth sequencing and some anvil banging effects that at first is innovative and then induces a migraine. The instrumental component is well performed overall, but it really feels like the type of polyfiller that will pervade the 80s albums.

'Days Of The Underground' is a Calvert lead guitar riffing piece, with some interesting elements, such as synth motifs and quasi-glam-punk vocal delivery. It is followed by 'Iron Dream', asdhort instrumental that gies nowhere but ends the album at least on a rocking riff and some nice synths. So overall again the album is a mixed affair with some awesome moments overshadowed by some dire moments. It is perhaps as good as Calvert's input got but it is nevertheless nowhere to the standard of the first 5 albums; not even close.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |


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