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Hawkwind - Welcome to The Future CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.00 | 6 ratings

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3 stars The mid 1970s was a period of change for Hawkwind: substantial upheavals in line-up brought with them a move towards a harder, more professional outlook. This nicely presented box set compilation documents the years 1975-1977 and clearly shows the band in transition. The 2 music CDs are made up of tracks from 4 concerts, plus a couple tagged on at the end.

Watchfield Free Festival August 1975 [CD1 tracks 1-3] A day after Hawkwind's triumphant appearance at the Reading Festival, a few of the band went to Watchfield for probably the last of their old-style free-form jam sessions. The third of these - Slap It On The Table - is forgettable nonsense, but the other two are wonderful extended work-outs. The sound isn't perfect but we have heard a lot worse. Both tracks are excerpted to around 4 minutes and include some unintelligible vocals, so we only get a flavour of what it must have been like. Eight minutes of space-rock heaven!

Bristol September 1976 [CD1 tracks 4-15] This is part of a performance recorded during the Atomhenge tour of the UK, with a full band including Nik Turner, Bob Calvert and 2 drummers. The sound is powerful though not very crisp, and it is a very poor mix, but otherwise one of the better live presentations from that era. This tour was set up to promote their new studio album Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music which is criticised by many - Brock included - as being too 'funky'. Some of that can be seen here, also a tendency towards a heavier (metal) style without the atmospherics, thought the mix plays a large role in that. It is an enjoyable set [see the 2xCD album 'Atomhenge 76' for a full review of this material].

Stonehenge June 1977 [CD2 tracks 1-5] By now playing as a 5-piece with Brock, Calvert, King and House joined by Adrian Shaw on bass. This material is brilliant: the sound is about as good as it gets and the band were really tight and cooking. From the slow melodic-Prog song High Rise where Calvert almost carries a tune, to the the more familiar territory of up-tempo riffing on Damnation Alley this is Hawkwind at their best. It is interesting to compare Uncle Sam's On Mars with the earlier version from the Atomhenge set. Robot is a stunning keyboard soloing bonanza over a repetitive riff. Less successful is Cake Out, a so-so noodly piece with a totally different sound quality.

Barnstaple December 1977 [CD2 tracks 6-10] This gig was apparently played as Sonic Assassins, a Hawkwind alias for times when an alternative line-up was used. For this gig Brock and Calvert were joined by Bainbridge, Griffin and Hayles. Generally, I find this material the least satisfying. Magnu and Angels Of Life thunder along in a lively fashion, but otherwise there is too much noise without substance, and too much vocal noodling. Death Trap is a punky mess.

The final two tracks are studio oddities. Nuclear Toy is all Brock playing with keyboards while the final track is a passable early version of Who's Gonna Win The War with a slow lolloping beat.

All things considered, this is an excellent compilation with some good performances. All of it has been released before [one or more of the 'Weird' series, and Atomhenge 76] so this is clearly not a 'must have' though it is presented in a nice box with artwork by none other than Rodney Matthews. The bonus is a 50 minute DVD interview with Dave Brock filmed in 2002 at his home studio. This is a fairly easy-going look-back over Dave's career, concentrating more on the early days - no new revelations perhaps but it is nice to hear it from Dave's own lips.

Joolz | 3/5 |


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