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LIVE 1990

Hawkwind

Psychedelic/Space Rock


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Hawkwind Live 1990 album cover
3.45 | 9 ratings | 2 reviews | 11% 5 stars

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Live, released in 2002

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc One:
1. Karnac Intro
2. Angels Of Death
3. Void Of Golden Light
4. Ejection
5. Wings
6. Out Of The Shadows
7. Snake Dance
8. Night Of The Hawks
9. The 7th Star
10. TV Suicide
11. Back In The Box
12. Assassins Of Allah

Disc Two:
13. Images
14. Lives Of Great Men
15. Void Of Golden Light
16. Out Of The Shadows
17. Snake Dance
18. Night Of The Hawks
19. The 7th Star
20. Back In The Box
21. Utopia
22. Ejection
23. Damnation Alley Pt.1
24. Your Secret's Safe With Me
25. Damnation Alley Pt. 2

Recorded Live in Nottingham 1990.

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Harvey Bainbridge / synthesizer, vocals
- Dave Brock / guitar, synthesizer, vocals
- Richard Chadwick / drums, percussion
- Alan Davey / bass, synthesizer, vocals
- Simon House / vocals
- Bridgette Wishart / vocals, dancer

Releases information

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HAWKWIND Live 1990 ratings distribution


3.45
(9 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
11%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(33%)
33%
Good, but non-essential (22%)
22%
Collectors/fans only (33%)
33%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

HAWKWIND Live 1990 reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A Mixed Bag

There are a good few Hawkwind live albums doing the rounds, many released retrospectively, including some that have been re-hashed so often it is difficult to keep up. Some are good, others are not - Live 1990 comes somewhere between the extremes. It comprises 2 concert performances from 1990 spread over 2 CDs, but common to both is the core of material played, combining new songs from their 1990 studio album Space Bandits with some from the back catalogue, including some less well known amongst the classics. It was an interesting time for Hawkwind, with the band playing well and an exciting stage presence which included dance and mime with Kris Tait and Bridgett Wishart, their only full-time female singer. It also comes at a time when they were just beginning to investigate sequencers but had not yet become reliant upon them, so the music here still sounds thoroughly organic in nature, and often holds up well when compared to the great days of the 70s. Both sets suffer from problems with sound quality, but as the two recordings are quite distinct I shall deal with them separately.

Nottingham, Rock City - 16 October 1990

There is doubt about the date of recording: as the CD is 'sub-titled' Live In Nottingham it seems most likely to be 16 October, but if not, then it is definitely from that Autumn UK tour at a time when the band were performing as a 5-piece consisting of Brock, Bainbridge, Davey, Chadwick and Wishart. This is a good performance without being in any way spectacular. One issue is a lack of audience feedback which has been almost entirely removed leaving it sounding a little sterile. Another issue is the mix, which places Brock's guitar in front of just about everything else: while I admit Brock is at his most majestic, full of his trademark 70s riff-lead playing, in this case it swamps even Davey's bass guitar which robs the music of much of its motive power.

This is not a modern transparent mix with each instrument separated out and quite clearly audible, instead everything is thrown together and sometimes comes out as a mush, very reminiscent of their classic Space Ritual. Generally the sound is recessed and compressed, lacking extension in both the high frequencies and the low, especially noticeable as a gutless bass & kick drum, all exacerbated by such a prominent guitar. The information is there, but the recording is poor with pronounced distortion turning thoroughly lumpy to the point of break-up on the loudest passages so you can't turn up the bass gain. There is also a fair amount of tape hiss, but it does at least have a passable stereo soundstage.

The performance is largely dependant on Brock - when he is on song the rest of the band seem to stretch out but once or twice he takes a bit of a back seat and coincidentally the music slumps too. While one or two tracks are on the poor side, most of it is fair to good in a classic Hawkwind sense, consistently harking back to the great days of the 70s. Sure they miss the genius of Turner, Calvert, Lemmy and the daft pairing of Del Dettmar and Dik Mik, but they make a much better stab at it than in many other attempts before or since. Bridgett's vocals are a little disappointing - many Hawkwind fans were not keen on her, but I loved the recordings she made for Space Bandits where her voice was a perfect fit for the music. Here, though, she often seems to be straining to sing at a pitch set too low for comfort, even including the Space Bandits material.

This performance covers the entire CD1 and the first three tracks from CD2. After a slow electronic build-up, the concert proper begins with some classic 70s space rock - Angels Of Death motors along spiritedly with chunky guitar and improvisational keyboards, leading into an excellent rendition of The Golden Void - renamed Void Of Golden Light - sung by Brock & Davey drenched in atmospheric keyboard effects and an extended coda which ebbs and flows between spacey guitar sections and ambient keyboards (especially my old favourite Roland choir sample). Ejection - originally from the Calvert years - has Bridgett reciting a pre-flight check-list before launching into a powerful heavy riff with a few under-achieving ambient interludes. One of my favourite tracks on Space Bandits, Wings doesn't come up to scratch here while the converse applies to Out Of The Shadows which is somehow improved by the mushy sound and crunchy guitar. Snake Dance is an inconsequential ambient instrumental bridging to another distinguished space rock thrash on Night Of The Hawks. The 7th Star is a short, and oddly placed piece by Bridgett before the band returns to the fray led of course by Brock who contributes some oustanding licks before the track fades to clocks chiming.

TV Suicide is an FX laden skit from Bainbridge - from Space Bandits - about the adverse affect of television, but it is not one of my favourites though it sounds marginally better here than on the studio version. Back In The Box opens Disc 2 with an over-long ambient synth intro before the song kicks in with a good riff but weak vocals. There is a long middle passage to this song which accompanied a dance and mime performance which insists "we have to feed our brains" - probably this was good to watch but gets rather tedious with no visual context. Eventually, Brock provides the relief with a brief outtro before leading an assault on Assassins Of Allah - aka Hassan-i-Sahba from Quark Strangeness And Charm - another slice of 70s nostalgia sung rather weakly by Davey. The guitar-heavy mix turns what should be a space jam into a Brock thrash. The set concludes with Images, the best song on Space Bandits. Here it is played somewhat under par: it should be a pulsating stallion racing across the plains, but this is a filly which finished fourth at Epsom, undoubtedly let down by the bass-lite mix. The vocals do not project well except perhaps during an improved ambient section, and the lack of sequenced drums is an improvement over the original.

Nottingham, Lenton Lane Studios - 25th January 1990

This set is a little shorter, covering the remainder of Disc 2, is the same recording available separately on 'Live In Nottingham' single CD [Classic Rock CRP1048]. It was recorded in a TV studio for transmission on a British TV programme called Bedrock before being released as a Video by Classic Rock Legends. I am not sure of the story behind this CD rendition, but it clearly has not originated as a master sound recording: it is nearly entirely monophonic (a couple of instances of reverb make me wonder ...) and has very poor dynamics, which together with compressed tonal range makes it very difficult to separate the musical elements. Clarity is improved over the earlier set with a much more solid recording - this time there is no wobbliness, break-up, or even any hiss to speak of. The mix is broadly improved too, creating a more even instrumental spread though, if anything, Brock's guitar could do with being strengthened in some places. Despite being recorded in a studio, this time we get some audience feedback, but still no interaction from the band.

The band perform here as a 6-piece of Brock, Bainbridge, Davey, Chadwick, Wishart and House, this being House's last gig before leaving during the recording sessions for Space Bandits, and his violin is a welcome addition. It is an all-round better performance from the band as a whole sadly let down by poor sound quality. It has a vibrancy lacking from the Autumn set, and it is interesting to compare the two sets, especially as many songs are common to both.

Lives Of Great Men (aka Assault And Battery) and Void Of The Golden Light - both from Warrior On The Edge Of Time - get things moving in 70s mode. Davey and Brock handle most of the vocals as a twinned pair, except for a verse or two from Bridgett whose voice is a little more natural than before. Lives is taken a little faster than the original, but both show the band in full flight and on top of their game, climaxing with alternating ambient violin work-outs and guitar riffing. Out Of The Shadows is a space-jammed-up high energy version with sweeping violin solos, killer riffs and thunderous bass topped off with stoned-out swirling keyboard effects - a new song transformed with a 70s arrangement. As before, Snake Dance is an innocuous instrumental bridge, rendered here as a meandering ensemble piece, followed by an indifferent version of Night Of The Hawks. Perhaps this has a little more punch than the Autumn version, but it is not inspired, and the vocals - presumably Davey and Brock - are indecipherable. Bridgett delivers a stronger vocal for the 7th Star interlude before the band return for a final bash at Night Of The Hawks led by some sizzling violin.

Back In The Box is much more succinct than the Autumn version: there is no long ambient lead-in, instead the band simply get straight down to it. Even Bainbridge's "get back in your box" routine is made a little more agreeable with Bridgett adding some girlie squeals. No Brock run-out this time so the song leads directly into an adequate but unexciting shortened version of Utopia - aka Arrival In Utopia from Choose Your Masques - which morphs into an altogether different riff. Fast and furious, Ejection thrashes away to great effect though again the vocals are indecipherable, but it has nice bass and violin touches and is a good one to get the old head banging. From a brilliant opening as Dave's guitar smashes in, Damnation Alley - from Quark Strangeness And Charm - is an absolutely stunning space rock adventure. With main vocals handled by Davey, it is a high energy blast from the past before a clumsy transition leads to a new composition from Bridgett -Your Secret's Safe With Me - sung to a cod-reggae beat. Surprisingly this works very well, but soon the tension is building again and the band return to the space-jam with soaring violin before a final blast of Damnation Alley ends proceedings with a crescendo.

Summary

This is a bit Jeckyll and Hyde really: the January set is probably the better, lighter, performance with lots of energy and boosted by Simon House's violin, but let down by compressed monophonic sound. On the other hand, the October set, though lacklustre at times, has a wider and more comfortable sound stage let down by distortion. Had both been recorded in pristine conditions, then the January set would be by far the best, indeed one of the best live performances from Hawkwind on CD. As it is, this is clearly not essential listening for everyone, but still a cut above the mundane. A reserved recommendation.

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Send comments to Joolz (BETA) | Report this review (#77761) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
4 stars This 25 track double CD is taken from a performance given by the band for the 'Bedrock' TV show. Although this is very much a live gig it was actually halted during proceedings a few times by the crew so that they could make adjustments to the lighting. It has not been released before and the line-up at this time comprised Dave Brock, Harvey Bainbridge, Alan Davey, Simon House, Richard Chadwick and Bridgett Wishart. Shortly after this gig Simon House left the group and Bridgett joined (she had previously been guesting), making her Hawkwind's first ever female vocalist.

Bridgett makes her presence felt on songs such as the powerful "Ejection". Hawkwind don't sound like anybody else, they very much have their own space rock sound, with guitars and keyboards creating a melee of noise. Probably best enjoyed when not totally sober, and certainly not to be played when the listener has a headache, there are times when only Hawkwind will do.

I have to admit to not being totally au fait with much of the material, but this is Dave Brock yet again leading his band on a joyful jaunt through time and space. As would be expected given the circumstances surrounding the recording the sound quality is very good and while I would hesitate to point to this as a starting point to the band any established fan will like this, a lot.

Originally appeared in Feedback #68, Jun 02

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#975584) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, June 11, 2013

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