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Hawkwind - Chaos CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.92 | 8 ratings

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4 stars Having recently posted a review of a later Hawkwind DVD where I was critical of Huw Lloyd-Langton's contribution [Out Of The Shadows], I thought I would reset the balance with this film of an excellent concert from 1986. Filmed in Preston (UK), it is a snapshot of the band during a little brightspot in the mid 80s. This is mid-period Hawkwind at the top of their game - hot, pumping and full of energy.

Here is an awesome band - tight and powerful with all members pulling their weight. Huwie is right up to speed with some scintillating fast and extended guitar runs that at times leap out and grab you while at others blend in with the wall of sound. His contribution seals this as a superb performance, though Brock's distinctive rhythm guitar, traditionally a key component of the band's signature sound, is all too often submerged by more dominant instruments. Musically, though, this is right up there with the best of them.

Presentation, however, lets it down rather. I am reviewing from the DVD version, but there isn't much difference from the original VHS edition. Sound is adequate for its age, generally quite raw and 'punkish', though drum acoustics could be better and there are a couple of mistakes from the mixing desk. A little distortion creeps in occasionally, but nothing to worry about and at least it has plenty of appropriate welly!

Visuals are less successful. The video transfer means low quality images, a problem exacerbated by a rather overly murky stage. However, there's plenty to see, with wooden dancers [at least they are colourful], fire eaters, dry ice, back projection images and psychedelic lighting adding to some camera effects to keep the interest, though for me the cameras dwell on the back projections for far too long. The lack of a bona-fide frontman is sorely felt, but at least Brock spends most of the show front-of-stage.

After the successful Chronicle Of The Black Sword album & show, here the band have returned to basics with a cross-section of old favourites, all of which are performed with gusto. Arrangements are generally familiar for the period, but all are excellent performances without exception, even the frenetic thrash that is 'Brainstorm' and Harvey's Dalek version of Sonic Attack. The only less familiar tracks are 'The Blood Of Man', a shortish melodic instrumental that would later turn up on the Xenon Codex album [as 'Lost Chronicles'], and Huw's 'Dreaming City' which debuted in the live Chronicles show the year before.

An overall score is rather difficult: the musical performance is brilliant; visual performance is average; presentation poor [especially when considering a short running time and criminal and inexplicable fading of three tracks]. I love it for the music, and my rating reflects this. If you are able to forgive the indiscretions and inadequacies [and the risible dancers] then I would heartily recommend Chaos as an excellent example of Hawkwind at their best.

Joolz | 4/5 |


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