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Hawkwind - Palace Springs CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.73 | 61 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars I found a copy of this album on cassette (on the RoadRacer label) for dirt cheap at some junk store. This album was released in the UK on the GWR label. I bought it wondering how HAWKWIND might have sounded like in more recent years, wondering if they lost it. I was surprised, they still had it in them. This is live material, with a couple new songs. Apparently these were all from shows in 1989 (May and October), but it doesn't say anywhere on the cassette, basically the earliest HAWKWIND recordings with Richard Chadwick and Bridgett Wishart, although of course "Palace Springs" was released in '91, after "Space Bandits". I was rather surprised just how well-done this material was, and the band had the sense to use both digital synths and analog (or an excellent digital facsimile thereof) in ways they were supposed to be used (particularly the digital).

The album starts off with "Back in the Box". Strange to hear female vocals on a HAWKWIND album, but there she is. Unfortunately Bridgett Wishart's stay in the band wasn't long. Here Simon House (who hadn't been with the band since 1978, and had rejoined by this point) gives us some great violin work. The lyrics deal with "the world has gone to crap" theme as often found in many HAWKWIND songs (especially the lyrics that go "All I ever see on the TV screen is starving kids and war machines"). "Treadmill", another new cut is another amazing cut, this time it's Dave Brock doing the vocals. Sounds like total classic HAWKWIND, except this isn't the 1970s! Yes digital synths are used so you know it's not the '70s. Again Simon House gives us another great violin solo. Near the end, Harvey Bainbridge gives us some great analog (or analog-type) synth solos. Then you get "Lives of Great Men" and "Void of Golden Light" (the cassette had the two songs switched).

There is no getting around that the classic HAWKWIND sound is still intact, sounding better than ever! You get a great version of "Time We Left (This World Today)", proving that they could perform a song that goes back to 1972 (originally on the album "Doremi Fasol Latido") and make it sound fresh in the early '90s. Then they perform a song from "The Xenon Codex", "Heads", this time with the new lineup (as drummer Danny Thompson - who was the son of PENTAGLE bassist Danny Thompson, by the way, and Huw-Lloyd Langton were gone by this point), so the drumming obviously sounds different. You hear the theme of "Time We Left" return. Then you get "Acid Trip". This was one of the band's techno/ambient experiments. What you really got here is basically "Dream Worker" from 1982's "Choose Your Masques" with a techno beat. Then you get "Damnation Alley" (originally from "Quark Strangeness and Charm"). Although sadly Robert Calvert had died in 1988, it proves that HAWKWIND could still perform this song without him. It's not as long as the original, and this time around you got some reggae experiments in the middle. It's nice to see Simon House once again provide violin like he did on the original from 1977. Because you only get to hear audience cheering on a couple of songs, I got fooled for being a brand new 1991 studio album (with a couple live cuts) that happened to consist of mostly re-recordings of their back catalog (done very well, by the way), but it was basically a live album (recorded in both Los Angeles and London) with all the qualities of a studio album. And given there's been way too many poorly-recorded live albums, bootlegs, and unofficial releases from this band (that might turn off newcomers if they didn't know where to start), it's nice to see "Palace Springs" was yet another one of their top-quality albums. But then this was one of their official releases on the label they were recording for at the time. This is truly highly recommended to any HAWKWIND fan.

My rating: 4 1/2 stars

Proghead | 4/5 |


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