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




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.69 | 257 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars After the preceding transitional album, Hawkwind had settled in to having Rob Calvert back in the saddle as their lead singer and adapted to the loss of the sludgy bass sound brought to the table by Lemmy, with the result that Quark Strangeness and Charm is significantly more consistent than its predecessor.

Rob Calvert's lyrics are, of course, as sharp as ever, and as usual tend to revolve around SF concepts, though there are a couple of exceptions. Rob succumbs to the last album's "reefer madness" and indulges in full-on weed worship on Hassan i Sabbah - which would evolve to become a long-running live staple of the band's set, often under the alternate title of Assassins or Assassins of Allah; the song's non-weed themes intertwine Middle East terrorism and the oil industry in a way which was rather obvious even at the time, but which still seems to exert a hold on world affairs even to this day - perhaps explaining the song's longevity.

Meanwhile, Days of the Underground pays tribute to the psychedelic underground scene from which Hawkwind emerged (and might also be a respectful tip of the hat to the underground punk scene which was making waves at the time - it's notable that the punks embraced Hawkwind even as they rejected other psych-prog groups).

Musically speaking, the production sounds a tad sharper than on the preceding album, Dave Brock's synthesiser work has now fully adapted to the more bass-light sound the band had to adopt in the absence of Lemmy, and Simon House's keyboard interventions continue to prove that he was Hawkwind's unstoppable secret weapon at the time. A fine example of a band evolving its style in the face of tempestuous personnel changes, Quark Strangeness and Charm proves there's more to Hawkwind than Michael Moorcock and Lemmy's angry bass.

At the same time, the slick production and smoother sound of the band means that it feels like the band have lost their edge and risk repeating themselves, much like the clone narrator of Spirit of the Age is going through the motions set by his previous incarnations himself; in fact, it seems a bit lightweight until Hassan i Sabbah thankfully brings a bit of heaviness back, though one feels that it's still a little sanitised compared to the Lemmy era. The album is saved by the involvement of Simon House, whose violin contributions add a new flavour to Hawkwind's cornucopia at just the right time.

Warthur | 4/5 |


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