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Hawkwind - PXR 5 CD (album) cover

PXR 5

Hawkwind

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

2.91 | 116 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars The 70s were pretty kind to Hawkwind until the upsurge of New Wave and punk in the late 70s and the band criminally bowed down to the punk gods to produce awful stuff like the material on "PXR5". I love most of Hawkwind's albums, especially in the 70s but this is as bad as it got for them in this decade. It would get rapidly worse in the 80s apart from a few shining lights and it is unfortunate as the band are so good when they ditch the idiotic punk overtones and embrace space rock.

So what do we have on this mixed bag of delights. Terrible New Wave drivel such as the repetitive raucous Buzzcocks inspired 'Death Trap'. Robert Calvert is not my favourite vocalist and he is too dominant on this album. He haunts it with his punkish monotone Johnny Rotten chants on 'Uncle Sam's on Mars' that goes on too long but I don't mind some of those quirky sound bytes and effects. "He's looking for" lice?. Oh let's move on. This is already disappointing, and I loved Hawkwind so much up til now. What has happened to them?

As with all Hawkwind albums there are some treasures to dive into such as the wonderful 'High Rise'. The slow spacey textures and building melody are very nice, and I don't mind Calvert on this one, not so much punk but reflective vocals. The lyrics kind of capture the feeling of being hemmed in by skyscrapers; "a human zoo, a suicide machine, a flypaper stock, be a sabotage rebel, stacked up in a high rise block." I would have loved to hear Brock on this track, for that matter I would have liked to hear more of Brock, period. He is criminally underused here as far as vocals are concerned.

Brock contributes well to 'PXR5', merely demonstrating how good the album could have been. This is a great closing track and stands out as a highlight with decent vocals, spaciness and overall strong atmospherics. Unless you are a punk fan the rest will infuriate the average prog listener. I mean punk is not exactly the bedside companion to prog is it? In fact punk really harmed prog, all but killing it for a time until music listeners realised what a bunch of caterwauling nonsense punk really is. In its place it certainly has some merit if you want to have music with attitude and aggression, Sex Pistols did it the best, but it does not really belong on a Hawkwind album, weren't they supposed to be space rock?

'Life Form' has a nice sequenced electronic motif to lock onto but is just a typical filler that pervades Hawkwind's albums in the 80s. 'Robot' is too long for its own good but still stands out as one of the more enjoyable tracks with some innovative effects and a heavy guitar riff, with spacey improvisations. The vocals are tolerable but still traversing into punk. 'Infinity' is a synth driven piece that features Brock's welcome vocals and is another highlight.

'Jack of Shadows' has a great guitar riff but Calvert's vocals are thin and not really my taste. He reminds me here of early Bryan Ferry and I was never taken with his style on the debut either. Why can't these guys actually sing some decent melodies? Anyway, Calvert scarpered after this and in my books that was a good move for the group. The Hawklords would pick him up and they would squabble over song rights and name rights for years.

So once again I am writing a disappointing review on my quest to review all my Hawkwind collection. I rarely listen to this album apart from about 3 songs and it is a real waste when the band are capable of so much better. Oh well, roll on to the 80s that is Calvert free but still fraught with mediocrity. Hawkwind collectors need only apply.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 2/5 |

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