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Hawkwind PXR 5 album cover
2.95 | 147 ratings | 12 reviews | 10% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1979

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Death Trap (3:51)
2. Jack Of Shadows (3:28)
3. Uncle Sam's On Mars (Live #) (5:45)
4. Infinity (4:17)
5. Life Form (1:44)
6. Robot (Live $) (8:15)
7. High Rise (Live $) (4:36)
8. P.X.R.5 (5:39)

# Recorded at Hammersmith Odeon November 1977
$ Recorded at Demontford Hall Leicester November 1977

Total time 37:35

Bonus tracks on 2009 remaster:
9. Jack Of Shadows (Live Studio version) (3:41) *
10. We Like To Be Frightened (2:47) *
11. High Rise (Live Studio version) (4:44) *
12. Robot (First version) (9:27) *
13. Jack Of Shadows (Adrian Shaw Vocal version) (3:55) *
14. High Rise (Alternate Vocal mix) (4:39)
15. P.x.r. 5 (Alternate Intro mix) (5:41)
16. Quark, Strangeness & Charm (Live 1978) (2:39)

* Previously unreleased

Line-up / Musicians

- Robert Calvert / vocals (1-3,6,7)
- Dave Brock / guitar, synth (1,3,6-8), keyboards (4,5), bass (1), vocals
- Simon House / keyboards (2,3,6-8), violin (6-8), synth (8), vocals (2,7)
- Adrian Shaw / bass, vocals (2,3,6-8)
- Simon King / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Phillip Tonkyn

LP Charisma ‎- CDS 4016 (1979, UK)

CD Virgin ‎- CDSCD 4016 (1989, UK) Tracks 7 & 8 different versions from LP
CD Atomhenge ‎- ATOMCD 1010 (2009, UK) 24-bit remaster by Ben Wiseman with 8 bonus tracks (including the 2 different versions from 1989 CD)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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HAWKWIND PXR 5 ratings distribution

(147 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (19%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

HAWKWIND PXR 5 reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Jim Garten
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Retired Admin & Razor Guru
4 stars The late '70s were a lean time for Hawkwind, never having really recovered from the loss of Lemmy Kilminster (a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face), or the departure of Nik Turner - and despite their growing army of fans from the punk scene, they found their stock generally falling; which is a surprise, given the quality of this album.

The songs, on the whole are generally more mainstream rock than fans had been used to up to this point, but lyrically, Bob Calvert had trimmed the fat, and come up with stunning poetry, sewn through with satire regarding everything from the space race (Uncle Sam's on Mars) to urban decline and alienation (High Rise) - the sci-fi was still there, of course, with 'Robot' parodying Asimov's 3 laws of robotics, but overall, this was a tighter, rockier Hawkwind, and the final album to feature Bob Calvert in the driving seat.

Following this album, Hawkwind became a much heavier proposition, with Brock taking the reins, and pulling the band into heavy rock territory, where they stayed until the arrival, 4 years later, of Alan Davey on bass guitar for 'Chronicle Of The Black Sword' - but that, as they say, is a different story......

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars Spacey or psychedelic music have been replaced some years ago with new wave or even punkish sounds .

None the less, "Hawkwind" were able to still produce interesting albums which can be accepted by the early fans only if they had adopted an open minded attitude towards these two musical genres (which was not a common thing to do).

A song as "Death Trap" is almost a punk anthem. The beat, the raw sound and the fury of the instruments are such a powerful combination. A great start even if prog is totally out of purpose here.

"Jack Of Shadows" is also totally in-line with its era. A fresh and "jumping" song. Catchy, simple, straight forward music. Most of the songs from this work follow this framework (at least for the simple and straight forward characteristics...).

Actually, this album is pretty similar to "25 Years On". Inspiration is not at its best to be honest. "Infinity" breaks with the overall mood. Almost a ballad, but somewhat weak IMO. The first spacey and disjointed one is the weak "Life Form". Press nextT to avoid boredom, boredom.

Over eight minutes of the repetitive and uninspired "Robot" is not always easy to digest but fortunately the next and again fully new wave oriented "High Rise" is much better: a great crescendo song (I like these very much) which features some gvery good keyboards and guitar. Catchy, crafted, original. At times Calvert almost sounds as Ferry. One of my fave here.

This is not one of the best "Hawkwind" album. Average. I will downgrade it to two stars (from five out of ten). Difficult to call this one a good album. Only two great songs (which was already the case for "25 Years On").

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars PXRS concludes Hawkwind dive into space new wave. After this album they would return to more familiar universes with the excellent space rock album Levitation.

PXR5 is a pleasant album but it is a bit uneven and has not one track that equals QSAC in quality. The pure punk of Death Trap comes closest of all. Hawkwind goes Buzzcocks here! Uncle Sam's on Mars is something entirely different and could have been on Pink Floyd's debut. Very psychedelic tune but it drags on a bit. Infinity has one of the few vocals from Brock on the album. It's a nasal croon not dissimilar from a track like Paradox.

Robot is Brainstorm all over again. There's more lyrics and Calvert rants then on Brainstorm but it has a similar riff, similar drone, spacey effects and unfortunately also the rather inadequate melodies that never really clicked with me. It's not bad but lacks a bit of punch to remain interesting for its entire 8 minutes. (Let's say I prefer the book :-) High Rise is a decent ballad and PXR5, the other track that has lead vocals from David Brock, is unremarkable punk rock.

Not bad but a bit of a mixed bag.

Review by Warthur
4 stars PXR 5 was actually recorded before 1978's 25 Years On, but was shelved when the departure of Simon House prompted the brief breakup and reformation of Hawkwind as the Hawklords before being released in June 1979. Stylistically, it resembles the previous two albums given a bit of a punkish, New Wave sheen - a sort of halfway house between Quark, Strangeness and Charm and the more accomplished New Wave-space rock fusion accomplished on 25 Years On.

Though it felt a little underpowered to me at first compared to Lemmy-era material (or, for that matter, 25 Years On), PXR 5 actually ends up with a bit more to recommend it than I remember. Opening number Death Trap is as hard as anything on 25 Years On, Jack of Shadows is a playful fantasy number inspired by a Roger Zelazny novel, whilst Uncle Sam's On Mars has justifiably become a live staple.

Speaking of live, material, in fact, some of the tracks on here - including Uncle Sam's On Mars and the heavy, driving pulse of Robot - are taken from live performances, revealing that onstage Hawkwind had been keeping things heavy even as they'd been applying a lighter touch in the studio during their Charisma period. Though putting out odds and sods collections of studio and live off-cuts would become a really bad habit of Dave Brock's in later years, this time around it actually works for a useful purpose - namely, giving the album a more varied sound than any of the other Charisma years releases from Hawkwind, and putting it into contention with 25 Years On for "best of the Charisma era".

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by stefro
2 stars After the transitional brilliance of 'Warrior On The Edge Of Time' Hawkwind began inching away from their hard-riffin' chug-a-chug space-rock origins and towards a cleaner, sharper sound that began to incorporate elements of krautrock, new wave and pop. This 'second phase' of albums would begin with 1976's 'Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music' and finish with 'Levitation' four years later, an album considered by many an old- school hawkfan as the group's last great production. Sandwiched in-between was the underwhelming 'Quark, Strangeness & Charm' and it's lacklustre follow-up 'PRX5'. Released in 1979, 'PRX5' finds Hawkwind struggling to, for the time being at least, adapt to both the demands of their rapidly-developing sound and the changing musical landscape. Featuring long-term stalwart, founder and leader Dave Brock(guitar, vocals), Robert Calvert(vocals), Simon House(keyboards, violin), Adrian Shaw(bass) and Simon King(drums), 'PRX5' finds this briefly-interned line-up blending snazzy synthesizers with new wave guitars, pop-dipped melodies and a barrage of colourful effects, the group in effect hurling everything they can find at the listener, bar the kitchen sink, in an attempt to show how different this version of Hawkwind was to their previous psychedelic incarnation. Sadly, however, it doesn't work. Although the group would find their form again the following year, 'PXR5', which can almost be see as a dry run for 1980's 'Levitation', simply falls almost perfectly between two stylistic stools, neither hard-rockin' enough to satisfy the old guard yet just far too bizarre to attract a more commercial following. The catchy, up-tempo rocker 'Jack Of Shadows' aside, this is a messy, somewhat over- produced cornucopia of conflicting ingredients that, rather ironically, sums up the chaotic nature of Hawkwind's career up to this point. Although far from finished as a viable unit, 'PXR5' is nevertheless the sound of a group whose best time have been-and-gone.


Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars Quark, Strangeness And Charm, part 2

As I have emphasized in many of my other reviews of Hawkwind albums, I have a very hard time understanding the appeal of their early releases. While Warrior On The Edge Of Time clearly had a few good moments (most notably the two-part opening track), the rest of the band's output up to and including Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music had been pretty much completely dispensable from my point of view (and sometimes even close to sonic torture!). I find these early attempts rather sloppy, noisy, and repetitive; these early albums being badly produced and largely lacking in melodic sensibilities.

Towards the end of the 70's this changed and the band adopted a more streamlined approach, catchier songs, and higher production values with 1977's Quark, Strangeness And Charm. At the same time, however, they jumped the New Wave bandwagon and even occasionally ventured towards Punk, alienating some of their early fans in the process. The present album builds on the formula of Quark, Strangeness And Charm and stays rather close to the style of that album. The melodies are not as memorable though, and as such this comes across as a rather bleak copy of Quark, Strangeness And Charm. Personally I am not a fan of either the early 70's Space Rock period nor the late 70's Punk/New wave period, but unlike many I don't think that the latter is any worse than the former! There is a kind of Marc Bolan/David Bowie/Roxy Music feeling here, with slight electronic embellishments. The lyrics are as silly as on Quark, Strangeness And Charm.

Following this album, Hawkwind would enter the 80's with a bang. 1980's Levitation album is for me the band's first really good album, and an excellent one at that! PXR5 is, by comparison, a very weak album and the fact that Hawkwind made even worse albums in the past does not really help its cause. Only for fans and collectors.

Review by GruvanDahlman
3 stars Hawkwind is a band that has crept into my conscience over the last 10 years or so. Struggling with the classic (1969-1975) I found it hard to embrace a band so overly chaotic and spacey. Yes, I did find it hard. I did not, however, surrender though the odds weren't in my favor. The band made a terrific change in direction by 1976. The previous year the released what was to become the last of the "classic" era's tradition. "Warrior on the edge of time" was a great album in it's own right and maybe the only from that period I really enjoy from start to finish. I agree with the label "classic" when it comes to describing the first five or so years but that doesn't mean I embrace it. I like the later installments, the late 70's and all the way up to the Hawkwind of today. They have always been bold and by 1976 this was obvious enough when they released "Astounding sounds". This was a drastic change in direction and actually the only one of it's kind, because they evolved further on the next few albums. By 1979 they had merged the New Wave influences with a sort of spacey hard rock, which works just fine. I think that they reached their musical and creative peak with "Levitation" in 1980. That is not only their finest hour but one of the finest records ever made in the field of space rock.

"PXR 5" has it's ups and downs, for sure. Most Hawkwind albums are like that. In real life it is simply a question of taste and not quality, I suppose. The album opens with "Death trap", a fast paced rocker about a race driver. It is a great opening and live it is even better. "Jack of Shadows" is a very nice track, very Hawkwind-ish of the period. "Uncle Sam's on Mars" is not my favorite track, nor is "Infinity". They are OK. The intro to "Robot" is an ambient sort of piece. I have always been fond of those. They are really intriguing. "Robot" is a decent enough track.

The best of the lot is the song "High rise" with it's bleak soundscape and keyboards. I really get the feel of 1979 when I hear that song. It is one of the finest of Hawkwind's entire output. The title track is an equally impressive and intriguing track. A great way to end the album.

As a whole I would not recommend this album before others but it has it's distinct charm and is an even album, quality wise. It is certainly interesting as the final installment in yet another phase of an ever evolving band. "Levitation" is certainly different and that album is nigh on the only one of it's kind. If you follow the trail of Hawkwind you will certainly bear witness to a band that moved from one platform to another without ever losing it's identity. From psychedelic chaos to progressive rock via new wave, hardrock and ambient and back again. Impressive. This album is a testament to that boldness and eagerness to change.

Review by Modrigue
2 stars 2.5 stars

After "Quark, Strangeness And Charm", HAWKWIND recorded PXR5 in 1978, but disbanded due to internal disagreements. The members then went on side projects. After the release of "25 Years On" and the departure of Robert Calvert, Dave Brock reformed the band with new members and finally released the album in 1979. Thus, the line-up of "PXR5" is nearly the same as on "Quark, Strangeness And Charm".

Nonetheless, the music was already turning punk, while the metal and futuristic elements developed on the innovative 1977 opus were temporarily put aside. As a consequence, the style isn't really space rock and can be compared to "25 Years On"'s, but unfortunately without the the same composition quality.

The disc is in fact half-studio half-live: "Uncle Sam's On Mars", "Robot" and "High Rise" were recorded live during the 1977 tour in England, and then remixed and overdubbed in studio, whereas "Infinity" was based on a poem Robert Calvert recited for the 1973 Space Ritual Tour.

The opener "Death Trap" is just a basic punk track, repetitive and irritating. "Jack Of Shadows" is an enjoyable soft rock with some spacey keyboards. Then the band surprisingly goes back to stoner with the psychedelic "Uncle Sam's On Mars". This song has similitudes with "Brainstorm", however smoother and much less interesting. The first half finishes with the poem "Infinity", an average space folk ballad, with various sound effects.

The second half of the record is a little more inspired. "Life Form" is a short ambient electronic introduction for "Robot", the longest track. Inspired by Isaac Asimov's trilogy, its middle-eastern aggressive riff is in the style of "Magnu". Unfortunately it fails at being the highlight, as it does not feature many variations. On the contrary, "High Rise" is the best track of the disc. An aerial trippy piece, with spacey guitars. The title track is original, a kind of half-punk, half-robotic song, but a bit difficult to follow. Ironically, this composition is better than the title tracks from the Hawks' best albums from this period.

There is not much to save from this record, except "High Rise". The band is not as innovative as on "Quark, Strangeness And Charm" and not as audacious as on "25 Years On". Last official HAWKWIND studio release with Robert Calvert, "PXR5" marks the end of an era and is Brock and co.'s first genuine fault in their rich 70's discography.

But a new decade is just about to come...

Review by friso
3 stars Hawkwind - PXR 5 (1979)

Ok that was a fun little album to listen to. Recently I've been putting Hawkwind's lesser known albums on my mp3 player and more often then not I'm pleasantly surprised by their post 1975 output. I like some of their records but even on a good quality vinyl and stereo they tend to sound pretty poor. Even the otherwise interesting Warrior on the Edge of Time sound unbearable at moments.

Trying to keep up with the times this Hawkwind album is a strange combination of songs. Opener Death Trap could have been a punk anthem. Bare and 'local sounding' in a pleasant way. The psychedelic glamour folkrock on Jack of Shadows and High Rise remind me of classic Bowie records. Plain lovely. Other tracks are classic simple Hawkwind tracks with sci-fi lyrics and simple - though catchy - musical themes. The full landscape synths that are absent on the first two tracks will be there on most other songs. Some tracks are live recordings. I like all tracks, but the different production styles / sounds don't help but creating a compilation feel, in stead of that of a coherent rock album. On the remastered version the overall sound quality is however relatively good.

Conclusion. This was more enjoyable then expected, perfect music for traveling in places with background noise. I'll give it a warm three stars for quality, but I myself will get a four star enjoyment out of this one. Furthermore, this will motivate me to dig a little deeper in the Hawkwind catalogue.

Latest members reviews

2 stars Wow. This is Hawkwind? My knowledge of Hawkwind comes from their older more spacy material, so this incarnation seems very strange to me. Not bad, just strange. There is without a doubt a 70's-80's punk/new wave vibe here, especially on the opening track and also "Jack of Shadows", "Infinity", ... (read more)

Report this review (#295876) | Posted by mohaveman | Monday, August 23, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Released in the late seventies after bickerings over name rights were resolved following the mediocre Hawklords 25 Years On album this album sort of picks up where Quark Strangeness and Charm left off and if you liked that album you should have no problem getting into P.X.R 5. First, some t ... (read more)

Report this review (#81059) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Tuesday, June 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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