Album Review: Hawkwind – Dreamworkers of Time [Boxset]

Album Review: Hawkwind - Dreamworkers of Time [Boxset]
Reviewed by Dan Barnes

Having been releasing albums since 1970 and, at the time of writing, got thirty-four studio albums, twelve live records, sixteen compilations and eight EPs under its belt, Hawkwind is the very definition of the word relentless. Couple those figures with the extraordinary number of musicians who have joined Dave Brock’s psychedelic space odyssey over the decades and the fact that they are still a viable recording and touring band, and you realise they didn’t just break the mould when they made Hawkwind, they closed the factory.

The good folk over at Cherry Red Records further add to the Hawkwind legacy with this new 3cd set, featuring the band’s concert and session recordings made by the BBC in the decade starting 1985.

Disc one is an hour of Hawkwind’s headline set at the Reading Festival in 1986. It’s easy to think of the band as some sort of hippy contingent and overlook the fact that Hawkwind is first and foremost a rock band. The opening salvo of Mangu, segueing into Angels of Death dispel any myth to the contrary and sees Brock, Harvey Bainbridge, Huw Lloyd-Langton, Alan Davey and Danny Thompson, Jr. lighting the touchpaper for a quite-clearly pumped-up crowd. The combination of Lloyd-Langton’s guitar and Bainbridge’s synths weave a rich sonic tapestry, and the rhythm section give no quarter in driving the performance along with a pummelling ferocity.

The Pulsing Cavern is a trippy three-minutes before a savage Assault and Battery. The intensity continues through the likes of Master of the Universe and Brainstorm, giving a little respite during the Dream Worker / Dust of Time amalgamation that forms the end of the set.

The band return for Assassins of Allah and the obligatory Silver Machine, here presented in a twelve-minute extended jam, with Lemmy guesting on vocals.

Disc two was recorded three years later, at their Hammersmith Odeon show to promote The Xenon Codex album. As this concert is a Hawkwind show as opposed to a festival headline it is a more sedate affair. Heads features some immersive soloing and laid-back drumming; whereas Wastelands of Sleep sees Brock singing above the heartbeat pulse of a synth and a gentle bassline.

Album Review: Hawkwind - Dreamworkers of Time [Boxset]

The version of Sonic Attack presented here sounds like the sort of performance that may well have an affect on anyone in the audience who had partaken of psychedelics – Just Say No! boys and girls – with its polyphonic assault.

The only duplications between the two recordings are Utopia and Brainstorm, the later being jammed out to almost double the length as the closing number at Hammersmith.

Disc three features two sessions recorded at BBC’s Maida Vale studios. The first for the Friday Rock Show in 1985, featuring the same personnel who would appear at Reading a year later. Assault of the Hawk is a reworking of Assault and Battery and Night of the Hawks from the then newly released Chronicle of the Black Sword album. They’ve Got You Number has a very Eighties vibe about it, whereas the Frankenstein creation of Mangu and Dreamworkers of Time is classic Hawkwind from start to finish.

Ten years later and the band would return to Maida Vale to record a session for Mark Radcliffe’s show. Joining Brock and Davy would be Ron Tree on vocals and Richard Chadwick on drums.

The Right to Decide is an upbeat way to begin and is followed by the three-track melody of Death Trap, Wastelands of Sleep and Are You Losing Your Mind? from the at-the-time unreleased Alien 4 album.

The set closes with the eastern strains and uneasy pulse of Assassins of Allah before seamlessly transitioning into The Dream Goes On.

Hawkwind is an undoubted National Treasure and an anachronism of a bygone era of free festivals and the hippy ideals. The world – musically and as a whole – might well have changed since the band’s inception but Dave Brock and company have always remained true to their founding principles, regardless of trends; and that has not only made them unique amongst their peers but a shining light in the otherwise cynical music business.

This collection probably isn’t going to break Hawkwind to a new generation of listeners, but it is a nice gift to the fan base and a reminder of the enduring and endearing legacy of one of music’s most resolute bands.

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