A difficult task, when writing a piece on a band that you have followed for many years is casting an impartial eye on the material presented to you. This latest collection from Hawkwind presents one such initial dilemma; who is the collection aimed as specifically, and can this collection be seen as merely another collection of odds and ends pieced together to form an incoherent whole? Thankfully, for the Hawkwind devotee, and the casual observer, “Spacehawks”, conceivably aimed at the American market, can be regarded as a summing up of where the band are at this moment. It could be argued that such a release is unnecessary, which is a fair point. But with a band such as this, with a back catalogue so enormous and diverse, taking stock periodically may be regarded as essential to their development.
For those intimate with the Hawkwind catalogue there a few treats, “Where Are You Now” blended onto the end of “Assault and Battery” and “The Golden Void” previously available on a “Weird Tapes” release, “The Demented Man” and “We Took the Wrong Step Years Ago”. “Seasons”, which opens this collection, is a reworking of the opening track on their “Onward” album, and in its’ rough and ready format here, is a characteristically forthright introduction to the collection. The version here of “Sonic Attack” is as demented a commotion, and laden with electronic white noise, as any self-respecting fan would expect. “We Two Are One” is undeniable Hawkwind momentum and repetitive motifs knitted together to create a sonic juggernaut. “Master of the Universe” has the fluidity that comes with familiarity, and again suggests the question “Do we need to hear another version of this tune?” If there is something fresh and innovative brought to each version, then this in itself could be a justification. This particular version also adds poignancy to the collection as it a studio recording featuring guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton who sadly passed away in 2012.
“We Took the Wrong Step” originally from the Dave Brock 2012 solo album “Looking for Love in the Land of Lost Dreams”, illustrates how tenderly crafted tunes sit comfortably within any branch of the Hawkwind family tree. “Sacrosanct” is gorgeously uncharacteristic in its tender electronic rhythms punctuated by slivers of bass, piano and guitar. The ballad “Sentinel” from the “Blood of the Earth” album, adds a further layer of sound to the album as a whole. Ballads may not be everyone’s space age cup of tea, but used strategically, can add depth to a collection. And anyway, how could anyone stop themselves from mouthing along to the refrain “How many more times”? Back to head nodding along to relentless riffs with “It’s All Lies” (originally from “Stellar variations” by the Hawkwind Light Orchestra), which raises the spirits and illustrates the need for slower ballads to provide texture. “Touch”, “The Chumps Are Jumping” and “Lonely Moon” are vignettes of sound, which, again, prove that multiple textures in sound are what Hawkwind are known and loved for.
“Sunship” was only previously available on the vinyl version of “Blood of the Earth”, so its inclusion here will be a treat for Hawkwind aficionados who have not embraced the vinyl resurrection. To return to initial reservations as to the need for such a release. For anyone who can engage fully with the band and the world they create, “Spacehawks” is a valid addition to their catalogue, and not only punctuates their career at this moment, but augments it.