Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hawkwind ~ Palace Springs (live)

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: prog-rock, space rock, live, classic rock
Label: RoadRunner
Year: 1991
Home: n/a

Member: Bridget Wishart ~ vocals
Dave Brock ~ guitar/keyboards/vocals
Harvey Bainbridge ~ keyboards/vocals
Alan Davey ~ bass/vocals
Simon House ~ violin
Richard Chadwick ~ drums


Hawkwind is one of those bands people struggle with. They've had some great moments but they seem to require a particular type of fan, while others remain unconverted peaking in for only a casual listen to hear what the buzz was about decades ago. Maybe its the whole genre of space rock of which they are certainly a pioneer of - it's not for everybody, either now or then. They've had a plethora of albums, but I believe the band remains a mystery to many ... particularly Motorhead fans as Lemmy was once in the band & named his band after a Hawkwind song. But, they've never stopped producing albums, though the membership count probably now rivals prog peers Yes, while they've had an array of different style moments over the decades making discovering them a bit more difficult. Many albums, old & new, studio & live, have found critical & fan acceptance, but yet much of their catalog is unknown to any but the hardcore fan. Where to start? What's good? What's bad? Some say the first four albums are all that matters, but can you really so easily write-off the decades that follow? One of those different moments that has potentially been forgotten about was following a line-up change in 1990 when in came the addition of Bridget Wishart on vocals for the studio release Space Bandits & subsequent couple tours. Never before, & never again, would they have a female singer. Also introduced at this time was violinist Simon House. The result is reminiscent of the Grateful Dead when they featured Donna Jean Godchaux on backing vocals, meets a tame later era Mahavishnu Orchestra with Jean Luc Ponty doing a keyboard dominated space rock trip. Though, neither Wishart or House are utilized here beyond a couple songs. Wishart only gets one lead vocal ("Back In The Box"), which might be the greatest disappointment of this live outing. To hear a female vocalist with Hawkwind is startling, versus the normal almost robot vocals that are so familiar, but the moment passes before one gets used to it or knows where it could go. But, beyond this loss, really the best way to hear Hawkwind is in the live setting & this isn't a bad Hawkwind album to get into the mood with. It has a little bit of the past, though also a bit of the modern era Hawkwind. The music is dominated by vocals & keyboards with the guitar being primarily a rhythm instrument. It may not be as exploratory as some 70's releases, but they are as cosmic as ever. Fluid is the key word to the Hawkwind live experience. The keyboards float, even during solos, with one song weaving into the next. Though, this is only a partial concert & recordings from a couple shows, but it still floats together into on space rock quasi-Grateful Dead medley moment. "Void Of Golden Light" which moves into "Lives Of Great Men" is one of the best tracks where they recall the best of their 70's output with as they go as far as they can with the keyboard taking the lead. Its interesting to note that no cuts from Space Bandit appears, which might be why Wishhart's vocals appear so infrequently. Sadly, Wishhart would only appear on this studio album & a couple live albums before moving on in 1991 with keyboardist Harvey Bainbridge & violinist Simon House following. Hawkwind would continue as a trio creating a synthesizer wall of sound. Of note, entering into Space Bandits the band had not just welcomed Wishhart to the microphone, but drummer Richard Chadwick was still a new face, while lead guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton left. His guitar lines to be taken up by House's violin. So, this particular Hawkwind sound/line-up would be all too short an experience never really getting enough chance to develop & thus just another blip on the Hawkwind musical road largely going unseen & most likely unremembered.

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