CD Review – Hawkwind – Dreamworkers Of Time: The BBC Recordings (1985-1995) Box Set

Spacerockers Hawkwind were never really the trendy darlings of the rock press or for the world of broadcasting but they did occasionally get invited to recording sessions or live broadcasts for the BBC. This good-looking release covers the decade from the mid-1980’s to the mid-1990’s when the band already had a diverse and eventful history. Dave Brock had guided the group through the late 1960s from its Notting Hill roots to the ultimate in alternative rock, creating what many thought to be a genre all for themselves. They were the very definition of spacerock, a fantastic melding of psychedelic rock, heavy rock and art rock that made the band quite distinctive. Many musicians joined and left, some to re-join before leaving again, but they all contributed something along the way. At times it seemed to be one drug-addled circus, wacky but always inventive.

In 1985 the band were invited to record a session for Tommy Vance’s Rock Show, their first for the BBC since 1972. The session saw a band line-up featuring Brock on vocals, guitar, and synthesiser, Huw Lloyd Langton lead guitar and vocals, Harvey Bainbridge keyboards and vocals, along with Alan Davey on bass and vocals and drummer Danny Thompson. The following year saw Hawkwind headlining the Reading Festival and sixty minutes of the highlights of their powerful set were recorded by the BBC and broadcast on the Friday Rock Show. In May 1988, a concert at the Hammersmith Odeon, part of the tour to promote the album The Xenon Codex, was recorded for the BBC’s In Concert series and saw the band in fine form once again. In July 1995, Hawkwind returned to the BBC studios in London’s Maida Vale to record a session for The Mark Radcliffe Show, this time featuring a line-up of Brock on vocals, guitar, and synthesiser, Davey bass, vocals, and synthesiser, Ron Tree on vocals, and Richard Chadwick on drums.

Dave Brock

Cherry Red Records have added this to their impressive roster of archive material, that has seen recent releases from a diverse cast including Roger Chapman, The Vibrators, Alvin Stardust, Jonesy, Blossom Toes and a host of others, all to very high standards. The material on this release has all been remastered from the original BBC masters with sixteen previously unreleased tracks and a great booklet to accompany them. They are presented in a clam shell box and the three discs represent all the session and live work the band did for the BBC during this period.

For the most part the tapes have cleaned up well, given their age. The performances are almost typically Hawkwind. In part a little crazed, showy, impassioned, and maybe a tad frantic on the Reading Festival material especially towards the end of the performance when Lemmy guests with the band on a rendition of Silver Machine. Over all though, the Reading Festival performance is a good one from the band, making the Hammersmith one seem much more stately. The studio sessions are equally good, the band segueing some songs into one track, such as Assassins Of Allah and The Dream Goes On from the Mark Radcliffe Session.

This is another really strong release from the Cherry Red label. The incarnations of the band are caught in splendid form at a time when they were again morphing into another style. Fading was the now passe punky heavy metal and the band were edging into powerful atmospheres of the electronica world that would eventually see them placed closer to the rave scene. Less caught in time, more shaping changing times. Hawkwind always were a freewheeling colourful institution, because of the alternative style rather than in spite of it.

Disc One: BBC Radio One Friday Rock Show

Live At Reading Festival 24th August 1986

1. Magnu / Angels Of Death

2. The Pulsing Cavern

3. Assault And Battery

4. Needle Gun

5. Master Of The Universe

6. Utopia

7. Brainstorm

8. Dream Worker

9. Assassins Of Allah

10. Silver Machine

Disc Two: BBC Radio One In Concert

Hammersmith Odeon, London

14th May 1988

1. Utopia

2. The War I Survived

3. Heads

4. Shot Down In The Night

5. Tides

6. Wastelands Of Sleep

7. Moonglum

8. Sonic Attack

9. Rocky Paths

10. Brainstorm

Disc Three: BBC Sessions 1985 & 1995

Friday Rock Show Session 1985

1. Assault Of The Hawk

2. They’ve Got Your Number

3. Magnu / Dreamworker Of Time

Mark Radcliffe Session 1995

4. The Right To Decide

5. Death Trap / Wastelands Of Sleep / Are You Losing Your Mind?

6. Assassins Of Allah / The Dream Goes On

Release date: 25th March 2022

Label: Cherry Red Records

Format: CD Boxset

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