Review Summary: Hawkwind does as Hawkwind pleases. Hawkwind – A trip through space, Part XVI – Hawkwind, now four decades strong
When Hawkwind released Blood of the Earth in 2010, the band had been operating for over forty years. When a band gets to that stage in their career, it is much harder for them to release albums with the intensity they had in their youth. In addition, Hawkwind had only released two albums in the past ten years. What if the tank had run dry since the last millennium?
With Blood of the Earth, Hawkwind prove to us that the tank is in fact not dry, but has been fully refuelled, albeit with a different type of fuel than before. Hawkwind appeared aged, matured like a cask of whiskey that has been forgotten about in the basement of an eccentric millionaire. When the album opens up with 'Seahawks' you can see that Hawkwind have changed dramatically, if not for reasons instantly obvious.
On this album, Hawkwind are:
Dave Brock – guitar, keyboards, vocals
Niall Hone – guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, sampling
Mr. Dibs – bass guitar, vocals
Tim Blake – keyboards
Richard Chadwick – drums, vocals
Matthew Wright, vocals on 'Blood of the Earth'
Jason Stuart, Keyboards on 'Starshine'
Long time Hawkwind member Alan Davey is gone, being replaced by Niall Hone. Also joining is ex-Gong member Tim Blake and finally Mr. Dibs, who fills the role of Hawkwind's front man. You'd think that a band as old as Hawkwind would be taking it slow on their 26th record, and if you were to listen to the opening tracks then you'd be correct in that assumption. 'Seahawks' and 'Blood of the Earth' are indeed slower space style Hawkwind songs.
These older style tracks give the album a slightly nostalgic tone. But whereas the sounds from the 1970s sounded gritty and dirty, due to the technology being used then, the sounds on Blood of the Earth sound much fresher and cleaner.
It's when the album begins to advance that you realise that Hawkwind are not an old and tired band, rather they are a phoenix rising from the fire. 'Wraith' is full of life and sound, with Brock and Hone sounding excellent on the guitars, nimble fingers darting up and down the guitars with perfect skill.
But there is another aspect of Hawkwind that has returned, their lyrical work is much improved, finally sounding coherent and well put together. Hawkwind tackle the issues of living on a planet that is dying beneath our very feet. Although Dave Brock still provides most of the lyrics and music on the album, this is no longer the 'Brockwind' that it was during the tail end of the last century and many of the new members contribute to the musical experience.
In addition, Hawkwind have managed to bring feeling back to their music, 'Green Machine' is a short but excellent piece. Brought to life by the excellent guitar work of Brock and Hone, it is the sort of album that would seem fitting to be played on massive speakers in the earth's atmosphere to great astronauts on their way home from deadly missions in deep space.
Blood of the Earth is a varied album, songs such as 'Wraith' and 'Sweet Obsession' are heavier space rock tracks, whereas tracks such as 'Comfy Chair' and 'Seahawks' are much more synthetic constructions. And the best thing about this album is that it gets better towards the end. With space ballads 'Sunshine' and Sentinel being some of the best work Hawkwind has ever produced. But one of the best moments on this album is when the remake of 1975's 'You'd Better Believe It' begins. With its expanded middle section and moody space sounds, it really is a remake worth listening to at least once.
Hawkwind have not just received a new lease of life, they have sprung up from the ground with all the intensity of a hormonal rabbit. Blood of the Earth is easily the best thing that Hawkwind have done in over thirty years. It's varied, clean and very well done. This new line-up of Hawkwind is one of the best yet, with Mr. Dibs providing some excellent vocal work. Richard Chadwick is on fire and Dave Brock hasn't sounded this excited, since he realised that he could wear stripy trousers and sandals at the same time. Blood of the Earth isn't just a Hawkwind album, it's a Hawkwind album with heart.