A strong album that is marketed as “live”, but in reality is primarily a studio creation. The first two songs are 100% studio recordings with the remainder of the original album tracks a mix of live recordings and studio overdubs. You will be hard pressed to hear anything (such as audience noises, feedback or distortion) that would indicate a live origin to any of these tracks. So the album sounds great and acts as an excellent introduction to Hawkwind.
The first song, Back In The Box, is sung by Bridgett and I am not a huge fan of the lyrics or her vocals here. The music itself is pretty strong and if you can get by the dopey lyrics (“shut in the box, too many locks…”?) there is much to like. The next song, Treadmill, is another Hawkwind later day classic with a pumping bass and amazing guitar sound from Brock. Lyrically this one is fun and evocative. The following “live” tracks are excellent and in the case of Heads and Acid Test the definitive versions. It’s also fun to hear Bridgett sing Damnation Alley –a real highlight of this set. The bonus track Damage of Life is a good song that started life as a Dave Brock solo song, but here it seems to have some other Hawk’s participation. The early stripped-down version of Treadmill is interesting, but not essential –and there are only a few bars of Time We Left at the end (probably not deserving a mention in the title).
The second disk of the Atomhenge remaster contains a 1990 concert (not quite complete) that is well recorded and catches the band on a good night. Unfortunately Simon House was not part of the band that night. If you don’t have “California Brainstorm” as a standalone disk I advise getting this remaster while it’s still available cheap.