Zones / This Is Hawkwind, Do Not Panic Review

These two albums have just been re-released as a 2-CD set by Cherry Red Records.  They kindly sent
me a free promo in exchange for this review!  At last people are sending me free Hawkwind CD's
(even if I already have them...)
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This new reissue of 2 mid-80's Hawkwind albums in one package features Zones (1983), a half-live
half-studio album, and This Is Hawkwind, Do Not Panic (1984) - a wholly live album with performances
from 1980 and 1984.  It is not the first time they have been issued together as a single package.  I already
have a 2-CD set issued on Purple Pyramid, entitled The Stonehenge Collection, comprising these 2 albums.  
The Cherry Red reissue is much more attractively packaged, with the stonehenge graphic from an earlier
"...Do Not Panic" issue reproduced on the front.  Each CD is provided with a monochrome graphic
reproducing the original cover art of each album.  There are no sleeve notes or running times for each
track.  The front and rear inserts provide colour illustrations of other Hawkwind titles available from Cherry
Red and some small black-and-white photos of band members which don't look familiar and thus may be
published for the first time.  So it's fairly minimal in terms of packaging, but classier-looking than the Purple
Pyramid version.

Disc 1 - Zones
Well I should point out right at the beginning that this is perhaps my least favourite Hawkwind album.  I
hated it when it first came out, thinking "they can't go any lower than this" - although they subsequently
did, in patches!  Bearing this prejudice of mine in mind, let us continue...

Zones
A brief piece of synthy blurps and witterings, featuring what sounds like military radio traffic and
helicopters.  It's all over in 46 seconds.

Dangerous Vision
A keyboard-dominated track penned by Keith Hale.  Others have commented that it doesn't sound like
Hawkwind at all...it's OK though.  Based upon a descending chord sequence and vocals presumably
supplied by Hale.  The lyrics are humanistic and Huw Lloyd Langton adds a few touches of lead guitar that
rescue this from being a Keith Hale solo piece.

Running Through The Back Brain
A Michael Moorcock track, it comes across as an out-take from the 1981 Sonic Attack album.  
Moorcock's normal moaning and raving is thankfully subdued.  The lyrics seem to describe a mental
unravelling, and the music chunders along in a somewhat leaden fashion, based around a single note.  Once
again Huw does his best to turn it into a proper Hawkwind track but he's fighting a losing battle.  There is a
nice 2-chord keyboard riff running throughout the song, and some Dave Brock synth noises here and
there.  But this is only half an idea for a song, drawn out over 6 minutes...

The Island
The opening guitar motif is from the Levitation album, appearing on Fifth Second of Forever originally: this
song is constructed by sticking that onto the mellow 2-chord middle section from "Dust of Time".  What
results is an instrumental workout dominated by Huw Lloyd Langton's guitar.  It fades out fairly quickly
without ever really going anywhere, although the lead guitar is nice & melodic throughout.

Motorway City
A live version, superior to the one found on Live 79 in that it has a warmer, more organic feeling to it.  This
does not mean that the sound quality is particularly good - it's slightly muddy, but still listenable.  
Unfortunately this track was faded out prematurely, in the middle of Huw's guitar solo, which is one of the
best guitar solos you will hear anywhere if you go for that slow, searing kind rather than ultra-fast widdly
stuff.

Utopia 84
Characteristic Harvey Bainbridge synths behind a rather silly spoken piece by Nik Turner.  The last word of
his monologue is cut off, which rather spoils the point of it.

Social Alliance
This must be the worst Hawkwind song ever.  It occurs to me that it might actually be an Inner City Unit
song, that Hawkwind played purely because Nik Turner was back in the band at the time.  It's a fast punky
thrash with no conviction whatsoever.  S-h-i-t-e.

Sonic Attack
Nik Turner vocals over a cacophonous live rendition of the 1981 version from the eponymously named
album.  Dave Brock's vocal interjections seem to ape Lemmy's on the Space Ritual version of this track.  
Which is fine, but Nik Turner is no Bob Calvert.

Dream Worker
More synthy blurps and farts. "The Tube Is Now Ready".  Then the hypnotic guitar motif and disturbing
synths spiral around each other while Turner declaims the vocals.  This is a live version of the studio track
which appeared on the 1982 album, Choose Your Masques, where Harvey Bainbridge originally did the
vocals.

Brainstorm
A slightly muddy sound unfortunately does not obscure the idiotic quality of Nik Turner's vocals.  He also
plays some uninspired sax, but then the rest of the band don't sound too inspired either.  The Live 79
version is better than this.  It starts and ends with a teeth-on-edge whistle blast.  Bad.

Here's a response from John Chase:

"
I think the review of Zones was a bit harsh. What your reviewer seems to ignore or just not notice is that
Dangerous Visions and Motorway City, plus a bit of Master Of The Universe and some of World Of Tiers
fill the gaps in the Hawks' live set of 1980 featured on Do Not Panic and give a real feel of the tour that
year
.  And Dreamworker perfectly captures that weird / sinister side of Hawkwind."

I plead guilty to not having noticed this, as a matter of fact...

Disc 2 - This Is Hawkwind, Do Not Panic
This is an excellent live album with crystal-clear sound quality and band performances that are generally
tighter than a gnat's arse and very heavy.

Psi Power
Misspelled as "Psy Power", a mistake which has been faithfully reproduced from the original vinyl album.  
It has a manic edge to it, largely thanks to HLL's lead guitar, completely unlike the studio version on the
Hawklords album.

Levitation
A storming live version from 18th December 1980 at the Lewisham Odeon.  This would put any heavy
metal band to shame, being a crushing tour de force.  It only really develops the full steamroller effect in the
extended instrumental middle section.

Circles
How many different Hawkwind tracks are there called Circles?  This one starts off with synths reminiscent
of one of the short tracks from the Levitation album, before we hear the familiar HLL classical guitar motifs
- and then the track mutates into a wonderfully bruising version of Fifth Second of Forever.

Space Chase
A faithful rendition of the track that originally appeared on Levitation, although it isn't quite the same
without the Space Invader noises at the beginning!  There is more keyboard on this version too.

Death Trap
A decent rendition of this track, but it's still odd to hear it being done by a full band after the stripped-down
demo version they did in the studio.  Starts off with Tim Blake synths and then crashes into a full blast
speedy rendition of the song proper...the very full sound doesn't really suit the song IMHO: they did it better
on the 1995 Alien 4 album.

Angels of Death
Somewhat leaden...not up to the standard of the original studio version (on Sonic Attack, 1981) but
probably tighter than any other live version - certainly better than those that appear on the Weird CD's or
Live Chronicles.

Shot Down In The Night
In some ways better than the original version on the Live 79 album.  This one is tighter, heavier and more
ponderous, but benefits from a rearranged bridge, and a terrific guitar solo from Huw, the opening bars of
which are spoiled by intrusive drumming.  His second solo ends in a wonderfully climatic fashion though,
with the drums punctuating Huw's descent down the fretboard.

Stonehenge Decoded
The first time I heard this it struck me as one of those throwaway live jams, but thanks to Dave Brock's
wonderful vocals, this is actually a real song.  The sleeve of the CD mistakenly lists this as just
"Stonehenge".

Watching The Grass Grow
An Inner City Unit track.  It's crap.  Hawkwind discover Punk Rock nearly ten years too late (even if they
created it in the first place).  The only good bit is the middle-eight, which goes into a classic 3-chord
Hawkwind riff, while Turner sings "Post-future reality / it's just the real world".