Published on 11th September 2015
Hawkwind – Coded Languages: Live at Hammersmith Odeon, Nov. 1982
Hawkwind have had a long and varied career ploughing the furrow with their own style of psychedelic space rock. They are probably best known as a great live act so it appears logical that a number of live albums litter their extensive catalogue in an attempt to capture those spectacular onstage moments. I have seen them on a number of occasions over the years and they have always been memorable, including 1976 at Cardiff Castle with two drummers and Robert Calvert prowling the stage in flying hat, goggles and a machine gun. Again at the Newport Centre in the early ’90s, a strange experience with the hall set out like a ‘chicken in a basket’ cabaret night with round tables, and a crazy caped singer who I still to this day can’t remember the name of.
That said, it shows that the live album is a difficult beast, too often not getting over to the listener the excitement and the power of the event. There are exceptions to this of course; Hawkwind’s own Space Ritual, Deep Purple’s Made in Japan and Thin Lizzy’s Live and Dangerous which are all generally thought of as classic examples of how to deliver a live album.
Most people believe that Hawkwind’s golden era was the 1970s with landmark albums such as In Search of Space (’71), Doremi Fasol Latido (’72), Hall of the Mountain Grill (’74) and Warrior on the Edge of Time (’75). While this may be true the ’80s did produce a number of fine albums also. Three of their four albums released between 1980 and 1982 feature here, ably supported by some classics. This concert was recorded on 24-track tape by a mobile recording unit and has previously appeared on various compilations throughout the 1980s. Here all the surviving multi-track masters have been remixed to present the best audio quality of this gig to date. The sound is very good, crisp and you can hear the contributions of all the players.
This album has a different feel when compared to Space Ritual, less powerful and raw but slicker sounding. That is not a criticism, indeed I believe this is due to the collective skills of the then current line up. Nik Turner’s contributions are pitched just right, controlled with carefully placed saxophone and flute adding textures to the songs. Mention must be made of Martin Griffin’s drums, they are solid, reliable and drive the songs, just as you would expect from Hawkwind. His playing on Magnu fills out the sound well, so much so that one wouldn’t know that they were not using two drummers, as on the original recording.
The bulk of this set contains songs from the Choose Your Masques (’82 – seven tracks in all) which they were touring at the time of recording. For me these songs come across as stronger than some of the older ones, Magnu being the exception here. There is a chance to hear another live version of Brainstorm, but again to my ears it suffers in comparison to the Space Ritual version which was loud, deranged and played as if their life depended on it. That said this is not a bad version, it is just a little too together; horses for courses I guess.
Overall, this is an album you could happily add to your Hawkwind live collection as a good representation of this early ’80s line-up of the band and a chance to hear live versions of songs from the great Choose Your Masques album by a band that appeared at the top of their game, tight and playing with energy.
01. Warriors at the Edge of Time / Choose your Masques (12:12)
02. Coded Languages (6:15)
03. Magnu / Dust of Time (8:59)
04. Waiting for Tomorrow (6:22)
05. Angels of Death (6:47)
06. Ghost Dance (6:56)
07. Steppenwolf (10:39)
Total Time – 58:00
01. Psychedelic Warlords (7:29)
02. Social Alliance (6:20)
03. Utopia / Arrival in Utopia (9:19)
04. Solitary Mind Games (6:15)
05. Sonic Attack (6:35)
06. Dream Worker (6:31)
07. Brainstorm (13:42)
Total time – 56:00
Dave Brock – Vocals, Guitar, Synthesisers
Harvey Bainbridge – Vocals, Bass Guitar, Synthesisers
Huw Lloyd Langton – Vocals, Lead Guitar
Nik Turner – Vocals, Saxophone, Flute
Martin Griffin – Drums, Percussion
Michael Moorcock – Vocals and recitation on Warriors at the Edge of Time & Coded Languages
Record Label: Atomhenge
Year Of Release: 2015