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Hawkwind: The Flicknife Years: 1981-1988

Album Review

Second tier releases collected to illuminating effect.

“I’d like to present to you the night, and er, the future, and er, whoever, and maybe, The Hawks...” It’s unrecorded who provided the introduction to Hawkwind’s sunrise set at the Stonehenge Free Festival 1984 (the smart money is on Nik Turner), but as a précis of their inimitable mix of melodrama, foreboding and sci-fi aesthetics, with a soupçon of stoned shambles sprinkled in, it certainly has its charm.

In a somewhat unusual scenario, the early 80s saw the band releasing new material on RCA (Sonic Attack, Church Of Hawkwind, Choose Your Masques), while concurrently, indie label Flicknife was hoovering up off-cuts, live nuggets, archive material and associated acts. 

Comprising the three volume Friends And Relations series, with a predictably marked decline in quality by the final issue, plus the much underrated Zones which saw out the end of Ginger Baker’s tenure, disc five is 1987’s Out And Intake, most notable for a full frontal assault on Calvert classic Ejection. Though patchy in places, there are bona fide diamonds within. Inner City Unit’s Raj Neesh (‘They wear a bucket on their heads’) is a glorious slice of trash-punk, and the epic Valium 10 so perfects the drone riff, it plots out the entire careers of Loop and Spacemen 3 in just under eight minutes. 

While it’s unlikely even a diehard needs another version of Assassins Of Allah, listened to as a companion to the major label releases – showing you the workings if you like – it adds considerable colour and craziness to the canon.

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