A recent late-night on-line buying bonanza netted this re-issue of Hawkwind’s 1980 album Levitation. Part of the attraction—apart from it being Hawkwind, of course—was the inclusion of not one, but two bonus records: a concert recorded at that world-famous venue, the Lewisham Odeon, on the 18th of December 1980.
The studio album has retained some of the harder edge of the previous year’s PXR5, but sounds less amphetamine edgy and more space-trooper thrusting. The opening pair of songs, “Levitation” and “Motorway City” are both very strong indeed. Classic Hawkwind rockers, propelled on this album (and the subsequent tour) by the drums of Mr Ginger Baker. In fact the band is almost entirely different from the PXR5 outfit, with Huw Lloyd Langton on lead guitar and vocals andHarvey Bainbridge on bass, synths and vocals. And Dave Brock, of course.
A nice synth intro begins side two, leading into another strident Hawkwind stomper, “Who’s gonna win the war”.
All three of the songs mentioned figure on the live albums, as do “Angels of Death” (which, oddly, first appeared on the following year’s Sonic Attack) and “Shot down in the night”, the b-side of the “Urban Guerrilla” single (not on this live album sadly). We also have a punk-thrash live version of “Death Trap” from PXR5 and the voice of sci-fi prince Michael Moorcock on “Running through my back brain (messages)”. A title that does not really suggest said brain is functioning sharply, or even coherently.
Overall this is a great package. The quality of the live recording is high (especially when compared to early recordings) and the artwork by Linda Curry excellent. Sadly, the blue vinyl, though very pretty, is sub-standard; lots of surface noise. Still, if you crank it up, you don’t hear that. And cranking up Hawkwind is a very good thing to do.
I would really have liked Atomhenge (who also did the wonderful Warrior On The Edge Of Time package, reviewed here) to have put these records into a gatefold sleeve, especially as they kindly included a copy of the program from the Levitation tour. Juggling three records and the booklet into a single sleeve requires a level of dexterity not all space travellers possess. Pity you cannot simply levitate them back into the cover.