Nearly a decade after the release of the acclaimed surround mix of Warrior on the Edge of Time, a limited edition 8 CD / 2 Blu ray boxed set from Hawkwind that showcases the band's tenure with Charisma Records in the late 1970s is released in March 2023. On this deluxe box set titled “Days of the Underground: The Studio & Live Recordings 1977-1979” fans will find the music that breaks new ground, producing a series of classic albums that adapted to the changing musical times with invention and flair. Specifically, the boxed set features three albums: “Quark, Strangeness and Charm,” “Hawklords: 25 Years On,” and “P.X.R. 5” each with immersive 5.1 surround sound and Stereo remixes by Steven Wilson.
But there is much more, there is a host of rare studio outtakes from that era, as well as four additional CDs of live material. These performances have been newly mixed from the original multi-track tapes, including all the surviving recordings from the September 1977 'Sonic Assassins' concert, the Hawklords' concert from November 1978 and a previously unreleased promotional film of Hawklords at Uxbridge University in 1978.
The boxed set also comes with a lavishly illustrated book, essay, and a poster. Fans will be able to dig deeply into the history of this groundbreaking period in Hawkwind's career. Experience their live performances, with Robert Calvert as an able frontman, and hear previously unreleased tracks from these legendary concerts.
Each of the three albums that have been remixed in surround by Wilson extend the territory of their music style. “Quark, Strangeness and Charm" was the first to depart from Hawkwind's traditional space rock sound and marked their shift towards pop and accessible melodies. The album featured songs that fed into the traditional Hawkwind mythos, such as "Damnation Alley" and "Forge of Vulcan," as well as a Middle Eastern epic called "Hassan I Sabha." Their new sound was a shock to loyal fans back in the day, but ended up receiving airplay and the band even made their first mainstream UK TV appearance in some five years. The album has gone on to remain one of Hawkwind's most endearingly enduring albums.
Then there is “Hawklords: 25 Years On” which emerged as one of the band’s last great albums before Hawkwind's decline in the 1980s. This album continued the band's experimentation with electronics and quirkiness, which had been heard on their previous album, Quark Strangeness and Charm. The album featured a range of themes, including comedy, sci-fi, and futurism, and was in line with the current music scene. Yet, despite the album's quality, it failed to achieve major success, and now surround immersionists can enjoy this album from their sweet spot.
PXR5 is the last album in the boxset to be remixed in surround, and it closes out the-'70s incarnation of the group, which features vocalist/poet Bob Calvert along with other members. It is the final album in a sequence of pop-inflected records that the band released that have been critically acclaimed to have astounding sounds and amazing music. Featuring punkish intensity and fashionability with themes of life atop spacy pastures and roughshod tracks that easily could have slipped out of songs like “In Search of Space.” Although the album is not an all-out classic, it does contain very worthy tracks, and "Death Trap" is among those songs.
While I may have preferred these albums to be released separately, I also appreciate the multi-album boxset that packs in the live material, bonuses, and of course the 5.1 surround mixes of three of Hawkwind’s late ‘70s output. Best for serious fans of Hawkwind, surround music collectors, and psychedelic progressive rock listeners.
Scheduled for release March 31, 2023.
8 CD / 2 Blu-ray limited edition boxset with 5.1 surround mixes of three complete albums, hi-res stereo mixes, and bonuses and live material. Also available for streaming.
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About the Author
Wesley is a lifelong music enthusiast. He started his career in the recording industry in New York City as an audio engineer, producer, and studio manager. Subsequently he toured across America as a guitarist with the short-lived band Land's Crossing. After many years in the technology sector and amassing a substantial vinyl and CD collection, he delved into immersive audio and created Hi-Res Edition to share with other listeners about the sound quality and discrete mixes available on many formats. He recently upgraded his system to 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos and continues to seek out and share about the best sounding releases.