Hawkwind: Coded Languages

Eighties-era ’Wind smashing it at Hammersmith Odeon.

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Recorded at London’s legendary Hammersmith Odeon in November 1982, this double album is a potent reminder that Hawkwind’s greatness didn’t die along with the 70s.

In fact, despite the controversial Church Of Hawkwind outing, the 1980s produced a clutch of songs that are every bit as good, if not quite as well‑remembered, as the previous decade’s classics. As if to prove the point, Coded Languages leans heavily on 1982’s Choose Your Masques, which the band were promoting at the time, with Waiting For Tomorrow, Utopia, Arrival In Utopia, Solitary Mind Games, Dream Worker and the title track all putting in appearances during the set. Other contemporary tracks include the title track and Angels Of Death, from 1981’s Sonic Attack album, while the performances of both Psychedelic Warlords and Sonic Attack itself are based on the studio re-workings from this period. The balance of the set consists of vintage nuggets such as Magnu, Dust Of Time and the perennial Brainstorm, along with free-festival favourites Ghost Dance, Steppenwolf and Social Alliance. Over the years, Hawkwind’s revolving‑door line-up has clearly compromised their career, but with founding mastermind Dave Brock backed by stalwarts Huw Lloyd-Langton on guitar/vocals and Harvey Bainbridge on bass/synths/vocals, this album witnesses them close to their best. Martin Griffin’s drumming is a little flat at times, which probably explains why he had been all but replaced by a drum machine on Choose Your Masques and left the band at the end of the subsequent tour. A returning Nik Turner also pops up, his screeching sax puncturing the mix like a strangled cat. Although many of these tracks have appeared on various scattergun compilations, this remixed, remastered and nicely packaged edition is now by far the best way to own them. A fascinating document of an almost lost era in the history of a truly great band.

Gary Mackenzie

Gary has contributed reviews and news features for Prog Magazine for over a decade now. A fan of prog and heavy rock since childhood, his main areas of interest are classic and symphonic prog, prog-metal and modern acts bringing in fresh influences to the genre. He has a professional background in youth and community work, he teaches drum kit in schools and is a working musician. Gary was the drummer in semi-legendary NWOBHM band Praying Mantis for a couple of years and has been a member of indie-prog-pop-art-rock combo The Mighty Handful for more than twenty years. He loves cats and skiing, and has a Blue Peter badge.