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Hawkwind: Palace Springs/Distant Horizons

Remastered and enhanced, the ’Wind blow hot and cold.

Originally released in 1991, Palace Springs consists mainly of performances recorded at the Palace Theatre, Los Angeles in October 1989.

It was Hawkwind’s fourth live outing, and still sounds like a patchy affair. Dave Brock’s decision to open with a pair of forgettable 1990 studio numbers – _Back In The _Box and Treadmill – makes for a somewhat bizarre and far-from-ideal start, but thankfully things pick up from there. The in-concert renditions and re-workings of Assault And Battery (listed here as Lives Of Great Men), The Golden Void (listed as Void Of Golden Light), Time We Left This World Today and Damnation Alley are typical of a period when the group were becoming increasingly reliant on synths and sequencers, particularly on stage. As a result, there’s a slick new-age sheen to proceedings, although the band themselvers are on fine form. This remastered double disc edition adds a couple of further studio workouts plus a 12-song live set recorded in California during December 1990. Previously available as California Brainstorm, it’s a spirited performance which strikes a healthy balance between their contemporary material and classics such as Brainstorm and Night Of The Hawks. Ultimately, though Palace Springs is an interesting if inessential entry in the Hawkwind space log.

Equally inessential and far less interesting is the band’s 21st studio album. Distant Horizons dates back from 1997 and reflects the influence that the decade’s dance scene had on the Hawkwind sound, a somewhat circular situation given that a fair number of contemporary DJs and turntablists cited Brock and band among their firm favourites. This album, however, has not aged well. Even upon release it came across like a poorly-produced mish-mash of half-baked ideas with all the sonic sheen of a rushed rehearsal room demo. Today, it simply sounds like a horrendously dated anachronism and, even in this remastered form, it’s arguably a career low point.