Between 1994 and ’97, Hawkwind issued four albums – 1994’s The Business Trip, 1995’s Alien 4, 1996’s double Love In Space and 1997’s Distant Horizons. Two were live and, as to be expected, are the main picks – in fact, The Business Trip is downright essential. Recorded at Thames Valley University in Slough in November 1993 to promote their 18th album, It Is The Business Of The Future To Be Dangerous, it captures the trio of vocalist/guitarist Dave Brock, bassist Alan Davey and drummer Richard Chadwick in simpatico as they astral glide through classics, past, present and future. A frenzied reading of You Shouldn’t Do That is pure wall-of-sound trance-inducing ecstacy underpinned by bass, drums and raw guitar. Synths whirl and Brock barks the title with a spontaneous urgency; the excitement of the audience is palpable.
A cover of Quark, Strangeness And Charm is slower than the 1977 original, more contemplative, with lyrics at the fore. Other tracks are performed straight – such as 1992’s LSD – while a cover of Robert Calvert’s The Right Stuff is a heartfelt tribute to the band’s resident poet who died in 1988, as incendiary guitar and crashing cymbals frame Brock’s pure punk rasp.
1996’s Love In Space, the other live album, documents the 1995 album Alien 4 tour. In the studio for Alien 4, the core three are joined by singer/frontman Ron Tree for the first time and on some tracks, second guitarist Jerry Richards. Standouts include Abducted and Xenomorph – the first a sinister portent, with spoken word by Tree atop ominous keyboard lines, the second named is an exhilarating space rock incantation.
On the road, as profiled on its live counterpart, interstellar versions of Silver Machine and Are You Losing Your Mind? aid the lysergic discombobulation. 1997’s Distant Horizons, which closes this excellent set, sees Davey replaced by Tree on bass, Richards becoming a full time member and the group expanding their sound to embrace techno. It’s all numinous stuff.