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This Is Hawkwind - Do Not Panic

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Album Review

Despite taking its title from the classic Space Ritual-era "Sonic Attack," the bulk of This Is Hawkwind, Do Not Panic dates, in fact, from a full eight years on, as the revived band sold out a string of U.K. theaters in the run-up to Christmas 1980, including this show at London's Lewisham Odeon. By the standards that Space Ritual set, of course, This Is Hawkwind is little more than an average live album. By those standards established by the myriad other live Hawkwind albums one could choose from, however, it is one of the best, in terms of both sound and performance. Featuring the New Wave of British Heavy Metal-styled guitars of Huw Lloyd Langton, and with the surprise recruitment of legendary drummer Ginger Baker still catching people's eyes, the set opens with a densely punky "Psi Power," then moves on through crunchily dramatic takes on "Levitation," "Shot Down in the Night," and a "Death Trap" that could have fallen off Warrior on the Edge of Time, before wrapping up with a positively triumphant "Shot Down in the Night." (Two further tracks from this same concert appeared on the album Zones.) That covers Sides One and Two of the original vinyl. The remainder of the double package is devoted to two excerpts from the band's appearance at the 1984 Summer Solstice festival at Stonehenge, a lengthy (eight minute) improvisation bearing the optimistic title "Stonehenge Decoded," and Nik Turner's short, sharp and, again, deeply NWOBHM-tinged "Watching the Grass Grow." In truth, these final cuts do break the rhythm built up by the Lewisham show — festivals always bring out the weird in Hawkwind — but still This Is Hawkwind, Do Not Panic stands as one of the few truly crucial Hawkwind archive sets released since that particular vault first creaked open.


Formed: 1969 in London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Any sci-fi fan with a long memory probably remembers those 1970s' DAW paperback editions of Michael Moorcock's sword-and-sorcery novels, with their images of heavily armored, very muscular warriors carrying large swords and standing against eerie landscapes and starscapes. Take that imagery, throw in some names and terminology seemingly lifted from the Marvel Comics of the era (and particle physics articles of the period), and translate it into loud but articulate hard rock music. That's more or...
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