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Quark, Strangeness and Charm

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Album Review

Hot on the heels of two decidedly un-Hawkwind-ish singles; following in the footsteps, too, of the defiantly transitory Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music album, Quark Strangeness and Charm was the first full flowering of Hawkwind's newly-honed drive towards brittle pop, sharp wit, and crystal-clear intent — attributes that, if they'd ever existed in the past, had been entirely overwhelmed by the sheer grandeur of the space rock rocket blast. Now it was the propulsive riffs and deep space echoes that were held in abeyance, and Quark opened as it meant to go on, with "Spirit of the Age"'s tight keyboards, unobtrusive washes, and the utterly captivating — if totally skewed — story of love across the light years. It is hard to visualize just how shocking the change must have been to loyal fans of the era; how they must have trembled before the electrifying jolt of concise lyricism and accessible melodies. Airplay followed, and the band even made their first mainstream U.K. TV appearance in some five years, performing the new album's title track on Marc Bolan's teatime TV pop show. Robert Calvert wore an aviator's helmet and carried a stuffed falcon on one hand, odd apparel indeed for an ode to Albert Einstein's lack of luck with the ladies. Or maybe not so odd, after all. A handful of songs fed back into the traditional Hawkwind mythos — the post-apocalyptic "Damnation Alley," the near-industrial instrumental "Forge of Vulcan," and the weary, dream-is-over nostalgia of "Days of the Underground." "Hassan I Sabha," an epic of Middle Eastern terrorist rhetoric, even recalled the prosaic realities of the old favorite "Urban Guerilla," although a haunting Arabic refrain and instrumentation catapulted it to a different realm regardless. And so it went on — Hawkwind's most unexpected album to date and, today, one of their most endearingly enduring; charming, strange, and, if not quark, then certainly quirky. [The 2009 edition included a bonus CD.]

Customer Reviews

Why is this nearly £16?

Why is this nearly £16?

QS&C. a forecast of the modern age

I'm very surprised no one has written a rewiew of this classical rock masterpiece; forecasting and merging, as it does, the modern scientific landscape - cloning and particle physics etc, with historic romaticism (Gallileo). Some of the lyrics are simply poetry, which almost don't require musical accompanyment. The fact they are, with Hawkwind at their best, lifts this record to cult staus. If it gets in your head, you wont be able to get the tracks out of your mind. I strongly commend it! Pse enjoy; it's only a shame its time has passed, which I suppose enhances its rareness. If it was a film it would be deeply in the Indie bracket.

Why so expensive?

One of my favourite albums but not worth £15


Formed: 1969 in England

Genre: Rock

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

Any sci-fi fan with long memories 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 land- and starscapes. Take that imagery, throw in some terminology and names seemingly lifted from the Marvel Comics of the era (The Watcher, etc.) and particle physics articles of the period, translate it into loud but articulate hard rock music, and that's...
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