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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

Fave Hawkwind LP

We all have our faves, and this one is mine. Calvert steps to the forground and the band arise like the Phoenix to take on a broader science fiction pallette. 35 years later, this one still gets played regularly. Spirit of the Age and Damnation Alley are just perfect motorik tracks that could go on forever, even with their goofy lyrics, and Simon House's violin is on top form here. Bowie snatched him up after this. Love it. Get it. Best Hawkwind for my buck.

Quark Strangness And Charm

I had this on vinyl at one time and it only cost me under 10 bucks. So the price isn't favorable but the bonus tracks are, because its a mind trip like Hawkwind always has been, but in a more mellow-dramatic way. A very special gem if I must say so. A must have even if your more into the Lemmy daze!


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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