The seventh studio album from Hawkwind, Quark, Strangeness and Charm was originally released in 1977 on Charisma in Europe, and Sire in North America. At this point the band streamlined their line-up, which included Robert Calvert (vocals), Dave Brock (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Simon House (violin, keyboards, vocals), Adrian Shaw (bass, vocals), and Simon King (drums). This was the start of a period that saw regular line-up changes, something that still has not stopped to this day. Much of the album continues the trend started on Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music, so the feel of the album is less thick & dense like on the earlier albums, but containing an accessible, quirky edge, no doubt due to the writing and presence of Calvert.
"Spirit of the Age" is quintessential Hawkwind from that time period, a soaring, dreamy, futuristic space rocker, complete with repetitive synth loops and Calvert's charming vocals. Catchy, spacey, and to the point. One of the harder rocking tunes here is the unforgettable "Damnation Alley", an upbeat song with a memorable chorus, metallic riffs, enormous bass lines, and bubbling synths. It's all very British sounding but so addicting. The lush "Fable of a Failed Race" features haunting vocals and waves of undulating synths, while the title track is a Status Quo inspired boogie styled rocker. They go for Middle Eastern themes on the hard rocker "Hassan I Sabbah", with House's violin running rampant throughout on this tale of the magical 'hashish'. Synth fans will love the short instrumental "The Forge of Vulcan", and "The Days of the Underground" sees the band dipping into some crunchy space metal, a style they would move even further into during the 1980's. The album closes with another spacey instrumental, "The Iron Dream", a really wild ride of booming bass, heavy riffs, and stabbing synths...classic Hawkwind.
Atomhenge's remastered edition sounds quite good, and there's a load of bonus material to be found here, including live and previously unreleased versions of many of these songs, as well as additional studio session pieces. Fans will love to compare some of the earlier session recordings with the eventual studio tracks. The Cherry Red folks have also given us a booklet packed with photos, essays, lyrics, and info. Another great reissue of an important Hawkwind album!
- "Spirit of the Age" (Robert Calvert, Dave Brock) – 7:20
- "Damnation Alley" (Calvert, Brock, Simon House) – 9:06
- "Fable of a Failed Race" (Calvert, Brock) – 3:15
- "Quark, Strangeness and Charm" (Calvert, Brock) – 3:41
- "Hassan-i Sabbah" (Calvert, Paul Rudolph) – 5:21
- "The Forge of Vulcan" (House) – 3:05
- "The Days of the Underground" (Calvert, Brock) – 3:13
- "The Iron Dream" (Simon King) – 1:53
- "Damnation Alley" [live studio version] – 10:33
- "A minor Jam Session" – 9:49
- "Spirit of the Age" [demo – excerpt] – 2:59
- "Hash Cake Cut" – 4:25
- "Damnation Alley" [first studio version] – 10:34
- "Spirit of the Age" [full extended version] – 11:20
- "Days of the Underground" [first version] – 5:38
- "Quark, Strangeness and Charm"/"Uncle Sam's on Mars" – 9:18
- "Fable of a Failed Race" [extended version] – 6:49
- "Damnation Alley" [alternate harmony vocal version] – 8:23
- "Spirit of the Age" [live 1977] – 5:54
- "Robot" [live 1977] – 5:57
- "High Rise" [live 1977] – 5:39