PXR5, the ninth studio album from Hawkwind, was originally released in 1979, nearly a year after it was recorded, but due to the band falling into all sorts of problems on their US tour (Simon House left to join David Bowie & Robert Calvert fell into a bout of clinical depression), it was held up for an extended length of time. In between the recording and actual release, the band reconvened as Hawklords, putting out the album 25 Years On, before the older PXR5 had a chance to get into the record stores, but by mid 1979 the band had two albums out, and went back to using the Hawkwind name once again. Sound confusing yet?
For the recording of the album, the band featured Dave Brock (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Robert Calvert (vocals), Simon House (violin, keyboards), Adrian Shaw (bass), and Simon King (drums). The first three songs on the album feature Calvert on lead vocals, and are actually very upbeat, bouncy, somewhat punk/new wave styled space rockers. "Death Trap", "Jack of Shadows" and especially "Uncle Sam's on Mars" are all highly enjoyable tracks, perhaps influenced greatly by the ever changing music scene at the end of the '70s, but still plenty fun despite being 'different' for Hawkwind (not all that far removed from the Hawklords material actually). Brock sings the dreamy "Infinity" a keyboard & vocal driven number, and Calvert is back at the helm of the hard rocking "Robot", an 8-minute journey into the bizarro world, like a strange meeting of Black Sabbath and Devo, as Calvert's quirky delivery floats over crushing riffs from Brock and zippy synths. "High Rise" is a great, intoxicating slice of dreamy space rock, with bleeping synths, haunting organ, Shaw's muscular bass lines, and Calvert's charming vocals making this a must hear for any Pink Floyd fan. The closing title track is classic Hawkwind, with Brock's claustrophobic vocals surrounded by waves of synths, hard rock riffs, and powerful rhythms. Again, Shaw's bass work is outstanding here, and King adds some inventive drum fills as well to this upbeat track.
Atomhenge/Cherry Red have done a great job on the remastering of PXR5, and there's a wealth of bonus material, most of which are alternate or live in the studio takes of songs from the album, but there's also the clever , previously unreleased "We Like to Be Frightened", as well as a great live version of "Quark, Strangeness & Charm". The booklet is well put together, including full information on the recording of the album, live photos, and a killer Hawkwind family tree from their beginning all the way up to 1979. It all amounts to a great reissue of a very solid late '70s entry in the Hawkwind discography.
1) Death Trap
2) Jack of Shadows
3) Uncle Sam's on Mars
5) Life Form
7) High Rise
8) P.X.R 5
9) Jack of Shadows (live studio version)
10) We Like to Be Frightened
11) High Rise (live studio version)
12) Robot (first version)
13) Jack of Shadows (Adrian Shaw vocal version)
14) High Rise (alternate vocal mix)
15) P.X.R 5 (alternate intro mix)
16) Quark, Strangeness & Charm (live)