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Hawkwind | Road to Utopia

The space-rock vets create something they've never done before — by recreating some things they have done before.

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Quark, strangeness and charm — to the max. For their 31st studio album, Dave Brock and the latest incarnation of his long-serving space rockers Hawkwind manage to create something they haven’t done before. How? By recreating a some things they actually have done before. To be more specific: They give nine of their ’70s classics the orchestral upgrade treatment with the help of conductor Mike Batt. So if you’ve ever wanted to hear what The Watcher, We Took the Wrong Step Years Ago, Flying Doctor, Psychic Power and (yes) Quark, Strangeness and Charm would sound like with lush strings, a brass section and a battery of saxophones, now’s your chance. Even if you haven’t wondered, this is still well worth a listen: While oldsters and purists may turn up their nose at the concept, you simply can’t argue with the surprisingly satisfying results. These revived cuts are lighter, brighter, snappier and more playful than the original versions — while still packing enough old-school punch and electric-guitar crunch to keep you mistaking this for some sort of weird kids’ album. My only quibble: Where’s Silver Machine?