As befits any band with a career the length of Hawkwind's, the group has a family tree that is truly a marvel. From early bassist Thom Crimble's days in free festival favorites Skin Alley (the first rock band ever to be signed by Stax!) through Lemmy's Motörhead and Nik Turner's Sphinx, Simon House's days with Bowie and Simon King's with Quasar, Hawkwind has a familial finger in so many pies you could fill a baker's shop with them. All of which renders Friends & Relations a dreadfully disappointing trawl through a couple of branches you'd might never have even seen before. Igniting what, at the time of this album's original release, would become a dismaying plethora of collections built around rough live and studio cuts, four of the album's eight tracks are, indeed, rough live and studio cuts, all dating from that confused 1977-1978 period when various permutations of Hawkmen worked beneath such names as the Hawklords and the Sonic Assassins, while the lawyers tried to figure out who owned the actual band's name. "Valium Ten," one of the earliest manifestations of the Swindells/Bainbridge/Brock-led Hawks, is a worthy inclusion, but anybody brought up on the seismic thrust of Space Ritual et al. will be heartily turned off by the rest. Elsewhere, two cuts by Nik Turner's then current outfit, Inner City Unit, capture that band's sprawling charm, but are by no means the best that ICU would ever muster, while two more from occasional poet in residence Michael Moorcock were, frankly, recorded about seven years too late to really matter. Moorcock's musical career, like his collaborations with Hawkwind, was at its peak around 1975. Here he's just sweeping up a few latter-day loose ends. Of course, in the world of true Hawkwind neophytes, nothing is so insignificant that it isn't worth a listen, and Friends & Relations at least packs sufficient curios that it certainly outranks the likes of Acid Daze and Independent Days. But that's about all it does. Beware!
AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson