One of the most confused episodes in the entire Hawkwind story concerns their brief metamorphosis into the Hawklords, a project conceived in 1978 following the final split of anything resembling the original lineup. Only founder Dave Brock and vocalist Robert Calvert survived from the 1977 Quark Strangeness and Charm lineup; the vision that sparked that album, however, remained intact and, regrouping around a whole new bunch of musicians, the slightly renamed band commenced gigging in mid-1978. The half dozen tracks that have, over the years, become as ubiquitous as any other semiofficial live recording or outtake in the Hawkwind canon capture the new group early on in its career, with even Calvert's involvement apparently up in the air. According to legend, it was only at the last minute that he decided to appear at this particular show -- so last minute that his bandmates didn't get the chance to tell him that the set list had changed. "Can the gypsy music!" he shouts as his spoken introduction to the scheduled "Master of the Universe" is drowned out by another air entirely -- the result of his confusion, the closing "Over the Top," rates among the chaotic highlights of Hawkwind's entire recorded live repertoire. Unfortunately, the remainder of Hawklords Live doesn't quite live up to its standards -- three further new songs, "25 Years," "High Rise," and the savage "Death Trap," are all very tentative compared to their later studio incarnations, while neither "Spirit of the Age" nor a hackneyed "Sonic Attack" sound especially well-rehearsed. Certainly more competent Hawklords performances do exist -- The Weird Tapes No. 4: Live '78 captures one, and if such virtues are your prime concern, that is the album to go for. For sheer improvisational vivacity and verve, however, "Over the Top" alone makes this album a must-have.
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