The Dawn Of Hawkwind

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The painfully slow process of consolidating the myriad unannotated odds and ends that litter Hawkwind's catalog gets underway (chronologically, at least) with Dawn of Hawkwind, an excellent document of founder Dave Brock's own formative back pages. Several different phases of his pre-Hawkwind career are illustrated, with Brock's own voice-overs introducing each one. Opening in 1966, with a bunch of demos cut during his time with the Dharma Blues Band, the set progresses on through two performances cut by a solo Brock for a "best of the buskers" competition staged by DJ John Peel in 1968; a clutch more highlight his next band, the Famous Cure, before you move into the familiar territory of Hawkwind Zoo and Hawkwind themselves. For the arch-collector, there is little here that will not be familiar from a host of other Hawkwind compilations -- including the version of "Master of the Universe" that was cut for the BBC in 1971 and has become a staple of some of the most disreputable collections in the band's entire canon. What is fascinating is to hear the material presented in its own original context. Fans have long puzzled, for example, how such straightforward blues as "My Baby's Gone," "Dealing With the Devil," and Willie Dixon's "Bring It On Home" ever fit into Hawkwind's repertoire -- now you discover that they didn't. Rather, they were drawn from the aforementioned 1966 demo, years before either Hawkwind or psychedelia ever gleamed in Brock's ambitious eye. The sound quality tends to be rough, particularly across the earlier material -- little of this collection was ever recorded for public consumption, after all. But it is readily listenable, and besides, its historical importance far outweighs such considerations. Plus, an excellent booklet offers up illustrations and ephemera that tell a wealth of fascinating tales of their own.

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