The Flicknife Years: 1981-1988

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It goes without saying that any five-disc box set of Hawkwind catalog material is for hardcore fans only. These music fans are indeed special; they support the band in ways that make Deadheads seem lackadaisical. Discs one, three, and four are comprised of three volumes from the Friends and Relations series (compilations all, released in 1981, 1983, and 1985), which assembled tracks from the various sidebands Hawklords, Sonic Assassins, Inner City Unit, and Michael Moorcock & the Deep Fix, as well as Hawkwind itself. Disc one contains the first installment of Friends and Relations as well as seven bonus cuts including the Hurry on Sundown EP by Hawkwind Zoo, a live version of the band's "Robot" from 1977, and Sonic Assassins' "Golden Void" from the same year. Disc three features the A-side of Moorcock's "The Brothel in Rosenstrasse" single, while disc four contains Friends and Relations, Vol. 3 along with two Hawkwind bonus cuts, including "Stonehenge Decoded" from the Stonehenge Free Festival in 1984. Disc two contains 1983's excellent Zones album, which includes the breezy nocturnal groove of "Dangerous Vision," the punky "Motorway City," and the careening "Sonic Attack." As a bonus, there is a live version of "Master of the Universe" issued as a B-side. The final disc in the set is Out & Intake, an odds-and-sods collection featuring then-uncollected live and studio sides. Highlights include "Cajun Jinx," "Starfight," the scorching "Assassins of Allah," and the nearly post-punk "Coded Languages," as well as a good live version of "Warrior on the Edge of Time" and a pair of bonus cuts -- "Brainstorm" from the Bristol Custom Bike Show in 1986 and "Blue Dreamer" from the Traveler's Aid Trust compilation that first appeared in 1988. All the discs are wonderfully remastered and sound better than the originals ever did. They comes packaged with their own individual slipcases featuring the artwork from the vinyl LPs; each is packaged in a clamshell digipack. While extreme Hawkwind fans will already have some version or other -- if not all -- of this material, most will not. And even if the former is true, this is an inarguable and handsome place for total assembly. The only thing missing here is 1985's Chronicle of the Black Sword -- based on Moorcock's Elric books -- but it was re-released earlier in a beautiful remastered edition on its own.

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