Purple Pyramid 2019
It is the business of the future to be dangerous: ex-Hawk’s collective reimagines hippie-prog classic to give it a new lease of life.
Meaner and leaner – that’s how Alan Davey rendered, to mark its 40th anniversary, the LP whence his ensemble’s name came from. Combining the roughness of HAWKWIND’s early period with the radiance of "Warrior On The Edge Of Time" that defined the group’s mid-’70s era, “Hall Of The Mountain Grill” has always been a perfect album to bring on-stage in its entirety, yet while the mothership never took more than the half of it to the live audience, PSYCHEDELIC WARLORDS ventured beyond a simple tribute, thanks to their leader’s insight into the original space-rockers’ inner mechanisms. What they evoked in Camden, a few miles from Ladbroke Grove where the story started, in 2014, as documented here, was otherworldly and at the same time firmly grounded.
Adding bits and pieces to flesh out familiar tracks, the quintet simultaneously streamline their arrangements to make the likes of “You’d Better Believe It” sound as contemporary as befits any futuristic opus, so even though Davey’s trying to rein in bulging dynamics in a four-string department on the flute-encrusted “Paradox” and “The Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear In Smoke)” that relied on studio wizardry in the day of yore, Simon Wilkins’ guitar solos soar and punch the funk out of the classics such as “Wind Of Change” in a way Dave Brock’s never dared to. They remove a country tincture from “Web Weaver” in favor of N’Awlins jazz, but there’s an infectious, Scottish-accented roar to Craig High’s vox and sax to elevate “D-Rider” and give the edge to “Lost Johnny” – arguably the best example of Alan’s approach to interpreting a legacy which doesn’t deserve to be static.
With B-sides “It’s So Easy” and “Motörhead” augmenting the concert experience, it’s a fantastic – not only in a sci-fi sense – reminder that classics must not be set in stone and that there are members of extended Hawks family who keep the flame burning.
Note: “Hall Of The Mountain Grill” was the second part of the show which began with the fresh reading of Robert Calvert’s solo album (to be reviewed separately).