Quark, Strangeness and Charm

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Quark, Strangeness and Charm
Studio album by
Released17 June 1977
RecordedFebruary 1977
Studio Rockfield Studios
Length36:54 (original)
Label Charisma (Europe), Sire (North America)
Producer Hawkwind
Hawkwind chronology
Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music
Quark, Strangeness and Charm
25 Years On
Singles from Quark, Strangeness and Charm
  1. "Quark, Strangeness and Charm"
    Released: 29 July 1977

Quark, Strangeness and Charm is the seventh studio album by the English space rock group Hawkwind, released in 1977. It spent six weeks on the UK albums chart peaking at number 30. [2]


This is Hawkwind's seventh studio album, hence "The Hawkwind Part 7" title on the inner sleeve. It is the band's first album without co-founding member Nik Turner, and drummer Alan Powell had also departed. In addition, Adrian "Ade" Shaw from Magic Muscle replaced Paul Rudolph during the recording session.

The music on this album is more pop-oriented than with their previous offerings. [1]


At the end of 1976, after their Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music album and tour, the group were reduced to a five-piece following the departure of saxophonist Nik Turner and drummer Alan Powell. They recorded the single "Back on the Streets", and undertook an eight-date tour of England in December which featured embryonic versions of this album's tracks "Spirit of the Age", "Hassan I Sabbah", and "Damnation Alley".

The group entered Rockfield Studios to record this album in January and February 1977, self-producing the album with help from resident engineer Dave Charles. However, Paul Rudolph left during the recording sessions having been given an ultimatum to "apologis[e] for something or leaving. I chose the latter, not fully understanding the situation". [3] Guitarist Dave Brock expanded on his leaving with the explanation "You get an idea and you like things to be a sort of unit and we were in the studio and he was in a chair playing his bass and we were doing a high energy number!", while singer Robert Calvert added that he "was always carping about not doing [numbers influenced by Science Fiction] and it affects you". [4] The 2009 2CD re-issue of the album includes early versions of tracks with Rudolph's contributions.

Rudolph's replacement was Adrian "Ade" Shaw, bass player from the group Magic Muscle who had shared Hawkwind's management and had been the support on the 1972 Space Ritual tour. Shaw's introduction to the group was after the backing tracks had been completed, so he was required to overdub his bass parts onto the existing tracks. Drummer Simon King lamented "I only wish that I'd recorded the rhythm tracks with him in the first place. For me the switch of bass players happened at just the right moment. With going back to using one drummer I needed help from a bass player and as things were I wasn't getting it". [5]

Paul Rudolph plays some instrumental parts on the track "Hassan I Sabbah", though he is not credited. On the later extended release his bass playing can be heard on the early outtakes of several songs including an alternative version of the song "Damnation Alley".

Tours and promotion

After recording the album, the group undertook an 11 date tour of Germany and the Netherlands in March, followed by a five date tour of France in April. In June, during which the album received its general release, the group undertook a 10 date tour of England with support from former bassist Lemmy's group Motörhead. They followed this with appearances at the Stonehenge Free Festival on 21 June, and headlined the Reading Festival on 28 August. [6]

The group appeared on Marc Bolan's show Marc at Granada Television's Manchester studios on 14 September, miming to a pre-recorded version of the single "Quark, Strangeness and Charm", even though it had been released two months previously. Their spot on the show was secured as their management team, Tony Howard and Jeff Dexter, also handled Bolan. Their appearance was significant in that Brock did not appear, due to a long-standing resentment on his part towards Bolan. His role was filled by Shaw recording the guitar tracks at the pre-record, while Calvert mimed guitar during filming. [7]

An extensive 20 date UK tour in September and October was undertaken, with support from Bethnal (who would go on to be Calvert's backing group for his 1981 album Hype ). This was immediately followed by an October tour of France, but due to Calvert's erratic behaviour, the tour was aborted after 3 dates. [6] At Calvert's wedding to author Pamela Townley on 5 November, he countered that "Brock convinced the others that I was having a nervous breakdown. What nonsense! They dumped me and my bags on the street in Paris... I was a bit high-spirited – after all, I was going to get married! The truth is that Dave Brock didn't want to do the extra gigs." [8] However, in a BBC4 documentary on the band, several of the band members stated that the reason was indeed Calvert's mental health and that he chased after the band's car waving a sword and climbing over cars to reach them. [9]

In January and February 1978, the group recorded the album PXR5 and in March toured North America, after which they disbanded. Calvert and Brock would then go on to form the Hawklords.

There are several live recordings in existence from these tours that have been issued under different titles. The dates given for the live PXR5 tracks do not match the tour dates, and if these tracks actually were recorded at a live show, then they were subsequently subject to studio overdubs. All the other tracks, although differing sources are given, are the same recordings, with the exception of "Robot" which is of two different performances.


See also articles "Spirit of the Age" and "Quark, Strangeness and Charm (single)".

"Damnation Alley" lyrics were inspired by Roger Zelazny's book Damnation Alley . It was first performed on their December 1976 UK tour, and remained in the set until the formation of the Hawklords in 1978. It was re-introduced to the live set between 1989 and 1992, a version appearing on the 1991 album Palace Springs .

"Hassan-i Sabbah" (spelt Hassan I Sahba on the cover) is a Middle Eastern flavoured song, mixing the legend of Hassan-i Sabbah (assassins and hashish) with contemporary issues (oil and Palestinian terrorism). It is a Paul Rudolph/Robert Calvert collaboration. This version was released as a 7" single in Italy and France. During the live performance of this song, Calvert took on the persona of Aubrey Dawney, which he describes as "a sort of 1914–1918 fighter ace, plus a bit more. Mick Farren described him as being a cross between Biggles and Lawrence of Arabia – which he is, he has connections with the Far East and also opium smoking". [10] It was first performed live during 1976's Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music album tour, a version appearing on Atomhenge 76 , and remained in the set until the formation of the Hawklords in 1978. A new studio version was recorded for the 1987 album Out & Intake , and since then it has almost been an ever-present in the live set, appearing on numerous live albums, usually under the title "Assassins of Allah".

"The Forge of Vulcan" is a Simon House instrumental, featuring organ, synthesiser, and sequencer with percussion provided by hammering on an anvil in reference to the mythology of Vulcan. It was played live during the tour of the album, a version appearing on Weird tape 5 , but then dropped.

"The Days of the Underground" is a self-reflective song covering the halcyon days of the band.

"The Iron Dream" is an instrumental based on Gustav Holst's "Mars", its name taken from Norman Spinrad's book The Iron Dream . The track was typically played live as a climax to "Uncle Sam's on Mars", versions of which can be heard on The Weird Tapes . It has also appeared under the title "The Dream Goes On" on 1994's The Business Trip album, and with added lyrics as "Are You Losing Your Mind?" on 1995's Alien 4 album.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [1]
Christgau's Record Guide B+ [11]

The album was warmly received by the British weekly music papers at the time of its release, Sounds noting that "the band are still capable of making a stir", [12] and Melody Maker that they had "gone part of the way [in rehabilitating themselves]". [13]

Critics especially praised Calvert, Sounds stating "Calvert, having adapted to his role as frontman, now pulls out the stops, his poetical-lyrical contributions working particularly well", [12] Melody Maker observing that "the band have developed a real sense of humour" and the album "finds Calvert in very fine form as a lyricist", [13] while the NME assessed it as "sci-fi comic book thrills to the proles, only this time around Bob Calvert's psychotic sense of humour is well to the fore". [14]

The critics were less complimentary about the progress in the band's music, with Melody Maker noting that the lyrical improvement "has not been matched instrumentally nor structurally. The only musician of note... is Simon House for his consistently impressive violin passages", [13] while the NME stated that "musically it's all battering ram riffs and monoplane synthesised drones, with Dave Brock occasionally cutting loose on guitar (rather than just providing frenetic rhythm) and Simon House contributing some hypnotic violin solos". [14] Sounds felt the "production may be naff in parts", believing the "magnificent mugginess" of Doremi Fasol Latido more suited to the band's sound. [12]

Track listing

Side 1

  1. "Spirit of the Age" (Robert Calvert, Dave Brock) – 7:20
  2. "Damnation Alley" (Calvert, Brock, Simon House) – 9:06
  3. "Fable of a Failed Race" (Calvert, Brock) – 3:15

Side 2

  1. "Quark, Strangeness and Charm" (Calvert, Brock) – 3:41
  2. "Hassan I Sahba" (Calvert, Paul Rudolph) – 5:21
  3. "The Forge of Vulcan" (House) – 3:05
  4. "Days of the Underground" (Calvert, Brock) – 3:13
  5. "The Iron Dream" (Simon King) – 1:53

Atomhenge bonus tracks

  1. "Damnation Alley" [live studio version] – 10:33
  2. "A minor Jam Session" – 9:49
  3. "Spirit of the Age" [demo – excerpt] – 2:59
  4. "Hash Cake Cut" – 4:25

Atomhenge bonus CD

  1. "Damnation Alley" [first studio version] – 10:34
  2. "Spirit of the Age" [full extended version] – 11:20
  3. "Days of the Underground" [first version] – 5:38
  4. "Quark, Strangeness and Charm"/"Uncle Sam's on Mars" – 9:18
  5. "Fable of a Failed Race" [extended version] – 6:49
  6. "Damnation Alley" [alternate harmony vocal version] – 8:23
  7. "Spirit of the Age" [live 1977] – 5:54
  8. "Robot" [live 1977] – 5:57
  9. "High Rise" [live 1977] – 5:39



Release history

Related Research Articles

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  1. 1 2 3 Allmusic review
  2. "Hawkwind". Official Charts Company . Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  3. Abrahams, Ian (2004). Hawkwind: Sonic Assassins. SAF publishing. pp. 92–93. ISBN   0-946719-69-1.
  4. "Brock / Calvert Interview". Sniffin' Flowers. 1977. Archived from the original on 9 April 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2009.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. Gary Cooper (September 1977). "Hawklords Regroup!". Beat Instrumental. Retrieved 27 August 2009.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. 1 2 Youles, Steve. "Gig and Set Lists 1977". Starfarer's hawkwind Page. self-published. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  7. Abrahams, Ian (2004). Hawkwind: Sonic Assassins. SAF publishing. p. 98. ISBN   0-946719-69-1.
  8. Jamie Mandelkau (12 November 1977). "Hawklord in KGB wedding affair". NME .
  9. Video on YouTube
  10. Geoff Barton (2 October 1976). "The adventures of the ten stone warriors that shattered the earth". Sounds .
  11. Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: H". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies . Ticknor & Fields. ISBN   089919026X . Retrieved 26 February 2019 via robertchristgau.com.
  12. 1 2 3 Geoff Barton (9 July 1977). "Strange but charming review". Sounds .
  13. 1 2 3 BH (25 June 1977). "Hawks get back in gear". Melody Maker . Retrieved 27 August 2009.
  14. 1 2 Monty Smith (9 July 1977). "HAWKWIND back on course". NME .