28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2001
Novices to Hawkwind have the Herculean task of deciding which of the 113 or so releases (of which around 80 are compilations and live albums) clocked up by the band they should start with. Well look no further. QS&C is widely recognised as Hawkwind's masterpiece. The "All Killer, No Filler" tag certainly applies here - all the tracks are outstanding The music, Rob Calvert's lyrics, the sound - all top drawer. In fact, I would venture to suggest that Hawkwind was not quite the same without Mr. Calvert as he added a degree of intelligence and wit to the band that, without him, could at times sound a bit moronic. Compare the brilliant sci-fi clone song Spirit of the Age ("If you had ever seen us, you'd rejoice in your uniqueness and consider every weakness, something special of your own") with, say Silver Machine from the earlier Calvert-less line-up ("I've got a silver machine, and I'm feeling mean"). I know a lot of Hawkwind fans like the mindlessness of the early stuff but I would strongly advise anybody starting out with Hawkwind to check out this album. Don't take my word for it, listen to the Amazon.com samples.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 1999
Hawkwind hits the mark with Quark, Strangeness and Charm (not the EP or the boxed set). Hawkwind, known for their spacey music and hypnotic ryhthms, normally alienate listeners not tuned into this style. Quark crossed these barriers and is an excellent album with supurb (and at times haunting) melodies and rich textures. For pure Hawkwind fans, they gave us "Hall of the Mountain Grill" and Warrior on the Edge of Time." For all of us they gave us Quark, a tasty treat for the ears. Why is it that an album this good is so hard to get?
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
I remember that when this CD reissue first came out that it took a LONG time to actually get released. Heard from a rep at Griffin that Dave Brock took some time to decide on the artwork, which ended up being a total different front cover. Like other Hawkfans, I awaited the arrival of this disc. Also remember the rep asking me as to WHY so many fans were interested in 'Quark Strangeness And Charm'. I told her it was my guess that the disc had the original versions of some really great Hawk tunes that still get played during the band's live set while they're out on tour, like "Spirit Of The Age","Damnation Alley", the title track and "Hassan I Sahba". Keep in mind it's usually good to hear a song's ORIGINAL version sooner or later. 'Quark' was the second lp that Calvert had pretty much taken over the lead vocals. Still more like 'space pop', but in my opinion a tad better than 'Astounding Sounds...'. Worth seeking out.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2009
It is a pleasure to hear this collection. Quark is one of Hawkwinds most creative efforts. It also harkens to a time when Hawkwind was more interested in making fine music than fussing amongst themselves. All the tracks receives a digital remastering that is truly amazing. Unreleased versions and remixes also add to the magic. Great stuff good for Hawkwind die hards and casuals alike.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2012
After the somewhat disappointing--and disjointed--Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music, Hawkwind streamlined its bridge crew and refitted the nuclear drive for one of its most daring interstellar voyages. The result, Quark, Strangeness and Charm (a sly reference to quantum physics), is a triumph in every way: ingenius lyrics, tight, well-crafted songs and a wealth of musical invention. Commencing with Calvert's brilliant ode to faster-than-light space travel, "Spirit of the Age" immediately assaults the listener with its nightmarish sci-fried white noise overture, slowly building to a crashing momentum on Dave Brock's simple but effective phase-shifted guitar progression. Calvert's poignant lyrics detail the plight of a lone and lonely star voyager who wrestles with the grim knowledge that upon his return to earth all he has ever known will be long dead. The Roger Zelazny-inspired "Damnation Alley" features more of Brock's phased guitar (though here with a decidely psychedelic edge) but it's really Simon House's excellent synth/keyboard/violin work that gives the track its propulsive fire. Calvert's appropriately post-apocalyptic lyrics ("Thank you, Dr. Strangelove, for giving me ashes and post-atomic dust...the sky is raining fishes, it's a mutation zoo...") are sung with both verve and humorous conviction. The droll irony of the title track (which explains that Einstein could never make it with the ladies because he never understood the random flucuations of sub-atomic particles, i.e., quark, strangeness and charm) plays well against the song's amphetamine-fueled pace in much the same way as a typical Buzzcocks or XTC track from roughly the same time period. The prophetic "Hassan I Sahba" melds middle eastern scales and thunderous hard rock to produce one of the most timeless--and terrifying--visions of global terrorism ever committed to vinyl. Other tracks of note include the album's two instrumentals: Simon House's wholly electronic "The Forge of Vulcan," which features a hammering anvil, and the brief, doom-laden "Iron Dream." The packaging is well-executed (much superior to the original Virgin/Charisma CD release from the early 90's) and the additional tracks are of course nice to have but in no way add anything of importance to the original QSC. As several other reviewers have noted, there are a few slight problems with the mastering, including some frequency quashing, but the overcompression as a general rule doesn't interfere with one's overall enjoyment of the songs themselves. We can just be thankful that an album as prescient and as potent as Quark, Strangeness and Charm is available at all in our increasingly sanitized and dehumanized world.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 1999
This is a much slicker, cleaner sounding work, with less (or little) emphasis on outer space, more emphasis on Sci-Fi Mystery. And that ain't necessarily bad. Spirit of the Age is a criticism of the automated future of clones. The title cut is concise and funny, but the real strengths are Hassan I Sabha (ROCK OUT in the middle section), Forge of Vulcan (great spacey synth - a piece that engenders deep thinking), Days of the Underground, and Iron Dream (a driving relentless chord progression written by the drummer). The band was definitely trying to sound more commerical here, and they did so without selling out! A good introduction to Hawkwind, with many of their weaknesses minimized (excesses, repetitive chord progressions, raw sound quality, overly long meandering instrumental breaks); many strengths emphasized (creativity, ability to create moods, & ability to present intriguing fantasy).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 1998
This is the very first release I ever got by Hawkwind and it's been a journey since. The title song is TOO funny ( you could probably dance to it ), Hassan I Sahba "ROCKS" and "Spirit of the Age" well this tune is the Ultimate of Ultimates for you Space Cadets in training.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2009
* Robert Calvert - vocals, percussion, morse and strangeness
* Dave Brock - guitar, synthesisers, sound FX, vocals and quark
* Simon House - keyboards, violin, anvil, vocals and charm
* Adrian Shaw - bass guitar, vocals and hand-claps
* Simon King - drums, percussion
The 7 piece untit from the Astounding Sounds era has been trimmed to 5 for this album. Nik Turner (sax) and Allan Powell (2nd drummer) were dropped for this record and Paul Rudolph (bass) is replaced by Adrian Shaw. Turner, Powell, and Rudolph were all sacked because they sought to overthrow Brock's leadership.
I only have the 2009 remaster so I cannot compare editions for this one. The 2009 remaster is not as good as the other Atomhenge releases, but it is still a decent mastering. Some of the songs suffer from a bit of mastering induced distortion and clipping; but compared to most post 2000 rock remasters it is still very good.
Calvert remains lyricist and vocalist for this record, and continues to have a lot of fun with his work. The focused professionalism of the previous album continues in this one, with the playing remaining very sharp. It can be classified as a punk-prog-pop-new wave album. There are some great melodies and great lyrics on this one.
"Spirit of the Age" is a 3-chord romp about space travel, android lovers, and clones...great stuff from Calvert.
The next song "Damnation Alley" takes its inspiration from a Zelazny, and is about driving through a city after a nuclear war. It features a punk-like guitar, some good violin work from House, and of course spacy electronics.
"Fable of a Failed Race" is as close to soft rock as Hawkwind comes. It is a nice song but probably the weakest on the album.
"Quark, Strangeness and Charm" is another of Calvert's fun songs about Einstein and his lack of luck with the ladies.
"Hassan-i Sabbah" predicts the conflicts in the middle east to secure oil. It has an Arabic hard rock feel.
Simon House's "The Forge of Vulcan" is cycling synths overtop of an anvil being struck. It is the only spacey track on the album.
"The Days of the Underground" is a basic Hawkwind song. Nothing special.
"The Iron Dream" ends the album with a great instrumental jam.
There is an hour of bonus tracks with the remaster. They feature some live tracks, alternate versions, and a demo. Nice, but like most bonus tracks not essential.
This is another of the great Hawkwind albums, but like each release it has its own sound. Calvert's sensibilities dominate the album and provide alot of humor and fun. The sound is more basic and simplistic than their previous efforts, but it still features great playing and great melodies. I'd say this is Hawkwind's punk-prog-pop-new wave record.
The 2009 remaster sounds good (not great though), and features over an hour of bonus material, so I highly recommend getting it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2009
As the 1970s went on, Hawkwind streemlined their sound. This is not saying the sound became more commercial. These guys were about as mainstreem as the elephant man in a frat house.
But they did begin to mix the floating electronics in their music back. This put the emphasis on the lean guitar and bass lines. The change does not make Quark Strangeness and Charm punk, or New Wave, although this might have been implied in the subtext.
Tracks like "Spirt Of The Age," and "Damnation Alley" have a stripped, driving feel, and this actually gives them a fresh energy. The vocals are more clear and up front then on the early 1970s albums, particularly Space Ritual. This emphasizes playing over wierdness, and shows how good this band is here.
The approaches are different, but both are excellent, and this is a great disc for both fans and staters.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 1998
What can I say? This is one of those albums that is perfect to blast from the stereo during long-distance, late night drives. The usual S.F. themes in the lyrics abound: "Spirit of the Age" is about a future society of clones; "Damnation Alley" about a city-to-city courier in a post-nuclear war world. The title track can best be described as a love song for nerds. "Hassan I Sahba" tops them all: A hard rock song with Middle Eastern overtones, sung in Arabic. The musical style here is about five years ahead of it's time (this album was originally released in 1978) and groups like A Flock of Seagulls, and _Signals_-era Rush, owe a great deal influence-wise to this album. It rocks harder than either of those, however. If you're not already a Hawkwind believer this album will make you one.