Friday, 5 December 2014

The Chronicle of the Black Sword

By 1985 the links between British space rockers Hawkwind and author Michael Moorcock were very well established with collaborations between the two stretching back to the early 70s. Moorcock had supplied lyrics for and performed on stage with Hawkwind numerous times over the years and even contributed towards them being featured as the heroes of a novel (The Time of the Hawklords by Michael Butterworth).  It is then surprising that it took these two giants of the British hippy / psychedelic scene so long to fully commit to an album based around Moorcock's most beloved creation, Elric of Melnibone.

1985s 'The Chronicle of the Black Sword' saw them finally take the plunge and create an album that was (almost) entirely based around Moorcock's series.



I have to admit to not being a fan of the album - I find it all a little lacking in fire - but it's what came next that hooked me.

In late 1985 the band headed out on the road in support of the album taking with them various dancers to 'act out' the Elric storyline and Moorcock himself to provide spoken word interludes.  They recorded two of the shows and released them as the album 'Live Chronicles' and as the 'Chronicle of the Black Sword' live video.


The album features the '...Black Sword' tracks but they've woven some classic Hawkwind songs such as 'Angels of Death' and 'Master of the Universe' into the narrative.  It is everything the studio album is not.  It's filled with lively, urgent performances of both the old and the new songs and the band seem on tip top form and fully committed.

The video is the same but personally I've never been hugely enamoured with interpretive dance (or any sort of dance really) and so the guys and gals writhing around the band are something I find more than a little distracting.  Pair this with mid 80s video technology, dodgy post-production effects and Hawkwind's psychedelic light show in full force and you get a colourful but restless and slightly nauseating experience.  It does have it's charm though.



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