(All Album Reviews by ffroyd)
Itís hard to believe, now that we have so many progressive rock festivals going on around here, that a little over ten years ago there was practically nothing. There had been talk for years about how great the festival scene was in England but for many of us in the states we could only get a second hand feel for the experience through magazines and the emerging phenomena of the Internet. In late August of 1997 this would all change in a little spot in western New York with the inaugural edition of the Strange Days festival, which featured just about everybody who was anybody in the U.S. space rock sceneÖand Hawkwind.
Over the weekend more than 15 artists would take to the stage and although I wasnít there, I am very glad they recorded the proceedings. There are several names here that were already relatively well known (or would become so) like Alien Planetscapes, Melting Euphoria, Quarkspace, F/i and Architectural Metaphor. There are also a few that have already faded off into obscurity like Gaia Avatara, Nucleon, Bionaut and Freak Element but even so, Iím sure these acts added to the atmosphere of the festival.
Obviously, what propelled this festival was the appearance of Hawkwind and Nik Turner. Nik played a set with Farflung but surprised everyone when he actually sat in with his old band for some really choice sax parts. This was a rather unique time period for Hawkwind with Jerry Richards on guitar and the eccentric Ron Tree on bass joining drummer Richard Chadwick and founding member Dave Brock. Also coming along for the ride was Captain Rizz who provided some reggae rapping on a few pieces.
CD one features tracks from all the artists performing at the festival and the second disc contains several Hawkind performances including a nice 12 minute medley. There are also several excerpts from the festival included to give the listener an overview of the weekend. The only complaint I would have here is that the track list is nearly undecipherable in the booklet. All of the titles are there but all over the place on the page and I sometimes have no idea which track is playing. I was able to get a track list from some website but that wasnít correct either. That might have been a different edition of this set, I donít know.
All in all, this is a very nice document of a very historic event in the history of U.S. festivals featuring space rock and progressive music. Strange Daze had a nice five-year run; the last one happened in 2001 and featured another Hawkwind alumnus in Harvey Bainbridge. While maybe not the most essential recording of Hawkwind, itís the only CD where youíll find recordings of so many great space rock groups that were gathered in one place at one time. Iím hoping they recorded more and the other years will also be released.