One of Hawkwind
's stronger 1980s releases, their last U.K. Top 30 hit, and certainly the high point of their two-year/three-album stint with RCA, Choose Your Masques
boasts a vision and energy that neither of its predecessors could match, coupled with some excellent songwriting and -- again, unlike its predecessors -- more than a couple of songs that demanded revisiting. Part of the improvement was surely down to the return of saxophonist Nik Turner
, absent since 1978. Both his pen and his instrument are eminently visible across an album that matches a newfound sense of high drama with Hawkwind's traditional emotional punch, with the title track, the "Arrival In Utopia"/"Utopia" suite, and the closing "Waiting for Tomorrow" not only proving their worth in the studio, but restoring Hawkwind to the highest standards in concert as well. Six of Choose Your Masques
' ten tracks are also featured on the Collectors Series, Vol. 2
live album, documenting the group's 1982 U.K. tour, and the power of those tracks is again worth the price of admission. Similarly, the re-emergence of the decade-old "Silver Machine," first as a purportedly remixed single, then as the halfway point on this album, brings a lot more to the party than, say, the tired revamp of "Sonic Attack" did on the 1981 album of the same name. Arguably, without the original "Silver Machine"'s unexpected chart success, Hawkwind would never have survived as long as they have, and the doughty old warrior is here treated with all the respect it merits.