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Hawkwind - Silver Machine CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.62 | 18 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Imagine my surprise at finding no written reviews here of Hawkwind's best-known and most durable single, originally released in 1972 but re-issued many times since then (mine is the attractive 10th anniversary Liberty picture disc, with the "Warrior on the Edge of Time" illustration on the flipside). After almost half a century of flying "sideways through time" it's still the band's signature tune, and worth a few words despite our back-of-your-own-hand acquaintance with every ascending verse and each ecstatic Space Rock chorus.

Simply put: the song is the embodiment of Hawkwind at their best, condensed to an economical, "antiseptically clean" four minutes and thirty-five seconds. It was, appropriately, a live recording, but with added studio overdubs, including an awesome Lemmy vocal to complement the churning boogie-woogie rhythms and pedal-to-the-metal riffing. Nothing very complicated, but catchy as hell, and built to fuse directly into our collective musical DNA..."an electric line to your Zodiac sign", in Robert Calvert's memorable lyric.

The single peaked at #3 in the British charts, and might have gone higher if a truant Alice Cooper wasn't at the same time celebrating "no more pencils / no more books / no more teacher's dirty looks". Remember too that the same Top Ten list included songs by Donny Osmond, The Partridge Family, Hot Butter, and The Bee Gees...reassuring evidence that bubblegum pop complacency is no match for hardcore psychedelic aggression.

The song's longevity is astonishing. It's been covered by a multitude of artists over the past forty years, from The Sex Pistols to Psychic TV to an unlikely declamation by William Shatner, on his 2011 album "Seeking Major Tom": an essential desert island disc for masochistic castaways nursing a broken funny bone. But the 1972 model is still the best version: a well-tuned classic without a trace of rust.

Neu!mann | 5/5 |


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