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Hawkwind - Hall Of The Mountain Grill CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.99 | 462 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars So, how does a counterculture 'People's Band' maintain its underground credentials after releasing a hit single ("Silver Machine", in 1972), quickly followed by a certified gold album ("Space Ritual") the next year? The answer: it doesn't. The fourth Hawkwind studio album found the group not only elevated to higher plateaus of commercial refinement, but also obviously thrilled with the new view.

After releasing LPs at a uniform rate of one-per-year since 1970, the band devoted themselves to constant touring for a while (staging their seminal Space Ritual set), which in turn triggered a shift in attitude and personnel. The classical violin and epic Mellotron played by newcomer Simon House introduced an almost symphonic grandeur to the Hawkwind sound, enhancing the band's cosmic obsessions to the nth degree, as illustrated in the luminous alien dreamscape depicted on the back cover.

But the album doesn't quite hold together as a consistent musical statement. 'Side Two' in particular is thrown off balance by the lopsided contrast between Simon House's gently nuanced solo acoustic piano in the title track and Lemmy's grindhouse "Lost Johnny", together bracketed by orphan live tracks recalling an earlier, edgier Hawkwind. None of which can match the album's now classic curtain raiser "The Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear in Smoke)", in which Hawkwind gets (almost) funky; or the romantic instrumental "Wind of Change": a rewarding departure for such lowbrow interplanetary travelers.

Symptoms of inevitable growing pains, maybe, for a group of musical outsiders suddenly flush with success and fame. It's possible that the notoriety of their hastily aborted "Urban Guerrilla" single helped scare the band straight as well. Whatever the motivation, Dave Brock and company were making a brave attempt to upgrade their unpolished identity and become respectable.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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