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Hawkwind - Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music CD (album) cover

ASTOUNDING SOUNDS, AMAZING MUSIC

Hawkwind

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.32 | 157 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

ProgRobUK
5 stars Back in the seventies a friend of mine gave me a cassette with an album each side of music I "really ought to hear". It was my introduction into progressive rock as a genre. Side A had a copy of ELP's "Brain Salad Surgery" and Side B had a copy of HAWKWIND's "Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music". I loved both albums, but Hawkwind went on to be the band that I saw live again and again.

To me, this still represents probably my favourite album of theirs - indeed it is one of only two vinyl albums I still own even without a means of playing them! The cover of the vinyl was marvellous with its depiction of Britannia with her hand on an old-fashioned radio with a giant leaf of a certain plant behind her. The dust cover is a joy, with its fake small ads which evoke the era of the sci-fi comics that the album's title recalls.

Musically, listening again after all these years, there are some wonderful tracks. The instrumentals are gorgeous soundscapes which are a world away from the harder rocking of earlier albums, but they really stand out. The weakest of those is the Aubergine That Ate Rangoon, but you can forgive them just for having a track with a title like that! City of Lagoons is peaceful, languid and beautiful and acts as a wonderful counterpoint to the preceding track, but my overall favourite instrumental and track on the whole album is the marvellous Chronoglide Skyway. I particularly like the way it is offset against Kadu Flyer which is also up there at the top of the album.

When it comes to the other tracks with vocals, Reefer Madness is a rant against the hyperbole of the excessive anti- drug messages of the sixties, and yet still seems to belie a reservation about drug abuse. This is a powerful track. Steppenwolf shows off Calvert's superb lyric writing but, to me, is over-long in terms of there being insufficient variation. Finally we have Kerb Crawler, one of the weaker tracks - but still not a bad track, just one I would not seek out especially.

Overall, the album marks a change in Hawkwind's sound from the previous albums which ran for the next few albums. The sequence of albums they made under the Charisma label remain, for me, their best: from ASAM, through Quark, 25 Years to PXR5. This album was the start of that sequence. Interestingly, a very good friend of mine said, a while after PXR5 was released, that the only Hawkwind album he still listened to regularly was ASAM.

Musically, I would put this album just on the border of five stars - it has its weaknesses, for sure - but once you throw in the wonderful sleeve of the vinyl and the special place it has in my heart a definite five star album for me.

ProgRobUK | 5/5 |

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