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Hawkwind - Space Ritual CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.20 | 295 ratings

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4 stars 'Space Ritual' is often labeled as THE ultimate space rock album. Good point. Recorded live in 1972 it's not the starting shot for this music style though. For example UFO recorded 'Flying - One Hour Space Rock' one year before and Pink Floyd are known to be true pioneers when using experimental elements and cosmic themes already in the late 1960s. The uiqueness comes from the whole concept - the show was an entire audio and visual experience in one go featuring female dancers and recitatives by Robert Calvert.

There are a lot of re-issues existing which doesn't make it easier in the meanwhile. What I'm writing about is the EMI 'Collectors Edition' from 2007. What's the main difference here? It's said the audio quality is improved (have no chance to compare at the moment) and additionally some songs are offered in the original unshortened version. Well - the latter is much more an excitement for the hardcore completionists I assume. The setlist is mainly based on the two previous studio albums 'In Search of Space' and 'Doremi Fasol Latido'.

You have to open your mind for this ambitious concept. 'Down to Earth' ... the album is featuring a bunch of straightforward heavy rock songs, quasi moved by the rhythm branch as the skeleton, surely adapted for moving the crowd (hey, it's a live performance). 'Up up into the Sky' ... they are interrupted though by cosmic interludes featuring Calvert's expressive spoken words, additionally accentuated by twittering synths. Dave Brock's guitar is heavily riffing but spacey as well - the most attractive aspect here in my opinion besides the synthesizer contributions and electronic gimmicks.

Nik Turner's saxophone keeps me dazed and confused - misplaced or simply brilliant? - sorry, I'm torn ... but tend to the latter in the meanwhile. At least an unique element even when the instrument often gets lost a bit according to the mix. To name some very attractive songs we have a trilogy consisting of The Black Corridor, Space Is Deep followed by the synthesizer dominated Electronic No 1 which comes rather experimental. CD 2 starts with the wonderful spacey Seven by Seven and holds a nice special, the alternative version of Time We Left This World Today provided with much more jamming approach compared to the original.

HAWKWIND is often said to be the flagship of all space rock bands. From the historical point of view I can agree. They certainly are genre influential, but I know several bands which are more tricky concerning composition and variety. The same straightforward garage/stoner rhythm all over is too much of a good thing when I listen to this album in one go. Anyhow, here we have an effort which is a milestone in some way due to this conceptional approach of a new type - one extra star from me because of the relevance for the progressive rock music history.

Rivertree | 4/5 |


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