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Hawkwind - Hawkwind CD (album) cover

HAWKWIND

Hawkwind

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.33 | 195 ratings

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Trotsky
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars The pentatonic (read Indian/Arabic flavoured) acoustic guitar lines that kick off the intoxicating opener Hurry On Sundown are probably an anomaly compared to most of Hawkwind's music. With a dominating persistent bass (now that's going to be a lot more common!), powerful harmonica, and music that fades in and out between the channels, this memorable tune quickly announces Hawkwind as a psychedelic rock experience. Unfortunately it doesn't get much better than this particular song, not on this album anyway.

It must be emphasised to newcomers that Hawkwind are indeed a space rock and are rarely impressive from a "symphonic" progressive point of view. The first album sees this disorderly group take some embryonic steps and unfortunately while there's the odd colourful tune, a fair amount of this album is downright boring. The trippy jams that would eventually characterise Hawkwind's music are done much better on subsequent albums like In Search Of Space, Hall Of The Mountain Grill, Warrior On The Edge Of Time and at various points on the epic live album, Space Ritual.

Take The Reason Is ... it's really just a wash of sound, with some light touches underneath, first from the guitar and then with an ominous repetitive bass line. On songs like this, Hawkwind's similarity to Amon Duul II is particularly pronounced. Be Yourself is probably best of the lengthy pieces, with an insistent melody line that gives way to a speedy, sound-washed, electronically-charged jam (starring Nik Turner's sax and Huw Lloyd-Langton's acidic guitar). It is a real blueprint for future Hawkwind ouvres. And believe me, when I say blueprint, I mean that Hawkwind will go on to produce many similar sounding songs in the future.

Seeing It As You Really Are is another lengthy jam, although I consider it inferior to Be Yourself. It takes a while to build up, with bass and sonic sweeps, and with the exception of a manic solo from Turner towards the very end, the instruments don't always make their presence felt. Paranoia (Part 1) is a brief, continual statement of a single riff, which builds up the tension, before the mellow bass-led Paranoia (Part 2) establishes itself. But frankly it's a tedious tune. Thankfully the psychedelic, infinitely more melodic Mirror Of Illusion picks things up, and along with Hurry On Sundown and Be Yourself, it's one of only three tracks on the original studio album that I consider worth revisiting.

Fortunately, the CD bonus tracks do add value particularly with the Hawkwind rarity the Kiss Of the Velvet Whip, a blues-rock original given its flavour by the bold lines of Turner and Lloyd-Langton who turns in another acid-drenched solo. They also include covers of Pink Floyd's ethereal Cymbaline (on which Dave Brock sounds surprisingly like The Strawbs' Dave Cousins) and a harmonica and acoustic guitar powered version of Willie Dixon's Bring It On Home (admittedly not a patch on Led Zeppelin's explosive treatment of the same song) which are probably an accurate representation of two major influences that shaped early Hawkwind. It's probably quite telling that I believe Roger Waters' Cymbaline to be the finest composition on this record!

Nonetheless, this is an interesting document for Hawkwind fans, from a line-up that never recorded again ... as lead guitarist Lloyd-Langton (even if he did make a surprise return a decade after this album was recorded!), bassist John Harrison and drummer Terry Ollis were all supplanted in Hawkwind legend. ... 46% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 2/5 |

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