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

ASTOUNDING SOUNDS, AMAZING MUSIC

Hawkwind

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.45 | 169 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It's always "Mission Impossible" to follow up a masterpiece with another one; a feat rarely achieved which is why all albums should be judged on its own inherent merits. I actually dismissed this vinyl album when it was released, as I was hoping for a sequel or reasonable facsimile to the wondrous and iconic "Warrior on the Edge of Time". Yeah, Lemmy the thunderous Rickenbacker wielder was gone, sacked for drugs after a Montreal concert and replaced by the tame Paul Rudolph, whilst the vocals were now handled by the amazing Robert Calvert , a manic space poet who is as good as it gets and who veered the Hawk spaceship into punkier zones. I am an unabashed fan of the mercurial Calvert, a bizarre man and odder vocalist/lyricist, perhaps the most original artist in the prog world, on par with the equally cracked Syd Barrett or Daevid Allen. More importantly to the prog historian, here is ample proof once again that almost all new musical genres originally emanated from the wonderful vortex of prog, as this punky 1976 disc predated the Sex Pistols, the Vibrators and the Clash. Without any doubt, the follow-up Quark, Strangeness and Charm would find a less- inspired fan base but this was the beginning of a fine change of direction for the Hawkboys. The sound has been correctly identified by others as closer to early-Ultravox or even Magazine (two of the most progressive so-called new wave bands) spiced with that unmistakable sense of decadence and ennui that permeated those Cold War times. This was a transformation period for Hawkwind that was necessary in order to progress, proving that Lemmy's sonic Rickenbacker onslaught was to be very sorely missed!

There are some great tracks here, such as the sardonic "Reefer Madness", a sneering love/hate condemnation of the marijuana syndrome with Calvert's sarcastic prose on the evils of pot (he had actually banned cannabis from the studio, much to the chagrin of Captain Brock and Hawkcrew!) . Calvert was a naturally stoned, eccentric, wild and out and out space cadet, delivering a performance that is timeless. The classic "Steppenwolf" is a solid composition that is exuberant in all its details (washboard scratches, funky guitar rasps and oily synths), aided by a rabid, frenetic vocal that inspires rapt acknowledgement and admiration. Sci-fi horror movie soundtrack it certainly can be! The instrumentals , while nothing compared to the genius of "Winds of Change", "Opa- Loka", "Forges of Vulcan" or "Spiral Galaxy 28948" are still appealing on their own merits but suffer from an insipid bass guitar, deeply buried into some distant flatulent asteroid. "City of Lagoons", "The Aubergine That Ate Rangoon" and "Chronoglide Skyway" could have been as glorious as the previously mentioned with a lot more spit and a tad more polish but still worthy listening. The weak tracks, in my opinion, are the rather pedantic rock'n roll of "Kerb Crawler" and "Katmandu Flyer" , two barely acceptable Hawkwind compositions that just don't warp speed my transporters. The bonus tracks again simply define this hinge period of uncertainty and lack of focus, which would be erased with the ever-so subtle" Quark, Strangeness and Charm" and the even better "25 Years On " by the legal offshoot Hawklords. "Back on the Street" is a Rudolph piece that sounds more like a track off Eno's iconic debut "Here Come the Warm Jets" and "Dreams of Isis" instrumental is quite listenable. . The cover art is still inspiring, based on the sci-fi magazine of the same name but the sound is totally different, less spacey and more minimalistic.

So, my dear judges, what's the verdict you ask? Again, it must be repeated that this is a transitional exercise that needs some contextual empathy, more than anything. It's actually a rather pleasant affair that could have been another masterpiece with some tweaking mostly on bass, less rock and more space. Hawkfans will need this, others = get the classic albums first.

3.5 icy meteors

tszirmay | 3/5 |

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