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Hawkwind - Space Ritual  CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.20 | 285 ratings

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5 stars Space Ritual is classic Hawkwind at their eccentric best, a multi-layered sonic attack of relentless power rock, improvisation and poetry. It is the ultimate stoner trip into musical deep space, led by Dettmar's synth noises, Calvert's droll vocal delivery and Turner's typically bizarre saxophone squawking, all underpinned by a barrage of trance inducing riffs from Brock, Lemmy and King. From the opening salvo of Born To Go it just keeps getting better and better, through Lord Of Light to Orgone Accumulator, before finally unleashing definitive versions of Brainstorm and Master Of The Universe, even now always guaranteed to get an involuntary head-banging reaction.

It clearly polarises opinion - you either feel its magic or you don't, and it probably helps to have been there. Clearly, Hawkwind were no virtuosos, but collectively they surpassed all individual limitations, creating music that touches the subconscious like no other. Close your eyes, don your headphones and let Hawkwind transport you on a mind-warping journey into another dimension, a cosmic experience of the imagination transcending mere earthly things. It still has that power to thrill if you can tune in to the force.

Production is typically primitive for an early live album. It is littered with sound problems: drop-outs and bleed, poor clarity and definition, variable mix, unintelligible vocals in places despite later overdubs, and is dynamically compressed. If you like your music to be sonically pristine then you may prefer to investigate Hawkwind's studio recordings. But for all its many faults, Space Ritual remains a timeless and essential masterpiece.

Bob [Easy Livin] summed it up best with "If you can remember it, you weren't actually there", but if you were there you were treated to a mind-blowing audio-visual experience the like of which doesn't happen very often. And it's true - my memories of that gig in 1972 are seen through a haze! The dancers are a blur and the music would be merely a wall of sound but for this album which serves as a record of that tour and a monument to a bygone age.

Joolz | 5/5 |


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