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Hawkwind - Take Me To Your Leader CD (album) cover



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5 stars Q - What's been eight years in the making, plagued with false starts and changes in personnel, yet could well turn out to be one of the albums of the year?

A - It's Hawkwind's latest studio release - Take Me To Your Leader!

It's without a doubt one of the bands most consistent yet varied albums that they've produced in their 36 year career. The band now consists of the ever present and captain of the ship, Dave Brock together with bassist Alan Davey whose tenure now exceeds 20 years (albeit with a brief break in the late 90's), drummer Richard Chadwick whose been a constant for over 15 years and the new boy, keyboard player Jason Stuart who's yet to clock up a years service.

Admittedly opening track, the recent single Spirit Of The Age will be familiar to most ardent Hawkfans as it first appeared on the bands seminal 1977 release Quark, Strangeness and Charm but from there on in the album has more twists and turns than the most demanding Grand Prix circuit. With a distinctly chilled out vibe on "Out Here We Are" which in turn leads to the all out space rock attack of "Greenback Massacre" and then on to the Dave Brock epic that is "To Love A Machine" and that just the first four tracks, there's also brushes with techno and Drm 'n' Bass in the form of the title track, the delicate "Digital Nation" extols the virtues of online gaming whilst the highlight is served up next in the form of "Sunray" which is both penned and sung by guest vocalist Arthur Brown, yes he of "Fire" fame and with the right promotion could prove to be a massive hit for the band. Quality control is kept to the same high standard for the final three tracks, "Sighs" is a typically dreamy keyboard piece typical of the between song stuff they do live, "Angela Android" rocks like a good 'un with plenty of quality lead guitar from Brock whilst things are brought to a close with the re-appearance of Arthur Brown on "A Letter To Robert" which serves as the bands tribute to the late great Robert Calvert who was such an influence over the band in the 70's and judging by this still is today.

Varied it maybe but the thing that really makes it so special is how it all gel's together perfectly!

A masterpiece

readers of this may also be interested in a couple of other reviews that appear on the Hawkwind Museum web site that can be found at www.hawkwindmuseum the page you need is one written by Matthew Wright of TV's "The Wright Stuff"

Report this review (#46300)
Posted Sunday, September 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars It's been quite a wait for the new Hawkwind album, and I've been very curious to hear what they've come up with. But unfortunately I've got to say it's a bit of a patchy effort. Things get off to a good start with a reworked 'Spirit Of The Age', and there are some decent tracks such as Out Here We Are, Greenback massacre, or the title track, but it's not quite up there with classic Hawkwind. It's certainly got variety (if lacking a little in direction) but compared to albums like Alien 4, or the much maligned -but IMO great- 'It Is The Business Of The Future To Be Dangerous' this pales more than a little. However, the bonus DVD which accompanies the CD (first 2000 copies only?) promises to make up for it with interviews with band members and some recent live footage.
Report this review (#47408)
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Rock? I think not. A Real Shock to the system that a band synonymous with progressive rock should turn out something which sounds like the unholy offspring of techno meets acid house meets pretensious 80s arty band. I heard better in this genre from a never-got-anywhere self-produced 'band' (2 synth-nuts) 12 years ago. Needed to listen to Grill again just to convince myself I hadn't been deluding myself all along - the good news is Grill still holds up. TMTYL, sadly, is being filed under 'bin'. Sorry :[

Dave Shepherd BRADFORD ROCKS BCB Radio, Bradford UK.

Report this review (#48779)
Posted Tuesday, September 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Having been a loyal Hawkfan for 30 years now, it pains me to hear such a patchy effort after an 8 year wait. This basically sounds like a collection solo tracks cobbled together to pose as a band effort. The remake (again) of "Spirit of the Age" is utterly pointless and some of the best lyrics are even omitted. "Greenback Massacre" is a pallid "Sputnik Stan" rewrite (and Alan, please stop the psuedo Lemmyisms; though we all know you won't...)."To Love a Machine" is probably the highpoint of the CD, an interesting song with real atmosphere and presence. Other than that track, there is precious little energy, innovation, or even faint echoes of past glories. To these ears though, the main problem with this CD is that it has no coherent theme or identity. Not that it needs to be a concept album or anything like that, but this just doesn't sound like a group album. More like "Family Tree" Pt.2, just less interesting. Examples of Richard Chadwick's more techno orientated pieces were done a million times better on the Star Nation "Silver Age" CD, the most underrated space-rock CD of the last 10 years. That was a CD that used ambient and techno musicks hand in hand with spacerock that really ROCKED. This CD pales even besides the likes of Distant Horizons (flawed, but powerful) or It Is The Business... Also, the sax parts are closer to Kenny G than Nik Turner which may be a good thing for some folks, but not for me. Is it time to ground the spaceship once and for all? Sorry but this is pedestrain, uninspired, and unremarkable.
Report this review (#52330)
Posted Wednesday, October 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars Well I finally received the CD and what a disappointment it turned out to be. Spirit of the age yet again,dull and boring, surely the Hawkwind members could have written a new song to put on this new CD. Tracks 2 and 3 are okay, I suppose. Then comes To love a machine, quite a good song BUT they go and spoil it with an absolutely dreadful ending. Digital Nation is not very good at all, no rock in it, no nothing really. Sunray is a 100% Arthur Brown song , it is not Hawkwind at all. Tracks 8 and 9 are quite good but then comes track 10, A letter to Robert. This is a spoken story of a supposed conversation with Robert Calvert done by Arthur Brown with music playing in the background. This track is a complete waste of time and space, surely Hawkwind could have put on a real song instead of this stupid track. Hawkwind have losted their magick touch, I am afraid after listening to this album it proves that Hawkwind should call it a day and stop producing anymore studio albums. What a sad ending for a once great band.
Report this review (#54111)
Posted Monday, October 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The comments about the stop/start nature of the album's release are true,but were here to talk"Take me to your leader" eh?...the only song that dosn't stand up for me is "Letter to Robert",which is just a rambling load of tosh,but,the rest of the album is quite a cool affair,ok,so it's not "Hall of the mountain Grill"...but bands evolve thank-god and as always Hawkwind deliver that ok,that's why they are still about,because they don't get stuck in the "All their music sounds the same" cataegory of bands. If you like ambient/Space Rock then it's worth a listen... Rob
Report this review (#64482)
Posted Friday, January 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Perhaps a more apt title for this long awaited ( at the time ) Hawkwind album would be " Hawkwind & Friends Go to a Rave". A disappointing Hawkwind effort despite a guest list of artists which include Lene Lovich and Arthur Brown. It sort of reminds me of the mediocre Alien 4 album from 1995 whose main theme was alien abduction whereas this time around it is a theme based on a cynical look at a grim future, after all this is Hawkwind.

The lead off is yet another lobotomized, updated and over-synthed version of Their classic Spirit of the Age with missing lyrics. It just doesn`t work at all and commander Brock probably included it because it worked into the proposed album theme, in fact the whole album seems to rely on too much boring synth soundscaping and simplistic techno-like drumming and not enough of the raw Hawkwind sound power that was present even up to the early 90`s.

A couple of points of interest though,(and there are very few) are Brock`s acoustic guitar work on " To Love a Machine" which is by far the strongest track on the album as well as Arthur Brown`s Hommage to late Hawkwind collaborator Rob Calvert. However, if synths and more synths turn your wheel by all means be my guest, but I can`t give this Hawkwind space excursion more than 2˝ stars

Report this review (#112814)
Posted Tuesday, February 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Hawkwind's latest was eagerly anticipated after a long and turbulent few years since the band's previous studio release. Most latter-day Hawkwind studio albums have been patchy affairs and now the euphoria has died down, Take Me To Your Leader proves to be much the same. The band that invented spacerock has long left full-on blanga behind, at least in the studio, in favour of a cold and rather sterile techno-rock hybrid that sometimes has psychedelic tendencies but only ventures into space on synth-based ambient pieces.

Too much of this album passes in an impenetrable cocoon of blandness - the vague and meandering 'Out Here We Are', an average heavy riffer in 'Greenback Massacre', jazzed-up techno of 'Take Me To Your Leader', the repetitious 'Digital Nation' and its annoying drum pattern, the short interlude of 'Sighs', and Arthur Brown's uninteresting techno-backed 'A Letter To Robert' monologue which doesn't bear more than a single hearing. None raise a flicker of emotion in the listener, and none displays much in the way of inspiration. Fortunately, the remaining tracks provided adequate compensation ....

.... opener, the old classic 'Spirit Of The Age' is rather splendid, generally an improvement on the original though not deviating much from the 1977 arrangement; Brock's 'To Love A Machine' enters Symphonic Prog territory and features some unexpected, but very welcome, acoustic guitar as well as tasty electric riffs; Arthur Brown's bouncy 'Sunray' is a brilliant Roxy Music thrash awash with crunchy guitars; and an infectious 'Angela Android', with an aptly loopy Lene Lovich adding vocals in her inimitable style to a pounding beat.

These four tracks are undoubtedly bright stars in the Hawkwind post-spacerock firmament. Had the remainder been even close then this might have been a stunning album based around a theme of a mechanized future world. The reality is that, once again, a Hawkwind album fails to satisfy in its entirety. If you strip away the contributions of guest performers, you are left with a pretty average bunch of songs that don't stand the test of time. Overall - good, but they have done a lot better.

Report this review (#118803)
Posted Wednesday, April 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Hmmm. I love Hawkwind and have maybe 20 albums. This starts so well - a good new version of their classic Spirit of the Age followed by a superb ambient/jazzy/ambient sequence penned by Alan Davey. After that though it goes rapidly downhill. I really don't like the final Letter to Robert thing at all. Sorry, but this sounds like half an album with a few bits and pieces thrown in to make up the numbers. Disappointing.
Report this review (#142389)
Posted Saturday, October 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Hawkwind's most recent album, 2005's "Take Me To Your Leader", is a very worthy example of the band's brand of space-rock and a fine addition to the Hawkwind collection.

The band opens with the perennial Hawkwind classic, "Spirit of the Age" and I must admit that this is a slight irritation as far as I am concerned - surely, in the five years since the previous studio album "Space Brock" could the band not have filled an album with original material? In truth, it is not the first time that Hawkwind have pulled this trick (and I admit to being equally irritated in the past at revisits to old songs!), it is something of a "calling card" for them. Not that this is a bad version of "Spirit of the Age", quite the contrary as it has some sterling lead guitar work adorning it, it's just that when you listen to the quality of (most of) the rest of the album, you cannot understand why they do it. Anyway, rant over!

The "most of" above is there because the closing track, "A Letter to Robert", is a tad self-indulgent - presumably a homage to the late Bob Calvert, it is a spoken reminiscence of him to a backing track of synthesiser music. It is actually quite humorous and witty but I'm not sure that everyone will find it so, particularly new fans who may not know the history of the band, and it grinds the album's momentum to a sudden, unexpected halt as the closing number.

Sandwiched in between these two "book-ends" the music is splendid indeed and I have no reservations whatsoever. There is plenty of pace and invention in this space-rock showing that the band can still deliver fresh new music of high quality. Whilst it is difficult to pick a favourite from these 8 tracks, special mentions go to Alan Davey's beefy and powerful "Greenback Massacre" and Brock's clever "To Love a Machine". This "meat" of the album marks it out as an excellent Hawkwind album: it's just a shame that they are so few and far between these days.

Report this review (#162316)
Posted Thursday, February 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars After years of silence on the studio album front, does Take Me To Your Leader break the curse Hawkwind had seemingly been under Distant Horizons (or, depending on how hardline you are, maybe the Xenon Codex, or Levitation, or Warrior On the Edge of Time) where they simply couldn't manage to make a studio album worthy of their illustrious name? Unfortunately not, as most listeners will realise when they note that the first song is merely a re-recording of an old Calvert era track which was perfectly good in its original incarnation. And the new compositions are just outright tedious. I really should give up and turn my attention to more recent studio outings by Hawkwind, since I hear that from Blood of the Earth onwards they've done a bang-up job of making their studio albums more consistent, but as far as the mid-2000s go their live albums from the era are far better than their studio efforts.
Report this review (#686437)
Posted Sunday, March 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
1 stars After a five year lapse in releasing studio albums, the hope was that Hawkwind would come back to the studio with better songs and a better album. After all, the core group at this time consisted of Dave Brock who was with the band from the beginning, Alan Davey who had worked on and off with the band for several years now, and Richard Chadwick who had been with the band since 1988. Things were in Hawkwind's favor, but the last two decades saw them releasing average material and swinging away from their space rock sound that made them legends. "Take Me to Your Leader' had a lot of fans hoping for a real comeback. Unfortunately, the time was still not right.

The album starts out with a re-make of "Spirit of the Age", originally co-written by Dave Brock and Robert Calvert who passed away in 1988. This new recording features vocals by journalist Matthew Wright. The track is great, of course, with its broiling guitar and spacey effects, but not enough has changed in it to merit a re-make, other than a slightly cleaner sound. I suppose it was quite an attraction to Hawkwind fans however, to get them curious about the new album. The next two tracks are written by Alan Davey. "Out Here We Are" fades in from the previous track and goes right to a mid-tempo, synth-washed track that sounds too safe and mellow, almost like one of the more commercial Moody Blues songs from their own later commercial music. There is some sax thrown in, but it sounds completely out of place here. It was put there to give this boring instrumental some life, but it doesn't. In fact, it sounds a bit like new age drivel, you almost expect to see Yanni step out of the spaceship. "Greenback Massacre" tries to factor in some stoner rock sounds and the vocals are gruff, almost sounding like Lemmy who left the band and formed "Motorhead" long ago, but it only comes off as weak, like they are trying to mimic their own sound.

"To Love a Machine" is written by Brock, but that doesn't mean it is any better. In fact, it is also surprisingly weak even if it does venture towards the space rock sound again, it is just poorly executed and rough sounding. The programmed percussion doesn't help either. The track keeps building and then losing its momentum each time it softens, trading space rock power for acoustic softness in an alternating pattern. Then there is this long section that is supposed to sound jazzy underneath crowd noises. The title track "Take Me to Your Leader" is credited to all three core band members. It is mostly instrumental with some spoken word. It is mostly just automatic music, a heartless track with no direction past the first minute or so.

"Digital Nation" is credited to Chadwick. It starts accapella with minimal spacey effects, then a percussive pattern kicks in with some guitar, synth and flute that joins in later, but they just seem to float off in their own directions. It's quite lifeless even when the sax comes in later. Arthur Brown worked with Hawkwind quite extensively during this time period and wrote the next track called "Sunray". Simon House, who also worked with the band previously, lends his needed help with keyboards and violin while Brown provides the vocals, and it actually sounds a bit more interesting and believable. You can almost hear echoes of the band's glory days in there, and a bit of a Bowie sound, especially with the guitars and Brown's flamboyant singing. The album could have used more tracks like this.

"Sighs" is a short track written by both Brock and Davey. It's a bit more experimental, but really too short to go anywhere. "Angela Android" comes next, co-written by Brock and Chadwick and some vocals provided by new wave singer Lene Lovich and her high pitched singing and annoying partly spoken vocals. Lene actually toured with Hawkwind for a few years. The style is in the vein of rock and roll with space rock leanings, but it just doesn't have enough life in it to make you want to shake & shimmy or even stumble & trip. Corniness incarnate. The last track is "A Letter to Robert" co written by Brock and Chadwick again, but this time joined one more time by Arthur Brown. Simon House is also there again, so maybe this will be a better track like "Sunray" was. It's not. Brown is reading a letter he wrote to Robert Calvert with spacey synth effects going on around his reading. I suppose it is supposed to be there for nostalgic purposes or something, but it really doesn't do anything for me.

There was a bonus DVD that came with the first 2000 copies of the album sold which has interviews from the three core members, a promo video of "Spirit of the Age" and a live performance in 2004 of the same song, a live version of "Silver Machine" done at the Ruisrock Festival in Finland in 2004 and apparently includes Lemmy in the performance, and also a live 1992 performance of "The Right to Decide" and a 2004 performance of "Psychedelic Warriors". I haven't seen the DVD so I don't know what it's like, but I doubt it changes this lackluster album much.

So, unfortunately, the long waiting period between studio albums didn't improve the quality of this album, and only lengthened the time span of the sub-par albums released in the '90s and 2000s. This is a period of Hawkwind material that is best to be avoided and I'm happy to give you the low down on these weaker albums so you can see if you want to waste your time with them or not. Only hard core completionists should look for this album. That's all.

Report this review (#2220753)
Posted Friday, June 14, 2019 | Review Permalink

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