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Hawkwind Space Ritual album cover
4.21 | 318 ratings | 40 reviews | 55% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 (39:21)
1. Earth Calling (1:46)
2. Born to Go (9:56)
3. Down Through the Night (6:16)
4. The Awakening (1:32)
5. Lord of the Light (7:21)
6. Black Corridor (1:51)
7. Space Is Deep (8:13)
8. Electronic No 1 (2:26)

CD 2 (68:06)
9. Orgone Accumulator (9:59)
10. Upside Down (2:43)
11. 10 Seconds of Forever (2:05)
12. Brainstorm (9:20)
13. 7 by 7 (6:13)
14. Sonic Attack (2:54)
15. Time We Left This World Today (5:47)
16. Master of the Universe (7:37)
17. Welcome to the Future (2:03)
18. You Shouldn't Do That (6:55)
19. Master of the Universe (7:26)
20. Born to Go (5:04)

Total Time 107:27

Line-up / Musicians

- Dave Brock / vocals, guitars
- Robert Calvert / poetry *
- Del Dettmar / synthesizers
- Dik Mik / audio generator, electronics
- Lemmy Killmister / bass, vocals
- Simon King / drums
- Nik Turner / vocals, sax, flute

* Poetry by Michael Moorcock

Releases information

2x cd. EMI Premier HAWKS 4 (1996)
Bonus Tracks:
'You Shouldn't Do That' originally released on Roadhawks, "That'll do nicely".
Other 2 bonus tracks are from the rare Greasy Truckers compilation.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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HAWKWIND Space Ritual ratings distribution

(318 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(55%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(25%)
Good, but non-essential (16%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

HAWKWIND Space Ritual reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by The Owl
5 stars Our Musicnauts:

Dave Brock - Guitar, Vocals Lemmy - Bass, voice Del Dettmar - Synthesizers, Electronics Dikmik - Electronics, Audio Generator Simon King - Drums Nik Turner - Flute, Saxophone, Vocals Bob Calvert - Poetry, Swazzle, Vocals Liquid Len and the Lensmen - Lights Stacia - Exotic Dancing

There are live albums, and then there are live experiences captured on disc!

Hawkwind's Space Ritual (financed by a fluke hit single "Silver Machine") tour roared through Britain and the US (circa 1973) in all its psychedelic glory. It's an experience captured on disc to deliriously grand effect! With a sound finding itself in a netherworld between early Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath, Hawkwind blew minds everywhere it went with a lavish extravaganza of lights, chattering electronics, sci-fi poetry, Stacia's exotic dancing, sci-fi and fantasy tales with charmingly goofy lyrics (see "Orgone Accumulator" for example, with such lines as "It's no social integrator, it's a one-man isolator" and "Turns eyeballs into craters") relentlessly rocking and crunchy riffing, disembodied woodwinds bleating and blatting happily away and certifiable sci-fi nutcase Robert Calvert lending his poetic talents to the proceedings.

The Highlights: A gloriously over-the-top "7 X 7" segueing into "Sonic Attack/Time We Left This World Today" where Calvert really pours on the campy sci-fi charm, then the band roars into a relentlessly hypnotic and heavy groove, with good 'ol Lemmy doing a bone-rattling bass solo just before the tune winds down. All throughout, the Lemster lays down ferociously melodic and cutting lead-bass as it were. He also gets off a few good ideas on the incurably goofy "Orgone Accumulator" (part of what made Hawkwind so fun). "Master of the Universe" gets the thrashing of its life here, easily putting the studio version to complete shame. This was darn near punk before it was callled such. For sheer rocking out, "Brainstorm" is a manic delight (with a rare searing Brock guitar solo) as is "Lord of Light" with Lemmy giving it all he's got while Nik Turner happily bleats and blats away on his sax!

The Black Holes: Only a couple, "Electronic #1" is a mercifully short noise freakout, and the plodding (until the end) "Space is Deep".

And for real rabid Hawk fans, there are now 3 bonus tracks which include different versions of "Master of the Universe" and "Born To Go", and a previously unheard live version of "You Shouldn't Do That".

Although a recording can never get the full extent of the experience, this is a trip worth taking with our space-farers! Hop aboard for some seriously crunchy, trippy, goofy spacey psychedelic fun!!

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars OK , this is where I get beaten to death by Hawk fans, for not having given more stars especially after diminishing Lemmy's role - I like living dangerously. I was never a super Hawkwind fan but this album is vastly over-rated IMO , but the cover is superb and Stacia very progressively naked. This live album sounds like mayhem , confused , heavy , but I gather this might have been so much better if one had seen this live. Somehow, this is a little lost on me but for Hawkheads, this is the must-have.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars If you can remember it, you weren't actually there

The remastered and expanded CD version of this album is the one to go for. The sound is so much better, and the bonus tracks are all worthy the inclusion, standing well alongside the original tracks.

As someone who is not generally that keen on live albums, I have to say that I do not share the enthusiasm for this album shown by many Hawkwind aficionados. Yes the tracks are generally good, (the version of "Orgone Accumulator" here is excellent) but almost invariably I find the studio versions to be more accomplished.

Ironically, for a band with such a legendary reputation for their live shows, Hawkwind's attention to detail on their studio albums means that their best performances from an audio only perspective are on those releases. In a live situation, such as that documented here, it is essential that band be both seen and heard. Without the visual extravaganza which accompanied this performance, the impact is significantly diluted, The sound is raw and at times grating, bordering on the musically anarchic.

Great as a memento for those who saw Hawkwind live at the time, (although many of those, for various reasons, will presumably not actually remember it!), but otherwise only marginally above average.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars These live performances of HAWKWIND create a very intensive and dark voyage through the space and time. Many of their songs are much more powerful on this album than on their previous studio recordings, and I guess that the improvisational nature of their music wasn't caught properly in the organized way of studio working. On the other hand, doing their thing in concerts was risky business too, remembering that there were seven musicians with uncertainly functioning electronic instruments, and the artists had habits that might inflict their playing abilities. But on this double set, everything works extremely well from beginning to the end.

As a bonus, the album covers are incredible! If you can, you should get this as a vinyl, which has opening pages full of beautiful psychedelic artwork. Also the fadeouts at the end of the LP-sides are then more logical, and do not disturb listening as they may little do when listening this from a CD.

I think this is one of the most essential HAWKWIND albums of their very unbalanced career!

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars It's amazing how people come to such differing conclusions on this one. The average Hawkwind fan speaks of Space Ritual as a near religious experience, but I felt this album to be closer to a bum trip. As with afficionados of the much better known Grateful Dead, Hawkwind fans will always tell you that the band was best experienced live and (let's be honest here) stoned. Most of them will also assure you that Space Ritual is the ultimate Hawkwind album (no mean feat considering this band has scores of albums out), but I vehemently disagree.

I have no doubt that my expectations were too high when I came to this one, and I should have factored in that my favourite Hawkwind member Simon House only joined after it came out (in time to star on Hawkwind's masterpiece Hall Of The Mountain Grill). As it is, I think the album is seriously overrated.

I've often felt that Hawkwind's studio albums have threatened to get one-dimensional, as the same relentless riff comes at you, with washes of sound for minute after minute. Well it's much worse on Space Ritual. The bulk of the tracks are culled from the second album In Search Of Space and the third album Doremi Fasol Latido, which are not dis- similar albums to begin with (shockingly none of the 18 tracks here are from the first album) and perhaps it's all too much of a good thing.

Born To Go and Time We Left This World Today are livelier pieces with shades of Black Sabbath in the riffing, and Space Is Deep, Down Through The Night and 7 By 7 are probably the standout ones here, but in truth most tracks like Lord Of Light, Brainstorm, You Shouldn't Do That, Orgone Accumulator and Masters Of the Universe just chug along based on the same chords for many many minutes. There's not much variety in terms of layering and solos, and this stuff compares poorly to studio versions that I've heard. In fact, the Hawkwind individuals seem like a bunch of uncreative musicians on this one (and I know that they are not).

All too often this album sees like one rambling song, punctuated only by Robert Calvert's harsh poetry readings (which account for the shorter cuts like Black Corridor, 10 Seconds Of Forever and Earth Calling). It's half-decent stoner music yes, but I've heard lots better and I think this is vastly inferior to Hall Of The Mountain Grill and Warrior On The Edge Of Time. ... 42% on the MPV scale

Review by Guillermo
2 stars I listened to this album for the first time in 1985. It was lent to me by a friend. This album has a very good cover design, and maybe this is the best thing that I can remember of it now. I also remember the "atmospheres" created in the listener`s mind by the music of this album: "spacial music with a bit of poetry", with a lot of electronic "cosmic sounds", heavy playing, a distorted bass guitar which sounds like another distorted 6 string guitar, psychedelic lighting, and a mysterious female dancer on stage doing her job among the music. I was curious to see photos of Stacia, this female dancer who worked with Hawkwind for about 5 years, after reading about her being "very sexy". Well, I searched in the Internet for photographs of Hawkwind playing on stage while Stacia was dancing to their music, and I was disappointed: I didn`t like her, but maybe their Fans were delighted to see her naked while dancing! The other images that this album bring to my mind now are of "stoned music done by stoned musicians for their stoned Fans". I don`t want to offend anybody, as maybe many of their Fans were not / are not "stoned". But in the late `60s and a good part of the `70s, the music like this which was created by underground bands like Hawkwind was very associated with the use of drugs. So, Hawkwind and this album, IMO, are "For Their Fans Only".
Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by The Wizard
5 stars Hawkwind's Space Ritual is the bible of space rock, a genre categorized by its mind- shattering sonic impact, sludgy rock riffing, loose song structures, and an overall spaced out feel. All of these elements are not only featured in Space Ritual but perfected and expanded upon. While many of Hawkwind's previous albums were loaded with excellent material, Space Ritual shows the band at their absolute peak and in top form.

The secret to the success of Space Ritual is not the use of virtuoso instrumentation and complex song structures but its hypnotic combination of a barbarian rhythm section, electronic wizardry, and relentless riffing. Down to its very core Space Ritual is a very simple album. Repetitive three cord riffs are the backbone to most of the songs, but when guitarist David Brock is not pinning you down with his intense attack of distorted sludge he's making creative use of phased out feedback and spaced out wah-pedal techniques.

Yet Space Ritual wouldn't be nearly be the great album it is without Lemmy's heroic and powerful yet precise basslines which propel the bands celestial soundscapes into the depths of space. Also noteworthy are the electronic sounds of Dik Mik which at times border on pure destructive sonic chaos.

Bob Calvert, the space poet, provides some of the most controversial additions to the album. His 'poetry and swizzle' is viewed by many as being annoying and self-indulgent. I personally love these parts, finding The Awakening and Sonic Attack some of the finest tracks on the record. The insane celestial imagery with a backdrop of chaotic psychedelic noises makes an excellent combination.

Space Ritual is best heard with your mind relaxed, prepared to undergo the journey that the music will guide you on. Like most masterpieces Space Ritual is listened to from beginning to end since it has the feel of a continuous sonic landscape. I believe everyone in the world should sit back and be graced with this wonderful mind-expanding record.

Review by Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "Space Ritual" was a long-time wished gift that I managed to fulfill a couple of years ago - CD version. Well, I knew all the songs but from different sources (albums, tapes, bootlegs) and I was eager to share this emotional audio-visual-cerebral experience as a whole. Things didn't run the way I intended; "Space Ritual" is in many ways disappointing.

Very keen to HAWKWIND's live tracks I am until now looking for the warm and sometimes rowdy sounds of band's audience but instead I heard nothing, at least in this CD version - remastering could kill really.

With few and honorable exceptions everything seems too much aseptical, very clean, very neat to conform to HAWKWIND usual and appreciable dirty patterns. Poetry insertions which might provide great moments in the gigs appear a bit useless and out-of-room here. Anyway, we find great space-rock songs in "Space Ritual", enough to save the work, like:

'Born to go' provides a good start after 1 entire minute of non-sense noise that goes by the name of 'Earth calling'. 'Down through the night' although an average song shows some traces of the live action and that improves the hearing feeling.

'Space is deep' loses its meaning specially when compared with studio version, but it's still a catchy song. 'Electronic no. 1' presents some audience sounds but its main feature is to introduce 'Orgone accumulator', one of the best song ever presented by the band that goes splendidly here. The always argued band's musicianship crumbles within this track - a fine album moment, indeed.

Either versions of 'Master of Universe' are interesting - no chances to err when you have fair tunes in hands. 'You shouldn't do that' is hot, surely due to the public participation, seen completely at last (and it's meant to be a bonus track). If all the songs in "Space Ritual" were released that way the album should grow intensely.

Balancing the good tracks with the dispensable parts of "Space Ritual" I'd say we get a tie but for sentimental reasons I'll lift the rating and conclude that we are facing a good output. Total: 3.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars So, if I understand correctly most of previous reviews, you need to be stoned to accurately appreciate this album.

During my long "career" (I am 49), I have never been stoned (so far, but things might change, one never knows). Still, this live album is a great one, full of spacey psychedelia. Early Floyd fans (67-68, .I said early) should be extremely enthusiast about such a release.

This album is a great snapshot of some fantastic psychedelic atmosphere. One of the best in the genre (which doesn't feature a lot of "official" live albums but plenty of boots of course).

Do enjoy this live album. Get a good glass of wine (which I'm currently doing) or whatever else (if you feel so), be open-minded and just listen. This is a great trip to undergo. Even without any substance in your stomach, this album remains a great experience. Almost on par with the great live parts from "Ummagumma".

Yes, it is almost that great. Only that you won't find any legendary tracks as "Careful", "ASOS", "STCOTHOTS" or "Astronomy Domine". But the whole of this live set is really worth your attention. Better than any of their studio albums so far. But this is only my humble and honest opinion.

Your can listen to this album clockwise or counter-clock wise. It doesn't matter. It sounds always great. Non-Hawkwind fans, do listen to this one. You shouldn't regret it.

Four stars for these great live moments.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Spacey psychedelia......"Do not panic.......... Do not panic Think only of yourself Think only of yourself Think only of yourself ".

The eyeball searing album cover screams it out and then prepare yourself to be overwhelmed as you jump on board the Hawkwind Spaceship. Brock, Lemmy, Dettmar, King, Turner backed up by the bizarre space effects of Dik Mik and emblazoned over this is the most surreal poetry of Calvert. This is not music, its an adventure into pyschedelia at its highest level. The album sounds like a proto Motorhead journey into space. The Hawkwind trademark of weird spacey effects from keyboards saturate each track and all blend seamlessly into one another with poetry and spaced out wizardry transporting one into another universe.

We begin the voyage with the gatecrashing rocker 'Born To Go'. It drives relentlessly along with the trademark chug-a-chug rhythm that could only be Hawkwind - an absolute delight.

Every track is perfection on a live stage. Of note is the fabulous 'Down Through The Night' and 'Lord Of Light'. This is followed by 'Space is deep' that is saturated in space effects as is every track. It's absolutely wonderful prog rock, laden with some interesting guitars and vocals.

It gets better with the greatest Hawkwind track 'Orgone Accumulator'. It motors along its 10 minutes length and is mesmirizing with amazing riffing guitars and effects. A wall of sound without remorse. Check out those amazing lyrics sung with echoed downbeat tones by Brock:

"I've got an orgone accumulator, It makes me feel greater, I'll see you sometime later, When I'm through with my accumulator, It's no social integrator, It's a one man isolator, It's a back brain stimulator, It's a cerebral vibrator, Those energy stimulators, Just turn your eyeballs into craters, But an orgone accumulator, Is a superman creator, of Orgones!"

The iconic lyrics are backed by the relentless chunky riffs that are almost hypnotically trance like. This is a masterpiece track and quintessential Hawkwind by any standards.

'10 Seconds Of Forever ' takes us poetically down the maelstrom into 'Brainstorm' - another riff heavy rocker. Then we are inundated by the surrealism of 'Sonic Attack'. Depending on how jaded your sensibilities are will depend on how you take this weird poem, as follows:

"In case of Sonic Attack on your district, follow these rules... Use your wheels, it is what they are for, Small babies may be placed inside the special cocoons and should be left, if possible, in shelters, Do not attempt to use your own limbs If no wheels are available, metal, not organic, limbs should be employed whenever possible... Remember, in the case of Sonic Attack survival does mean every man for himself, Statistically more people survive if they think only of themselves, These are the first signs of Sonic Attack: You will notice small objects, such as ornaments, oscillating, You will notice a vibration in your diaphragm You will hear a distant hissing in your ears, You will feel dizzy, You will feel the need to vomit, There will be bleeding from orifices, There will be an ache in the pelvic region, You may be subject to fits of hysterical shouting, or even laughter, These are all sign of imminent Sonic destruction, Your only protection is flight If you are less than ten years old remain in the shelters and use your cocoon....Do not panic.......... Do not panic..."

I rest my case. The high strangeness is a welcome effect in itself. There are other highlights, 2 versions of the classic 'Master Of The Universe' at varying lengths, and another version of 'Brainstorm' and 'Time We Left This World Today' featuring awesome bass from Lemmy showing his dexterity as a player like you have never heard.

The bonus tracks are excellent, the artwork and booklet are inspiring, and the sound quality is mind blowing. I never tire of it. Brilliant prog classic! A masterpiece in every sense of the word. This is the best thing Hawkwind have done, make no mistake. Its a live extravaganza that grips you and refuses to let go mercilessly.

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars "The Space Ritual" is the altar at which every Hawkwind disciple worships, and with good reason. The original twin-LP (now a double CD, with bonus tracks) caught the band on stage at the high point (pun intended) of their long, ongoing career, and even today provides a still vivid snapshot of English psychedelic metal, circa 1972.

Missing from the re-mastered 1996 compact disc is the visual overkill of the concert experience itself (with its liquid lights and topless dancers), and the eye-popping extravagance of the original album artwork. The earliest vinyl copies were famously housed in what had to be the ultimate gatefold cover, opening like a Buster Keaton newspaper into a 24"x36" series of panels filled with trippy cosmic images and navel-gazing mantras ("Naked I came out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither...").

Chalk it up as one more aesthetic casualty in an age of digital convenience. But to compensate for the loss, the CD booklet includes instead a reproduction of the original 1972 tour programme, complete with an extract from 'The Saga of Doremi Fasol Latido', a silly sci-fi fantasy written by stage designer Barney Bubbles, recounting the intergalactic adventures of the Hawkwind 'musicnauts'.

All very hokey, of course. But the music itself still packs a good deal of psychedelic intensity, at least to those of us (almost, in my case) old enough to have heard it firsthand, over 30 years ago. It's still thrilling to hear the band grab hold of those riffs and pound them into submission, like a pit bull with a rubber chew toy. But a certain degree of tedium can set in before the end of the second disc, long before the climactic 13+ minute reprise of "Born to Go", one of several bonus tracks from the same tour included on the 1996 EMI re-master.

And diehard fans can legitimately bitch about the omission of "Silver Machine", maybe the quintessential Hawkwind anthem of the era (it wasn't on their set list for this particular tour). But why bother? Most of the music here sounds pretty much the same anyway, blending into a single, continuous two-hour sonic attack, quoting the title of the apocalyptic spoken word narrative penned by sci-fi author and Hawklord lyricist Michael Moorcock, and performed here on Disc Two.

Keep in mind (this from inner panel 4 of the original gatefold sleeve): "The One and the many contain in themselves the principles of time and space. The way up and the way down are one and the same..." Which may explain how the subsequent career arc of the band (still active, 35 years later) was rendered more or less anticlimactic by this album. "The Space Ritual" said it all back in 1972, offering a complete, holistic audio-visual manifesto that couldn't be repeated or improved upon, no matter how far into the void the band would travel.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars If you want to hear some live HAWKWIND you have to check out "Space Ritual". They had an unexpected hit on their hands with "Silver Machine" which allowed them to do a major tour. The songs here are taken from two shows they recorded in Liverpool and London. What makes this so good is the raw energy and passion they deliver. I can just imagine how excited they were to hit the road and just let it all hang out on the stage. Well I wasn't actually talking about Stacia. Anyway this is the classic lineup with names like Nik Turner, Bob Calvert, Dave Brock, Lemmy, Simon King, Del Dettmar and Dik Mik. I like that we get to hear Calvert reciting poetry between songs because it gives us a little glimpse of what the concerts must have really been like. This was a double LP when it was originally released in 1973 and as others have mentioned the big surprise is that the song ("Silver Machine") that was a hit for them was omitted from their sets on this tour. Go figure ! Most of the songs come from what was their newest album at the time "Doremi Fasol Latido".

"Earth Calling" is like a spacey intro to "Born To Go" (a Calvert / Brock tune). Here we go ! Drums lead the way as vocals join in. Guitar takes the lead around 4 minutes. Some nice bass lines here. Sax after 7 minutes from Nik. "Down Through The Night" sounds so good when it kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes. Vocals follow. I like the guitar before 4 1/2 minutes as the bass throbs and the flute joins in. "Lord Of Light" is spacey to open then a good rhthym kicks in. Vocals before a minute and Lemmy is all over this tune. When the vocals stop the sax comes in. "Space Is Deep" starts to build. I like when the tempo picks up after 3 1/2 minutes. Nice. It starts to settle after 5 minutes. Outstanding song. "Orgone Accumulator" is another Calvert / Brock song. This one is catchy with vocals.

"Upside Down" is heavy and with vocals. Great tune ! "Brainstorm" is led by the drums which are smashing a path for the aggressive riffs.The guitar makes some noise after 2 minutes. Sax joins in and check out the ripping guitar 4 minutes in. A killer track ! "7 By 7" is a top three track for me. Spacey to start as bass and guitar come in. Drums and a more powerful sound after a minute. Vocals join in. Just a fantastic sound on this one. "Time We Left This World Today" is right at the top as well when it comes to favourite songs. Just a nice heavy sound with Nik's honking sax. "Master Of The Universe" kicks in quickly as spacey winds blow. "I am the center of this universe, the wind of time is blowing through me".The guitar starts to play over top after 2 minutes. Amazing ! "Welcome To The Future" is one of six (I think) poems Calvert recites but on this one it ends with an explosive instrumental display to the roar of the audience.

Nothing less than 4 stars for this piece of psychedelic history.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Space Ritual" is a live album release by UK psychadelic/space rock act Hawkwind. The album was released through United Artists in May 1973. "Space Ritual" was recorded during the 1972-1973 tour supporting their, at the time, latest studio album "Doremi Fasol Latido (1972)". The tracks on the album were recorded at shows in Liverpool and London. The rather extravagant tour, which included a concept sci-fi themed stage set, a special designed lightshow and exotic dancers (OK...they were naked), was made possible by the surprise commercial succes of the "Silver Machine (1972)" single release. The original release was a double LP set while the 1996 remastered CD reissue is a double CD set with three bonus tracks. There is a remaster from 2007 which also includes an Audio DVD and another set of bonus tracks than the ones that are featured on the 1996 remaster.

The tracklist on "Space Ritual" predominantly features tracks from "Doremi Fasol Latido (1972)" and its actually quite surprising that the only track from the first two Hawkwind albums is "Master Of The Universe" from "In Search Of Space (1971)". "You Shouldn't Do That" from "In Search Of Space (1971)" is included on both remastered CD reissues though. There are also 3 new tracks on "Space Ritual" in "Born To Go", "Upside Down" and "Orgone Accumulator".

The performances on "Space Ritual" are strong all around and some tracks come off as even more powerful than the original studio versions. Overall a bit more raw, noisy and heavy but also charmingly organic and just very much live. The recitation of sci-fi themed poetry by Robert Calvert which occurs a couple of times during the album is a nice break from the generally repetitive and heavy psychadelic rock style. The wild energy level on the album is greatly charming and its obvious that the members of Hawkwind had lots of fun during these shows (they were probably stoned out of their minds too if the rumours are true).

The sound quality on the album is raw but very powerful. Its very much a raw live sound but it never sounds like a bootleg. All in all "Space Ritual" is an excellent live album by Hawkwind. Its a chance to hear Hawkwinds probably most classic lineup in their right environment. Im sure the Hawkwind live shows from those years were very special visual experiences but this album stands as the testimony to the fact that the audio part of their shows was greatly enjoyable too. A fully deserved 4 star (80%) rating.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Judging from my reviews of Hawkwind's 1970-1974 studio albums you would hardly believe I'm a fan. But of course I am. It's just that being a fan doesn't mean you have to succumb to blind devotion.

When it comes to selecting essential Hawkwind albums I would nominate Warrior On The Edge Of Time for their more symphonic/melodic style and this live Space Ritual for their harder rock 'n' rolling incarnation. It is a thunderous document where Hawkwind's powerful space-drone is only interrupted for equally fuzzed poetry. I could live without it, but not without the excellent performances of Hawkwind's early classics here. Next to an almost entire and very accomplished rendition of their defining Doremi Fasol Latido album, they also storm through a number of non-album tracks like Born to Go, Orgone Accumulator, 7 By 7 and Upside Down. Particularly Down Through the Night, Lord of Light and 7 by 7 come highly recommended from this space cadet.

Hawkwind has always been a band that works best in a live setting and that is the exact reason why one of their live albums deserves such a high rating from me. I think they have better live albums then this one but I don't think there is a better document from their classic line up then this one.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Best album from pioneering space rock legend. Long live recording from good place and excellent time. Classic (and possibly the best as well) line-up. Band shows its best: sci-fi electronic effects, psycho-dready tunes and heavy rocky grooves. Lemmy is still there, and if his voice is hardly recognizable, bass line is surprisingly strong!

Band plays long psychedelic rock opera (mostly based on material from Doremi Fasol Latido) with many spoken lyrics, distorted guitar sound, spacey sounds here and there and strong groove. I am not a big fan of space rock, but from what I know excellent combination of spacey and heavy is presented here. It's still not Lemmy's Motorhead, but heavy rock energy gives strong support to long jamming.

Possibly for many listeners this album sounds too long, but it's a genre one of main rules. But even unprepared listener with just interest to heavy prog/ jamming from early 70-s will find many interesting in this work. To be honest, I never found other Hawkwind albums more interesting of different from this legendary live recording, and still believe that if you want to have just one their album - this is the one.

Three and half rounded to 4.

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Band Submissions
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.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This was my first experience with Hawkwind. I like 2 or 3 of their studio albums but think they never did better than Space Ritual. My first reaction to the music herein was that it was just punk rock with spacey sound effects. I was expecting more. But after listening to it for a year or two, I had more respect for the music and heard things that I ignored the first time. I haven't heard any of the other live albums from Hawkwind, but I can't imagine they could be better than this. It wasn't much of a shock to discover that the songs here are superior to the studio versions. "Born To Go", "Upside Down" and "Orgone Accumulator" were new songs apparently. I have to give a shout out to their tall dancer Stacia; she had some of the nicest pair of boobies on Earth. She probably had a nice personality too.

The first thing that really blew me away here was the bass playing. If you only knew Lemmy from his Motorhead stuff, you would have no idea how good of a bass player he was. Just listen to "Lord Of Light" where he almost sounds like he's soloing half the time. I don't think Hawkwind ever recovered from his loss. Nik Turner, on the other hand, here sounds so low in the mix you barely notice him. The drums, guitars and vocals seem to drown out his sax and flute playing. The synthesizers and electronics of Dik Mik and Dell Dettmar aren't overdone and compliment the music nicely. Robert Calvert here reads the poetry of Michael Moorcock and it's usually well done, especially on the apocalyptic "Sonic Attack". Oh, there is some singing, drumming and guitar playing too.

Other highlights include "7 By 7" and "Space Is Deep", where I just love the combination of guitar, bass and vocals at the end. Spacey goodness. The songs "Brainstorm", "Time We Left This World Today" and "Orgone" were supposeedly edited from longer versions. It's odd that the band's only hit song "Silver Machine" wasn't included. As far as the sound quality goes for this live album...I've heard better and I've heard worse. I have the older CD release which doesn't have any of the bonus songs on later versions. A very good live set from this band. 3.5 but I'll round it off to 4 stars.

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars If there is one progressive titan that really encompasses the concept of being judgable by its live concerts, there can only be one Hawkwind. While their studio albums can be often entertaining, I daresay even classic (the magnificent "Warrior on the Edge of Time", par exemple), even they take on a different attitude by those audiophiles who have seen them even only once in concert. I was fortunate to witness Lemmy's very last show, having been involved in drug problems with the narcs that night in Montreal. But what a show that was! A sonic assault, loud, hypnotic, visceral and visually absolutely cosmic (they were the very first laser show artist/pioneer (Liquid Len was the maestro of light and fire!) . I remember being unable to listen to anything at all for 3 days after the event, still dizzy from the galactic curve. The drums unrelenting pounding (2 drummers , everyone!), the synths swirling , the sax wailing crazily and leaden riffs courtesy of Hawkführer Dave Brock, like a spacier Tommy Iommi, the bass hard and fast (Rickenbakers all the way through their career , regardless who the bassboy was at the time, the instrument remained the same) .Certainly one of the most memorable prog shows this veteran of 40 years has seen, it formulated my ears to listen to this loud and let myself close my eyes and tele-transport back to that vivid concert back in 1974 or so?I get sucked back to the magical space rock monolith I venerated way back when. This monumental recording is still considered by many, even within the less prog-more rock community to be up there with (EEK!) Frampton Comes Alive, Traffic's On the Road or Allman Brothers at the Fillmore East. The Hawkwind is an experience in galacto-schmaltz of the universal order, psychedelic poetry and simply effective and often devastating mind music.

This is a masterful example of freezing a moment in time, a group of weird musicians in a large room and playing for a crowd (you had to be a weird fan to like this non-mainstream stuff back in the early 70s but such were the times, deep exploration not just in space but in society's non-conformist attitude then, looking at the future gaga (we got the Internet, the cell phone , the pods and the pads as well as a progressive genre still alive today?) . So what the scoop, you ask? It's the combination of all the following elements that make this such a cherished prize, beyond being iconic for yours truly in reviving the past . Lemmy's rumbling bass is the absolute highlight here, a defining player who certainly pushed the frontiers of the 4 string wonder, more nimble than Waters and meaner than Squire , yet still unjustly under appreciated in my opinion. The other superb artist is the irascible and outright genial Robert Calvert, a so-so singer but masterful lyricist and poet , as well as the oddball WW1 Sopwith Camel flying helmet on his troubled scalp , oily goggles agog and frumpy quasi-military garments. He has become one of my heroes, a lost soul like so many others (Syd Barrett, Peter Green, Kurt Cobain , Ian Curtis and Brian Wilson to name just a few) but creatively adamant at being rebellious and unforgiving. Also of note is that other orbiting wacko on sax and flute, Mr Nik Turner! He is no slouch in the oddity department! Fill that in with 2 synth players (Dik Mik and Del Dettmar) and have it all conducted by Captain Brock's wah-wah assault , well its at the very least a whole lot of pleasurable escapism! Hawkwind is the ultimate sci-fi progenerator and over 40 years of existence certainly makes the case for immortality.

There are some doozies here such as the menacing Born to Go, the apocalyptic Down Through the Night, the reptilian Lord of Light, the bizarre Orgone Accumulator, the loopy and swervy Upside Down. There are also some beastly howitzers like Brainstorm Time We Left and Masters of the Universe but truth is, this is a one piece of interstellar overdrive that will take you faraway into the deepest recesses of space. A live monument of the highest (oops!) order, you do not need drugs but cranking up the volume will benefit the celestial trip.

If you notice their discography, their live albums are mostly highly rated. I rest my case!

5 Astral navigations

Review by Warthur
5 stars Space Ritual is the album where all the crazy ingredients that make Hawkwind such a distinctive band came together - lyrics from Michael Moorcock, read by Robert Calvert, nude dancers on the cover and Lemmy chugging away at a bass that sounds like a thousand steam trains driving across the stage. The material on this album - mostly from Doremi Fasol Latido, but with one pick from In Search of Space (a super-heavy version of Master of the Universe) and scads of new songs besides - is given a raw, dirty, heavy as hell treatment by the band, in a two-disc orgy of brutal noise which more than explains why of all the prog giants of the 1970s, Hawkwind was the one that the punk rockers embraced instead of attacking.

That isn't to say that what we have here isn't the usual Hawkwind tripped-out space rock, but it's given such a thunderous, bombastic rendition on this album that it's hard not to see most of these songs as the definitive versions of the material in question. Here, spaciness is achieved not through gentle, tranquil synth lines, but through sheer noise and hypnotic rhythms, leaving Hawkwind sounding much like a particularly brutal Krautrock band in this show. Go back to one of the previous two albums after listening to Space Ritual and it's hard to hear the songs as not being pallid, sickly versions of the renditions on here. One of Hawkwind's greatest accomplishment - perhaps their greatest accomplishment full stop.

Review by Modrigue
4 stars The ultimate HAWKWIND live album!

4.5 stars

First live release of the space Hawks, "Space Ritual" was recorded from several London and Liverpool concerts during December 1972. These performances mark the first participation of Robert Calvert, who will become the band's lead singer in 1976. The set-list consists in tracks from their recent studio opuses "In Search of Space" and, in particular, "Doremi Fasol Latido", as well as some previously unreleased songs, interlaced with short ambient interludes. These small pieces sometimes feature Robert Calvert reciting poems written by author Michael Moorcock.

The music is even more stoner, aggressive and sci-fi than on the aforementioned studio albums. A heavy psychedelic soundtrack for galactic space warriors! This impression is reinforced by the high volume of Lemmy's bass and the speedy guitar riffing.

The previously unreleased tracks are all great. "Born To Go" is pure devastating stoner psychedelia, while "Upside Down" sounds like a cool heavy GONG-ish song. The nice "Seven By Seven" is a softer melancholic piece. However, the powerful and trippy "Orgone Accumulator" is the most interesting novelty here. Sung by Robert Calvert, this furious space-speed-metal tune with unreal progressions will make you fly into a cosmic wormhole. Ahead of its time, the highlight of the record!

Concerning the known songs, they are more enraged, boosted up and features additional sci-fi effects compared to their studio version. "Lord Of Light" has been enhanced with futuristic electronic sonorities, while "Space Is Deep" has been extended and "Brainstorm", shortened. The repetitive "Time We Left This World Today" contains a little more variations than the original version.

Not much to say about the short ambient interludes. The somber introduction "Earth Calling" and the experimental "Electronic No 1" are instrumental, whereas "The Awakening", "Black Corridor", "10 Seconds To Forever", "Sonic Attack" and "Welcome To The Future" are spoken poems with synthesizer sound effects. Without the stage visuals, these small pieces scattered over the two discs tend to break the listening experience.

This album is undoubtedly the most ferocious from the band's "golden"-era, in the first half of the seventies. The raw sound and speed were quite ferocious at this time. You can maybe perceive glimpses of pre-MOTRHEAD here. The set-list is rather good and audacious, with a few peaceful songs allowing the listener to breathe. The only reasons why I remove a half-star are the interruptive spoken passages and "Time We Left This World Today", that I don't really enjoy.

"Space Ritual" is simply one of the best space rock concerts of the 70's, with GROBSCHNITT's "Solar Music Live"! If you have to choose only one live HAWKWIND album, better go with this one.

Latest members reviews

5 stars I'd always wanted to hear this, because it seems to be one of the seminal albums of prog, although (beforehand, at least) I always thought of Hawkwind as a 'metal' band. If you accept that my only exposure to them was 'Silver machine', then I'd say that that particular song represents the tip ... (read more)

Report this review (#883223) | Posted by sussexbowler | Friday, December 28, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars You need this album. Reviewer Sean Trane said "This live album sounds like mayhem" and he's exactly right: this is what Hawkwind live is all about - CHAOS! Many bands have a resident nutter in their line-up - we've all heard the anecdotes - but the Hawkwind who recorded Space Ritual had THREE ... (read more)

Report this review (#278068) | Posted by Starfighter | Thursday, April 15, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars WTF!!!..Just started to revisit my Hawkwind "CD" collection beginning with Space Ritual. It was my 1st HW experience and I am sure, no actually positive, that at the time it was the best thing that had ever happened to me, sonically speaking that is. Something happened since, and I guess th ... (read more)

Report this review (#234250) | Posted by JJT9/8 | Sunday, August 23, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Nothing more than an incredible experience. Probably one of the most explosive and powerful live albums ever made ! I just can't be bored of it. Just listen to these great versions of Down Through The Night, Lord Of Light, Born To Go, Master Of The Universe, Brainstorm, Orgone Accumulator...This ... (read more)

Report this review (#164002) | Posted by Zardoz | Saturday, March 15, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I think is logic the controversie running trough the reviews about how many stars this disc should be given. In fact what is strange is having to review this disc in prog related page. I dont think you can give any solid argument for labeling this disc as prog. The only one is that they play spac ... (read more)

Report this review (#163929) | Posted by shockedjazz | Friday, March 14, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is it the ultimat space trip, and one of Hawkwinds very best albums if not the best, it rocks harder then a space ship in a metroid storm, this one got everything from small spoken robert calvert poetry numbers that glue toghter the whole thing perfectly, too long space jams with lots of ni ... (read more)

Report this review (#140564) | Posted by Zargus | Tuesday, September 25, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I like this album a lot. I mean, i really do. First time i listened to it i was totally blown away by songs like "born to go", "down through the night" and "master of the universe". The spaciness and heaviness of the album was like nothing i had ever heard before, really. The experience was a l ... (read more)

Report this review (#126558) | Posted by Evans | Friday, June 22, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars You can't miss with this one. The might space ship Hawkwind at their best. This is their first of many live albums. And this is one of the best live albums in rock history. All their great trakcs, in expressive live verisons. And the poetry - masterpiece! There is no reason to review this album t ... (read more)

Report this review (#109000) | Posted by Deepslumber | Friday, January 26, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I had first heard about Hawkwind a little over 7 years ago, and I was in a ''used'' record store one day. While browsing around, I found ''Space Ritual'' and it only set me back by $1.00(it would turn out to be the best dollar I ever spent, once I played the album!) The songs are great, along ... (read more)

Report this review (#108299) | Posted by jasonpw. | Sunday, January 21, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars God I love this album! I saw this tour. What an experience. I bought the album the day it was released and I still listen to it at least once a year. (That may not seem like a lot but we're talking 33 years folks.) If you can snag a copy of the vinyl it's worth having for the gigantic six squar ... (read more)

Report this review (#96008) | Posted by Goodgulf | Friday, October 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The flagship album from the Hawkwind early period, Space Ritual. Infact a lot about Hawkwind can be summed up by this album. Prog in the loosest sense, each musician appears to have a basic grasp of their instrument, Simon King knows about 2 drum rythms, but both are pounding and give the song ... (read more)

Report this review (#79493) | Posted by hawkbrock | Saturday, May 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Well. If you've heard Hawkwind in the '70s then this is the big one. To myeverlasting shame I only managed to see them live 2 years after this, but have had a wonderful 20 odd years followiing the band in their various guises. So the Space Ritual tour I can only imagine from their later performa ... (read more)

Report this review (#72580) | Posted by | Wednesday, March 22, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I love this album, I cannot truly express why, since quite a few of the songs sound the same, and some of the renditions are not quite as tight as the studio counterparts. But, with the mix of the poetic interludes by Michael Moorcock and the rockin' tracks by the band, I cannot get over it. T ... (read more)

Report this review (#68721) | Posted by Goblin11 | Tuesday, February 7, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars HAWKWIND is an indeed wonderful band. All albums that they announced are only high- quality excluding a few albums. It is a live album of this CD2 piece set if it is called an ultimate work in the masterpiece group. Energy is single-mindedly a work in the state of MAX that goes forward as for a ... (read more)

Report this review (#50680) | Posted by braindamage | Saturday, October 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Can't see the fuss about this one. i recall being horribly dissapointed when it first came out. No dynamics just cacophony. All the inventiveness had gone. Here we had a heavy metal band with spacey lyrics and lots of (the same) synth wooshes all over it. This marks the stepping of Hawkwind ou ... (read more)

Report this review (#39972) | Posted by | Friday, July 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars An incredible trip into the cosmic visions of those mad freaks! The awesome compositions taken from disks like Do Re Mi... or In Search of Space are here revisited in a heavier and even more spacey way, with some short sci-fi reading between cosmic effects and noisy shots. The hypnotic vortex ... (read more)

Report this review (#25267) | Posted by bokal | Thursday, January 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars EARTH CALLING... EARTH CALLING... This album is definetely one of my ultimate favorite of any band. As soon as I heard the start of Earth Calling for the first time I knew I was in for an interesting and amazing trip. This knowledge was in no way diminished when the second track, Born To Go, ... (read more)

Report this review (#25266) | Posted by | Wednesday, November 17, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Aren't you a Hawkfan? 'Space Ritual' is NOT progressive - it's hypnotic space rock, but this is real space! Songs are not merely 'songs', they are endless riffs, white noise, cold winds, electronic voices, tribal drumming - and not a single note from that bad computers, no drum machine, no seq ... (read more)

Report this review (#25264) | Posted by | Monday, May 31, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Strap yourself into the ejection seat fo this one from these true rock prophets of space. Chirping saxes, overdriven guitars and mindblowing lyrical warnings. From the onset the plea, "This is earth calling, this is earth calling.....this is earth calling.............." gives u ... (read more)

Report this review (#25261) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Tuesday, April 6, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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