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ASTOUNDING SOUNDS, AMAZING MUSIC

Hawkwind

Psychedelic/Space Rock


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Hawkwind Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music album cover
3.44 | 168 ratings | 19 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Reefer Madness (6:03)
2. Steppenwolf (9:46)
3. City Of Lagoons (5:08)
4. The Aubergine That Ate Rangoon (3:33)
5. Kerb Crawler (3:45)
6. Katmandu Flyer (5:29)
7. Chronoglide Skyway (4:40)

Total Time: 38:24

Bonus tracks on 2009 remaster:
8. Honky Dorky (Single b-side) (3:17)
9. Kerb Crawler (Single mix) (3:44)
10. Back On The Streets (3:06) *
11. The Dream Of Isis (2:57) *

* Alternate mixes, previously unreleased

Line-up / Musicians

- Robert Calvert / vocals
- Dave Brock / guitar, keyboards, vocals
- Simon House / keyboards, violin, sitar (6)
- Nik Turner / sax, flute, vocals (6)
- Paul Rudolph / bass, electric guitar
- Alan Powell / drums
- Simon King / drums

With:
- David Gilmour / mixing (5 or 9, not clear which)

Releases information

Artwork: Anthony "Ashby" Hyde

LP Charisma ‎- CDS 4004 (1976, UK)

CD Virgin ‎- CDSCD 4004 (1989, UK)
CD Atomhenge ‎- ATOMCD 1005 (2009, UK) 24-bit remaster by Ben Wiseman with 4 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

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HAWKWIND Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music ratings distribution


3.44
(168 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
13%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
42%
Good, but non-essential (30%)
30%
Collectors/fans only (11%)
11%
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)
4%

HAWKWIND Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
2 stars I like the description of pedestrian especially for a space rock music, but really it sorts of speaks for itself in this album. As far as I am concerned , this is the end of the golden era, and the sacking of Lemmy (for drugs at the Canadian border) does coincide with the decline of the quality of Hawkwind music. It coincides but just that as I always thought that his role has been overdone in the band because , before he was in , the previous rythm section had defined all the rules applicable in Hawkwind (see Search Of Space)
Review by Blacksword
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Everyone knows that the Hawks can be hit and miss. Buying a Hawkwind album without having heard it first can be a risky business! ASAM is the first of three albums fronted by singer/poet Robert Calvert. For many this is where Hawkwind lost the plot and their true spirit. I disagree, belieiving that Lemmy was far better placed in the excellent Motorhead, and that being sacked from HW was the best thing that happened to him. He probably agrees. ASAM sees Hawkwind take their playing and songwriting seriously for a whole album, and not just part of it. Rober Calvert, by all accounts, ran a boot camp in the studio, banning cannabis from all recording sessions, much to the fury of the other band members. But, the result was that ASAM and the three albums that followed it were relativly well produecd, and well performed. There are inevitable low points but nothing as bad as the worst off 'Warrior on the edge of time' (Dying seas - for example!)

The opening track on ASAM is 'Reefer madness' boasting a great rif, great energy and a psychedelic jazzy interlude in which Calverts tells us of how one of his fingers fell from his hand, raided his piggy bank and stole his stash!! Its sending up the anti pot propoganda of the 1940's and 1950's while at the same time doesn't exactly sing the praises of the weed. Reflective perhaps of Calverts stance on drugs being inhibitive to creativity, and not an aid to it as Hawkwind had long testified. 'Steppenwolf' follows, and this in a real Hawkwind classic. Long and conceptual, moody, dark, paranoid with great organ work and a memorable guitar riff. ASAM is well produced and has a great, positive and quite polished feel. It may not sound like the Hawkwind fans had grown to love, but should be appraised for what it is; a creative and successful departure from the years of badly produced confusing noise (mostly) The Calvert era allowed Hawkwind to take a breather before the Dave Brock fronted band returned refreshed at the beginning of the 80's. In which time they reached out to the punks and the new- wavers without betraying their roots, IMHO. If you can get hold of this album, you'll probably have to pay a lot of money for it, as its deleted. On auction sites, albums from this era are going for over $100!!

Review by Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars For me this a great album forming with previous "Mountain Grill" and "Warrior" and the following "Quark etc." the basic tetralogy of Hawkwind's 70s works. But this work is sometimes forgotten or underrated when compared with the three other cited before.

Lemmy is not more responsible for the bass, but Brock is still there, as always, with other former members and now the band counts with Robert Calvert, appearing yet timidly but showing that he will be the mind behind Hawkwind's near-future.

Production is fair as well as the musicianship: two points ever criticized when talking about Hawkwind. They found some interesting solutions for making voices heard amidst the sound explosion that's the band signature.

Songs are average or better with few exceptions.

'Reefer madness' is a good opener, with synths providing a plethora of strange effects and the guitar in the frontline just like a good rock must be, the bassline is correct - and attention to the lyrics with all controversy around it.

'Steppenwolf' is one of the greatest Hawkwind songs, with drums, keyboards and vocals starting in a Santana mood, changing for a more psychedelic tune as the song advances; anyway a Latin taste is ever-present.

'City of lagoons' is a bluesy one, but the background is spatial - a space-blue; but this instrumental piece adds few compared with the first tracks.

'The aubergine that ate Rangoon' also instrumental, has a great title and little more - sometimes is dull.

The last 3 songs make the album return to the rails - I mean, Hawkwind's rails, starting with 'Kerb crawler' a shaking rock song, in the middle of the road between softness and madness; 'Katmandu flyer' is funny and hearable and the disc ends in great shape with 'Chronoglide Skyway' one of my preferred Hawkwind instrumental songs: good keyboards, pleasant sax effects, nice guitar riffs all with a good support by the bass& drums duo.

Yes, the CD release includes 3 bonus tracks but only the relatively short 'Honky Dorky' is worthy with the characteristic band psychedelic sound.

This is really a good album but I don't think that it could be rated as non-essential; it's more than it, the absence of Lemmy, the debut of Calvert transform "A.S.A.M" into a landmark and valuable addition to any prog collection. Total: 4.

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The opening track has the same decadent sound than the early "Roxy Music".

"Reefer Madness" is indeed a demoniac song, full of frenzy, and ultimate madness. I like it very much (but be aware, it is not easily accessible). Superb beat and fantastic sax. It is a very rich song, at times close to some marvelous cacophony and very catchy at the same time. A highlight.

The great & hypnotic riff of "Steppenwolf" is another good moment of the album. Not as disturbing as the opener, but quite different of a traditional "Hawkwind" song. Which is more the type of "City Of Lagoons" with its spacey and repetitive mood. A very pleasant album so far.

The first weak moment is "Aubergine.". Repetitiveness is OK, for a while. But his one is a bit too much and not attractive at all. The contrary of some sort of pre-punkish rock song : The NY Dolls could have written this one. And since I like The Dolls quite a lot.Yes, I like "Kerb Crawler".

"Katmandu Flyer" sounds as an old psychedelic song which could have been released some eight years before. Not really interesting, I must say. But even if we all know that this album isn't a masterpiece, it deserves your attention thanks to a good bunch of very decent songs. Above average, definitely. Like the pleasantly tripping "Chronicle." which ends on an excellent guitar part.

It is also true to admit that the bonus tracks are not great. A poor "Dream Of Isis". Truly useless and which is best avoided. Good rock music with "Back On The Street", and I am not really enthusiast about "Hunky Dory". Oooups, sorry "Honky Dorky".

All in all, this album is very pleasant and fully deserves three stars (even a bit more to be honest). Seven out of ten.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music" is the 6th full-length studio album by UK psychadelic/space rock act Hawkwind. The album was originally released through Charisma Records on vinyl in August 1976 but Griffin Records re-released "Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music" on CD in 1995. The original LP contained 7 tracks while the CD re-release version features 3 additional bonus tracks. After bassist Lemmy Kilmister departed (was kicked out) to form the now legendary Motörhead, the band recruited new bassist Paul Rudolph to replace him. Except for that change and the return of Robert Calvert on vocals, the lineup is the same who recorded what is arguably one of Hawkwind´s strongest and most classic albums in "Warrior on the Edge of Time (1975)".

The music on "Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music" isn´t much of a surprise if you are familiar with Hawkwind´s first five albums. Repetitive driving beats, Spacy synth and keyboard sounds/effects, psychadelic vocals, stoned sci-fi lyrics, heavy bass and guitars, and Nik Turner´s occasional sax and flute playing.

The album features some brilliant tracks like "Reefer Madness", "Steppenwolf", and "Katmandu Flyer" but all tracks add up to one great quality album. The bonus tracks are pretty great too but don´t add anything spectacular to the album. The rock´n´roll oriented track "Back on the Street" is probably the track that stands out the most among the bonus tracks. Not that it´s better than the other two, it´s just different.

The musicianship are on a high level and the sometimes sloppy playing from previous albums are now completely eliminated. And don´t get me wrong I actually loved the sloppy playing, which provided the older releases with a raw and authentic sound. This is organic and well sounding too though. The same can be said about the sound production which is warm and pleasant but still powerful and raw when it needs to be.

While the "classic" period for Hawkwind arguably ended with "Warrior on the Edge of Time (1975)" and the material on this album are slightly less groundbreaking and the quality of the material has dropped just slightly too, "Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music" is still an excellent album by Hawkwind deserving a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
1 stars After the stellar Warrior, Hawkwind had to let go of Lemmy. This turned out to be a good thing for Lemmy but quite a dramatic one for Hawkwind. At least on this album. Even considering their irregular output from the 80's and 90's this must be their most uninspired and tame album ever. Some seem to like it but I don't have a clue why.

Astounding Sounds and Amazing music is only astounding and amazing in its title. The actual music is completely stripped of everything that made Hawkwind interesting: there's no life here, no grooving improvisational sections, nothing of the spaced out richly layered soundscapes they are so good at, it is unexciting and weary. This is the sound of a band at the end of their wits.

Reefer Madness starts off recycling the Hawkwind trademark guitar riff they had done much better like 10 times before. Even so, the first few seconds here are the highpoint of the track. A few bars in and Calvert starts delivering one of his most lifeless vocal lines ever, soon resorting to recited poetry. He must have realised it was not going anywhere at all.

Steppenwolf opens as if it could be just a bit better but after 2 and a half minutes into this 10 minutes of endlessly strumming the same tepid riff, it is clear that it will never take off. 'Ich weiss nicht was ich sagen soll', Calvert recites 7 minutes in. Well he had better shut up then.

The Aubergine is one of the moog on jazz rock instrumentals here. Very uninteresting again but at least this doesn't have any of those annoying Calvert rants. I don't know what they had in mind when recording Kerb Crawler, but it could have been a try to create typical mid 70's cheesy fm rock. And so does Kadu Flyer.

At last, after half an hour of drab, the second instrumental Chronoglide Skyway is finally something that is vaguely reminding us we're listening to a Hawkwind album. It has a good bass line that sounds like a Tangerine Dream sequence from 1975. Washes of saxophone, mellotron and a fitting guitar solo round it off. Indeed, as site rules say, even on the worst of albums, there's something positive to be found. This track saves the album from being 0 stars.

From the extra tracks, Dream of Isis is another instrumental that is not entirely forgettable. With Back On The Street however, we're back on our feet. This is the most trite stomp rock you ever heard.

It's really no surprise none of these tracks appear on any live albums. They are the sound of a band in deep crisis trying to find a new sound after years of reaching the summit of space rock. They would succeed better on the ensuing albums. Unless you're the most devoted die-hard fan of the Hawkwind '77 - '79 period, stay far away from this.

Review by seventhsojourn
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RPI
3 stars Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music (1976) was the first Hawkwind album with Robert Calvert at the helm as permanent vocalist, and his influence led to a change in direction for the band over their next few albums. In addition to the ubiquitous space-rock this album contains some proto-punk in the shape of KERB CRAWLER, plus a couple of unimaginative funk instrumentals in the middle of the album. The remainder of the material is fortunately much better, and the chugging riff of REEFER MADNESS provides a nifty backdrop for what seems like a pitched battle between guitar, sax and synths.

Calvert's lyrics centre on themes of urban life and science fiction, and there's even some kind of loose concept based around sci-fi comics that extends to the cover art. The edgy aggression of STEPPENWOLF heightens the feelings of isolation and alienation in the lyrics, while Simon House's atmospheric violin interlude contrasts well with Nik Turner's yelping sax licks. The album closes strongly with the Eastern-influenced KADU FLYER and the Simon House instrumental CHRONOGLIDE SKYWAY, which features a shifting dialogue between sax and guitar underpinned by an airy synthesizer drone. Overall this is a fair album but it falls a bit short of the band's two previous releases, therefore it's worth 3 stars in my opinion.

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars An awkward transitional album, Astonishing Sounds Amazing Music finds Hawkwind struggling to adapt to a couple of major lineup changes - firstly, the loss of Lemmy, and with him the heavy, sludgy basslines which had been integral to their sound for the last few years, and secondly the return to the fold of poet-vocalist Robert Calvert, who had taken a leave of absence following the storm of controversy surrounding his misjudged (but really rather fun) Urban Guerilla single.

First the positives: Calvert taking over lyrical and vocal duties really enhances some of the songs; the two really astonishing or amazing tunes on the album, Reefer Madness and Steppenwolf, are steeped in Calvert's unique poetic outlook on life and sense of humour. However, much of the rest of the album consists of various instrumentals which devotees of the earlier bass-driven monstrosities of Lemmy-era Hawkwind will take a while to warm to - if, indeed, they ever do. On balance, Astonishing Sounds Amazing Music starts strong, and the instrumental workouts are decent, but it isn't quite on the level that the previous incarnation of the band hit - or that the Charisma-era band would grow to.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
3 stars The followup to the 70s golden era of Hawkwind encompassed by 5 incomparable studio albums and one live masterpiece, signifies a new change in direction.

'Reefer Madness' features a similar chugging guitar riff and wild drumming but the vocals of Robert Calvert are harsher than the Brock's spacey octaves. The drug laced lyrics are actually more anti-substance abuse than glorifying the act; "Open your eyes, you'll get a surprise, evil is sweeping the nation, It's killing your sons and what merely stuns is Your daughters are out for sensation, When they turn on their morals are gone, They don't really know what they're doing, It's a teenage malaise, a dangerous craze, Leading their bodies to ruin." It was a punkier sound and more aggressive towards the subject matter; "Marijuana monster is stalking the streets, He knows what he's up to, he knows what he eats, He gobbles your body and spits out your mind, If you don't believe it then you must be blind".

The musicianship is as excellent as ever, especially on spacey excursions such as the wondrous mellotron saturated 'City of Lagoons'. This instrumental is Floydian with sparkling synths and galactic swirls. The album features some of Hawkwind's trippiest works including 'The Aubergine that Ate Rangoon' driven by Rudolph's bass heartbeat and percussive accents. The synths generate energetic psychedelic aggrandizements of mystical imagery. Simon House's electric violin and Turner's sax dictate the atmospherics.

It ends with the sounds of noisy traffic segueing into 'Kerb Crawler'. This one motorvates along with archetypical grungy guitar and driving beat; "Synchromesh gearbox, Overhead cams, Mohair motorised wolf, Lying round looking for lambs, Power-assisted steering, 8-track stereo, Leopard skin upholstery, FM radio." The rev head orientated lyrics are echoed by a loud lead break, shimmering organ, and a distorted guitar riff. The lyrics are always deliriously compelling and you won't find lyrics like this on many albums; "Adagio insect in the skyscraper shade, He's a night city mantis, In the neon parade."

'Steppenwolf' is a 9 minute rocker with a repeated riff reminiscent of Deep Purple or Steppenwolf, ironically enough. The song is a first person account of a half-man/ half-wolf creature on the prowl; "Like a wolf my wilful loafing, My languishing alone in my lair, Where you will never hear me laughing, I'm half in love with dark and despair, The Moon's a howling, mouth of mercury, Quicksilver quivering in the sky, It echoes like a cave of chromium, That'll vacuum up my soul when I die." House's violins are beautiful on the instrumental break, rising and descending on the wave of sound.

'Katmandu Flyer' has a squalling effect of a storm coming and some buzzsaw synths keeping a melody. The vocals are again very different to previous Hawkwind but with uplifting lyrics about a mystical flight; "Crawl the thermal up a mountain, Like the Pteradacyl's wings, Waves of lift and wing vibrations, Help me to invoke the sun, True me up in soaring fun, Rising like the phoenix, In full flight from the fire." The song lurches full tilt into an extended instrumental with soaring sax and violin screaming.

'Chronoglide Skyway' concludes the original album with a gong splash and some wind howling effects. The glacial soundscapes with synthesizer swathes and swirling sax tones create an ethereal atmosphere. The instrumentals of Hawkwind are always a sheer delight. The melody of this sounds partly like 'Autobahn' in some passages. The lead guitar is a sensational addition and elevates the music.

The extra tracks are good to listen to especially the rocking 'Back on the Streets' that became a single. The repetitive chorus is a bit draining but some cool verses are a highlight; "I took a ride in an elevator, I was heading for the 99th floor, In less than just a split-second later, I was standing right outside of her door, She looked kinda mean on her video screen, And she said "Come in and please take a seat", that's when I was back on the Streets." 'The Dream of Isis' instrumental features a palpitating bassline and some spacey sounds, more like "Warrior on the Edge of Time" in style.

This 1976 album captures the creative spirit of Hawkwind with some magical moments, though it is not as consistently excellent as previous albums. It was a new direction for the band, not as spacey, more proto-punk, no Moorcock poetry and Lemmy was history. Overall, "Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music" certainly delivers some engaging heavy rock and the packaging is very appealing, mimicking the "Astounding Stories" analogue magazines logo.

Review by 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

Review by GruvanDahlman
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog Team
3 stars Hawkwind. The great, the bold, the magnificent. You have to give them one thing and that's their ability and will to transform, to change, to expand their sound. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. The previous albums from 1970-1975 are all quite hard to crack, I think. I don't get them and maybe I never will. I've stated on quite a few occasions that the 80's Hawkwind is my Hawkwind. The 70's are kind of a lost cause, a battle I cannot win. And then ASAM hits me from and leaves me baffled. Again. Unlike previous efforts and those to come ASAM is somewhat of an offshoot, an album that differs from everything else in their canon. There's certainly Hawkwind ingredients but the seasoning is so different.

ASAM is more of a jazzy, brass-laden, british jazz-rockish and down to earth affair than many other albums from the 70's, especially the early part of the decade. The opener, Reefer madness, is wonderful with. Quirky lyrics and jazzy interludes. The rest of the tracks ranges from spacey stuff to hard rock. Apart from Back on the streets and Hunky dorky (the not so wonderful tracks) it's areally joyous affair throughout. But the main course have to be Steppenwolf. Now, there's a track if there ever was written one. Magnificent! Lengthy, great organ, lovely brass and intriguing lyrics. Iam loss for words when it comes to Steppenwolf. Listen and be amazed.

When listening to ASAM I hear things coming. The sound of New wave on the following albums from the 70's but also hints of what Calvert MIGHT have been listening to and been inspired by. I hear IF, Raw Material, Mogul Thrash and slicker sounds of the jazzy progg bands from this era. Now, the bands I've mentioned all hail from the first part of the decade but I hear the influences. Oh, there's also Roxy Music in there and it's not a bad thing. Sometimes boldness goes a long way and on ASAM it really does.

But then the question arises, is this Hawkwind? Well, that depends on your point of view and what Hawk-sound you prefer. I prefer the 80's but really like ASAM from 1976. Alot, at that. Not only because the contents are so amazing but also, which is quite endearing, is the fact that they never really sounded like this again. There are, as I wrote, clear elements of Hawkwind (like City of lagoons) and then there's not. But like Never say die (Sabbath's 1978 offering) the album is a lovely one off, an oddity but a great one.

Review by Progfan97402
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A tad underrated, I guess that's because Lemmy is gone, but I really think this album is killer! I really don't see what's wrong with this album. Not metallic enough? Robert Calvert rejoined the group, which I thought was a great asset to the band, so long as he didn't get all mental on them. First you start off with "Reefer Madness", an obvious reference to the black and white movie. It's a great opening piece, and I love those synth solos. Then you have "Steppenwolf", which just simply blows me away! This song first appeared, in a much more synth-dominated form on Adrian Wagner's The Distances Between Us (1974) (Calvert wrote the song, Wagner had also appeared on Calvert's solo album Captain Lockheed & the Starfighters). Hawkwind's version is much longer, and the whole song is absolutely killer! "City of Lagoons" is an instrumental piece, with spacy synths and what sounds like a phased Mellotron (since Simon House did use Mellotron on their previous two albums, Warrior on the Edge of Time and Hall of the Mountain Grill). "The Aubergine that Ate Rangoon" is an instrumental synth-dominated number. The only song I thought was mediocre was "Kerb Crawler", it sounded more like a generic rock and roller with female backup vocals. It sounded like Hawkwind going commercial here. But they redeem themselves big time with "Kadu Flyer". It stars off rocking, but towards the end it gets all Eastern with the use of sitar. The last is a moody instrumental "Chronoglide Skyway", which sounds to my ears dominated by phased Mellotron (amongst the phasing, it really sounds like I can detect it's a Mellotron).

Really, this is another wonderful album from Hawkwind, and even "Kerb Crawler" doesn't weaken my opinion of this album. To me, it's just another must-have album from Hawkwind!

Review by Modrigue
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars First studio album featuring Robert Calvert as the lead singer, "Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music" marks the beginning of HAWKWIND's "punk" era, or Calvert-years, until 1979. Lemmy Kilmister has now left the band, the line-up has a bit changed and so do the music. Less stoner and spacey than usual, Brock and co. tries different styles here, like funk and pop. The result is quite heterogeneous and the quality, uneven. Robert Calvert wrote most lyrics and is present on every songs, except "Kadu Flyer" featuring Nik Turner on vocals.

The strange title and cover is in fact a reference to american science-fiction magazines from the 40's and the 50's: "Astounding Science Fiction" and "Amazing Stories", which may have influenced the band members during their youth.

The musical change can be heard from the first seconds. "Reefer Madness" is a catchy space pop opener, driven by guitar and piano. The best, but also the only truly remarkable song of this opus. The longest track of the record, "Steppenwolf", is rather average and flat. It however contains a nice middle-eastern pause in its middle part. "City Of Lagoons" is a kind of slow space keyboards funk. Not very typical of HAWKWIND, but pleasant.

To continue in the field of strange, the short "The Aubergine That Ate Rangoon" is a bizarre jazz piece driven by synthesizer and bass. One of the least interesting passage of the disc, too repetitive.The least spacey track, "Kerb Crawler", is some sort of energic hard rock'n'roll with a touch of saxophone. Nice but a bit out of place. Then comes "Kadu Flyer", an odd melting pot of keyboards, synthesizers, egyptian flute and even a sitar. With its unusual melody, this song tends to become a little boring. The cool ender "Chronoglide Skyway" consists mainly in a nice long trippy guitar solo.

Very different from their previous records, "Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music" is a strange and barely understandable mixture of various styles. The band wants to evolve and therefore is trying new directions. However, I'm not sure we can talk about a transitional album, as the next opuses will abandon the jazz/funk experiments and be more focused and spacey.

Not very astounding nor amazing, this disc is one of the most heterogeneous and bizarre HAWKWIND albums, as well as one of their weakest from the late 70's. Do not expect a cosmic trip to the stars aboard a galactic war spaceship here. But, although uneven and not as great as its predecessors, the overall result is nonetheless enjoyable.

Review by TCat
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars With a comic book-like cover and title, it makes you wonder at first glance, what Hawkwind' intention for their 6th album could be. Well, it actually fits with the format of the album, which was intended to be like individual sci-fi stories. The inspiration for this concept was taken from the Sci-fi magazine 'Astounding and Amazing Stories'. The inside of the gatefold features ads for make-believe products named after the members of the band. This was quite a playful and ingenious idea at the time, though at first glance, seems a little tacky. Once you realize what their intentions were, to make each song a short sci-fi story, it makes a lot more sense.

This was the first album since 1971 to not feature Lemmy, better known as the infamous member of Motorhead. The replacement was Paul Rudolph who was a cleaner, better trained bass player than Lemmy. It also features Robert Calvert as the main lead vocalist for the first time. Robert wanted more songs that were character based, so, like Peter Gabriel with Genesis, he could act out the characters in the songs in concerts, making spontaneous theater. Thus the goal was to make the songs more visual. All band members contributed to writing or co-writing at least one track.

The first track 'Reefer Madness' is inspired by the old cult favorite anti marijuana movie. Immediately you can hear the difference in the bass, and you will notice the cleaner sound. However, it doesn't ruin the fun of the space rock/sci-fi feeling of the album. As the song approaches the middle instrumental section, things get more chaotic, and in this case, more enjoyable. Even the high synth sounds aren't overly obnoxious, but fit right in to the psychedelic feel. As the vocal hijinx are added in later, the humor in the song becomes readily apparent. It matches the feeling of the old movie quite well.

'Steppenwolf' was written while Calvert was reading the book with the same title. It is a song about city life and the myths tied to living in the city. The song has a great guitar hook, and a good driving beat, with plenty of organ, and sax added into the mix later. The track runs over 9 minutes and there is a driving feel during the verses. When the instrumental break starts, it quiets down and a beautiful melody led by violin starts. Spoken vocals come in later, the narrator being a man-wolf. This gives the song that 'pulpy' feeling of the type of story in the magazine that is featured as the concept.

'City of Lagoons' is an instrumental written by drummer Alan Powell. It is a mid-tempo song, mostly driven by synthesizers. It's an okay track that really doesn't leave much of an impression. This is followed by 'The Aubergine That Ate Ragoon', another instrumental, this time written by bass player Rudolph. This one is a lot more upbeat, funky and interesting utilizing sax player Nik Turner.

'Kerb Crawler' was the single from the album. It has that single sound, but is still unmistakable Hawkwind. The album version of the track is remixed by David Gilmour from 'Pink Floyd' of course. It has a very good guitar break and the song is interesting enough, but it didn't do well as a single unfortunately, since it is a strong enough song. It is unfortunately too short.

'Kadu Flyer' was written by both Nik Turner and Simon House. Turner also does the lead vocals on this one. House plays sitar on the track. Turner's vocals leave a lot to be desired, but the track is decent nevertheless. It is mostly structured all the way through until the last part, where things are more improvised.

'Chronoglide Skyway' is written by House and is all instrumental. It starts off with some interesting effects and is quite minimal at first. It eventually falls into a rhythm pattern, but is quite spacey as you would expect. The treated sax in this one is a nice touch.

The entire album is quite inconsistent, but it is still enjoyable, as each track is treated as a separate 'story'. The best parts of the album is the instrumental sections, but that is usually the case with Hawkwind. It's not their best, but it is a decent and fun album. The overall feel of the album is definitely Hawkwind, even with some line up changes and the sharing of songwriting on the album.

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5 stars This is (IMHO) Mr. BOB CALVERT at his absolutely sublime best and most creative. Most of my friends tend to veer to QUARK... and tend not to rate this album. This album IS a CLASSIC. REEFER MADNESS is a totally brilliant take on the crap put out by the US governments stand on Marijuana... par ... (read more)

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Report this review (#25475) | Posted by | Sunday, January 11, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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