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Hawkwind Space Bandits album cover
3.07 | 111 ratings | 11 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1990

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Images (9:34)
2. Black Elk Speaks (5:14)
3. Wings (5:22)
4. Out Of The Shadows (4:58)
5. Realms (3:23)
6. Ship Of Dreams (5:16)
7. T.V. Suicide (5:21)

Total time 39:08

Bonus tracks on 2010 remaster:
8. Out Of The Shadows (Live Studio version) *
9. Snake Dance (Live Studio version)
10. Images (Single version)

* Previously unreleased

Line-up / Musicians

- Bridgett Wishart / vocals
- Dave Brock / guitar, keyboards, vocals (4,6)
- Harvey Bainbridge / keyboards, vocals (7)
- Simon House / violin
- Alan Davey / bass, synthesizers, vocals (3)
- Richard Chadwick / drums, percussion

- John G. Neihardt / spoken voice (2)
- "Dukes Lysergic Orchestra" (5)

Releases information

Artwork: Joe Petagno

LP GWR Records ‎- GWLP 103 (1990, UK)

CD GWR Records ‎- GWCD 103 (1990, UK)
CD Castle Music ‎- ESMCD 738 (1999, UK) Remastered
CD Atomhenge ‎- ATOMCD 1025 (2010, UK) 24-bit remaster by Ben Wiseman with 3 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy HAWKWIND Space Bandits Music

HAWKWIND Space Bandits ratings distribution

(111 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (41%)
Collectors/fans only (18%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

HAWKWIND Space Bandits reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is progressive space hard rock music. The ambiance is so futuristic! I call it "big Blade Runner atmospheres". It is sophisticated hard rock, full of relaxing mellow bits and floating atmospheres - it is sometimes real New Age music. There are many space guitar effects, and the guitar is really present and flashy. Motorcycle sounds, applauding crowd. This record is complementary to OZRIC TENTACLES and Steve HILLAGE. On "Black Elk Speaks", the old narrator seems to be the same as on Roger WATERS' "Amused to Death". The female lead vocals are androgynous. Is it a wah wah electric violin on the first track? Amazing!!

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars One for the birds

"Space bandits" is one of those rare Hawkwind albums with a female vocalist, in the form of Bridgett Wishart.

The album starts with the best track, "Images". Wishart's vocals are superb on this long, driving slice of Hawkwind rock co-written by her with Dave Brock and Alan Davey. The track is a typical Hawkwind album opener, along the lines of "Back in the box" or "Motorway city".

Things inevitably have to go down hill after such a great track, but unfortunately, none of the following tracks even comes close. The songs thereafter all much of a muchness in terms of quality.

"Realms" is a soft, atmospheric piece featuring the "Duke Lysergic Orchestra", while the Wishart led "Wings" is also slower, and in truth, something of a plodder. Alan Davey generously gave 10% of the royalties from this track to the RSPB (UK bird protection charity). Worth buying for "Images" alone, but don't expect too much from the rest.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Images" is truly a very good track and the album covers are nice, but sadly I can't find anything else good to say about this record. HAWKWIND could have worked out a fine EP from this material , but as a long player it doesn't work. Nice gesture though, that some royalties of song "Wings" by Alan Davey are donated to the royal society for the protection of birds.
Review by Joolz
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Hawkwind are, of course, the quintessential 'Psychadelic Space Rockers', renowned for lengthy 'spacey' jams played over a throbbing driving bedrock of bass and drums. But over their 35+ year history, they have not only had many changes in line-up, but also changes in their sound. As they moved into the 90s they became more 'industrial', with songs becoming more and more dependant on keyboards and sequencers (one album would be entirely so). In 1990 the great days were long past but they still had something to offer as this album shows.

The most notable thing about Space Bandits is the principal singer - namely Bridgett Wishart. An old friend of Richard Chadwick, Bridgett had begun to hang around the band and first played with them in the summer of 1989, becoming their full-time singer early in 1990. Her voice suits the material well, indeed it is a natural fit, and she brings a new dimension to the songs. It all ended in tears a year or two down the road and sadly this is the only studio album recorded with her.

Images opens the album on a high. Beginning with a guitar motif - which reminds me of ELO - it soon kicks into a 174 bpm Hawkwind-Heavy-Metal blast. This is Hawkwind almost at their best, with all the essential spacey elements in place - including some lovely violin from Simon House and some sympathetic keyboard fills - and Bridgett's voice holding it all together admirably. A mid-song ambient break allows a breather before the frenetic Chadwick/Davey/Brock combo stampede back for a final power freak-out.

Black Elk Speaks is a spoken word ambient piece: Black Elk - a Sioux - recites a prayer to 'Grandfather, Mysterious One'; which is followed by a short poem by Bridgett. Proceeds from the publishing of this song go to the Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation. The instrumental backing is somehow quite evocative - of the plains, camp-fires, peace-pipes etc.

Wings was written by Alan Davey in response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the enormous harm it did to wildlife. It is actually my favourite track here - it is not instrumentally fantastic, it is not spacey in any way, and it doesn't have outstanding lyrics. But there is something about the way it jogs along, with plaintive sound effects and sad vocals from Bridgett (and Alan) which somehow contrives to evoke an almospheric image of desolation. Proceeds from this one are donated to a British wildlife charity.

The album begins to tail off after that. Out Of The Shadows returns to the 'Hawkwind Sound' of Images, but at a somewhat more sociable pace! Lots of sound effects support a mainly guitar-led one-chord bash, with Brock taking the lead both instrumentally and vocally. Interesting that the drums sound much more organic here, but ultimately the song is a little unsatisfying as the music doesn't seem to achieve anything, instead moving aimlessly and inexorably towards a segue with the next track.

Realms is ambient noodling, nothing more than forgettable filler, full of generic pads and washes which lead into ..... Ship Of Dreams, which begins as another keyboard-led, heavily sequencer-dependant 'song' with short spoken vocal (Brock) and lots of effects. It picks up when a lovely distorted guitar joins the party though the voice becomes unintelligible, and there is a cute bit of folksy 'jigging' courtesy of House's violin. But it doesn't really hang together as a cohesive piece of work. It's almost a backing track in search of a song. No focus.

TV Suicide closes the album with an array of effects and sounds sampled from TV added to another 'keys and sequencer' led soundscape. The simple lyrics about the dangers of TV are presented by a spoken male voice (Bainbridge?). But it is all ineffectual and ends with a return to generic pads and washes to fade.

This is very much a transition album for the band: it sees them branching out into the new technology of samplers and sequencers; and it marks an upturn in the quality of their recorded material after a few years in the doldrums. This is not, however, a 'return to form' but merely a swing in the right direction. A major criticism of this new 'industrial' direction, is their inexpert use of sequencers: at that time Chadwick, in particular, was unfamiliar with drum sequencers but found it necessary to use them because he was otherwise unable to play Images on a live kit. A consequence of this inexperience is the 'over-quantisation' of the drums, most noticeable on Images.

The first three tracks are worthy additions to the repertoire, and Hawkwind fans - especially those of the later 90s/00s output - should find something to like here. Newcomers, however, should be advised that there are better examples of their work.

Review by ZowieZiggy

While listening to the opening Images one might think that the great "Hawkwind" is back. Powerful music, convincing vocals performed by Bridgett Wishart, a sublime guitar work , a catchy and wonderful catchy and upbeat melody, and to top it all: some gorgeous violin play. Help! This is so great! Almost ten minutes of the best "Hawkwind" you can think of. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that it (hard) rocks alright and "Images" is by far the best song of this album.

After this very good song, others sound useless and uninspired (the spacey "Black Elk" or the dull "Wings"). To be honest, this album is not recommended if you would like to discover "Hawkwind". Here and there some ambient to spacey track reminds us some of their original style ("Realms", "Ship Of Dreams" even if the latter if a bit longish and repetitive).

The closing "TV Suicide" flirts between electro beats and ambient theme again. Not bad but not great. All in all, this "Space Bandits" is very average. As such, two stars sounds OK.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars With Space Bandits Hawkwind bestow us with another uneven album. They have been doing that since so many years that nobody even seems to care anymore. It might be good to give this one a spin though. It's a vast improvement over the Xenon Codex catastrophe and the much too undemanding Chronicles. It has quite a few good songs that should please any remaining Hawkfans out there in the universe.

The first thing you would come to notice about Images is its length. With 9'33" it must be the longest track they've done since somewhere in the 70ties. A second thing that will strike you is that it is sung by a female singer. And she pulls it off quite well. Nothing like Dave Brocks magical nasal space vox but if fits the song quite well.

The third thing you will hear is that Hawkwind sticks to their 80's plastic sound (which is something uncomfortably similar to Peter Hammill's Foreign Town) ; meaning terrible synth drum sound and midi instruments instead of real live instruments. Lots of lush keyboards though.

Finally and much to your relief I hope, you might find that the songs are quite decent here: Images will please most fans with lots of groovy sections and its excellent chorus, Black Elk Speaks and Realms are nice, be it rather redundant ambient pieces. Ship of Dreams has a very spacey declamatory opening but instead of growing into something interesting it goes nowhere at all and fades out like a dying candle. TV Suicide has some potential as well but sounds directionless and underdeveloped.

Two other winners for me would be the very moody Wings and the typical upbeat Hawkwind tune Out Of The Shadows. Wings is very much unlike your usual Hawkwind fare so it's no surprise other people seem to dislike it. With its repeated electronic pulses and female vocals it comes closer to Siouxsie & the Banshees then to your accustomed Hawkwind predictabilities. Rest assured it's an excellent track I wouldn't want to leave it out of a Hawkwind 80's collection.

Just a bit too uneven for 4 stars I'm afraid.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Yet another Hawkwind album in which the first track (in this case, Images) is pretty good, but the rest of the album took longer to grow on me. A fast-paced and energetic opener gives way to slower, dreamier material. Hawkwind had always been closely associated with the free festival movement in the UK, so it was inevitable that their musical craft would eventually nudge them in a more New Agey direction, but they retain just enough of an edge to avoid becoming entirely saccharine. (Call it "New Edge", perhaps.) It's hardly a masterpiece of rocking out, but as background music for contemplative moments it isn't half bad.
Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Space Bandits" is yet another dull album for Hawkwind, a few good songs are here such as 'Out of the Shadows' which is the best thing on it. 'TV suicide' is intriguing with channel switching effects, voice sound bytes. Bridgett Wishart sings on 'Images', a rare thing to hear a female vocalist on a Hawkwind album. I would have preferred Stacia but her talents lay elsewhere.

There is very little to recommend and those interested in dipping into Hawkwind's extensive ocean of albums, would be better to try the first 5 albums, "Space Ritual", "Chronicle of the Black Sword", and the latest "Blood of the Earth". The problem is that "Space Bandits" is not exactly hard core space rock or for that matter psychedelic, rather is mostly ambient new age mumbo jumbo with too much emphasis on synthesizers and bad arrangements.

It may be the second worst album for Hawkwind, despite what others are saying. I have heard them all and this is really desperate stuff from the band. To use a woman as a vocalist seals the deal; they were simply a sinking ship waiting for another iceberg. Thankfully things can only improve from here. And they did with the excellent "Electric Tepee" to follow. But this album is a must to avoid. Collectors need only apply.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Hawkwind's 1990 album Space Bandits, also known as "the one with the woman singer", is quite good. I would even go so far as to say it's an underrated album. The biggest thing that stands out about Space Bandits is, of course, that it has Bridgett Wishart on lead vocals - at least on a couple of ... (read more)

Report this review (#896146) | Posted by FunkyM | Saturday, January 19, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is the first whole Hawkwind album I've hear this far, and before buying it by a coincidence I had come in contact with maybe ten songs. I'd actually bought some kind of best off album (not official?) after hearing "Levitation", "Silver Machine" and "Master of the Universe" on a compilatio ... (read more)

Report this review (#114419) | Posted by BookAboutSalad | Wednesday, March 7, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This one is really for Hawk-fans only and contains some suprises, the most obvious being the addition of female vocalist, Bridgett Wishart who had previuosly been a member of the Hippie Slags all-girl group. Rumour has it that she was drunk backstage at a Hawkwind gig in Nottingham, England and ... (read more)

Report this review (#80771) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Friday, June 9, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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