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Hawkwind - Space Ritual Vol. 2 CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

2.80 | 37 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars Occasionally when one feels like some trippy space rock there really is only one place to turn; the masters of the universe themselves, the mighty Hawkwind. Having sat through the original 'Space Ritual' countless times it was time to indulge in Volume Two of this mammoth concert. Again the album features Hawkwind spaced to the max in a 1972 live performance. Originally the 'Space Ritual' album was edited so that it could fit onto 2 glorious vinyl records but now technology allows us to indulge in the full deal with colossal versions of 'Brainstorm' and 'Time We Left The World Today'. It is certainly worth the price of admission to hear extended sax warbling over a hypnotic protopunk distorted riff and driving bass and drums. The free improvisation in these tracks alone are incredible, the band seem to get lost in their own music as though flowing out of the stratosphere. It is a hybrid of various performances rather than a full concert but I have no problem with that as long as the quality is decent. Some of these old Hawkwind performances are distorted and really audio challenged but this collection sounds dynamic and heavy. Some of it as been lifted from 'The Text of Festival' live album and some from 'Space Ritual' but it is always a delight to revisit, though may frustrate some listeners who have already got everything in some form or another that is available from Anthologies ad infinitum. Hawkwind have burned themselves with releasing so many hybrids of albums that is impossible at times to recognise whether anything sounds different or is just another pseudo live rip off. I will focus on the definite tracks worth visiting.

'Brainstorm' motors along at a ferocious pace with Simon King's crashing cymbals and heartbeat pounding rhythms, Lemmy's killer bass and that beautiful manic saxophone squeal of Nik Turner. The whole thing is held together somehow with diversions into familiar riffs and then it locks into a guitar and sax tradeoff improvised session that grinds out over the raucous atmospherics. Dave Brock is legendary with Hawkwind and here he in the early 70s at his best. Overall this is the best way to experience 'Brainstorm' without the edits; simply mesmirising from start to end.

The whole recording is part of the Brixton Sundown performance heard on 'Space Ritual''s second disc with some extras added in and alternate versions of some classics such as the grandiose "Orgone Accumulator". The shorter version is not up to the awesome standard of the original live version but it is still wonderful to hear Brock's echoed reverberations, 'I got an Orgone Accumulator, and it makes me feel greater.' I noted the vocals are different to the Volume One version so it was good at least that this was not just the same recording. The extended jam on this is markedly different but is nonetheless psychedelic and hypnotic.

"Time We Left This World Today" is another unique version, far outweighing the original version, including a bass heavy passage from "Paranoia" that works well with the atmosphere generated. Dik and Del's audio generated space effects are delirious throughout as they were on the first live album. At times the space effects overwhelm the guitars but it is great to hear this classic sound. Bob Calvert the resident swazzler is here too in earnest doing his infamous 'Sonic Attack', a different version, and '10 seconds of Forever' but the shock has long worn off as the tracks are so familiar to Hawkwindians like myself. Calvert sounds great on 'Seven by Seven' though with strange hyper nonsense such as his musings on 'the astro path'. The wah wah lead and sax warble nicely throughout, creating a maelstrom of sound with cosmic resonances and trippy psych prog.

"Wind of Change" leads directly into this latter track and I love how the songs seem to merge one into another, as they did on the first live album. It adds to the experience that you can rarely hear the crowd, except for at the end of some songs, so it often feels like a studio jam session. The sound is excellent and fills up a pair of headphones.

"Master of the Universe" is as blindingly brilliant as ever. King simply pounds the skin off those drums, and the extended solo of wah wah space guitar and squelchy sax embellishments are wondrous. The band are amazing when they are in full flight and never more so than on treasures like this. It all culminates in a version of "Welcome to the Future", that is short but closes things on an extremely dramatic note. The band say thank you and then the crowd roar for more, perhaps Stacia needed to come out at this point again. The footstamping and clapping is raucous and one wonders if Hawkwind even did encores. There is another version of the album that features heaps of other tracks but in reality all these live albums of the 70s by Hawkwind sound so similar it is the overall experience that counts.

I recommend 'Space Ritual Volume 2' to all the dedicated Hawkind addicts out there as it never disappoints in terms of sound quality and general trippiness, and in any form is therefore a live performance that deserves to see the light of day.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |


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