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




Psychedelic/Space Rock

2.61 | 77 ratings

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Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
1 stars After a five year lapse in releasing studio albums, the hope was that Hawkwind would come back to the studio with better songs and a better album. After all, the core group at this time consisted of Dave Brock who was with the band from the beginning, Alan Davey who had worked on and off with the band for several years now, and Richard Chadwick who had been with the band since 1988. Things were in Hawkwind's favor, but the last two decades saw them releasing average material and swinging away from their space rock sound that made them legends. "Take Me to Your Leader' had a lot of fans hoping for a real comeback. Unfortunately, the time was still not right.

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

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

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

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

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

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

TCat | 1/5 |


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