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Hawkwind - Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.46 | 204 ratings

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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.

TCat | 4/5 |


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