Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Hawkwind - Space Ritual  CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.21 | 286 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Prog Reviewer
4 stars "The Space Ritual" is the altar at which every Hawkwind disciple worships, and with good reason. The original twin-LP (now a double CD, with bonus tracks) caught the band on stage at the high point (pun intended) of their long, ongoing career, and even today provides a still vivid snapshot of English psychedelic metal, circa 1972.

Missing from the re-mastered 1996 compact disc is the visual overkill of the concert experience itself (with its liquid lights and topless dancers), and the eye-popping extravagance of the original album artwork. The earliest vinyl copies were famously housed in what had to be the ultimate gatefold cover, opening like a Buster Keaton newspaper into a 24"x36" series of panels filled with trippy cosmic images and navel-gazing mantras ("Naked I came out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither...").

Chalk it up as one more aesthetic casualty in an age of digital convenience. But to compensate for the loss, the CD booklet includes instead a reproduction of the original 1972 tour programme, complete with an extract from 'The Saga of Doremi Fasol Latido', a silly sci-fi fantasy written by stage designer Barney Bubbles, recounting the intergalactic adventures of the Hawkwind 'musicnauts'.

All very hokey, of course. But the music itself still packs a good deal of psychedelic intensity, at least to those of us (almost, in my case) old enough to have heard it firsthand, over 30 years ago. It's still thrilling to hear the band grab hold of those riffs and pound them into submission, like a pit bull with a rubber chew toy. But a certain degree of tedium can set in before the end of the second disc, long before the climactic 13+ minute reprise of "Born to Go", one of several bonus tracks from the same tour included on the 1996 EMI re-master.

And diehard fans can legitimately bitch about the omission of "Silver Machine", maybe the quintessential Hawkwind anthem of the era (it wasn't on their set list for this particular tour). But why bother? Most of the music here sounds pretty much the same anyway, blending into a single, continuous two-hour sonic attack, quoting the title of the apocalyptic spoken word narrative penned by sci-fi author and Hawklord lyricist Michael Moorcock, and performed here on Disc Two.

Keep in mind (this from inner panel 4 of the original gatefold sleeve): "The One and the many contain in themselves the principles of time and space. The way up and the way down are one and the same..." Which may explain how the subsequent career arc of the band (still active, 35 years later) was rendered more or less anticlimactic by this album. "The Space Ritual" said it all back in 1972, offering a complete, holistic audio-visual manifesto that couldn't be repeated or improved upon, no matter how far into the void the band would travel.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this HAWKWIND review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives