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Hawkwind

Doremi Fasol Latido

Review by Gary Hill

While I like every Hawkwind album a lot, and often for different reasons, of the early discs, this one might be my favorite. Don’t get me wrong; I love In Search of Space and the self-titled debut. Mind you, I also put Hall of the Mountain Grill in a totally different category. I’d have to say, though, if you told me I could only keep one of the other two I mentioned and this disc – I’d probably still have this one. From the opening “Brainstorm” to the brilliant “Lord of Light,” and onward through “Time We Left This World” and “The Watcher,” there is no track here that doesn’t work. This one is not the masterpiece that Hall of the Mountain Grill is, but it’s not far from it. If you want to sample the early works of this band, there is probably no better starting point.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Brainstorm
They open the disc with the longest track on show, this eleven plus minute jam. It’s one of the hardest rocking (and most trademarked) of Hawkwind’s early repertoire. A pulsing crunch makes up the early segments here. Lemmy’s bass drives the cut as Nik Turner half sneers, half sings the number. Waves of keys wash over throughout. The track moves through a couple verses and choruses, then moves out into an expansive space rock jam that only Hawkwind could have done. This extended instrumental passage swirls and pulsates. Varying instruments weave their lines across the top in this nearly out of control journey. A tribal chant (Hawkwind loved these in the day) takes it around the four-minute mark with other lines of vocals and instrumentation accenting it across the top. Eventually the guitar takes control in a wah-fest motif. The group work their magic on this jam creating something that feels like it would have been quite at home on their Hall of the Mountain Grill album. Noise and beauty merge in a psychedelic, hypnotic powerhouse. One could possibly draw links from this cut to early Pink Floyd or even Deep Purple’s “Child In Time,” but while I like both of those a lot, I definitely prefer the Hawk’s take. Still, I should be honest and say that I’m biased as one of the biggest Hawkwind fans in the States (at least I’m pretty sure that title applies – tough to say without meeting the rest of the Hawkfanatics). Eventually this pounds back out into the song proper with Lemmy’s bass guitar once again propelling it. One more verse and chorus are issued before the band take this into a noisy outro – over which Turner lays a few more vocal lines. Keys take it after the crescendo, but then Lemmy delivers a feedback laden bass line (at least it sure sounds like it to me) for a time. The group seem to be about to rise back up on the fadeout.
Space Is Deep
Pretty acoustic guitar leads this one off, and as it builds keys shimmer across the top. The track launches out into a balladic sort of texture with a more sung vocal line. All the while the keyboards chirp and twitter across the sky of the piece. This track is a very different beast than the one that came before it, but it’s also a classic “text book” example of “space rock.” This doesn’t move far, instead (like most great space rock) it gains its power from reworkings of the central themes in varying formats and subtle transitions. They do power this one out for good effect later into a more hard rocking version of itself, though. It also drops back the acoustic guitar modes as Dave Brock coaxes all kinds of explorations from his strings. Eventually keys and sound effects take the lead from him, though – coming up gradually at first. Still Brock gets the last word.
One Change
At less than a minute in length, this instrumental number is sort of a connecting piece. This is a keyboard solo that’s pretty, if a bit unique in tone. It has an almost Native American or Asian sound to the melody. It ends with echoey sound effects.
Lord of Light
Feedback laden, echoed guitar chirps lead this one off. Then the cut swirls into sort of a space rock equivalent of a symphony orchestra tuning session. From here, though, the driving hard grind of the song proper and enters and takes over. I really like the vocal delivery on this one, and the whole cut is a winner. While I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite track on the disc, if you really forced me to do it, this would be it. Everything seems perfectly in place. At points in the track Lemmy’s bass purely force marches the cut. The whole vocal arrangement is classic space rock. There are enough changes here to keep it interesting, but not so many that it loses its spacey nature. This one rocks out just enough to be catchy and make you want to jump to your feet.
Down Through The Night
Flowing straight out of the previous cut, acoustic based space rock ballad tones with waves of keys flowing in and out of the mix, makes up the opening segment here. The tune sort of shifts a bit, with a dark cloud seeming to come over it. Brock doesn’t seem to notice, though, carrying on his ballad theme. Then he moves it into more of a hard rocking groove, still delivered on acoustic. The vocals enter over this motif. When they do this track really takes its place as another awesome Hawkwind classic. The lyrics on this one (while obtuse) might be the best on the disc, and this cut has always been the one on show that I just can’t resist singing along with. It’s another that really is trademark space rock and trademark Hawkwind.
Time We Left This World Today
This hard rocker is another classic Hawkcut. They turn in another stellar jam on this cut with Lemmy’s bass seeming almost to duel with the other instruments in a furious exploration of passion. This one is another that has all the best aspects of early Hawkwind in one place. It’s also another that will both get you to your feet and have you singing along. I think it probably is “Time We Left, this world today.”
The Watcher
Lemmy penned this tune and, in fact, revisited it later with his band Motorhead. While I like that version, I prefer this one. Acoustic guitar tones lead this one off. The cut is a vaguely bluesish space rock ballad. It serves as a nice cool down from the fury of “Time We Left…” for the disc’s ending. Besides the closing line of “this is the end,” would seem the perfect lyrics on which to close an album.
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