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Hawkwind

Stasis: The U.A. Years, 1971-1975

Review by Gary Hill

This is kind of a cool set. While Hawkwind fans might well have these songs on various albums they already own, they will probably find a few things here they don’t have – at least not these exact versions. Many of the songs here are remixes and single edits. The last few tracks I believe are taken from the live album Space Ritual – although the closer was not found on the original issue of that disc (it has shown up on the reissue). This disc would make as a good introduction to the band for those looking to discover Hawkwind. For completists there are enough “different versions” for you to feel like you are actually getting something new. Note that in a few cases I’ve reviewed these tracks elsewhere. In those instances I’ve used those reviews for the sake of consistency.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Urban Guerrilla

Recorded in 1973 and available on the remastered version of Doremi.., this is a hard rocking, almost punky cut. It really seemed to foresee the unfortunate future of our society. "I'm an urban guerilla, I make bombs in my cellar." "So, let's not talk of love and flowers, and things that don't explode, you know we've used up all of our magic powers trying to do it in the road." This one features a definitive Hawkjam.

Psychedelic Warlords
This is a single version of the classic track from Hall of the Mountain Grill. This starts with the same keyboard textures and grows in much the same way. It’s still a killer prog rock jam and one of the most purely prog moments in Hawkwind’s career. At almost four minutes in length this isn’t overly short. They still manage to include most of the soaring instrumental segment.
Brainbox Pollution
This one seems like an almost countrified yet punkish take on space rock. The song has enough changes to satisfy the prog fans and is simply fun. It is originally from Doremi Fasol Latido.
Seven by Seven
They list this as a remixed version, but I don’t hear a lot of difference between this and other versions of the track I’ve heard. It’s still got the same great spacey jam band texture to it. The vocals still wail plaintively over the top. This is a great space rock jam. They create a lot of varying soundscapes here, but it still feels very organic and cohesive. If you are looking for a song to show people what space rock is, this would be a great choice.
Paradox

Listed as a “remixed single edit,” this comes from the same disc as “Psychedelic Warlords.” It’s another that’s more purely progressive rock. I don’t really hear any huge difference between this and the album rendition and it’s another soaring jam that’s dynamic and powerful. I think that as much as I enjoy “Psychedelic Warlords” this is better. Perhaps the keyboards are a bit more prominent on this track than on the album version. The soaring space jam on this is just plain incredible.

Silver Machine
Here we get the original single mix of “Silver Machine.” There might be more versions of this cut out there than of any other Hawkwind track. No matter how you slice it, it’s a hard rocking jam that’s part punk rock, part space rock and all Hawkwind. This was their biggest hit worldwide and that explains all the versions. For my money there are better Hawkwind songs, but this grows on you – and does have a very classic Hawk sound.
You'd Better Believe It

Another track from Hall of the Mountain Grill we also get a single version of this. This is a harder rocking, more energized track than the other two HOMG songs presented here. Again I don’t hear any huge differences between this and the version I’m more accustomed to hearing. Of course,  I haven’t played them side by side, either.

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.
The Black Corridor
The first live recording on the disc, I think the majority of these come from the Space Ritual album. This comes in with classic space motifs, remaining fairly sedate and feeling very sound effects oriented for a time. A droning, chiming sound, almost like an alarm sounding rises up and feels like it might pull us into new territory. Instead we drop way back down for the science fiction oriented poetry reading. It never rises past that point, but instead moves out into the next number.
Space Is Deep

This comes up gradually from the remains of the last song. It has a melodic chorded guitar backdrop and a very powerful space-oriented vocal line. This is an incredible piece of music and works through several very organic growth spurts as it moves on. In some ways this feels like it could have come from Hall of the Mountain Grill, but it’s older than that – in fact, that disc wasn’t recorded before the Space Ritual album was released.

Earth Calling
Effects and other sounds make up the intro to this. The tones and atmosphere grow and swirl about creating the backdrop for this track. The spoken, “this is Earth calling” seems to be missing. This seems a lot noisier than other versions I’ve heard with all kind of chirping sounds swirling about here and there. It moves straight into the next number.
Born to Go
Pounding out this is a powerhouse space rock classic. It’s got a lot of energy and all the space atmosphere you could wish for. At nearly ten minutes in length, as you can imagine they cover a lot of cool instrumental territory with this jam.
Down Through the Night

They run straight into this piece. It becomes a more pure hard rocking number and this has always been one of my favorites. It’s a driving track that has a compelling vocal line and some incredible space rock textures.  This really makes for a great jam here.

The Awakening
Coming straight out of the last number, this is another spacey sounds meet poetry reading moment.
You Shouldn't Do That
This was a live song not included on the original release of Space Ritual. It has been added to the special edition reissue, though. It’s cool to have a live version of this because other than the snippet included on the Acid Daze set this might be the only time I’ve heard this cut live. It’s a classic example of space rock done right. We get chanting and killer jamming. There’s even a tribal rhythm section in the middle of this. It becomes a whirling dervish of sound later.
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