Hawkwind - Space Ritual (3 Disc reissue)
(EMI) Keith Boyd 9.26.07
Hawkwind will kick your ass and blow your mind! These perpetually underground heroes of Space Rock have been pounding out riffs and exploring the cosmos for over 40 years and there's no sign that they're done yet. Essentially the band is a revolving cast of characters whose center is held together by one mad genius known as Dave Brock. In the early 70's they had a classic lineup including Brock, electronic wizard DikMik Davies, Nik Turner and a young (though already scruffy) Lemmy Kilmister. Lemmy of course went on to total Rock Glory with his next creation Motorhead but his tenure in Hawkwind was fruitful indeed. The sound this band created was really in a league by itself. It shared elements with the Space Jazz of Sun Ra's Arkestra. It had touches of Glam with its rouged-up retake on classic Rock and Roll. There was a dose of the heaviest Hendrix/Cream/Blue Cheer and it was all rounded out and wrapped in a crazed, drug fueled Science Fiction ethos and atmosphere.
Although they've put out dozens of albums, there are a handful that really exemplify the best that the band has to offer. Among these are "In Search of Space", "Doremi Fasol Latido", "Hall of the Mountain Grille" and best of all, "Space Ritual". In their peak moments Hawkwind is an unstoppable machine. They create dense walls of pounding guitar chords and drums that are punctuated by squalling saxophone runs. These thickly chugging and intense pieces give way to chanted choruses that pay homage to non-stop space flights and cosmic alien battle scenes. Although often given over to such themes and sound attacks it was on 1973's 'Space Ritual" tour and album that they really went over the edge and into some serious Flash Gordon on acid territory.
The band had been kicking around a loose concept for a space opera for a few years when they made contact with Science Fiction writer Michael Moorcock and poet Robert Calvert. They took their basic idea and expanded it out into a fantasy entwining the story of a group of Starfarers in suspended animation traveling through time and space with conceptual notions regarding the 'music of the spheres". The tour was in support of their current album, "Doremi Fasol Latido" and was an extravaganza of sound and liquid light show with props and a semi-nude giantess named Miss Stacia painted in wild day-glow colors dancing around the stage. Strange electronica interludes would serve as the backdrop to Bob Calvert's processed vocals and poems. The album was culled from the Liverpool and Brixton shows and it's just a monster. This new release is a 3 disc goldmine featuring extra tracks and a DVD with a wonderful surround sound mix and a couple of period-era promo video pieces. The CD artwork replicates the original album and includes the science fiction pamphlet, " An extract from the Saga of Doremi Fasol Latido" written by album cover designer Barney Bubbles. The relentless, driving and rich sound of Hawkwind is in full freaky flight on this set. At times psychedelic, at times just hard rocking metal, "Space Ritual" is totally satisfying listen. Despite the cosmic themes the music sounds fresh and relevant today. This new reissue finally puts to rest all other versions and bootlegs that have proliferated through the years. Now we can, as the Hawklords said, turn our attention to the universe and come too understand how, "Space is dark, it is so endless".