Hawkwind were the great exponents of British 70’s space rock and psychedelic rock, you had to be there to experience it.
Written by: Eric
ALBUM: In Search Of Space
LABEL: United Artists
SERIAL: UAG 29202
CD REISSUE: 2001, EMI, EMI 7234 5 30030 2 9 (with bonus tracks)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Dave Brock – vocals, electric guitar, 6 and; 12 string guitars, harmonica, keyboards * Nik Turner – saxophone, flute, vocals * Del Dettmar – synthesizer * Dik Mik – synthesizer * Dave Anderson – bass, acoustic and electric guitars * Terry Ollis – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 You Shouldn’t Do That * 02 You Know You’re Only Dreaming * 03 Master Of The Universe * 04 We Took The Wrong Step Years Ago * 05 Adjust Me * 06 Children Of The Sun
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Set the controls for the heart sun indeed. Tie-dyed, drug fuelled and gritty, Hawkwind had more in common with early Pink Floyd and even Krautrock than the classically influenced progressive sounds of The Nice or Yes. This is partly due to founding member and former busker Dave Brock’s interest in Avant electronics and free form improvisation.
Formed in the Ladbrooke Grove area of London, the epi-center of the UK Underground scene which included The Deviants, Pink Fairies and Third Ear Band among others, Hawkwind became the biggest band of the legendary free festival movement, eventually signing to United Artists who released their debut in 1970.
Produced by The Pretty Things Dick Taylor, the album consisted of free-wheeling blue rock jams with a touch of folk and little suggestion of the ground breaking space rock outfit they would become, beginning with ‘In Search Of Space’.
Following the debut, several line-up changes occurred, including the addition of Amon Duul II bassist Dave Anderson. The results are impressive right down to the dazzling Barney Bubbles die-cut sleeve and accompanying booklet written and designed by poet and future Hawkwind member Robert Calvert.
Of course science fiction writer Michael Moorcock is very much an influence as he would be throughout the band’s history. Blasting off with the 16 minute ‘You Shouldn’t Do That’ featuring Nik Turner’s parping sax at the forefront, garbled voices, a hypnotic guitar riff and a sound generator, it almost makes me wish I had a joint.
Trippy stuff and really, these guys aren’t great musicians and the vocals are never pretty but they pull off sci-fried acid rock like no one else. ‘You Know You’re Only Dreaming’ hypnotically pulls you in before the Hawks magnum opus ‘Master Of The Universe’ takes off into interstellar overdrive.
Anderson’s pumping bass lines gives the song its mind melting groove and a defining moment in space rock history. The folky ‘We Took The Wrong Step Years Ago’ returns to Dave Brock’s busker days while closer ‘Children Of The Sun’ starts off with a similar stoned-out feel before gradually propelling into a pounding riff that drifts off into the cosmos and we are one with the universe.
My first encounter with Hawkwind was 1977’s ‘Quark, Strangeness and Charm’ and I’ve been a fan ever since, opening the door to other trippy sounds such as Gong, Steve Hillage, Eloy, the first two UFO albums and even jazz icon Miles Davis‘ sprawling ‘Agharta’ album.
Of course all the early 70’s works are a must own but I strongly recommend Hawkwind’s often overlooked 80’s releases including ‘Levitation’, the metallic ‘Sonic Attack’ and their 1985 opus ‘Chronicle Of The Black Sword’. Sadly I never had a chance to see Hawkwind live although having worked for a band who supported them on two occasions in the early 70’s and from the stories I’ve been told about those shows, I feel I truly missed out.