I’m Descending From Out Of Space (GDLIYWI) 9

I was abducted a few years ago. I was taken aboard a ship where they made me brush my teeth three times a day, wash behind my ears and eat all my greens. I think I was on the mothership.

Welcome back double-live album aficionados to another re-evaluation episode, in this one we feature Space Ritual, the 1972 release by English space rock overlords Hawkwind. The album was recorded (in Liverpool and London) during the tour to promote their Doremi Fasol Latido album, which comprises the bulk of this set. In addition there are new tracks (“Born To Go”, “Upside Down” and “Orgone Accumulator”) and the songs are interspersed by electronic and spoken pieces, making this one continuous performance.

The Space Ritual show attempted to create a full audio-visual experience, representing themes developed by Barney Bubbles and Robert Calvert entwining the fantasy of starfarers in suspended animation traveling through time and space with the concept of the music of the spheres. The performance featured dancers Stacia, Miss Renee, Jonathan Carney and Tony Carrera, stage set by Bubbles, lightshow by Liquid Len and poetry recitations by Calvert. On entering the venue, audience members were given a programme (reproduced on the 1996 remaster CD) featuring a short sci-fi story by Bubbles setting the band in a Starfarers scenario returning to Earth. All sounds very cosmic maaaaaaannn but does it hold up without the lights, the bubbles and the topless dancing? Let’s find out……

Hawkwind are one of those bands that I should have liked when I was getting into rock/metal in ’79/’80. Groovy, psychedelic album covers; songs about drugs and spaceships; it was Lemmy’s old band, I always saw their albums in second hand record stores but they never quite enticed me to spend £1.50/£2.00 on them. I did see them live in 1985, I believe, and they were ok; Long gone were the poetry readings, spoken pieces and topless dancing of yore (shame), in its stead was loud hard rock/heavy metal with some tasty solos, a long rendition of Assassins of Allah and a strange aroma in the air that wasn’t patchouli oil! I doubt that last part had changed from the ’70s!

Well the album kicks off with noise, and not the good kind really. And it kind of goes downhill from there. Don’t misunderstand me, there are some good bits on this album: Lemmy’s bass and Simon King’s drumming driving the songs on; some damn fine psychy guitar solos; Brainstorm, Master of the Universe and You Shouldn’t Do That are great and even the bass solo on Orgone Accumulator is good too; it’s just that there is a lot of poor things on here that heavily outweigh the good. The awful hippy sounding keyboards having a fight with the Clangers, the songs all starting to sound the same after a while (except for the start of Space Is Deep, which sounds like the Bonzo Doo-Dah Dog Band) and the spoken tracks, oy vey! I try not to use phrases like “you had to have been there” or “it’s of its time” but these phrases seem apt for the spoken tracks, as they reek of really bad am-dram, disrupting the flow of the record and making me hit the skip button.

Is it excessive? Only 2 of the 17 tracks are over 10 minutes but the, thankfully, short spoken tracks seem a little unnecessary. Would I listen to it again? No. There is nothing here that makes me want to return to it or makes me want to investigate Hawkwind further. Would I recommend it? That’ll be a no. Is there a drum solo? No, but I’d have taken one over the spoken tracks (did I mention I hate the spoken tracks? I did? Just checking.)

So after all is said and done, I can’t give it any higher than 4/10. I just didn’t like this album, maybe I had to have been there. Anyhow, more double live album fun to come, so for now I’ll bid you adieu.

Published by labarbaazul8067

I'm just a creature from the heap so excuse my savage ignorance.

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