Released in 1974, this album shocked Hawkwind fans by revealing the band's new style. The arrival of keyboardist/violinist Simon House (former member of the amazing early Prog rock group High Tide) added a sweeping symphonic edge to the sonic pallet of the group, as well as increasing the quality of Hawkwind's musicianship, but they still retained their awesome ability to rock out, and the addition of melodic violin passages and swirling mellotrons only reenforced the acid-fuled atmospheres for which Hawkwind have gained infamy.
The fifth studio album recorded by Hawkwind places more emphasis on melody and song writing than the spacey jams of earlier albums such as In Search of Space. Simon House's influence had an incredible positive effect on Mountain Grill, which is probably their best album thus far, being the band's most cohiesive and fulfilling studio recording yet released at the time.
The album begins with the superb Psychedelic Warlords, the opening moog syntehsisers heralding an almost funky track thanks to the choppy rythmic guitar work of Dave Brock and Lemmy Kilminster's melodic bass. As a whole, this song displays a great improvement in song writing from Hawkwind's earlier days. The primary track evolves into the soft and melodic instrumental Wind of Change, a sterling example of the sound that Simon House introduced to the group, his mellotron and flute work is reminiscent of Genesis, and driven once again by Kilminster's bass work this song becomes a superb symphonic prog piece.
Wind of Change is followed by the more uptempo D Rider, which boasts some great guitar work from Brock, along with a satisfying lyrical accompaniment. There is some good ensemble work on this track, with the guitar being particularly pleasing, and phasisng effects add a more languid feel, whilst Web Weaver is a more folky piece, harking back to earlier Hawkwind works such as We Took the Wrong Way Years Ago, Brock's soft guitar and troubadourian vocals accompanied by House's classy piano work evolves rapidly into a freewheeling space jam with some great guitar bass and drum work, and much utilisation of the wah wah pedal. You'd Better Believe It is a seemingly more traditional Hawkwind song, as is the closing track Paradox. With a heavy three-chord riff and pummeling rythm. However, both songs are enhanced by House's violin and superior songwriting style.
Lost Johnny sees Lemmy Kilminster take to the mike, with gruff vocals and a pummeling bass line, along with some good heavy rock guitar from Brock. It is easy to see, listening to this track, why Hawkwind were hailed as punk pioneers, although Simon House's synth experimentations to give it a more spacey and ambient feel.
The tracks Hall of the Mountain Grill and Goat Willow are both Simon House suqired pieces which almost constitute solo tracks, with his mastery of flute, mellotron, and piano clearly portraied in Hall, and some great synth and harpsichord work in Willow (along, once again, with some spectacular flute) and also some electronic themes.
Overall, this album is near perfect, and the most satisfying studio album released by Hawkwind up to this point, a masterpiece in its own right and definately deserving of the five star treatment. The only thing that can really be said against it is that it cannot compare to the next Hawkwind studio release; Warrior On the Edge of Time.