Review Summary: An improvement over the first album, Hawkwind finally get settled and become the biggest player in space rock. Hawkwind – A trip through Space, Part II The Sophomore Effort.
Hawkwind was successful enough for another album, so in 1971 they rounded up the members and went into the studio again. However the first cracks in Hawkwind would begin appearing, the inability to keep people in the band long enough for them to release two albums on the trot.
Between Hawkwind and X in Search of Space, Hawkwind had gone through two bassists, the man behind the synthesizer had left, been replaced and then came back. Finally in pure Hawkwind style, the guitarist had left after an LSD 'experience' at a gig the band had played at. So on this album Hawkwind is.
Dave Brock - electric guitar, 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars, vocals, harmonica, keyboards
Nik Turner - saxophone, flute, vocals
Del Dettmar - Synthesizer
Dik Mik - Synthesizer
Dave Anderson - bass guitar, acoustic and electric guitars
Terry Ollis – drums
This album is much more spacey than the first album, the production is also much better and is much more adapted to grabbing that classic Hawkwind symphony. The album doesn't open up lightly, throwing you head first into 'You Shouldn't Do That' a fifteen minute rocker that sounds like a LSD taker's dream. The difference in the quality of the production is apparent from the first few moments.
The opening track is a monster, the lyrics slowly shuffling about four minutes into the song as you begin to realise what they are saying. “Shun-do-at, Shouldn't-do-at, Shouldn't-do-that, You shouldn't do that.” And is everything you'd expect from the masters of space rock, similar to the first album, 'You Shouldn't Do That' began its life as a jam, but the experience is so much more profound now that the production is better, rather than being overpowering, the wind section adds a lot of style and substance to the song, the pair of synthesizers add brilliant sounds to the music. Space lasers? Check. Trumpets? Check. Space Kettle? Check. Both the Dave's also go to town on the string section, but there is still issue with the bass, when it does flare its' four stringed neck, it is barely audible above the rest of the maelstrom of sounds.
The space feel flows through this album, much more than anything else from Hawkwind's life in the 70s. 'You're Only Dreaming' feels like an extension of 'You Shouldn't Do That' except for the chorus which sounds like a version of The Beatles 'I'm Only Sleeping' tossed in a blender with copious amounts of LSD and regurgitated on to the vinyl with avid enthusiasm. So in total, this space rock takes up an entire side of vinyl (20ish minutes for those of you who don't own any records.)
The second half contains more structure in some ways, 'Masters Of The Universe' begins with a deep guitar and is then followed by artistic drumming and a crackling bass line. The vocals are stark opposites, being light airy and spacey. Then finally the synthesizers come in and the cycle begins again, with whistles and beams ricocheting over the track. Before throwing itself into a four minute space jam that rounds the sound up.
Then the sound jarringly changes, and for the song 'We Took The Wrong Step Years Ago', with it's jarring acoustic guitars and minimal synthesizers, apart from the ones affecting Dave Brock's voice. The song does come in as a nice alternate to all the space noise that made up the previous tracks and sounds more like Jethro Tull than Hawkwind, but it makes you wonder what the Hawk will bring next. Which is 'Ajust Me' another funky little space rocker, followed by the more acoustic track 'Children Of The Sun'.
This album shows the world just how 'spacey' Hawkwind could be, that is its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. If you don't like space rock then back away now, because this beast is much different from the albums 'Hall of the Mountain Grill' and 'Warrior on the Edge of Time' it is a exploration to the furthest depths of space rock, and is truly a masterpiece of the genre.