Review Summary: Hawkwind go back in time and show us an album that would happily belong in the 70s. Hawkwind – A trip through space, Part XVII Back to the 70s
Hawkwind suffered from their annual molt of band members in between Space Bandits and Electric Tepee. This time around they lost their vocalist and the man behind the keyboards, Harvey Bainbridge. But how would the loss of such an important band member as Bainbridge affect the band? The result is Electric Tepee, an album which goes back to the early style of Hawkwind. In amongst the longer songs are plenty of new space jams, which give the album a similar feel to that of Levitation.
On this album Hawkwind are:
Dave Brock – electric guitar, keyboards, vocals
Alan Davey – bass guitar, vocals, keyboards
Richard Chadwick – drums
Down to a three piece, you'd expect the amount of material to be significantly less layered, but this is not the case with Hawkwind. Electric Tepee if full of surprises and good amounts of music, particularly on the longer songs that break up the album. The opening track 'L.S.D' is an extended rocker complete with buzzing electrical space notes and all sorts of beep, bleeps and creeps. Even without Bainbridge on the keyboards, Davey does a good enough job of redeeming himself, keeping up with the barrage of noise.
Many of the tracks are funky little space rock songs, filled with electrical dribble and dancing guitar notes. This wasn't a problem on their earlier works, but Electric Tepee was the first Hawkwind album to be released on CD, this gave them an extra half hour of music time to play with. As such Electric Tepee runs in at seventy five minutes, and towards the end the album starts to suffer from terrible drag and a loss of pace.
In a similar style to many of their earlier works, Electric Tepee has several large 'pillar' songs which hold up the rest of the album. On this album these songs are the aforementioned 'L.S.D' as well as the tracks 'Secret Agent', 'Masks of the Morning' and 'Going to Hawaii'. Compared to the rest of the album, which are mostly spacey styled electronica songs. These pillars are comprised of space rock. Brock does a good job in taking up the guitar solos of Langton, who left two albums previously, and Davey does a good enough job in picking up the slack from Bainbridge's departure.
The type of music on this album is also vastly different from the music on their earlier works, rather than being mostly comprised of space styled noises, the music is far more modern sounding. This is a good indication that Hawkwind managed to advance themselves along with the times, producing an album that sounds remarkably fresh, until it begins to repeat itself towards the tail end of the album.
That is the biggest issue with Electric Tepee, despite the fact that the album is generally above par than anything Hawkwind attempted in the previous decade, the album is simply far too long for it's own good. Hawkwind could have done an awful lot better if they had 'trimmed the fat' from their record, and cut down parts which are not useful. Songs like 'Space Dust' are rather well done, but they begin to sound boring after a while due to the albums rather extensive length. In the end Electric Tepee is like fishing, sure you may get a big catch, but its the long boring parts in between the fish that really get to you.