Review Summary: The death of Hawkwind, and their subsequent rebirth. Hawkwind – A trip through space, Part XXIV Back into the Past.
Take me to your Leader shows that Hawkwind are actually a phoenix. Before this album Hawkwind appeared on their last legs, Spacebrock was a poor outing and the band hadn't released anything truly worthwhile for a long period of time. Take me to your Leader however, shows not just signs of rebirth, but also of new growth for these venerable veterans of space rock.
To say that this is entirely a Hawkwind album would be a little bit of a lie, instead this album is dedicated to Hawkwind and friends. Take me to your leader contains a rather large list of additional members, all of which only appear on a track or two.
On this album, Hawkwind are:
Dave Brock – guitar, vocals, keyboards
Alan Davey – bass guitar, vocals, keyboards
Richard Chadwick – drums, percussion and programming
James Clemas – organ (tracks 1 and 7)
Matthew Wright – vocals (track 1)
Jez Huggett – saxophone (tracks 2 and 6)
Jason Stuart – keyboards (tracks 3 and 4)
Simon House – keyboards and violin (tracks 7 and 9)
Arthur Brown – vocals (tracks 7 and 10)
Lene Lovich – vocals (track 9)
Take me to your Leader starts off with a remake of the track 'Spirit of the Age', which originally appeared on the Quark, Strangeness and Charm album. In a bizarre twist of fate, the new track might actually be superior to the old one with its modern sounding cracks and pops. The lyrics to this new track are slightly different to the old one, showing either adaptability or a mild case of musical dementia. However, this new track is much faster paced and flows a lot better. Matthew Wright does Robert Calvert proud with his take on this track.
But Take me to your Leader isn't a case of Hawkwind retracing old ground in an attempt to find greatness, the album instead grabs a machete and begins to hack its way through the undergrowth on a path of freedom. Tracks like 'Out Here We Are' are much slower and thoughtful, they contain an excellent mix of both drumming and synthetic styles, which sound much more modern than anything Hawkwind had done before. With five years between this and Spacebrock, it is clear that Hawkwind spent much of this time researching new ways to make music. Some of the best parts of this album are when Saxophonist Jez Huggett joins the fray, his excellent work bringing the band to whole new heights.
Hawkwind bring a lot more style with them on this record, and this album does contain a fair share of influences, both old and modern. Songs like 'Digital Nation' would sound at home on a Radiohead album, whilst other parts sound similar to music released from post-rock artists. Take me to your Leader happens to be the most consistent Hawkwind album released in years, and some of the tracks sit at the high-end of anything released by the band. 'Sunray' is a musical wonder, with Arthur Brown's distinctive voice going perfectly with the band's upbeat sound.
The final track 'A letter to Robert' brings home something that Hawkwind have always had an issue with; feeling. It is a conversation between Arthur and deceased vocalist Robert Calvert, a man who suffered painfully for his greatness. As you listen to the ramblings of Calvert, you gain a sudden sense of realisation. This album isn't about Hawkwind, this is a dedication to one of their most important members, with Take me to your Leader, Robert Calvert sings once more.