Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music



by Hoppoman USER (46 Reviews)
April 16th, 2013 | 8 replies

Release Date: 1976 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Addition of a new vocalist brings Hawkwind on to a new style of song.

Hawkwind – A trip through Space, Part VI A New Direction

Hawkwind had a mini-collapse after the release of Warrior on the edge of Time. During the subsequent tour, they fired Lemmy due to his drug using behaviour and the tour was reshuffled. In time he was replaced by a man by the name of Paul Rudolph, who preformed in the band The Pink Fairies.

In addition, vocalist/songwriter Robert Calvert joined the band. He had appeared with Hawkwind several times before, most notably on Space Ritual and had helped provide lyrics for Hawkwind on several of their previous albums. Robert Calvert helped bring new direction to the band, and helped them shake off the sounds of similarity that had been plaguing the band over the past few albums. Calvert was into his Science fiction, and this is evident on this album. Many of the lyrics are inspired by 1950s comics, in fact the title is named after two of these comic books. But on this album, Hawkwind is:

Robert Calvert – vocals
Dave Brock – electric guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Nik Turner – saxophone, flute, vocals
Paul Rudolph – bass guitar, electric guitar
Simon House – violin, keyboards
Simon King – drums
Alan Powell – drums

Calvet sounds similar enough to Brock that his vocals do not sound too out of place. And 'Reefer Madness' is a decent enough rock style Hawkwind opener. Simon House does some brilliant work behind the keyboards, and the twin drumming arrangement works very well, the drums sound upbeat and happily smash their way across the record. This album has much less crazy space sounds focusing more on the keyboards and vocal alterations. In a way Calvert sounds similar in style to the vocalist Fish at times. The Hawkwind on this album sound much lighter than they do on previous outings.

'Steppenwolf' is a longer song, but unlike previous Hawkwind songs of this length, it doesn't descend into space rock style, instead remaining a rock song. Calvert's vocals stand out on this song as he recites several pieces of poetry and extracts from the book the song is named after. The drums on this track sounds rather unique, as if they are being played on something made of tin. Brock moving away from the vocals gives him much more time to focus on the guitar work, and he sounds brilliant on this album.

'City of Lagoons' is a much slower instrumental track. The sound is very Pink Floyd in nature, with Simon House preforming brilliantly behind the keyboards as the wind department blares ahead. But nothing on this song compares to the keyboards, they truly take centre stage and deserve all the attention they get. The song is so basic in design, with a simple drum beat forming the basis of the track, everything just piles on top in an orgasmic car-crash of heart chilling sound.

This sound is altered by 'The Aubergine that ate Rangoon'. The sound is very synthetic in style and texture, the only natural sound is that of the drums and even they begin to alter and morph as the song goes on. But the wind department do very well, and sound very good over the track, which is a well and true mishmash of a song.

The lyrics and the structure return on 'Kerb Crawler', a song about a car. This song was remixed by David Gilmour, but it doesn't sound like one of his songs. On this track all the instruments are having a massive party, if the wind section isn't swinging off the chandeliers then the drum and bass section are having sex under the table. The guitar and synthesisers are having a rinking game in the kitchen and have vomited over all the food. In short this song is a very fun track, and will have you singing kerb crawler all day long.

The next song is slightly toned down, but it is still upbeat Hawkwind. Calverts vocals make everything that Hawkwind do sound fun, and the music accompanies him. Always sounding upbeat, whether it is the drumming section kicking away in the corner, or the synthesised keyboards helping them out. The wind section provided by Turner is particularly tasty.

'Chronoglide Skyway' sounds more sombre and relaxed, but it is still more upbeat that old Hawkwind's style was. Brock pulls off some Gilmour styled guitar work as the song progresses, and really does his best to help the song flow. It all ends on a happy note, with the music being done very well.

This Hawkwind is not the same as the old Hawkwind. Without the dark bass of Lemmy and the new vocals of Calvert, Hawkwind sound like a much different band. This Hawkwind is much happier and upbeat than the old version, with many of the space sounds being toned down in favour of basic rock and excellent keyboarding. The original space style is still there, but Calvert's influence has hauled the old broadsword to the forge and re-sharpened the blade into something much different, but deep down inside it is still the same old Hawkwind at heart.

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user ratings (46)

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 16th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

Actually grew to like this album a lot more than I thought I would, very very catchy and Calvert is pretty amazing.

April 17th 2013


Album Rating: 3.0

the rock dont stop

April 17th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Good review, but a few suggestions:

"Robert Calvert joined the band, he had appeared on"

Better would be: "Robert calvert joined the band who had appeared on"

"and this shows in the album"

Better would be: "and it is evident in this album"

"and really does his best to help the song sing"

Better would be: "and really tries his best to help the song progress/flow"


I think you mean "re-sharpened".

This album was the first ever Hawkwind album I actually listened to, but admittedly I was only 7 at the time. I like to think of it as Hawkwind's strangest album, in that some of the songs really don't sound like the Hawkwind of previous albums to this one...

April 17th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

Got this on again now to give another spin. Reefer Madness is great fun

April 17th 2013


Great album

April 17th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

Had a look at those little nit-picks and sorted them out good

April 17th 2013


eh its alright

July 26th 2017


Album Rating: 3.0

Astounding Sounds is a huge departure in sound from Warriors. There is some jazz influence and some punk. Calvert is back and the lyrics he pens are some of Hawkwind's very best. The guy was as talented as he was mentally unstable. -a bipolar personality by most accounts. The Atomhenge version has Reefer Madness edited to include the 2 minute instrumental section which was used for the b-side of the Back on the Streets single (Honky Dorky).

I am a sucker for Chronoglide Highway, the follow-up to Simon House's Spiral Galaxies. I also like Nik's Kadu Flyer -I just think Nik's vocal makes the song. Steppenwolf would be a live staple for a couple of years and it is cool, but I grew bored with it. Reefer Madness is more fun. Kerb Crawler is a rocker (and a single) which adds to the disjointed flow to the album. Is it punk, space rock, jazz or rock? Dave Brock tossed the album after it's release because he felt it made no sense as a collection. That is true, but there are several excellent songs that belong in every fan's collection. The artwork is good too.

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