by Hoppoman USER (46 Reviews)
April 26th, 2013 | 6 replies

Release Date: 1980 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Less songwriting and more style help Hawkwind pull off this great record from the early 80s.

Hawkwind – A trip through Space, Part X A Return to Form.

The year was 1980 and Hawkwind had been around for 11 years. On average they were changing at least 2 members a year and this time around it was the turn of Calvert, King and Swindells. This meant that by the start of the 80s only Brock and Bainbridge remained. But this didn't stop the Hawk, who simply picked up some more crew members and continued their flight through space.
An interesting note is that this is the first album to have Langton on it since their debut. Having recovered from his five year acid binge in the early seventies, his second guitar on this record is most welcome.

On this album, Hawkwind is:
Dave Brock – vocals, electric guitar, keyboards
Huw Lloyd-Langton – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Harvey Bainbridge – bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Tim Blake – keyboards, backing vocals
Ginger Baker – drums

Levitation is a different beast to the past few Hawkwind records. Without Calvert at the reins, the sound turns more into older Hawkwind than before. The synthesiers are back in full force and the music stays clear of 'Calvert-style' Hawkwind. However, there isn't much to the lyrics on this album, without Calvert or Turner writing the lyrics, no one else is really up to scratch and many of the themes are similar or on the dull side. The most lyrically advanced song 'Fifth Second of Forever', was actually based off a poem written by Calvert. So if you want brilliant spacey lyrics, then this album probably isn't for you.

If there was to be a major criticism of this album, it would be that there is little structure to it. The majority of the songs contain parts that are independent to each other. This doesn't make the songs any less good, in fact it allows the band members to shine through in their respective departments, but there isn't much tying them together. Luckily for Hawkwind, the rhythm section provided by Bainbridge and Baker is really good, especially with the addition of Brock to their ranks. The band's foundation is solid and it allows the synthesiser department to really go to town on improving the sound. This fits in more with their music style pre-Mountain Grill than anything else.

There are several sections of this album that really stand out, there is a particularly brilliant section waiting for you on the second half of the album. The song 'Who's going to Win the War"' is a truly wonderful song, and is something that everything Hawkwind fan should hear at least once. It flows brilliantly from one part to the next bringing all kinds of emotional sound along with it. It is a well balanced addition to Hawkwind's repertoire

Levitation is a weird record to listen to. Langton's guitar work is a step above Brock's, who has now happily retired and joined the rhythm section of the band. The song writing isn't brilliant, but the musicians are. Having being tamed and restrained for several years the synthesisers are finally released to wreck havoc once more. As such, the album can only be seen as having four proper songs; 'Levitation', 'Motorway City', 'Who's Gonna Win the War' and 'Dust of Time'. Everything in between can be seen as space rock filler of the finest order, whether it be the brilliant classic guitar from Langton in the last half minute of 'Fifth Second of Forever' or the excellent song that is 'World of Tiers'. The whole album is full of excellent space rock moments.

Levitation is a unorthodox but brilliant record. Bottom heavy rather than top, with the tracks on the second half outweighing the first by a tonne. Levitation is an album that takes its time to build on you. It might not have the lyrical brilliance of Warrior on the Edge of Time, it might not have the hard rock edge from 25 Years On and it may not be as extravagant as Doremi Fasol Latido, but Levitation is an album that anyone who likes Hawkwind should pick up and play once. They should also make sure to give the second half everything it deserves.

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user ratings (33)

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 26th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

I'd say this is probably the last good Hawkwind album for quite some time (about 30 years)

April 26th 2013


Huh, I better check this one. Good review

April 26th 2013


So many reviews and you're not even halfway through the Hawkwind discog...

Have you checked Ozric Tentacles yet?

April 26th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

Aye, 10 down 17 to go but at least I've done the first decade and they begin to slow down from here on out.

And not yet I'm afraid, there is still an incredible amount of stuff on my itunes I need to finish off before I get anything new. (something like 50 albums) but they are on my obtain list.

April 28th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

"I'd say this is probably the last good Hawkwind album for quite some time (about 30 years)" [2]

I'd agree with is, until Blood of the Earth everything is between appalling and just ok. Just thinking of Church of Hawkwind and Spacebrock gives me a sour taste...

July 26th 2017


Album Rating: 4.0

A strong album that indicates the direction Hawkwind would travel for the rest of the 80s. It is somewhat conservative and breaks no new ground, but the execution of this formula is strong. Hugh Lloyd Langton, Tim Blake and Ginger Baker are all in top form here and the resulting album is a hard rocker with some tasteful synthesizer work. This would be a good album to recommend to someone who may have given up on Hawkwind during the Calvert years. The punk influence is gone now (along with punk rock as an industry leader) and what we have is a solid space rock album that should not disappoint any fan on the genre.

The Songs:

"Levitation" is a hard rocker -pretty straightforward and effective, it includes a nice pumping, almost eastern-sounding bridge.

"Motorway City" is a favorite of mine (and presumably many others as it is often found on their set lists). Hugh is amazing on this song and I love the mental image this song conjures for me -a real classic. "Psychosis" is a sound collage that points the way to the Church of Hawkwind -works as filler here. "World of Tiers" is a pumping instrumental that includes some great drumming from Ginger and Hugh displays his talents beyond hard riffing and soloing -a beautiful song made even better with Tim's warm synth tone. "Prelude" is another instrumental that is pleasant enough and sets us up nicely for the remake of "Who's Gonna Win The War". I like this version better than the '79 Hawklords version as it is more polished and atmospheric -though at the loss of some of the hard rocking energy of the original. I guess both versions really are essential. "Space Chase" is well titled as the instrumental does sound like a space chase. "Fifth Second of Forever" is another album highlight and includes a great acoustic intro and outro with some nice soloing from Hugh and good vocals from Dave in between. Hugh was playing an acoustic version of this song on his last tour before he passed away and I count myself as very fortunate to have caught his set at Foxboro, MA. "Dust of Time" is a strong one to end the original album -complete with strong riffage. I haven't purchased the expanded 3 disk remaster yet as I have most of the material on various releases so I can't really say much, just that the Hawklords material is worth hearing, though not top drawer material.

The tour was a bit of a mess with Tim exiting unexpectedly and Ginger allowing his swelled ego to destroy this lineup. He wanted greater solo time in each show and when Harvey had the temerity to suggest he dial it back, Ginger demanded that Harvey be replaced. Brock fired Ginger instead who then promptly departed to Italy to begin a "Hawkwind" tour in name only -a real dick move

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