Episode 21 - Hawkwind - Space Ritual (1973)

 

In 1972, it was the golden age of a band which few are aware of in the US today, but to whom much is owed in the music world. A band which pioneered psychedelic stage shows, performance art, and the DIY ethic that would later define the punk generation.

This band, of course, is Hawkwind. Often credited as the pioneers of the space rock genre, they were as much of a sci-fi novel come to life as they were a band, featuring dystopian poetry, liquid light shows, and body-painted interpretive dancers. Hawkwind's instrumental setup was unique at this time as well, featuring (in addition to the traditional rock instruments) saxophone, flute, synthesizer/keys, and audio generator. 

With lyrics inspired (and sometimes written) by sci-fi authors such as Michael Moorcock, and influenced heavily by 60's counterculture and LSD, the band was a force to be reckoned with, and at the time, something no one had ever seen before. 

Join us as we take a step outside of the Maze and take a look at this unique band doing what is regarded as their definitive performance, which is also arguably the definitive performance of space rock as well. Recorded in England in 1972, The Space Ritual is a swirling vortex of sounds as well as a conceptual journey through space for the band and the audience. In the episode, we talk about all the details of the album, from the excellent cover art, to the stage show, to the meaning of the lyrics, and much more!

As always, we mention several other bands during the course of our discussion (and of course we can't go a whole episode without mentioning Iron Maiden or Phish), and take apart the record track by track. We hope you enjoy the sounds of space - well, fictional space. As we all know, space doesn't sound like anything.

Also, we have selected a few live picks for your enjoyment as well. Unfortunately, very little video seems to be available for early '70s Hawkwind performance, but there is a wealth of audio:

1. "Born To Go" Live in Paris, 1972. This is from the same year that Space Ritual was recorded, and again is their set opener (after "Countdown/Earth Calling"). This was released on vinyl as a Record Store Day release in recent years.

2. "Seven By Seven" Live in Chicago, 1974. This is from a brief US tour where the Space Ritual set was performed, but the lineup was smaller, with Robert Calvert and DikMik Davies being absent.

3. "Brainstorm" Studio version. This isn't a live pick, but since we're talking about a live album, it seems a studio pick is appropriate for comparison. Also this song rules, so, you're welcome.

Be sure to tune in to the podcast for all the discussion, plus our reveal of what our next album will be. You can do that on this very website or at any of your favorite podcast platforms. See you in space!





Comments

  1. Best album the show has covered yet!

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    1. (Matt here) Wow! Hawkwind definitely rules in all the best ways, but "Space Ritual" > "Powerslave" or "The Number of the Beast" is a scorching hot take! I have to respect it though - Hawkwind definitely brings some things to the table that our main bands don't. I'd be curious to know what the *second* best album the show has covered yet is, though...

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