By Gruesome Greg
Now, I’ll admit to being a bit ambivalent about this album before even hearing a note of it. While the official word when this landed in my inbox was that the band was “rescheduling” its North America dates, by the time I got around to listening to Spacehawks, they’d already cancelled their Toronto show—and several other dates—for the second time. And they can’t even blame it on Nik Turner this go-round…
What’s more, I was somewhat less than enthused to find out that a good chunk of the songs on this 16-track, 70-minute opus are re-recorded versions of Hawkwind classics like “Assault & Battery” and “We Took the Wrong Step Years Ago” (though they’ve somewhat shortened the title of the latter). C’mon man, does the world really need another band, with just one remaining member from its peak period, re-recording a bunch of old songs? Or a 16-track, 70-minute Hawkwind record for that matter? Somehow, I’ve got the feeling that this is going to be somewhat of a long slog…
Curiously enough, the album opens with a remix of “Seasons,” a tune that appeared on their last album—though I hadn’t heard it before. That said, the electronic effects are much too far to the forefront here, dominating the soundscape as opposed to accompanying the main players. The vocals are also quite layered in reverb, but I suppose that makes sense. Isn’t Dave Brock, like, 75 now?
Three of the next five songs are re-recorded renditions of numbers from Warrior on the Edge of Time, the ’75 concept album they were supposed to be playing on the tour that’s probably never going to happen now. I suppose it shows that the new band knows these tunes, but did they really need to go into the studio and record them? What’s the added benefit of that, exactly?
What we do get in terms of newly-written material isn’t terrible, though it generally lacks the edginess of the original. “Where Are They Now” actually sounds like it could be performed by Toto or Asia, some sanitized soft-rock that doesn’t veer off too deeply into psychedelic territory. And man, there’s just something about that guitar tone that screams “easy-listening muzak” to me. “We Two Are One” actually shows shades of vintage Hawkwind, although the spoken-word vocals are waaaay too high in the mix. “Masters of the Universe” apparently brings Huw Lloyd-Langton back into the fold, and also manages to recapture some of the old magic, a swirling space-rock number where the synths hit all the right notes for once. That said, I’m certainly not sold on “Sacrosant,” an eight-and-a-half-minute techno tune. No, really—you could spin some glowsticks to this shit!
Hey, put it this way: like every band whose (original) members are past retirement age, this pales in comparison to their original vision. You’re simply not gonna recapture the magic of the early 70s when your captain’s in his 70s. Maybe it’s just as well they didn’t come here after all?
(Four Worlds Media)