mon 22/07/2024

CD: Hawkwind - Onward | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Hawkwind - Onward

CD: Hawkwind - Onward

The original spacerockers - still living the nightmare

Just like the old Hawkwind, but far better recorded: 'Onward'

If Pink Floyd were always just businessmen in loonpants, Hawkwind really did appear to live the dream – or was it the nightmare? The early Seventies people’s band looked as though they permanently camped out, though live at least they weren’t easy to see: just masses of tangled hair, glimpsed through flickering strobes and acid-fuelled projections, their music a wind tunnel of remorseless two-chord riffing.

Indeed, while "Silver Machine", their one hit single, is a true rock'n'roll classic, Hawkwind’s albums always seemed the least reason to get excited about them, compared to freakin’ out at their gigs, trying to get arrested with them or fantasising about their über-voluptuous dancer Stacia. Anyone who was into Hawkwind "just for the music" was missing the point.

So it seems odd, 40 years after their period of greatest influence, to be attempting to listen, without benefit of stimulants, to a new Hawkwind album from beginning to end. The opener, "Seasons", is pretty much what you’d expect: layers of shimmering guitar and spacey atmospherics – just like the old Hawkwind, but far better recorded – though the vocal by bassist Jonathan Darbyshire sounds almost polite. That contrast is symptomatic of an album that takes us through two CDs of driving space rock, gentler, folkier numbers and jagged, punky pieces, while never quite convincing us of its reason to exist beyond the fact that Hawkwind are still managing to make albums. Yet if the riffs are 10th-hand and the lyrics, what you can hear of them, banal doggerel, the overall effect isn’t unpleasant. "Southern Cross" takes us into atmospheric ambient territory, courtesy of ex-Gong keyboardist Tim Blake, while the horribly trite "Right to Decide" transmogrifies into a transcendant, glistening guitar workout from Dave Brock, the band’s original leader and the one who’s still holding the show together.

There are hints throughout of the things that made these prog-rock deviants pivotal influences on forms as diverse as punk, rave and industrial metal. It would take a genius of a producer to draw all that out and make it concrete and relevant to now. But if it ever happens I’d be dead keen to hear it.

Hawkwind live in Manchester, 2011


If the riffs are 10th-hand and the lyrics, what you can hear of them, banal doggerel, the overall effect isn’t unpleasant


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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It's Hawkwind...we know what to expect, there's no susprises here, just delight for the ears..

Nice album..but I do like the prior version of Right to Decide better..the singing on this one sounds like a lounge version of that cut. Some of the vocal's seem to be mixed a bit outward..other than that, it's always good to hear new Hawkwind tunage.

I've been a huge, hard-core fan of the band for 40+years, bought everything they've put out and seen them innumerable times over the years. I was so looking forward to this album after the disappointments of two of the last three albums but this is utter rubbish. They need an outside producer to tell them that Dibs, Tim and Richard are NOT lead vocalists. They couldn't carry a tune in a bucket between them. Extremely good musicians they may be and at the top of their game right now but stop singing lead vocals. Dave should take control as well as writing lyrics that won't embarrass the listener. Have you paid close attention to the words of 'Mind Cut'? Cringe-worthy. 'Southern Cross is drum n bass and becomes boring after 20 seconds. 'The Prophesy' is 'PXR-5'/'Where Are You Now'? revisited and so on throughout the album. Had I heard it before buying it I almost certainly wouldn't have shelled out for teh deluxe version. Still it's two new coasters to stand my beer on while I listen to The Space Ritual or Doremi or any of the truly great albums they've made. Absolutely shocking and a total waste of time. Avoid it you would avoid a rabid dog.

Well I like it. Not as good as ealy albums , but after 40 odd year what do you want ?????????

Harsh words - very harsh :-) I have been a fan of the Hawks for over 30 years and I have to say I quite enjoyed most of this. Is it as good as Hall of the Mountain Grill etc, well probably not but then again when I first heard them the world was young and I was full of wonder. I am now cynical, bald and fat and my soul is buried deep and more difficult to touch. But it is a joy to hear Huw playing guitar again whatever the material.

I like it. It's got a bit of everything that makes Hawkwind so good. My only quibble is the box is too big to fit in my shelf so I cannot stand it next to Hall of the mountain grill and it's mates.

To me it sounded like a compilation of re-hashed stuff from the past and the new stuff, well it's ok, not ground breaking.. to me it's just a good way of knowing, if there gigging, it would be good to see em' live again, stoned on some good weed and just enjoying the show. Hawkwind have always been a peoples band to me and lyrically about chaos and anarchy, never a peace band. If they were to do a reunion with Lemmy, Del Dettmar, Dik Mik, Nik Turner, Simon King, Simon House and of course Dave Brock, along with a new album with that rawness and totally spaced out sound, that would be a dream come true. I'd even see that over Pink Floyd doing a reunion tour, but it's not likely to ever happen. I think Lemmy would be down for it. I still think Robert Calvert was there best singer ever, but he's gone home, rest in peace captain.

I love this new album. Definitely the best thing Hawkwind has put out since The Xenon Codex. Comparisons to the 70's stuff does not apply, IMO. Very heavy, very psychedelic, very well done, and Huw Lloyd-Langton's guitar work is absolutely superb!

Spaceship technician- like you I have been an avid fan for 35+ years and I concur with every single word you have written . . . . lots of us do but love the wind so much we cant bare to lose them . . . they have been part of the soundtrack to most of our teen and adult lives. Dibs can't sing at all and should be banished to the intergalactic bathroom whenever he opens his gob .Embarrassing or what? . They desperately need a decent lyricist and vocalist long gone are the glory dayze of Bob Calvert (RIP) - that guy was a genius!

I've been into Hawkwind since about 1982. Loved them ever since, & have all the "official" Lps/Cds plus a bit more stuff. To me this is their best since ''Electric Tepee''. I bought the green vinyl double's splendid. All a matter of personal taste of course....

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