on 8 June 2006
Probably the most significant live album of all time. An absolute masterpiece. No other band has ever been as simultaneously chaotic and tight as Hawkwind are in this, their supreme offering. A piece of uncontrollable Godness come down to earth.
I still regularly (at least once a week - often more) listen to this album, despite first hearing it 30 years ago. I never tire of it, I never get bored. It still sends the same shivers down my back as it has done from day one.
Buy it. Play it. Revel in it. Faultless.
"Earth Calling... Earth Calling..."
As the intro of Earth Calling fades out and "Born to Go" begins, you feel goose-bumps as possibly the greatest album of all time takes off. With all the menace and majesty of some huge alien spaceship ascending from some distant planet "Space Ritual" is a frighteningly brilliant album.
Listening to Space Ritual creates a unique experience of the universe: Bob Calvert's poems paint astonishing pictures of the future, appearing out of the music like the finger of God writing on the wall at the last feast of mankind.
The intense brilliance of each song - 7 by 7, Sonic Attack, Time We Left This World Today... each one a crashing wave of texture, lightening, thunder and emotion, yet collectively an existential explosion of cosmic rapture. Space Ritual overloads the brain with an impossibly intense experience of reality, where the term "music" has never been less adequate word. This is a portal to the metaphysical, the gift of a trip to open the doors of perception. In the Tenth Second of Forever you will understand that the earth is forever spinning in its stillness.
It's a back brain stimulator. It's a cerebral vibrator. Plug in, drop out.
on 29 May 2003
This is the album that defines space-rock. Never mind all the electronic tweaks & twiddles of Tangerine Dream et al. Hawkwind had those, too, but they also had unrestrained power. Before you buy this CD, be warned that it is LOUD. I don't mean loud: I mean LOUD. The version of Brainstorm here is probably the loudest and fastest piece of rock music you will hear, and several other tracks on the album come close to it.
The atmosphere is eerie and echoing, with even moments of relative peace such as Robert Calvert's The Awakening (actually the first stanza of his poem, "The First Landing on Medusa") and Calvert's recital of Michael Moorcock's The Black Corridor possessing a definite feeling of menace; some quieter songs, such as Down Through The Night and Seven By Seven shiver with an eerieness that was not so apparent in their original studio-recorded incarnations on the Doremi Fasol Latido album and the B-side of Silver Machine, respectively.
But when the peace is broken: boy, is it shattered. Calvert's Ten Seconds of Forever quivers into a stunning collision with Brainstorm, while his astounding performance of Moorcock's Sonic Attack (itself an unsubtle but potent rip-off of Peter Porter's famous poem, "Your Attention, Please") segués into a storming rendition of the Doremi-chant, Time We Left This World Today.
From the opening bars of Born To Go to the collapse of Master Of The Universe the band plays furiously but flawlessly. The CD bonus tracks include a frantic medley of You Shouldn't Do That and Seeing It As You Really Are that was a highlight of the mid-seventies collection, Roadhawks. This is definitely a CD to own, if you can stand the headaches.
on 10 May 2013
Space Ritual - to buy the CD is now getting quite confusing. If you are going to buy the CD make absolutely sure that you are buying the 2007 Remaster, released recently in 2013 (not sure how a 2007 remaster comes out for the first time (?) in 2013) and not earlier versions. Sure you get a great album with any version but this CD really takes the quality to another level. This CD is catalogued HAWKSS 4. I don't usually bother buying an album again just for a remaster, we all know record companies rip us off with reissues, but there are loads of reasons why you should buy this, whether you have previous versions or not. I'll be brief: (1) First of all the sound has so much more clarity and power. (2) Brainstorm is no longer edited, this full version comes in at 13:46 with some 4 minutes of jamming restored. (3) An extended Welcome To The Future (with additional audience input) is crowned off with a brilliant You Shouldn't Do That (not the poorer version that was a bonus track on the previous CD). (4) You still get the previous bonus track of You Shouldn't Do That but two bonus tracks change with alternate night's performance of; Orgone Accumulator (with Turner's sax more prominent) and a storming 13 minute, Time We Left This World Today. (5) The packaging - this now mirrors the original vinyl album, the sleeve folds out into a poster with the same images as the original, the inner space behind the CD's features the same pattern that was on the inner vinyl sleeves and the rear image is much more in line with the rest of the design, unlike the last CD release. The print clarity is much better than the previous CD too. You do lose some images and lyrics from the previous CD booklet but who looks at lyrics when Space Ritual is on? Anyway, the music hear proves that the 1970's album should have been a triple album, easily. The fuller versions of Brainstorm, Time We Left and the addition of You Shouldn't Do That alone add an extra 22 minutes. But, the sound - wow, the sound is awesome. It's like a new album. Be careful you get the right one. Did I say the sound is awesome?
on 8 May 2007
Simply put, if you have not heard this album, and you consider yourself a rock fan of any description, do yourself a favour and spend your fiver now. Not only the greatest live album by anyone ever, at this price its daylight robbery. Forget Silver Machine, this is Hawkwinds epic concept realised. An album that transports you to the future, not a pleasant one, in places you feel armageddon is imminent, with special effects that only Floyd would improve upon(at enormous expense I hasten to add) All the psychedelic post-rock that has come to pass since, owes everything to this album. 5 stars is an insult, turn it up to eleven!!!!!
on 22 March 2005
Absolutely mind blowing when heard on a dodgy bootleg cassette in 1976, as a spotty 15 year old who had hitherto only seen Hawkwind on Top of the Pops with bubble machine & Stacia shaking her considerable booty.
I knew that something had changed & in future I probably wasn't going to be listening to the, shall we say, rather precious stuff a middle class grammar school chap was supposed to like (that would be your Yes/ELP/Genesis)
Anyway back to the matter in hand. It starts with mournful far off howling and a disembodied voice calling across the cosmos - could be any pretentious 70's prog rock band so far. There is a pregnant pause & World War III starts - Oh My God this is THUNDEROUSLY LOUD & FLAT OUT & what are they thinking of & it blurs into the next track & that blurs into a POEM (!)and that blurs into another deafening track & that blurs.....
An hour & a half later you put it on again to see if it really happened....
I dont have any idea if, as certain other reviewers have claimed, that it influenced techno, or anything else. I don't really give a stuff who or what it influenced (except me!)
To summise, I can forgive Hawkwind all the cr*p that they have turned out since then (their quality control aint ISO 9002)just for this one moment of wonderousness....
Enjoy but please make sure it is maximum volume & non-stop or you wont really get that 1972 hit!
on 16 August 2002
I last heard this album nearly 30 years ago before buying it a couple of weeks past. Remembered it as dense, swirling, and a little lumbering in places. Duh.
How memory can play tricks on you! This is a monster of an album, a near-unremitting wall of sound, the famous sonic assault of Hawkwind... and what strikes me after all these years is how utterly different it was and is from any of HW's long-dead contemporaries.
The first surprise is the relentless excellence of the rhythmn section - a furious Simon King on drums matched with the gutsy prowess of Lemmy. What a pair! They drive, again and again, the band to new frenzies. Then add the odd, twisted words of Bob Calvert and the final ingredients - the whizzes, blurps, fizzes, screams, crackles which was the emerging synth section of the aptly named DikMik and Del Dettmar. Oh yes and a certain Dave Brock as well.
The CD is simply staggering. The heart of it is a wonderful, eiree Seven by Seven .. play it first if you want to know what this band is like. Orgone Accumulator is as fresh sounding now as it was then. Just don't expect any soft moments.
This is the finest moment of HW, a band truly unlike any other. What was to come lay unknown ahead of them, but at the time of these shows the band were earning enormous critical and commercial plaudits.
The bonus tracks here include a fairly truncated "shouldn't Do That".. ah, the soundtrack to a misspent hippie youth.
Get it now!!
on 27 December 2008
I have been listening to this album for 35 years. It is one of my favourite albums and I am probably as familiar as you could possibly be with a record. I bought this, not because I expected video of the concert, (I knew that it doesn't exist), but because of the possibility of a DVD-Audio surround sound remix. Well I have not been disappointed. I now own no less than four copies of Space Ritual on CD. Up until now the 2001 remastering (which included the Greasy Truckers session) was by far the best yet available, but I think this easily surpasses that version. I listened to the DVD-Audio disc (which has PAL video effects that play on your TV) on a 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound system. I chose the Dolby 5.1 audio choice because I couldn't get the DTS version to work on my system (which may have more to do with my system than the disc). The master tapes have been transferred at a DVD quality bitrate and then "upscaled" or "converted" to surround sound. I compared the DVD-A to the two CDs also included in this set and the DVD-A stood out as far superior. One concern I had was that this might be a completely new mix (something that happens a lot with DVD-A) but thankfully it isn't. (God forbid that someone had buried Brock or Lemmy in favour of Turner's noodlings). The surround sound is rendered with subtlety and often is only apparent during quiet moments or occasionally catching just the harmonics. Brock is very clearly placed on the right channel and Lemmy and King are planted firmly in the centre. Very subtle elements like Calvert's tambourine are now apparent drifting in and out of the left channel alongside Dettmar and Dikmik. Turner's flute and sax are nicely positioned just left of centre or dead centre and as previously noted are exactly as loud as they need to be to provide that overall ethereal quality you might desire. The vocals are as clear as I have ever heard them, especially Calvert and Brock. I got the feeling that had I cranked my system I would not have experienced any severe distortion. Of course then there are the bonus tracks. Now that Greasy Truckers has been released in its entirety, those tracks have been replaced by other versions of some songs from the Space Ritual shows. They make for excellent additions. Cap this off with two really nice transfers of the promo films for Silver Machine and Urban Guerrilla and you have an overall must have for any true Hawkwind fan with a surround sound system. Another great bonus is the very nice tribute to Barney Bubbles in Nik Turner's liner notes. These include Barney's original stage drawings for the Space Ritual show and they clearly demonstrate just how involved Barney was in the design work on this legendary tour. My only gripe would be the total lack of acknowledgement for Dave Brock's contribution. There are 110 minutes of music here and Brock wrote the music for 75 of those minutes. The dynamic on this recording between Brock, Lemmy and King is so integral to the album that no liner notes are complete without some acknowledgment. Lemmy is truly at his best here, especially during Lord of Light and you really won't hear this performance any better than on this DVD-Audio. Congrats to Peter Mew and Nigel Reeve for putting so much effort into creating this definitive version of the best space rock album ever recorded. If you have enjoyed this album as much as I have over the years you will love the clarity of the DVD-A in this set.
on 28 March 2002
If your not old enough to have seen A Space Ritual fret not. This recording captures the whole sonic assault that was Hawkwind in the 1970s. Based largely on material from In Search of Space and Do Re Mi, this recording represents one of the most innovative live experiences ever performed. Its a wonder that the music holds together at all but it does, thanks largely in part to Lemmy's awsome control of the base department. Some of the tracks are over long but hey, you had to be there. For anyone else, if you want to find out where techno came from and why Hawkwind still fill concert halls today, check it out.
on 21 March 2004
There has only ever been one Hawkwind. No-one else even comes close. Not to be taken seriously, just killer riffs over electric noise/distorted guitar/electric sax and flute with some very silly lyrics thrown in for good measure.
What you get here is possibly the best line-up of the band captured (sort-of) live. And its brilliant, really good fun. I qualify the live bit only because my memory of them suggests much more grunge and a great deal less clarity, with an awful lot of stoned talking between numbers. The album was mostly recorded in 1972 (if memory serves me right), released in 1973; originally a double with a monster fold-out sleeve. It was multiple disc live album season at the time, Yessongs and Uriah Heep Live came out about the same time – I still play Space Ritual (and Yessongs,sometimes).
Space Ritual is one long soundscape, all the original tracks segue into electric noise into Bob Calvert poems (a hoot then and now) and back into riff driven rock. Nobody else has ever put together anything like Brainstorm, Born to Go or Master of the Universe.
Or for that matter The Awakening and Space is Deep, but that’s another story. This band was actually a rather tight unit and played damned well together, boy could they rock.
For me (and others differ)the only downside of the vinyl album was Master of the Universe taken at a Ramones type pace (prophetic perhaps, with Lemmy on bass). This is rectified by the inclusion on the CD of a second version, lifted from the Greasy Truckers double, which is, to me at least, the definitive Hawkwind moment; half the speed but still rocking hard. The extra tracks do feature stoned hippy rambling – so hey, a more true to life feel. Born to Go features twice as well, again from the Greasy Truckers.
This album really is a classic. There are very few albums from 1973 I still play; none as frequently as this one. Nostalgia might not be what it was – but this stuff still sounds mightily current.