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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 7 August 2011
According to the critical consensus, Hawkwind's most artistically successful period was the 'Space Ritual' era, spanning the release of third studio album 'Doremi Fasol Latido', the celebrated Space Ritual tour and its attendant live album 'Space Ritual Alive'. This WAS all deathless stuff of course - a brilliant studio set, one of the finest live albums ever (the interplay between Brock's guitar and Lemmy's bass on 'Orgone Accumulator' alone is worth the price of admission) - but Hawkwind really hit their stride once they broadened their sonic pallette for new tonal territories. Yes Cybernauts, we're talking about what came next : 'Hall of the Mountain Grill' and 'Warrior on the edge of Time'.

The success of the 'Silver Machine' single (#3 in the charts)provided the bread that allowed the 'wind to mount 'Space Ritual', but hopes of further 7" glory foundered when 'Urban Guerilla' was withdrawn for political reasons (look it up elsewhere). None of this mattered artistically of course, as Hawkwind made the most important step of their mid-seventies career by taking on Simon House on violin/synthesizer/keyboards after the departure of Dikmik (audio generator). House had previously played in High Tide and the Third Ear Band. He had seen Hawkwind's first gig (under the name Group X, which is what the Vorticists originally called themselves when they first started up their own brand of British cubism/futurism) because High Tide played that night too. Both bands then shared the same management team -Clearwater. Clearwater were almost the official rock promoters of the Ladbroke Grove scene and as others have noted here, the Mountain Grill was a 'greasy spoon' cafe were people like Bowie and Bolan hung out. House's bandmate in High Tide, Tony Hill, had previously played with Bowie. What with Moorcock antihero Jerry Cornelius wandering around the Grove, playing with The Deep Fix, this was a pretty spacey part of London to be in....(some of this last paragraph is fiction, supposedly).

Back to the point. What happenned to Hawkwind with the arrival of House into the ranks of Hawkwind was a movement from Spacerock to Romanticism (note the large R, I'm NOT talking Mills & Boon here, but about the school of thought/artistic endeavour that favoured the exploration/expression of the beauty, terror and awe of the natural world that came about as a reaction against the classical calm of enlightement thought). Rock has always had a strong Romantic bias, but in the 1970s, several important rock artists approached the music in the spirit of Byron and Shelley and the German Romantics - notably Bowie, Roxy Music and Hawkwind. While the studied, often overly portentious strains of pure Prog flirted with Romanticism (Genesis did a great job of this on 'Selling England By The Pound'), they often sounded a tad fey and busy and lacking in guts. There was plenty of Shelley's delicate sensibility, but little of Byron's fierce beauty. What Hawkwind added was Coleridge's drug visions a la has famous psychedelic poem 'Kubla Kahn'.

The album opens with a statement of urban intent."The Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear in Smoke)" might sound very sword and sorcery, but its a studied anti-straight authority rant, with great buzzing synth, Brock's excellent chucka-chucka 'Shaft' guitar, Turner's acid-drenched sax solo and House's mellotron. It's Spacerock, but not as we know it, Jim. While there is at least one moment of almost pure Spacerock on the album (the excellent singalong that is "You'd Better Believe It"), the old formula is enlivened by House's violin, a sound we came to know and love. 'Hall of the Mountain Grill' is a transitional album, the brilliant scree of Del Dettmar's untutored synth cluttering things up nicely while House brings in his classical training to the broadening soundscapes the band were now creating : Del was, of course, the Hippy Eno. No wonder Stacia was soft on him! But Del had his melodic, classical moments too - witness "One Change" from 'Doremi', which is so like Satie that it could be Japan in 1980 (David Sylvian's mob of New Romantics, not the country), while "Goat Willow' on the album being reviewed here is an image of Arcadian ancient Greece that Genesis were probably really jealous of. Those pan pipes man, totally Hellenistic....where's me copy of Homer?

"Wind of Change" sees Hawkwind really tackling the sublime - the awe and terror of nature - in a big way. A mournful elegy, this is like a Caspar Friedrich painting, but in sound, just marvellous. Brock's wordless harmonies are perfectly imperfect, the organ and strings gorgeously rough-edged. Nik Turner's "D-Rider", despite the hugely welcome galactic/lysergic phasing on the choruses, reminds me of nothing less than the first Roxy Music album. At this stage, Roxy and Hawkwind are very similar sonically - both have acoustic wind and string instruments in the line up, both are punky and raw rather than poised and perfect like progsters such as King Crimson and Genesis -and both units are arty as hell. Roxy may have worn their Modernist credentials emblazoned boldly, but Hawkwind was full of knowledgeable aesthetic types too -and not just on the edges in the guises of designer Barney Bubbles and (absent here) Poet/Vocalists Bob Calvert. But Hawkwind were old-fashioned Romantics, not Postmodernists like Roxy. But "D-Riders" opening lyrics always make me think of the nostalgia of Roxy tracks like "If There Is Something". Both bands played together once, at The Locarno Ballroom in Bristol. Imagine what that must have been like!!!!

Side one of the album (if you're playing a vinyl orginal) ends with the lovely folky acoustic "Web Weaver", a super little sylvan ditty from Mr Brock, who always had a great facility with these very pastoral numbers. Get the acoustic guitar out again Dave, there hasn't been one in your hand on record or on stage for about thirty years.

Of course, being a transitional album as I've claimed, it wasn't all lovely violin, piano and synth (though try playing the title track to your mates and they'd be hard pressed to recognise this slice of classical gorgeousness as those hairy spacecadets who recorded 'X- in Search of Space'. The utterly heroic Lemmy is in heroic form here, especially on showcase number "Lost Johnny", with its brilliant Harlan Ellison style lyrics courtesy of Mick Farren ('the time has come for you to choose/you'd better get it right/ Berlin girls with sharp white teeth/are waiting in the night'). Lem plays bass, geetar and sings as well - and what a cracking little amphetamine rock/dystopian SF masterwork this is. Why are so few songs this well written? By the way, lemmy always loved House too, so he's not just my hero on this album...

So a wonderful record closes with the doleful, weary and very moving "Paradox", a song that both gives solace when the world lets you down and (unfortunately) depresses you with its truth. The hippy sentiment 'people, people always bring you down' isn't just a Neil Pie moment, it's an echo of what the original Romantic Poets discovered - that behind the ravishing awe and beauty of the sublime lay the abyss of human unknowing. This is one of the great, defining moments of existentialism in rock, utterly devastating in its impact.

'Hall of the Mountain Grill' is a masterpiece, one of the three or four best Hawkwind albums and the start of their most musically creative period - original muscianship, amazing tone colours, genre-hoping disregard for cliche and the perfect blend of brains and viscera that makes for the finest rock and roll. You can philosophise to it, hallucinate to it, boogie and sing along to it. A brilliant album that no serious rock and roller should be without.

-Stephen E. Andrews, author of '100 Must Read Science Fiction Novels'
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on 25 January 2000
Speaking as a former space cadet, Psychedelic Warlords is one of those tracks that still stands out amongst the infinite number of Hawkwind tracks amidst in the universe. The song structure, production, sounds and vocal demonstrate the level of genious that Hawkwind are capable of reaching. Many of the keyboard sounds are well worth sampling. An excellent collection of tracks follow this opening masterpiece, although it is worth every penny fro the opening track alone. Great price as well !!!...
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on 12 October 2001
This album is best heard from a portable stereo on a welsh mountainside. Otherwise, play it in your car. Simply put, if you buy anything by Hawkwind, then buy this as it is an excellent introduction to a band whose sheer quality is difficult to put into words. The drumming and bass playing is excellent, and the music takes you to places you dream about, and can really get under your skin. A must!!
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on 20 December 2008
Released in 1974, i bought this as soon as it came out, having owned and played their "space ritual" album to death for some time. From the superb
front cover depicting a crashed hawklords spaceship to the awesome alien landscape painting on the rear cover the stage the stage is set for hawkwind`s most atmospheric album. Kicking off with "psychedelic warlords","Wind of change" and nik turner`s "d-rider" we have some of the finest music hawkwind ever made, the presence of simon house with his armoury of keyboards and violins is felt everywhere, especially his superb use of the mellotron and drives the music into psychedelic filmic soundscapes that enhance your very being. Interestingly,the two live tracks,"you better believe it" and the majestic "paradox",blend seamlessly with the feel of the album. A further live track, "it`s so easy" recorded at the same edmonton sundown gig is included as a bonus track on the cd as are single versions of other tracks on the album.I`ts difficult to get across how the passage of time (34 years) has enhanced this album with each listen,for me, it is timeless music by the most original (and underrated!) band in britain over the last 50 it, play it,enjoy it and it will become one of your favourite albums too.
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on 11 November 1999
If you want Hawkwind at their very best listen to 'Hall of the Mountain Grill'. The album is well produced - you notice how well the trippy synthesizers are mixed and blend perfectly. Out of the Hawkwind stuff I have heard (lots but not all) the tracks on this album stick in my mind. You can sit/lay back and drift off to this spacey music or listen to it driving and head bashing!
That's enough from me - just go out and buy it!
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on 18 December 2008
I've just re-purchased HOTMG on CD after owning it on tape many years ago. I'd forgotten how good it is! It is the Wind's attempt to exploit the commercial opportunity that oopened up after the surprise success of Silver Machine, but let's face it, it was never really going to work at a commercial level. What we have though, is a mixture of raw original Hawkwind, some cultured space rock, and some great songs, all put together by the classic line-up (including brock and Lemmy, with Simon King's hypnotic drumming) with a few additions (Simon House's classically trained fiddling being one of them). Hardly a bad song on the album. If you want to hum to Hawkwind try this.
Went to see them in Sheffield in 2008 - only the ageless Brock remains from the original line-up, but they can still churn it out as well as ever.
I believe the Mountain Grill was a cafe in Ladbroke Grove (just in case you were wondering).
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on 17 December 2011
Over the years i have collected countless vinyls of hawkwind this album is one of the best they is a hell of a lot of raw energy compressed into some of these songs i was too young to see lemmy in the line up but as you listen to this album you can hear his mastery to make him one of the all time great musicians dont get me wrong the talent that runs through hawkwind is beyond! i was lucky to have a audio cd writer at hand so over the yrs i have made my own compilations for personal use so now i thought just get them on cd as the vinyls need to be put away for special occasions. I will say warriors on the edge of time was my all time fave by the hawks but this album comes a very close second it has some brilliant songs on it!
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on 19 May 2012
So, here we are in May 2012 and the UK weather is rubbish, but Amazon currently are knocking "Mountain Grill" out for three quid. So life's not all bad, then.

I think there aren't many Hawkwind fans who would omit this one from their "best-ever top five Hawkwind albums". My earlier copy ian't wearing out yet, but I bought this one just in case it does.

It's called thinking ahead, eh.
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on 17 October 2008
This album is very good indeed. For anybody put off by the Hawkwind name - it's simply a jazz rock album - a heavy one - with a good dollop of string orchestration thrown in. Most of the songs are quite liberal with the instrumental portions, and all are very catchy and will have your foot tapping and head nodding in no time. Preferably long haired head with a beard but not imperative ;oD

What I don't understand is that Hawkwind rarely get a top mention on any rock nostalgia slots, whether on radio or TV. I guess they're considered as being outside of the mainstream rock artists - but when the music is this good surely that can't be right...????

So - still unsure of Hawkwind? Like Zeppelin? Like Cream? Like to try something different? Buy this and don't look back. It's as good a Hawkwind starting point as any.
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on 23 February 2015
Beyond brilliant. Entrancing, melodic, solid rock music.

One of Hawkwind's strengths, to me, is that they don't sing rock tunes about babes from every different angle. Like you know AC/DC or something, "She was a fast machine etc". Hawkwind write about hating politics, fantasy, sci-fi, being a bit out of it, or whatever they want. Their music is written in the same way. They write riffs etc, however they they want it. No commercial formulaic by the numbers rock tunes - none.

What you get then is rock that rocks. There are rockier albums than this. E.g. Doremi is slightly harder in places. Hall though is by no means weak. If you are a Hawkwind fan it's a must have, no doubt buy it essential album. (If you're a PXR5 fan, it might not be for you.. Still trying to work out what that album was. Just a howler I guess.)

Nearly forgot to mention: the bonus tracks are a good addition. After the original album finishes you get a couple of slightly different versions of a couple of tracks. Then on this album you get 'It's so Easy', which is a total Hawkwind classic. I think it was B-side to Lost Jhonny, and might have been included on Masters of the Universe. Either way I prefer having it here, as I won't buy the compilation Masters of the Universe.
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