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"...The Immaculate Void..." - X In Search Of Space by HAWKWIND (2001 Parlophone 'Expanded Edition' CD with 1996 Remaster)
on 29 March 2017
Mind-expanding riffage - altered states of consciousness – temptress dancing ample bosom overload (you go Stacia)... Oh yes folks - it can only be Hawkwind's second album "X In Search Of Space" - or as Pete Townshend and I know it nowadays - "In Search Of My Eardrums".
It's March 2017 - and as the sun beats down on the beardy environs of my aspirational London address (I live in Walthamstow, E17 - cue smug grin) - I can still remember the visual and aural impact of this LP in the autumn of 1971 when I lived as a nipper in Dublin – closing on an astonishing 46 years back (where has the time gone Bob).
Hawkwind's most famous platter featuring the classic Dave Brock, Nik Turner and Bob Calvert line up arrived early October 1971 and sat rather uncomfortably beside John Lennon's "Imagine" - released that same week in the UK. Talk about musical differences. The only thing that connected them was perhaps all that clever packaging...it worked...I bought both. But before I did - an earful first...
I remember folding out the beautiful interlocking cover of "X In Search Of Space" in Pat Egan's Sound Cellar (in Dublin) with its United Artists LP inside and a strange looking mini comic book sat on top. I remember wondering at all the squared colour photos of six very hairy men (one or two with painted faces) and the intergalactic lyrics and the dancing blurred woman on the back with quite possible not a lot on (so hard now to find a vinyl original with the doors sleeve still intact nowadays). I also remember looking at 'The Hawkwind Log' - trying to make sense of its cosmic gobbledygook and strange black and white images of cartoon rockets to Andromeda, a Summer Solstice Stonehenge in silhouette, elliptical galaxies in Leo, third-eye hippies dancing around fields and sitting on tree trunks with a flute in their hands and a suspicious smile on their faces.
And what was all this karmic-knob about 'stellar worlds and microcosms of the absolute'. But then I remember something else - the needle hitting the groove for the sixteen-minute "You Shouldn't Do That" – the build up followed by that wall of guitars – that sound – that fantastic drone – almost a new variant of Kraut Rock. It was undeniably hooky and mesmerising. Space Rock (British style) had arrived in everyone’s lives.
Which brings us via Nebula Minor, Zodiac Major and Druggy Loads to this rather brill little CD reissue. Here are the Masters of the Universe...
UK released August 2001 - "X In Search Of Space" [aka "In Search Of Space"] by HAWKWIND on Parlophone 530 0302 (Barcode 724353003029) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD with Three Bonus Tracks (using a 1996 Remaster) that breaks down as follows (57:42 minutes):
1. You Shouldn't Do That [Side 1]
2. You Know You're Only Dreaming
3. Master Of The Universe [Side 2]
4. We Took The Wrong Step Years Ago
5. Adjust Me
6. Children Of The Sun
Tracks 1 to 6 are their second studio album "X In Search Of Space" - released October 1971 in the UK on United Artists UAG 29202 and April 1972 in the USA on United Artists UAS 5567. Produced by Hawkwind and George Chkiantz - it peaked at No 18 in the UK (didn't chart USA).
7. Seven By Seven (Original Single Version)
8. Silver Machine (Original Single Version)
9. Born To Go (Live Single version Edit)
Tracks 8 and 7 are the A&B-sides of a non-album UK 7" single released June 1972 on United Artists UP 35381. The A-side "Silver Machine" was recorded live 13 February 1972 at The Roundhouse in London - the studio track B-side "Seven By Seven" was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales. Track 9 "Born To Go" (Live) is from the Various Artists 2LP set "The Greasy Truckers Party" on United Artists that featured Hawkwind. This 7" single B-side was issued 1973 in Germany on United Artists UA 35 492 - the A-side being "Lord Of Light" from the "Doremi Fasol Latido" LP in 1972.
NIK TURNER – Alto Saxophone, Flute, Audio Generator and Lead Vocals
DAVE BROCK – Vocals, Electric, Acoustic 6 and 12-string Guitars and Audio Generator
DAVE ANDERSON Bass, Electric and Acoustic 6-String Guitars
DEL DETTMAR – Synthesiser
TERRY OLLIS – Drums and Percussion
DIK MIK – Audio Generator
The substantial 24-page booklet is actually both fab and a frustrating thing. Good stuff - it offers brill period photos of the five-piece, Fanzine addresses for this most cultish of bands, the rare picture sleeve to the June 1972 breakthrough 7" single "Silver Machine", flyers from 60p benefit gigs in Margate, posters of Hawkwind supporting Polydor's Arthur Brown and Kingdom Come, Blue Horizon's Duster Bennett, Harvest's Tea & Symphony, RCA's Brewer's Droop, Neon's Indian Summer and a band as yet unsigned to EMI - Queen. There are beautiful and incredibly rare gig posters from Dunstable Civic Hall, Aldermaston Peace Festival in colour and the whole of the rare logbook that came with British original copies in all its mad glory (black and white) even if the print is tiny and just about readable in places (mostly not). If it looks so great - why moan? Apart from reissue credits - there are no new liner notes and the lyrics aren't here. If ever an album deserved an essay and its words - it's this one. When you think of the huge influence "X In Search Of Space" has had on Stoner rock and even the Kraut sound of say Neu! – bit of a damn shame someone didn't throw a few lines of appreciation and context together. Discussion on the album title – is it "X In Search Of Space" as it says on the cover art - or "In Search Of Space" as it says on the label and is more commonly known? I go by the cover art...
The picture CD uses the black and silver Hawkwind image on the 1978 and 1982 reissues of "Silver Machine" - a nice touch – and there’s a suitably beautiful Universe photo beneath the see-through CD tray. But the big news is a PETER MEW and PAUL COBBOLD Remaster with Tape assistance from Nigel Reeves done at Abbey Road. This sucker rocks and of course if ever an album cried out for a bit of Audio muscle - then it's this one - a nice job done.
Side 1 is dominated by the sixteen-minute drone of "You Shouldn't Do That" which spends about one and half minutes launching - building and building until it hammers you with that Bass and Guitar wall of sound - Space Rock - all Alto Sax and 'Ssssh' chanting about hair and getting nowhere. Even now it gives me a kick in the unmentionables and I'm transported back to my bedroom with Rory Gallagher, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple on the wall and my trusty Garrard SP25 worrying my poor parents and their fragile post 60ts nerves. Side 1's other interplanetary occupant is the near seven-minute "You Know You're Only Dreaming" – no real tune – just more of the same endless guitar solos as spacey flute noises float in and out over random Bass plucking - wonderful.
A huge fan fave – the grungy riffage of "Masters Of The Universe" that opens Side 2 with an aural wallop may indeed define the band more so than "Silver Machine" – Brock singing about being the centre of the Universe and the world is just a figment of his mind (know what you mean man). But then - just as you think you have the Hawk Lords nailed – know their sound and they can’t surprise you – Dave & Co. clobber you with the beautiful and even moving ballad "We Took The Wrong Step Years Ago". Like an acoustic moment on a Zeppelin LP - the song sails it amidst gull cries, acoustic guitars and an aching lyric about warnings and scriptures in the sand that need heeding, Nature is trying to warn us of impending ecological doom (isn't it always) - but will we listen?
"Adjust Me" returns us to travels outside our solar system - electric guitars and treated saxophone notes fronted by a singer's voice that increases in speed and madness. "X In Search Of Space" ends on the suitably doom-laden "Children Of The Sun" which talks about our inheritance amidst cymbal crashes and building guitars - acoustic first then electric. Like "We Took The Wrong Step Years Ago" - I think it's one of the album's strongest tracks and one that's forgotten these days.
"Silver Machine" was recorded live in February 1972 at The Roundhouse in London and launched on the world in June with the non-album studio cut "Seven By Seven" on the flipside. Amazingly its droning wall of sound caught the public's imagination and was rewarded with a No. 3 placing on the British singles charts. In fact "Silver Machine" has had extraordinary legs ever since - reissued no less than three more times (1976, 1978 and 1982) where it charted again in both 1978 (No. 34) and in 1982 (no. 67). Actually I prefer the more musical "Seven By Seven" song - maybe not such an obvious hit - but a riff that would have fitted nicely onto the end of Side 1.
"X in Search Of Space" is very much of its 1971 time and some in 2017 will raise an eyebrow and check your pulse should you declare it a masterpiece. But despite all the Space Mystic mumbo-jumbo - I look at Hawkwind's seminal monster with huge affection.
An album from a time when all things seemed possible and we were just that bit genuinely out there without being lost or damaged. All this and drifting two-dimensional spaceships on a CD for under a sky-diver (nice one boys)...