Hawkwind - The Space Ritual Alive In Liverpool And London - Review
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critics' view

Space Ritual or The Space Ritual Alive In Liverpool And London, as the complete title officially reads, is a live double album by Hawkwind. The album was recorded in 1972 during a tour to promote their third album Doremi Fasol Latido (1972). Therefore it's quite logical that the main part of Space Ritual contains tracks from that album. On this reissue several new tracks have been added such as Born To Go, Upside Down and Orgone Accumulator. These songs are interspersed by electronic and spoken pieces making it a continuous performance. Silver Machine, their hit single at the time, was excluded from the set; Master Of The Universe is the only track left from their second album In Search Of Space (1971). The line-up during the tour included Dave Brock (guitar, vocals), Lemmy (bass, voice), Del Dettmar (synthesizers, electronics), Dikmik (electronics, audio generator), Simon King (drums), Nik Turner (flute, saxophone, vocals) and Bob Calvert (poetry, vocals).

Financed by their lucky hit single Silver Machine, Hawkwind's Space Ritual tour roared over Great Britain and the USA in all its psychedelic glory. In those days the shows were attempted to create a full audio-visual experience. These performances featured several dancers like the famous Stacia, and created a very intensive and dark voyage through space and time. Many of the songs on Space Ritual are much more powerful than the studio recordings. You could say that the improvisational nature of their music wasn't caught properly in the organized manner of studio recordings. Then again, giving concerts was also risky regarding that seven musicians were on stage with unreliable electronic instruments. Moreover, the musicians on stage had some habits that could harm their playing abilities…

On this double album everything worked extremely well from the beginning to the end. The whole experience was captured well on disc. At the time Hawkwind's original sound wasn't easy to pigeonhole and therefore music journalists labelled it as space rock. In a way their music was a mixture of early Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath, but that just partly describes what they were doing. Hawkwind surprised friend and foe with their lavish extravaganza of lights, the use of electronics, Stacia's exotic dancing, sci-fi poetry and fantasy tales with charmingly goofy lyrics. Just take a title as Orgone Accumulator or lines such as 'it's no social integrator, it's a one-man isolator' or 'turns eyeballs into craters' and you know what I mean. No ordinary stuff, at least not in the early seventies.

At the time Space Ritual was a musical highlight for hippies and other people who were into space rock and other weird music. From all the live albums Hawkwind recorded throughout their career, this double live album has always remained the favourite live record among their fans. For many space rock fans this is a classic live album comparable to Made In Japan (Deep Purple) for hard rock devotees and Yessongs (Yes) for prog heads!

Henri Strik / Peter Willemsen
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