I was going to start this post by stating that this is my second favourite Hawkwind album but I had to stop myself. How can you rank releases from an oeuvre as diverse as theirs? Where’s the commonality that allows comparisons to be made???
Instead therefore I’ll start by saying that this album is probably my favourite in terms of production values, recording and consistency. It also has some bloody good tunes and lyrics that for me are defined by the trinity that are “Reefer Madness”, “Steppenwolf” and “Kerb Crawler”.
Reefer Madness – named after an anti-drug propaganda film from the 1930s this is a 6 minute headrush of a song that moves from standard (for Hawkwind) rock ,into a jam session that slips away so that we can hear Calvert explain how, while he was smoking dope, one of his fingers fell off and stole his stash before the song returns to the original rock groove. Classic.
Steppenwolf – based on the book by Hermann Hesse of the same name, this works through the central premise of the book and has some excellent lyrics from Calvert –
I saw a neon sign reflected in a pool of liquid sky
It was not what I expected, I was only walking by
The sign read “To the Magic Theatre, It is not for everyone
It is but for Madmen Only, the first performance has begun”
I looked up to see that notice where the lights were shining from
But nothing but blank wall was there and the reflection too was gone
I was 18 and had just finished reading Steppenwolf when I discovered this album and the way the book was interpreted in this song just blew my mind.
Kerb Crawler – the release that should have made Hawkwind a two hit wonder but did nothing. This is about as commercial a song as they could release complete with backing singers and an excellent mix by David Gilmour. Maybe the BBC weren’t ready for a song about picking up prostitutes.
All in all this is one release where the album title accurately reflects the contents………..
Hawkwind – Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music (1976) – CD 1995 US Reissue
- Reefer Madness
- City of Lagoons
- The Aubergine That Ate Rangoon
- Kerb Crawler
- Kadu Flyer
- Chronoglide Skyway
- Honky Dorky
- Back on the Streets
- Dream of Isis
Rate – 5/5
Listening Since Day One
CDs – 21, Vinyl Singles – 15, LPs – 10, Downloads – 5
Total Tracks: 439, Time: 32h 3m 47s