Years ago, whilst writing an article on Hawkwind’s seminal Warrior At The Edge Of Time, I asked my friend Crin of Godreah Records to sum up Hawkwind in a single sentence. Godreah released a very good Hawkwind tribute compiled by Crin, so he knows the band well. He replied that Hawkwind were and are “a British institution.”
He is right. Hawkwind’s music has truly mutated and survived over the decades. Musicians come and go but it is always Hawkwind; they are, like the work of their friend and collaborator Michael Moorcock, Eternal Champions! There music always means something – it is the antithesis of today’s downloadable disposable identikit music, and it always a thing of joy.
Hawkwind’s influence is huge. For instance, look at the number of bands inspired by Lemmy and Motorhead. Elsewhere, Hawkwind were the subject of an entire tribute album from Neurosis’ Neurot Records, and on the deluxe CD version of Voivod’s The Wake you will hear an impressive cover of “Silver Machine.” I could fill the review with such examples.
Road To Utopia is Hawkwind’s 31st studio album, and it is most impressive. They have worked with conductor and composer Mike Batt to recreate a variety of Hawkwind songs with added orchestral elements. Truly, the sign of a great song is that it can be reinterpreted in different form, especially acoustically, where there is nowhere to hide.
On Road To Utopia, the results of such re-imaginings are splendid! Such is the regard that the Lemmy-penned “The Watcher” features no less a living legend that Eric Clapton! As a big fan of Cream, I’m certain Lemmy would have been delighted. Such is the quality of his song-writing that this version retains its power.
It also shows the value of a band not allowing themselves to be just one thing. Music shouldn’t have limits, but so many ‘artists’ do, and have no longevity. All the tracks are superb. There has always been an earthy organic element to Hawkwind: 21st century folk music as it were.
Aside from “The Watcher,” I’d pick “The Age of the Micro Man” as a personal highlight. Like so much of Hawkwind’s music, this has an important message, and in this version you can really hear it.
Another triumph for Hawkwind. Here’s to the next fifty years!
(Cherry Red Records)
Sunday 15th July Citadel Festival Gunnersbury Park, London
Friday 20th July Hall By The Sea, Dreamland Margate
Saturday 21st July Weymouth Pavilion Dorset
Saturday 4th August A New Day Festival, Faversham Kent
Monday 8th October Salabbk Bilbao, Spain
Thursday 18th October The Lowry, Salford Manchester
Friday 19th October Town Hall Leeds
Saturday 20th October The Sage Gateshead
Sunday 4th November Palladium (Sold Out) London
Monday 5th November Palladium London
Saturday 24th November Forum Bath
Sunday 25th November Symphony Hall Birmingham