June 21, 2011

Hawkwind (w/Lemmy standing second from right) - gave the world Space Metal and never thought twice about it. Note: Dancer Stacia on the extreme right, anticipating Kiss by several years.

In the same vein as the kid who matter-of-factly proclaimed that Paul McCartney was actually in a band before Wings, I have been reminded that not a small percentage of people in this country are unaware that Lemmy was in a band before Motorhead.

Yes, it's true - Hawkwind ushered in the 70's with a hybrid of Psychedelia and Heavy Metal that became wildly popular in their native UK and throughout Europe. The U.S. not so much. Why? Certainly not for trying. United Artists (their label at the time) released everything, took out ads, promoted like crazy, had the band tour the U.S. (I saw them in, I think 1974) and tried valiantly to make a dent on this vast market. Sadly, the result was lukewarm reception. It was determined the American audience was having an attack of the mellows and turbo-charged Space Metal just wasn't up their musical street at the time. The consensus of opinion among my colleagues in the press at the time was, had they shown up around 1968, musical history might have been different, with Hawkwind eclipsing the likes of Blue Cheer or the MC5 (or made one unbelievable triple bill). But you can go crazy pondering the might've beens.

At any rate, the venerable Hawkwind are still together, although Lemmy left the band many years ago to form Motorhead and blaze that particular trail into musical history. The formative period of the band, the early 70's is always nice to revisit from time to time. Needless to say, listening to this compressed MP3 will not do them justice in any way. Hawkwind were made to be heard at the threshold of pain - but you can get a pale idea of what they were like by checking out tonight's track.

Known primarily as an album band (with one major exception, the immortal Silver Machine - their one and only hit single), Hawkwind were one of those bands you just dropped on the turntable, went from side 1 to side 2 and picked yourself up off the floor to change records. And for that reason tonight's track, Lord Of Light is a perfect example.

Luckily for everyone, Hawkwind reissues are available in all sorts of editions. If this rather low-fi taste strikes a fancy, I would urge you to check out their catalogue and dive in head first.

And don't forget to crank it past the threshold of pain. It's the only way you can fully appreciate it.

Lemmy would agree.

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