Hawkwind - All Aboard The Skylark album review

Fifty years celebrated with new grooves and a trip down memory lane...

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Hawkwind - All Aboard The Skylark


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All Aboard The Skylark

1. Flesh Fondue
2. Nets of Space
3. Last Man On Earth
4. We Are Not Dead... Only Sleeping
5. All Aboard The Skylark
6. 65 Million Years Ago
7. In The Beginning
8. The Road To...
9. The Fantasy Of Feldum

Acoustic Daze

1. Psi Power
2. Hymne To The Sun
3. The Watcher
4. Generation Sun
5. Micro Man
6. Into The Night
7. Down Through The Night
8. Flying Doctor
9. Get Yourself Together
10. Ascent Of Man
11. We Took The Wrong Steps Years Ago

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Prog’s 50th anniversaries are coming thick and fast. One of the most welcome and most surprising – given their wild acid-drizzled past – is Hawkwind’s. They remain one of the definitive outsider bands, as legendary for the years of disputes, personnel changes, and excess use of narcotics as their defining contribution to space rock. With 30-odd studio albums already to their name, All Aboard The Skylark shows the original psychedelic-punk-crusty masters crossing their 50 year in rude health. Released alongside Acoustic Daze – unplugged takes on some of the band’s most beloved tracks – Skylark is immense fun and a satisfying return to their space rock roots.

Skylark pretty much has it all. The album begins with Flesh Fondue, a characteristically gruesome-funny tale of space aliens feasting on the flesh of those they colonise. Last remaining original member Dave Brock serves up a typical slice of tripped-out guitar and laconic vocals, while Richard Chadwick clatters out a drum groove. This is followed up with Nets Of Space, which takes the album ever further towards the territory the Hawks so memorably defined on albums such as In Search Of Space.

However, it is the following trinity of tracks that truly conjure the days when the Hawks might be found playing from the back of a truck in a field in Somerset. Last Man On Earth oozes psychedelic cool, while We Are Not Dead… Only Sleeping is a reminder of the Hawks’ gift for trippy jazz. The title track is the stuff of acid dreams, that soars so deliciously it’s hard not to start crazy-dancing like it’s 1973. Equally irresistible is the nine-minute The Fantasy Of Faldum, based on a Herman Hesse fairy tale. As Brock sings, ‘Everything passes away in time, everything grows old,’ it’s difficult not to hear it as a wistful comment on the band’s future.

Accompanying acoustic bonus disc Acoustic Daze is reminder of how – behind the swirling keys, ramped-up guitars and special effects – classic Hawkwind could write a damn fine tune. Tracks such as Psi Power and Down Through The Night genuinely hold their own in these stripped-back arrangements. It is a fitting tribute to 50 years of often underappreciated songwriting.

If Skylark doesn’t break new ground, who cares? At this point, it’s clear that Hawkwind don’t need to. The great news is that Brock’s musical vision is unimpaired, and the rest of the band work seamlessly to deliver it. If the album’s title (taken from kids’ cartoon series Noah And Nelly) conjures images of the 70s, this music makes you ready to travel back in time.

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