Has Steven Wilson's remix of Hawkwind's Warrior On The Edge Of Time become the definitive version?

Steven Wilson's version of Hawkwind's Warrior On The Edge Of Time gets a vinyl release. Can we let him have a go at Hall Of The Mountain Grill too?

Hawkwind Warrior on the edge of time album
(Image: © Atomhenge)

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Much like the debate surrounding the inexorable rise of Artificial Intelligence, the vexed question arising from the remixing of classic and not-so-classic albums shows absolutely no signs of abating, or indeed the practice coming to an end any time soon. And with pretty much every band from The Beatles down having worked or are working their way through their back catalogue, this is one genie that ain’t going back into its bottle.

Steven Wilson’s remix of Hawkwind’s fifth album will already be familiar to anyone who bought the three-CD reissue 10 years ago and to a great number of people – this writer included – it’s become the go-to mix. Wilson’s skill as a remixer is in serving the material or, as he describes it, “polishing the Sistine Chapel”, and it’s true in this case. 

Originally released in May 1975, Warrior On The Edge Of Time was as characterised by its dense, murky mix as it was by some of Hawkwind’s most daring material. Even drummer Alan Powell decried the original recording and mix as “awful”.

And finally, here is the Steven Wilson mix on vinyl. The original gatefold album cover with the fold-out shield and extended front artwork is wonderfully recreated, and there’s an undeniable joy about removing the vinyl from its sleeve and placing it on the turntable. Equally, there’s a sense of comfort as Lemmy’s bass coalesces with Simon House’s Mellotron on Assault And Battery/The Golden Void

This is where Wilson’s magic touch is in evidence. By adding a greater degree of separation between the instruments, the sound becomes wider and more immersive. Nik Turner’s flute blows free and there really is no need to demand more cowbell. Likewise Dave Brock’s poignant voice and lyrics that cut through the pensive side-one closer, The Demented Man, so giving the song an extra bittersweet flavour. 

Elsewhere, the motorik joy of Opa Loka benefits from a panoramic and sonic attack. Propelled by the twin drumming of Simon King and Alan Powell, and Dave Brock’s minimal yet highly effective bass playing (Lemmy was otherwise occupied), it’s easy to see why Hawkwind were so highly regarded by German kosmische explorers (and labelmates) Can and Neu! And while perennial favourite Magnu properly flexes its mystical muscles, no amount of remixing will prevent the carbon-dating of the album’s spoken-word pieces but hey, those were different times. 

Accepting that these remixes empathetically match existing material to contemporary modern technology, would it be too much to ask Mr Wilson to have a go at Hall Of The Mountain Grill please?

Warrior On The Edge Of Time is available on vinyl now from Cherry Red.

Julian Marszalek

Julian Marszalek is the former Reviews Editor of The Blues Magazine. He has written about music for Music365, Yahoo! Music, The Quietus, The Guardian, NME and Shindig! among many others. As the Deputy Online News Editor at Xfm he revealed exclusively that Nick Cave’s second novel was on the way. During his two-decade career, he’s interviewed the likes of Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Ozzy Osbourne, and has been ranted at by John Lydon. He’s also in the select group of music journalists to have actually got on with Lou Reed. Marszalek taught music journalism at Middlesex University and co-ran the genre-fluid Stow Festival in Walthamstow for six years.