Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Hawkwind
In Search Of Space


Released 1971 on EMI
Reviewed by Frank Cannon, 27/05/2000ce


I know what you're thinking you limey punks. What are these hippies doing in Cope's hallowed unsung pages? Well maybe it takes someone with a different perspective to see those diamonds in the dust. And Hawkwind's In Search of Space is certainly that. They weren't musos and they weren't eclectic and they sure weren't pretty, but they almost always played on the one like Funkadelic and the Stooges and the seven of 'em rocked in a swirl of so-just-who-is-doing-what while the bass guitar propelled them along through this paranoid space-age asteroid stew. Gatefold sleeves and open-out collages and Science Fiction proclamations such as: "This is you captain speaking. Your captain is dead."
In Search of Space needs to be re-evaluated. Shit, ain't we all in search of a little space? The 16 minute opening track is "You Shouldn't Do That" and features a sassy call and answer chorus between mainstays Dave Brock and Nick Turner, one taking the voice of the man in control, the other as the refusenik longhair. Oscillating monophonic synthesizers confuse the picture still further, and Turner's saxophone plays the same role as Andy MacKay on the first two Roxy Music albums. The seven minute "You Know You're Only Dreaming" completes side one with descending chords in the wa-wa Stooge tradition, before kicking into a San Francisco-type freeform jam with each group member showing themselves up as more limited musically than any other pre-punk group that made albums. But it works, and that's the bottom line.
Side two sets out their stall with the classic "Master of the Universe," a song which always had my room-mates guffawing at the lyrics then singing along at the end. "I am the Master of this Universe, the wind of time is blowing through me, and all is moving relative to me." Hey, what's wrong with that? If you were the master of the universe, that'd probably be the case. Again clocking in at a fraction under seven minutes, this song defines the Hawkwind sound. A simple clanking metal rhythm guitar anchors the sound as a Geezer Butler Paranoid-type bass boosts the bottom end over weak drumming and the predictable mess of who-plays-what in the background. Still no solos to speak of, but this was Hawkwind and their sense of commune spirit was what fuelled their fans in those early days. Like Kraut bands, they still employed archaic devices such as phasing and lots of it. Nothing was too crass for Hawkwind.
The inevitable depressive Brock ballad inhabits "We took the wrong turn Years Ago", where he gets too Jethro Tull even for me. But it's mercifully brief and soon we're into the Robot mania of the six minute "Adjust Me", all mad voice FX and Big Brother stalking their nomad camp, which Brock accompanies on his campfire rhythm guitar as the brothers roll another number and refuse to be intimidated. The album finishes with the acoustic Tyrannosaurus Rex-like riffing of "Children of the Sun". If you wanna course in bad speed, London squats and primo-alienation, take a trip through In Search of Space.


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