The Class of 1971: Hawkwind — ‘In Search of Space’

If you are in search of space, you would do well to go to the heart of the matter: Hawkwind. This brilliant U.K. band helped pioneer space rock on their eponymous 1970 debut, on the 1971 gem In Search of Space, and on at least 60 more albums (32 studio, 12 live, 16 compilation). [The original pioneers were Pink Floyd, of course.] They were major explorers in prog rock, hard rock, jazz fusion, and psychedelic rock.

Musicians were coming and going at an accelerated rate during this early period in the band’s development (they formed in 1969). For this recording, Hawkwind included: Dave Brock, vocals, electric guitar, 6- & 12-string acoustic guitars, harmonica, audio generator; Nik Turner, alto saxophone, flute, vocals, audio generator; Del Dettmar, synthesizer; Dik Mik (Michael Davies), audio generator; Dave Anderson, bass guitar, electric and acoustic guitars; Terry Ollis, drums, percussion.

The inclusion of saxophone into the mix brings to mind other progressive British fusion and rock bands such as Soft Machine and Colosseum.

In Search of Space was produced by Hawkwind and George Chkiantz and recorded and engineered by George Chkiantz at AIR, The Roundhouse, Morgan & Rockfield Studios. The album was issued October 8, 1971, United Artists UAS-5567. 

From The Saga of Hawkwind – Carol Clerk (p. 74) [and thank you, Wikipedia]:

The band originally started to record the album at George Martin’s AIR Studios, but after a week with little to show for their effort, and the studio engineers reported to be reluctant to work with the band after reports that friends of the band broke “into George Martin’s drinks cabinet, pinched all his booze and spiked the engineers with acid,” the record company moved them to Olympic Studios to work with George Chkiantz to finish the recording quickly.

The album sleeve and The Hawkwind Log by Barney Bubbles (art), Bob Calvert (words), and Phil Franks (photography). The back cover features a blurry nude of Stacia (we have blacked out the naughty bits) along with this: “TECHNICIÄNS ÖF SPÅCE SHIP EÅRTH THIS IS YÖÜR CÄPTÅIN SPEÄKING YÖÜR ØÅPTÅIN IS DEA̋D” The cover unfolds like this:

 

The Hawkwind Log is a 24-page booklet included in the original album for a short period of time. Here are the cover and page 3:

 

In Search of Space

SIDE ONE

 

Synthesizers, audio generators, guitars, bass, drums, and wah-wah saxophone explode as “You Shouldn’t Do That” [Nik Turner, Dave Brock] (15:41) kicks into high gear. Ollis propels this from his drum kit, and Turner’s sax work is spectacular. On top of the relentless groove, the lyrics are, 50 years later, sadly prescient.

You shouldn’t do that, should do that (x 14)

You try so hard to get somewhere
They put you down and cut your hair
They’re saying you’re no good, they just don’t care
You’re trying to fly

You get nowhere, you get nowhere
You get nowhere, you get no air
You get no air, you get no air
You’re getting aware, you’re getting aware
You’re getting aware, you get nowhere
You get no air, you’re getting aware

You shouldn’t do that, should do that (x 9)

You want so hard to get somewhere
With trees and flowers growing there
If you can’t make it you’re going spare
You’re trying to fly, you get nowhere

You get no air, you get no air
You get no air, you’re getting aware
You’re getting aware, you’re getting aware
You get nowhere, you get no air
You’re getting aware

All of these songs sound spacey, although these are not about space. ”You Know You’re Only Dreaming” [Brock] (6:36) is more trippy stuff with vocal from , who reminds of Ozzy. The song “uses the riff and feel from Steve Miller Band’s ‘Jackson-Kent Blues’ from Number 5, an artist Brock has acknowledged as being an influence upon him.” (New Music Express, 5 August 1972, archived 5 January 2005 at the Wayback Machine – Whatever turned me on) [thanks again to Wikipedia].

 

SIDE TWO

The guitars are killer on “Master of the Universe” [Turner, Brock] (6:17) as the beat is again propulsive. Turner handles vocals and again abuses his sax’s wah-wah pedal — to great effect along with the droning guitars and soaring synths. The jam in the middle gets phased into a psychedelic romp. This is the only track from the first AIR Studios recordings.

Acoustic guitar frames “We Took the Wrong Step Years Ago” [Brock] (4:48) as spacey synths and audio generators create the space in the background. The guitar work is lovely.

“Adjust Me” [Hawkwind] (5:46) is really spacey, beginning with a vocal that starts “normal” and gets faster and more cartoon-like, listed as a band improvisation. Guitars and swirling synths are prominent over another relentless rhythm track. Anderson’s work on bass throughout is hypnotic.

Acoustic guitar is again front and center for “Children of the Sun” [Turner, Dave Anderson] (3:14). Turner plays flute here, the perfect match for the guitar.

Drugs may have been involved. 

 

 

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