Thursday, May 27, 2010

Patching Holes in My (Gaming) Music Education

For many years, I have heard the band Hawkwind mentioned in the same breath with the likes of Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath, Led Zepplin, Dio, and other such musical groups that have a certain gaming cachet. However, for varied reasons, I never got around to willingly exposing myself to their work (I cannot completely rule out unwitting exposure to them in college, but the haze in the dorm room’s air made it difficult to clearly see the album covers if you catch my drift). With the summer months upon us and thoughts of upcoming musical performances on my mind, I decided that it was high time to correct this situation. So, thanks to the miracle of interlibrary loan, I’ve gotten my hands on their first two albums – the eponymously titled Hawkwind and In Search of Space.


As it stands, I’m impressed. While not what I’d normally put into steady rotation, the albums have grown on me—Hawkwind more than In Search of Space, but that may simply be due to the fact I've heard more of the former than the latter—and there’s definitely a time when having this play in the background would be beneficial to the creative process. Plus I kind of dig the fact that iTunes labels their genre as “space.” And while I’m not quite ready to go out and purchase the entire Hawkwind catalogue, I am interested in hearing more.

My question then is this: Is there a quintessential Hawkwind album? Something that I would be doing myself a favor by sampling a taste of? Perhaps there’s one of the many which I might get more out of with a gaming background? Please enlighten me so I can best spend my musical budget.

13 comments:

Allandaros said...

"The Chronicle of the Black Sword" is a retelling of the Elric saga. I've found Electric Tepee, Choose Your Masques, and Quark, Strangeness, and Charm to all be really fun albums. Electric Tepee is probably the most gaming-thought-generating album of the three for me, but "Q,S,and C" has a song about the Zelazny short story Damnation Alley. (There are actually a few Zelazny-based songs in Hawkwind's work - one about Jack o' Shadows, another on Lord of Light...)

I suspect that Sonic Attack and In The Hall of the Mountain Grill would be two other major albums worth checking out; I haven't heard them myself, though.

Cole said...

I think Hall of the Mountain Grill is the winner. Doremi Fasol Latido and Warrior of the edge of time are good too. If you can, try to get hold of reissues that append the awesome singles "Motorhead" and "Urban Guerrilla."

Mike said...

Hawkwind have been around for so long that I don't think there's one album that could be considered quintessential. But in terms of the original early period, In Search of Space is probably as quintessential for that period as any other (although maybe Space Ritual is close).

I'm very fond of Warrior on the Edge of Time personally, although that perhaps most closely resembles the progressive rock of the time than the previous work. Then again it might more closely resemble the type of suggestion you're requesting in terms of gaming. When you get a bit later into the 70s then perhaps you're hitting their more punk era and of those I see "Quark, Strangeness and Charm" quoted the most.

Early 80s (say "Levitation" or "Sonic Attack") moves into the type of space rock which a lot of the English festival scene (perhaps best typified by Ozric Tentacles) was based on. After that, things get a lot more complicated, but I think by this point you're probably past what might be considered their more essential recordings.

Sean Wills said...

There is a quintessential Hawkwind album -

The live album 'Space Ritual' - it is the epitome of space rock and Hawkwind's finest moment.

Trust me on this one :)

Sean Wills said...

'epitome', no the frickin' zenith.

Joseph said...

Yeah, I'm not too surprised that I've never heard these guys on the radio. Sort of like a boring King Crimson. And King Crimson starts at boring.

Still, different strokes!

Christopher Letzelter said...

Duuude - You want to get "silver Machine" if possible, but definitely "Hall of the Mountain Grill" is my favorite. "The Chronicle of the Black Sword" is good for subject matter, and I like a couple of the songs off there, but the sound is a little too early-80's electronica for me.
Actually, Motörhead's debut album, "Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers," has some Hawkwind songs on it: "Motörhead" and "The Watcher" (I think), plus "Lost Johnny" is pretty good, too. Motörhead is Lemmy's band after he left Hawkwind.

Michael Curtis said...

Thanks everyone for the numerous suggestions. I'll have to see what I can get on intralibrary loan and take it from there.

The feedback was greatly appreciated.

Noburo said...

All the best ones have already been mentioned, but I just have to chime in – I based too many campaigns on Hawkwind albums back in the day not to comment...

I had a sizable Hawkwind collection on vinyl (before it was carried off by a flood – really!), but the only ones I've felt necessary to reacquire were Doremi Fasol Latido and Warrior on the Edge of Time. Many of the albums were so eclectic and disjointed (not to mention badly produced) that they only appealed to me when I was a Hawkwind completist. These two are tight and thematic and could well be played as is, as a soundtrack to a game session (no cheeky ditties or scratchy bootleg outtakes to cause raised eyebrows around the table).

The only other one I'm still missing is the majestic Space Ritual, but no iTunes download can really replace my old vinyl double with the enormous fold-out cover...

Antti

sirlarkins said...

Warrior on the Edge of Time is also notable for having a couple spoken-word interludes read by Michael Moorcock. Plus I love the cover art.

Ragnorakk said...

Space Ritual. Took a couple of listens to realize my mind was blown.

Andrew Walter said...

As others have said:

SPACE RITUAL

Is the absolute quintessential Hawkwind as far as I am concerned.

Andreas Davour said...

Space Ritual is awesome.

I love that genre tag, "space". :D