Trip-O-Meter: 4.5 out of 5
Hawkwind's interstellar jets are in hyperspace on this LP, the band fresh off of its filling rattling success of the live "Space Ritual" (although I've never quite been able to get into that one since the bass seems out of tune through much of it - otherwise, it is quite groovy). David Brock continues to democratize the band with the other members contributing some fine, spaced-out ditties. The band leader riding shotgun didn't work out that well for Belle and Sebastian, and it definitely didn't work for Oasis, but Hawkwind ends up all the better for it. The sound is a little brighter and more psychedelic than the last album, which is also a big plus. Additionally, the electronics fit in much better now, instead of sometimes blaring at odds with the music.
The band comes out very consistent here, and all of the tracks have their high points. Of course, the classic Hawkwind sound is in full bloom in Brock's "The Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear In Smoke)" and the hard-hitting, live "You Better Believe It." Here you get all of the pounding rhythms, acid guitar, floating mellotron, and stoned vocals you need in a potent brew. Nik Turner's "D-Rider" gives us a slightly different flavor of the Hawkwind spirit, while the title track and "Goat Willow" are fun sound paintings in minature. Of course, I've got a soft spot for Lemmy (even if it was HIS bass out of tune on "Space Ritual"), so "Poor Johnny" is notable for giving us some psychedelia in the groove while Lemmy warbles as if almost passed out on the floor, whiskey bottle in hand. The bonus tracks are live cuts from the same show as "You'd Better Believe It," and for my money this leaves us with a (give or take) 23 minutes live set that's superior to "Space Ritual." There's also a single version of "The Psychedelic Warlords," although it's not particularly essential.
This is a great snapshot of the band in its mid 70's, freaky, hairy prime. I'd tell you that it's their best, but the next studio album is even better. We'll get to that one soon.