Trip-O-Meter: 4.25 out of 5
Y'know, especially when you start here, the great Hawkwind does come across a bit like the real life Spinal Tap. Well, except Spinal Tap never had Lemmy in the band as Hawkwind did for a while. Unfortunately, you won't find Lemmy on the primordial beginnings of Hawkwind found here. We've got a spotty album under the microscope, but the best moments shine brightly. At this point, Dave Brock is completely in the driver's seat with songwriting credits on every track and he tries on a few different sounds for size. Some of them work better than others.
The album starts with the folk-rockin' potboiler "Hurry On Sundown," which may very well turn people away as the sound doesn't really jibe so well with the band. Let's face it, Hawkwind probably goes near the bottom of the list of bands that should go unplugged. No, instead give your attention to the astral noise chamber of "The Reason Is?," which is a much better album opener. This gives way to the band's first great long-form psychedelic rave up, "Be Yourself." It's a touch more restrained than the band's signature blast from a few years later, but the pounding rhythms and acid, freak-out guitar make up for it. I've always assumed that they were trying to recreate the sound of a 'hawk wind' on these tracks. The two parts of "Paranoia" make up the next mini song suite, and while they're perfectly enjoyable, they sport another experimental dead end for the band (and the main riff is annoyingly similar to the Doors' "L'America"). "Seeing It As You Really Are" drags on a bit too long, but "Mirror of Illusion" is fun - coming across like Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd playing "Ballroom Blitz" after someone tried to describe the song to them but neglected to play it. Speaking of the Floyd, "Kiss of the Velvet Wind" out in the bonus section seems like Barrett on serious downers, and there's a ramshackle cover of the Floyd's "Cymbaline" closing out the reissue.
Although the cover art is absolutely groovy, this is not really the best place to start with Hawkwind. They're still getting their poopy together here. For those already indoctrinated into the psychedelic metal, sci-fi celestial sphere of Hawkwind, you'll find some prime moments liberally sprinkled over the music of a band that hadn't quite discovered the true character of its space cadet soul.