Warrior On The Edge Of Time was Lemmy’s last album as a member of Hawkwind, fired sometime after as he was captured by the Canadian customs and held for possession escaping prosecution due to a small print loop hole. It was also Hawkwind’s last album for United Artists and the last album to reach any position in the US charts, stalling at No.150. In the UK it would be Hawkwind’s highest charting studio album reaching No.13. (Space Ritual reached No.9). Pretty much written off by the English press (who cares?) the fans liked it, Stateside, it didn’t really happen. It’s strange to think that in a country obsessed with DC Comics, War Of The Worlds and Star Trek that this original sci-fi band didn’t appeal to a bigger audience. Were they too English, suffering that same fate as The Jam or perhaps they were too Martian – more likely? Doctor Who struggled in America to.
This album welcomed two new members, Alan Powell as a second drummer after standing in for an injured Simon King on some dates – he stayed. Michael Moorcock had appeared as a guest before but now took on a bigger role probably as Brock felt that Calvert’s missing poetic presence was needed in the band. I mentioned in an earlier post that I had read twenty five Moorcock books as a teenager and his series of stories on Elric, The Eternal Champion were high on the list of my favourites. Unfortunately and quite unexpectedly it didn’t translate well into Hawkwind’s set. Moorcock didn’t sound quite so convincing as Calvert in this role.
The album opens with Assault And Battery and although the band decided to self produce the album, again at Rockfield studios, drummer in house engineer Dave Charles continued with Hawkwind’s less frantic version of themselves taking the blame away from Roy Thomas Baker for any constraint on Hall Of The Mountain Grill – it seems like that’s how Hawkwind wanted it – swathes of synth, chordal electric guitars, flute and muted drums (odd considering there were two drummers now). Vocals high in the mix, it’s like a a science fiction daytime TV movie, you know men with magic swords on proud black horses travailing over supposed other worldly landscapes, except it’s Wales. When I describe it, it’s like I don’t like it but I do, really I do, I can’t really explain why. Assault And Battery melts into The Golden Void (Part 1) and as I raise my mighty sword to defeat the enemy, I pledge allegiance to the glory of the sacred stone set back in the eye of the mountain. I’m sorry.
Moorcock arrives with The Wizard Blew His Horn and for all his skills as a science fantasy writer he is a tame narrator and it makes you realize that whatever Calvert said, however damned silly it was he was serious in his delivery and a little scary, certainly an intimidating character to meet I’m sure, whereas you get the feeling that Moorcock is a bright conversationalist with an English degree, a skill for story telling and a boys imagination who’d be happy to sit in a middle class tea room with you and have a civilized chat about any subject you care for.
Quicky into Poa-Loka, a Neu influenced Motorik that isn’t quite playing Klaus Dinger’s rhythmic invention properly and doesn’t really make it for me as a Neu fan.
I hear a lot of Steven Wilson in the next track, The Demented Man and it’s my favourite song on the album, acoustic guitar and moody synth with a darker vocal and harmony. It follows the same ideas as previous tracks but holds more mystery in its choirs and its tones.
Magnu seems to suffer from a loss of direction, stuck in a dumb chord change that makes Iron Man sound like Weather Report with a violinist. The problem is that on earlier records the jams sounded like they would pull you over the cliff with them, careering to your death, spiralling out of control into a molten volcano, dragged in chains behind a steel wagon, surrounded by only eyes holding bloodthirtsy blades, but now it’s more like a space knees up, Lemmy must have been glad to have been fired at this point after dancing around the village fête with Dave Brock’s granny.
Standing On The Edge is another Moorcock poem with effects on his voice and in the background. A muted alien pulse and intermittent timpani but it screams for Robert Calvert. Moorcock’s writing entrances but as a narrator he sounds more like he arrived in the studio from the supermarket rather than the evil corridors of ancient space.
Simon House’s Spiral Galaxy almost succeeds in giving the album some musical depth but sounds rather like the theme tune to a new BBC series, The Baron, The Persuaders or The Professionals part 2 , something to do with men who do good in a roundabout way or have lots of money and never get arrested for driving fast expensive cars through shop windows or for dispersing panicking Saturday high street innocents running in terror from a Bentley chasing a Mercedes, squashing prams and separating dolls from small fragile hands.
Then its a total Dalek rip off c/- Mr Moorcock and Warriors, how they thought this was a good idea is beyond me, it’s total sci-fi idea plagiarism, a big no no in a world (or other world) where anything is possible.
Dying Seas ends the album with a true example of what the album is – a hastily put together half-baked Sci-fi concept album with not enough time to dedicate to doing it properly and as the track fades away you hear a jam that isn’t working cut short for the good of everyone.
Single Kings Of Speed is added here, a one off contractual obligation record for United Artists as they part ways with Hawkwind after this album. The B-side of the single is Lemmy’s Motorhead, and with Pink Fairies guitarist Paul Rudolph replacing Lemmy on bass a whole new era is about to begin.
Assault and Battery (Part 1) – 0:00
The Golden Void (Part 2) – 5:35
The Wizard Blew His Horn – 10:10
Opa-Loka – 12:00
The Demented Man – 17:10
Magnu – 21:05
Standing at the Edge – 29:20
Spiral Galaxy 28948 – 32:03
Warriors – 35:45
Dying Seas – 37:49
Kings of Speed – 40:52
Motorhead – 44:40