Warrior On The Edge Of Time (1975) was the fifth studio album of the British space rock band Hawkwind. It has always been one of my favourite Hawkwind-albums. Strangely enough the reissues on CD never contained the original first generation master tapes. Rumour has it that these tapes got lost, but that wasn't the case at all. All those years they remained in the vaults of record company United Artists! The good news is that Atomhenge released the first CD edition ever taken from the original master tapes. All previous editions have been taken from vinyl transfers or from inferior copies of the master tapes. Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) was asked to do a 5.1 surround sound mix from the original multi-track master tapes and he did a new stereo mix of the album, which is now available as a three-disc expanded edition and a super deluxe box-set.
The line-up that recorded this amazing album included Dave Brock (guitar, synthesizer, bass, vocals), Nik Turner (saxophone, flute, vocals), Simon House (violin, Mellotron), Lemmy (bass), Simon King (drums, percussion), Allan Powell (drums, percussion) and Mike Moorcock (narration). However, this line-up was short-lived. Soon after the release, Lemmy was sacked and vocalist Robert Calvert rejoined by the end of the year. Many of the lyrics were written by Moorcock; the album is loosely based on the concept of Moorcock's Eternal Champion. It opens with the strong piece Assault And Battery containing great Mellotron parts. The lyrics quote from the poem Psalm Of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This song appeared on numerous live albums and over the years it's still performed live occasionally, sometimes under the title Lives Of Great Men. Assault And Battery segues into The Golden Void and therefore these two songs are often performed as one as can be heard on many live albums. The latter sometimes under the title Void Of Golden Light.
The songs The Wizard Blew His Horn, Standing At The Edge and Warriors are poems by Moorcock based on the literary figure in Eternal Champion. The poems are recited against the background of atmospheric soundscapes provided by Simon House, Simon King and Alan Powell. Opa-Loka is an instrumental piece containing excellent rhythms; it's strongly influenced by the music of the German band Neu! The title may be a reference to the place Opa-locka in Florida. The Demented Man is an acoustic number by Dave Brock with great Mellotron parts. It's a fine resting point for the entire album since it holds many up-tempo pieces. The lyrics of Magnu are based upon Percy Shelley's poem Hymn Of Apollo. The song is a popular live tune as well, being performed occasionally over the years. Spiral Galaxy 28948 is an instrumental piece by Simon House; the figures in the title form his date of birth. It was performed live in 1975 after the release and again in 2001 when House temporarily rejoined the band.
Kings Of Speed was released as a single. It certainly was a big hit in the youth clubs at the time, although it didn't reach the charts. Listening to this track you instantly hear the same kind of music displayed on Ace Of Spades recorded by Motörhead, the band that Lemmy started after he was sacked. He probably named his band after the Hawkwind track Motorhead, which was recorded during the album sessions, but only released as the B-side to Kings Of Speed. It's also one of the many bonus tracks on this new reissue. The entire album was presented with minimal breaks between the tracks, in order to deliver an unceasing album. It probably was Hawkwind's most professional record at the time. Mainly due to the progress in their technical skills, the contributions of Simon House specifically lifted them to a higher professional level. However, you might say that the compositions still remained in the standard Hawkwind traditions with sweeping synthesizer passages contrasting ethereal space sounds with the violence of a monotonous bass and rhythm guitar. Only this time the beautiful Mellotron and violin parts played by House gave them more variety.
The sleeve was designed by Comte Pierre D'Auvergne. The original album sleeve unfolds into a large shield- shape, revealing a silhouetted warrior standing on the edge of an apparently bottomless chasm. The landscape on the other side of the chasm is a mirror image with another setting sun. The reverse of the cover depicts a bronze shield bearing the eight-rayed emblem of Chaos, as described in Moorcock's books.
Well, what are you going to find inside the three-disc Expanded Edition box-set? CD1 features the first ever remastered version made from the original analogue master tapes plus eight bonus tracks of which five were previously unreleased. CD2 contains a new stereo mix by Steven Wilson made from the multi-track master tapes plus five bonus tracks of which two were previously unreleased. The third disc has a region free DVD featuring new 5.1 surround sound and stereo mixes by Steven Wilson plus a 96 khz 24-bit flat transfer of the original 1975 stereo master tapes. The last one of course offers the best sound quality. Furthermore a booklet is included with liner notes and pictures of the days when the album was released and the band went on tour.
Warrior On The Edge Of Time is without doubt one of the many classic albums of the seventies. Especially lovers of space and progressive rock will cherish this album. This release is the ultimate version of this fantastic record and a must have for all Hawkwind fans. Wilson did a great job mixing this legendary album. Listen for yourself and find out whether I was right or wrong!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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