Hawkwind tapped into pre-punk stylings

Published 8:03 pm Saturday, March 17, 2012

Punk rock is typically traced to a birth in the mid-1970s with bands like Ramones, the Sex Pistols and the Clash.

But, in the early 1970s, bands like Hawkwind were playing rock that featured many of the elements punk would come to be known by, like running bass lines and catchy guitar riffs.

Other acts like the Velvet Underground and the Stooges were already jamming with pre-punk stylings in the late 1960s, and Hawkwind was blending in elements of prog and space rock.

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In fact, Hawkwind has been described as a band that bridged the gap between hippies and punks (though I doubt many punk rockers went out to coffee with hippies in the ‘70s).

 Dig it

The band’s sound falls somewhere between punk and space rock around a poppy prog, The running bass lines give it a relaxed punk vibe and the spacey synthesizers toss in a progressive sound.

The punk meets prog/space rock style is very refreshing.

owever, the sound typically remains contained. It’d be really fascinating to listen to what they did if they went for a little more epic and big sound.

Hawkwind’s sound includes synthesizers, but guitars and bass parts carry the tracks as the synthesizers fill in. “The Weighing of the Heart and Negative Confession” is a prime example. The 7:25 minute track at times plays like a song played before blasting into space, but I always expected another level that never came.

Didn’t dig it

For a compilation album, “Lord of Light” only runs for 35 minutes with 7 songs. Typical compilations have a more expansive collection of songs. But this 1993 release includes material mostly recorded in the 1970s.

Not to beat a dead horse, but I waited he whole album for the band’s sound to peak. Even when singer-guitarist Dave Brock sang louder and let loose, his voice was muffled and contained. The subtle parts in the music are part of Hawkwind’s charm, but it also limits the band at times.

 Key track

“The Right Stuff” plays like a precursor to some of the pop-punk bands of the 1990s and 2000s. It’s filled with catchy guitar riffs and enticing synthesizers.


Pleasantly surprised. Hawkwind definitely surprised me, and I’m planning on tracking down a few of their studio albums. Compilations aren’t always an accurate judge of a band, and I’m curious how their studio work is arranged.

While their sound is unique, polished and appealing, it’s not really a surprise that Hawkwind isn’t a bigger name. The mix of sounds makes for a band that falls into a niche market, but it’s an intriguing niche.