Space rock legends Hawkwind ushered in the 1990's with Space Bandits, and as much of their career had been peppered with line-up changes, so to did this time period. Joining mainstays Dave Brock (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Alan Davey (bass, vocals), and Harvey Bainbridge (keyboards) were Richard Chadwick (drums), Bridget Wishart (vocals), and a returning Simon House (violin), the latter who filled in a gap left by the departing of lead guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton. Space Bandits is a fairly brief album by normal Hawkwind standards at roughly 40-minutes long, and doesn't always come up in conversations when people talk about the strongest releases in the Hawkwind discography, but it is a solid album of metallic space rock nonetheless.
Much of the album is pretty slick and polished, which is not surprising seeing as the era it was recorded in. "Images" comes across as an almost melodic metal affair, with crunchy guitar riffs from Brock and Bainbridge's whooshing synths, all the while newcomer Wishart's enchanting vocals soar over the top. This one rock and rocks hard, a great way to start the album out. Native American Indian lyrical themes permeate the haunting, tribal "Black Elk Speaks", and "Wings" is an atmospheric vocal driven number that also has some spacey synths and melodic bass lines. The pace picks up on the blistering rocker "Out of the Shadows", which features Brock on lead vocals & searing guitar, and the spooky instrumental "Realms" comes across as the perfect soundtrack to a horrific science fiction movie. It segues right into the ominous "Ship of Dreams", a chilling number with Brock's spoken word vocals, Chadwick's tribal drum beats, buzzing synths, and heavy metal guitar riffs. The album closes with "T.V. Suicide", a song about the dangers of relying too much on what we see & hear on our television sets, and it's trademark Hawkwind featuring some undulating synth textures and narrative from Bainbridge.
Atomhenge's remaster sounds quite good, and there are even a few bonus tracks thrown in, including an early take of "Snake Dance", which would later show up on Electric Tepee, a live version of "Out of the Shadows", and "Images" in single format. Toss in a great booklet with lyrics, photos, and info, and you have another great reissue from the Cherry Red family.
2) Black Elk Speaks
4) Out of the Shadows
6) Ship of Dreams
7) TV Suicide
8) Out of the Shadows (live studio version)
9) Snake Dance (live studion version)
10) Images (single version)