The sixth studio album from space rock legends Hawkwind, Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music was originally released in 1976 and featured the line-up of Dave Brock (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Robert Calvert (lead vocals), Nik Turner (sax, flute, vocals), Paul Rudolph (bass, guitar), Simon House (violin, keybaords), Simon King (drums), and Alan Powell (drums). Somewhat of a concept album of sorts, the title refers to the old science fiction magazine series Astounding and Amazing Stories, and each song here is meant to represent an individual science fiction story. Overall, it's a fun, quirky album with many memorable songs, somewhat 'lighter' perhaps due to the lack of rumbling bass from Lemmy, who was sacked from the band the year before.
Calvert has somewhat of a theatrical, very British sounding voice, and at times he sounds more like he's reading/singing lyrics or lines from a Broadway play than fronting a psychedelic rock band, but that only adds to the uniqueness of this album. "Reefer Madness" kicks off the album in fine fashion, a classic Hawkwind track about the incredible wonder weed, upbeat and catchy, with swirling instrumentation and clever vocal hooks. "Steppenwolf" is a lean, mean rocker with some crisp prog & jazz underpinnings, thanks to some well placed keyboards and a lovely violin solo from House. It's another instantly memorable song, and perennial favorite amongst fans. The band crafted a fine instrumental in "City of Lagoons", which has an almost Pink Floyd-meets-Steely Dan feel, and features some stunning synths and bluesy guitar lines from Brock. Rudolph's melodic bass lines lead in another solid instrumental, "The Aubergine That Ate Rangoon", which also has a proggy, jazzy feel, and is filled with bubbling synths, Turner's snaking sax bleats, and steady drum grooves. "Kerb Crawler" is not unlike the glam rock that David Bowie was doing during his Ziggy era, so as you can imagine it's quite catchy, while "Kadu Flyer" is a soaring, dreamy space rock number, complete with plenty of fine keyboard parts courtesy of House and Calvert's charming vocal delivery. The album finishes with the House penned instrumental "Chronoglide Skyway", another floating, bubbling bed of spacey synths & addicting grooves.
Atomhenge's remaster sounds spectacular; Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music was already at the time one of the bands best sounding recordings, and here it's even crisper and clearer. Four bonus tracks are included, and you get the pulsating b-side "Honky Dorky" (nice guitar riffs and synths on this one), a single mix of "Kerb Crawler", and alternate mixes of singles "Back On the Streets", a hard rocking boogie song, and "The Dream of Isis", a real groove laden space rock instrumental. As always, the Cherry Red folks have included a fantastic booklet complete with photos, essays, interviews, and info on the album. As Hawkwind albums go, this one's a real good one, though signaling a slight shift into quirkier, slightly more accessible waters.
1) Reefer Madness
3) City of Lagoons
4) The Aubergine That Ate Rangoon
5) Kerb Crawler
6) Kadu Flyer
7) Chronoglide Skyway
8) Honky Dorky (b-side) -bonus track
9) Kerb Crawler (single mix) -bonus track
10) Back on the Streets (unreleased mix)- bonus track
11) The Dream of Isis (unreleased mix)- bonus track